Q&A With Rich Larson

Rich Larson talks about his inspirations for his newest story, the impact of current events on the writing process, and more. You can find his newest story, “The Rise of Alpha Gal” in our [September/October issue, on sale now!]

Asimov Editor: What is the story behind this piece?
Rich Larson: I read an article a few years back about the very real allergy-inducing Alpha Gal carbohydrate, noticed that it sounds like a superhero / supervillain, and wrote a story to make sure other people noticed too.

AE: Do you particularly relate to any of the characters in this story?
RL: This story was originally from Nea’s POV, and the ending was even more bitter. I think beta readers dinged it for lack of agency and likeability, but honestly, in real life, a lot of the time you show up to a place and a thing happens and you get no say in it. I relate to that.

AE: What made you think of Asimov’s for this story?
RL: Asimov’s has terrific taste and is unafraid to publish potentially thorny stories. Depending on which character readers side with, people could (mis)interpret this one as antivax. Me, I think Heli is right: personal liberties and bodily autonomy sometimes need to be sacrificed for the greater good.
If I were to contract this theoretical viral allergy and never be able to eat meat again, I would be annoyed, but I would also understand. Of course, I come at this from a position of privilege.

AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?
RL: I think current events impact everyone’s writing, whether they are conscious of it or not. This story was written pre-COVID, but it takes on a new dimension now that there’s a worldwide pandemic. 

Asimov’s has terrific taste and is unafraid to publish potentially thorny stories. Depending on which character readers side with, people could (mis)interpret this one as antivax.

AE: What is your process?
RL: I sit down at my typewriter and bleed. No, just kidding. I sit down at my netbook and bleed. 

AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
RL: Now that Ymir is out, I’m trying to finish all the stories / novelettes / novellas that have spent the past few years on the backburner. I’m also doing some videogame-adjacent work-for-hire stuff. If I talk too much about it, an NDA ninja will jump out from behind a bush and slit my throat.

AE: What are you reading right now?
RL: Two poetry anthologies, one showcasing new British poets, the other nominees for the 2020 Montreal Poetry Prize. I also tried The Exegesis of Philip K Dick but only made it a quarter of the way through. 

AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?|
RL: I sure miss being an up-and-coming writer. Savor each accomplishment; there are diminishing dopamine returns.

AE: What other careers have you had, and how have they affected your writing?
RL: None. I went straight from working at a liquor store and studying Romance Languages to writing full time. Now I am thirty and the only thing I know how to do is make shit up, so if readers ever get tired of me I’m done for.

AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?
RL: I’m most thorough with my monthly Patreon updates (patreon.com/richlarson), but I also occasionally link stuff via Facebook (facebook.com/richwlarson) or Instagram (@richlarsonwrites).

Rich Larson was born in Galmi, Niger, has lived in Spain and Czech Republic, and currently writes from Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the novels Ymir and Annex, as well as the collection Tomorrow Factory. His fiction has appeared in over a dozen languages, including Polish, Italian, Romanian, and Japanese, and his translated collection La Fabrique des lendemains won the Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire. His short story “Ice” was adapted into an Emmy-winning episode of LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Find free reads and support his work at https://www.patreon.com/richlarson.

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