With the intimate sensory detail of the opening of “Sparks Fly,” you set the tone of the story while still allowing the speculative elements to shine through. I found myself as intrigued by the setting as I was by Arthur. When writing, how aware are you of the sensory impression of a story and its effect upon the reader?
I tend to be a visual writer. I picture it as a movie and then describe the movie. The setting for this was just Edmonton—the liquor store was the one I worked at, the neighborhood was the one I lived in, and the cafe was the one I had a great first date at a couple summers ago.
What can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Sparks Fly”?
As you know by now, just my own life. There was this girl I really liked and we seemed to really click, but it never got off the runway. Sometimes I feel like I exude a sort of field that fucks up potential romantic relationships. Arthur in the story has a more literal kind of field. Originally there was going to be a sad ending, but everyone who read it wanted a happy one, so I threw in the second chance that I kind of wished I’d gotten in real life.
The tone of the story is light and engaging. It made me want to keep reading, to know more. As a writer, how conscious are you of creating a particular voice for a story? Has there ever been a time when you’ve played with point-of-view, trying to find the right narrative?
I have a few different styles that I shift between. Depends how much you want people to notice or not notice the prose. For small personal stories like this one, I think first person is the best POV, and the voice is wry and breezy and pretty easy to write.
My favorite element of “Sparks Fly” is how Arthur and Christina are regular, everyday people. They have lives, interests, and, in Arthur’s case, an embarrassing condition he isn’t certain he wants to reveal. If you could have any fantastical ability of your choosing, what would it be? What do you think the downside might be?
Sometimes I wish I could always tell what people are thinking. Some people are hard to read and it makes me anxious. But the downside is finding out stuff you didn’t want to know, I guess.
What writers tickle your light fantastic? To whom do you turn when you want to get your speculative fiction on?
I’m not really a big reader anymore, so I always list off the people I read when I was young, like Megan Whalen Turner, C.S. Lewis, M.T. Anderson, William Nicholson. This year I re-read Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing when I was back at my parents’ house, which is a really fantastic book and never describes any colors because it’s from the perspective of a bat.
Your work has appeared in such venues as Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many others. What’s next for Rich Larson? What can readers look forward to in 2016?
Depending on publishing schedules, I’ll have or have already had new stories out in Analog, Asimov’s, Interzone, Clockwork Phoenix 5, Clarkesworld, F&SF, and a few other places. I’m revising a novel and trying to find someone to buy it. It’s kind of a Half-Life 2 / Animorphs / A Series of Unfortunate Events mash-up set in a city post alien invasion. Lots of big action set pieces and some fun characters. It’s good.
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