Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An interview with author, Karl Larsen!

Where are you from? 
Originally, I grew up in Irmo, SC which is just outside of Columbia. The little ol' town of Mebane, NC served as my second hometown during my teenage years. I've also lived in Greensboro, NC and Lexington, SC but that doesn't count. I live in Columbia now.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The inspiration for my book came from a number of things. At the age of 25, I had gone through some major ups and downs that led to the discovery of a forgotten passion--writing. It was something I had always enjoyed all through school but never tried to pursue it. Then I thought… "if I can write a book I can do anything." Strangely, that's worked ever since.

Very inspiring! Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life? 
I write in my free time. I’ve started a few new projects that will allow me to explore different avenues like film, public art, and journalism. My job allows me the time it takes to sit down and engage if I'm feeling it. It’s a wonderful balance. I love it.

What jobs have you held that influence your stories?   
My first job ever was at a Quizno's Sub. I was just out of high school. I didn’t make much money but I ate pretty good and my friends always ate free! After bailing college, I worked in retail management for a couple years holding various positions in a large home improvement store. I can’t lie. It was hell. I wasn't for me. The jobs you hold certainly influence the way you live your life. In my case, they set the stage for scenes from my book.

Do you have a specific writing style?
Many who know me have told me I write exactly how I speak. "Raw" is what I hear the most. Whatever that means… Writing, to me, is the best way to express myself. When speaking, I stumble through words in certain situations but writing just seems to come naturally, and I'm able to say exactly what I mean and exactly how I mean it.

How did you come up with the title?
"W a n t.", the title of my first book was inspired by the word itself. 'Want', its definition, and its misuse left me searching for answers, not just about the word, but my life, why I wasn’t pursuing my dreams. In turn, my life began to flourish. My title is tattooed across my forearm; not for marketing, but to serve a constant reminder to never settle. It also makes for a great conversation starter. ;)

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Without getting to crazy about the topic… basically, in a nutshell: Always pay attention to your desires. Follow your passions. Create something. You will never go wrong.

Great message! How much of the book is realistic?
All of it!

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books is a combination of life events growing up a lost, passionless boy searching for a calling, itching to define myself and my a philosophy built on a concept of the word ‘want‘ and redefining it by positive actions. It wasn't until I put it all together did I know I had the material for a book. The end of my story is left wide open. 

I think I've just written a book. What now?

What books have most influenced your life most?
I can’t say that there is a stack of books that exists that inspired me to create my own. “The Hidden Power” by Thomas Troward blew my mind psychologically and redirected my thoughts and energy in a new direction which ultimately, led me exploring different ways of expressing myself. I never set out to write a book. It just came with inspiration. I just so happened to harness and capture a moment at the right time. It was perfect timing!

I will have to look that book up! If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
My own father is a writer and has always been a great mentor, especially when it comes to writing. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree... I hate that saying and I really don't like apples.

What book are you reading now?
Facebook. No, really...

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
K. Nycole Lee, duh. 

Why thank you! I'm quite honored! What are your current projects?
I’ve got a few projects in the pot but will require full-time dedication and I just don’t have that at the moment. Right now, my energy and excitement are directed toward public art projects. I also dedicate most of my extra time giving back to my city through community service. These are passions that have stemmed from my work.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 
All of my family have been super supportive in my decision to write so they're always #1. Honestly, my friends in both North and South Carolina have really come through for me in so many ways. Whether it’s buying the book, promoting it, or helping me with events, I couldn’t have gotten my name or book out there without them. I'm also fortunate to live and work in a community that supports the arts. My work has been embraced. From book signings to radio time, countless organizations and local businesses have been there for me! I am very thankful that! Wait, that was two…

That's great that you have such a solid support system. Do you see writing as a career?
In a sense, yes. For now, my goal is to still get my message out in as many ways possible. I’m not so much about my book but more about what do with it and what I can do to grow and promote the message, and not so much a product. 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a single thing. Since it’s my life on paper, it’s exactly the way it should be. It’s a timestamp. I can always look back at those moments and smile knowing I captured it. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It’s funny you ask that. While writing my final chapter, I found myself reflecting on that very question. It actually took some digging to answer. In elementary school, my class was given a writing assignment and entered into a school-wide contest. The topic was how to change the world. Though I can’t remember exactly what I wrote about, I remember winning and having to read my story over the intercom to the entire school during the morning announcement! It's crazy because its exactly what my book is about: changing the world. Ironic? 
I think not.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Nope. That’s top secret. ;)

Oh, I see. We are intrigued by the mystery! Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I have the attention span of a gnat so staying focused is extremely difficult. Besides that, depending on the topic, most of my writing seems  to flow effortlessly. I just let it out and let my wonderful editing genius pick me apart until I get it right. She won't get this interview so I'm sure I'll get an earful once she reads it.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Favorite author? I've never really been an avid reader. I just don't have the time or the attention for it. Tell you what though… R.L. Stine killed it in the Goosebumps series. Those stories scared me to death as a kid. I'd do anything to have the entire collection again.

Ha! I remember reading those as well. Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I save my traveling for fun.

Who designed the covers?
Believe it or not, I've designed my own covers. When I have visions in my head, I rarely trust others with my ideas, in fear they won’t be able to duplicate what’s in my head. I try and try until I get it just right. I know with a little time and patience, I can make it happen. 

Excellent! Your cover is quite impressive and grabs the readers attention. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
EDITING. I'd be nothing without my editor! 

I couldn't agree more, editing is very important. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Absolutely! As I wrote, I learned things about myself I don't think I would have ever learned if I wouldn't have taken the time to figure it all out and write it down. It's taught me patience, and has given me the strength and inspiration to accomplish anything. My book and message are embedded in every waking thought and action. I must live what I've created.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Nothing specifically for writers. For anybody pursuing a passion: It doesn't matter what is: music, literature, art, whatever. Always do your best and never half-ass when it comes to your work. Also, be sure to find time EVERY SINGLE DAY to work on your projects whether it's a paragraph, illustration, promoting. Don't lose steam and don't be lazy. You'll thank yourself later.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Basing a book on a word and its origin can sometimes be very tedious. The research was intense. I remember spending countless hours in the library piecing together the timeline and the etymology of a word that's hundreds of years old. I wanted to give up. On top of that, building a philosophy and new definition for it, well… yeah. When it finally came together, it was the greatest relief in the world.
What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing? 
Personally, I'm not a fan. Nothing beats the feel of a physical book. At least, thats what I've been told by most readers or as one told me, "You can't sign my Kindle. I want a book!"

Very true. I don't think I'll ever stop adding to my physical library! So, Mr. Larsen, do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one? 
Nope. I'm happily self-published. There was no doubt in my mind that it was the way to go. It's given me the freedom to let my project grow beyond the book and has kept me humble. The struggles are there but I embrace them. At the end of the day, I'm not out to make money. I'm not out to have fans or followers. Every book I sell is a personal transaction, signed and shipped by me. I prefer it that way.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Australia. Need I say more?

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Who is to say I don't already possess one?

Thank you for such an excellent interview! I'd love to know what your super power is...but I understand the need for secrecy ;) -K.N. Lee

For more on Karl Larsen: