In bestselling author Larry Correia’s latest fantasy novel, Destroyer of Worlds, the third installment of his Saga of the Forgotten Warrior series, an unlikely hero battles the forces of evil and works to prevent a genocide. The title received praise from Publishers Weekly, which called the book “masterful” and “packed with action [and] grit,” and “sure to satisfy.”
To mark the publication of Destroyer of Worlds, Correia sat down with Tony Daniel, a senior editor at Baen Books and the author of 10 sci-fi novels, to discuss his writing process, his characters, epic fantasy, and a whole lot more.
This is epic fantasy. You kind of broke into writing with the Monster Hunter series, but have you always wanted to do epic fantasy.
I started out reading Westerns. I grew up in an environment where reading wasn't appreciated, but my dad thought Westerns were manly. So Westerns were okay. My gateway to fantasy was actually Terry Brooks, The Sword of Shannara. And I loved that. From there, I started reading everything I could get my hands on: David Eddings, Ray Feisr, Tolkien obviously. So, I read a lot of epic fantasy growing up.
And then later, as an adult, when I was actually trying my hand at writing, the very first thing I was successful at was urban fantasy. And I went on and I did alternate history and I did thrillers and wrote 20 other books first. But, epic fantasy was always a genre that I loved and I'd grown up with it.
Talk a little bit about the magic system in the book, which is cool—as cool as all get out. I just love the whole concept.
Basically, the people of this world, they all live on one continent that is completely surrounded and they'd never, ever go to the sea because, in this world, the ocean is basically hell. One thousand years ago there was what's referred to as the raid of demons, where demons fell from the sky, and they were on land and sea, but mankind fought that. Mankind was almost exterminated, but we wanted to eventually shove the demons back into the ocean. Since that time, demons have lived in the water, and mankind has lived on dry ground.
There are a couple of sources of magic in this world. There's what's referred to as a demon hide, or anything that comes from demon bodies, actually infused with the magical essence people can use. So, it is actually a renewable resource, only to get it, you have to take it from a demon and they're super deadly. And then, the other source of magic is what's referred to as black steel, which is this mysterious substance that has been left over from the ancients. It's far more powerful, except when it's used up, it's gone. It's not a renewable resource. There are only so many items in the world made of black steel. And our main character actually possesses one. He's what's called a bearer. He's actually been chosen by this black steel artifact to have it in his possession. The black steel in this case is actually intelligent and it chooses who wields it in battle. So, our main character is basically walking around with a magical weapon of mass destruction.
Let's talk about him. This is Ashok Vidal. He's this grim and implacable guy. But he's so grim and implacable that sometimes it's kind of funny how grim and implacable he is. And this is what makes it a Larry Correia book, by the way.
I actually had a lot of fun with Ashok. When you first meet Ashok, he's basically a guy that burns villages for a living, right? He is the guy they go to for all the hard stuff. And Ashok is dedicated to the law, utterly dedicated to the law. And I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but this is back in the first book. And what happens is Ashok discovers that all is not as it appears. And he is not who he has been raised to believe that he truly is. This is a guy who's totally devoted to the law, and when he finds out that his existence is a violation of the law, it basically pushes him over the edge. I like to describe the character of Ashok is kind of a cross between George Washington and the Punisher and a fantasy Judge Dredd. Ashok is an incredibly dedicated, incredibly lethal individual. And so, he then basically is forced into betraying everything he's ever believed in.
Let's talk about your process. How do you write? How do you sit down and what are you working on now?
I'm working on the next Monster Hunter novel right now. It's called Monster Bloodlines. That's out summer 2021. I treat writing like a job. I get up in the morning. I go to work. I write until about dinner time and I just do that every single day. I do about two books a year consistently and a whole bunch of short stories.
I just finished a science-fiction novel with a guy named John D. Brown. It's called Gun Runners. That'll be out in February. I just work. I don't take a lot of time off. I did this week because I have a cold; I've been mostly taking naps on the couch and playing video games. That’s my process. I try to write about 10,000 words a week. This is what I shoot for. Obviously, when I'm editing that goes down quite a bit, but about 2,500 words a day is what I shoot for during the week.
I don't usually work weekends anymore. I find that it's good to take time off and you know, let my brain refresh. Before, when I still had a full-time job, I just wrote at night and on weekends.
You started out writing in a dank closet, writing on the back of a door.
Yeah. We had a little place; we were poor. I had my first professional county job. Didn't pay very good. I had a little tiny unfinished basement. My office was one little unfinished concrete room in my basement. My desk was an old door on top of cinderblocks and it had cinderblock legs. And I was writing my book down there because it was my place. I got privacy. We had little kids and in the wintertime it got so cold that I would actually put on a knit hat and a scarf and I would write. I would type. I would wear gloves until it was time to type and then I would type, and then I would put the gloves back on. That's how I wrote my first novel.
How did you end up publishing with Baen? How did the process go?
That's actually really interesting. So, what happened was I self-published my very first novel, Monster International, and it did extremely good. And there was this bookstore in Minneapolis, Minn., called Uncle Hugo's run by a guy named Don Blyly. It's one of the biggest independent bookstores in America. And Don was given, early on, the Word document file for Monster International by one of his employees, who was a fan of my early writing on the internet. And he showed it to Don, and Don was blown away and he actually printed it off on the printer at work. He took it home and read it all in one night. He sold a lot of Baen books. He contacted Baen’s publisher, Toni Weisskopf, and said, “You really need to buy this book because I can sell the heck out of it.”