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Tuesday, June 02 2015

Susan Young for Marshell Publishing

Larry spoke in an earlier post about his new project, a science fiction novel series called The Ethosians, where I asked him to give us a glimpse of the upcoming series and premise. In this interview, Larry provides more insight into how he made the decision to begin a science fiction project, and what has inspired his work and character development.

Susan: What made you decide to jump into the world of science fiction?

Larry: Funny you should ask that. There are two reasons.

My newest book, Vows to the Fallen, required extensive research to get the history, technology, and dialogue right. It wore me out! In the midst of this research, I began to wish I could write fantasy or science fiction so I wouldn’t have to do so much research; I could make it up as I went along. Wrong! In creating this advanced society, I wanted the technology to be plausible and different.  For example, everyone has warp drives or uses worm holes to get around the galaxy. Both are based on true physics, but this wasn’t good enough for the Ethosians, so I had to invent a new type of star ship drive that was also based on true physics.  Guess what: I was neck-deep in research into string theory and Einstein’s laws of relativity and the like.  Oh well; such is the life of an author!

The second reason I got into the world of science fiction is more general. I have always wanted to write a story with a strong heroine, and I have one. In the three-book arc, she starts out as a formidable character, albeit a minor one. By the end of the third book, the heroine is even more formidable and becomes the main character. I think my readers will like her as they watch her evolve from normal to incredible across the three book arc. 

Susan: Were you inspired to write this book because of any other sci-fi novels or movies you have seen?

Larry: Yes and no. I enjoy the imagination and creativity exhibited in science fiction novels and movies, and they spark my imagination on what the future will bring. I also can’t leave well enough alone because I want to “up my game.” We have come to expect that science fiction writers will provide some imagination in the technology they present to their readers, but to me, most of it is common stuff. I want to present new ideas and concepts in this series and not use all of the old, tried-and-true science fiction clichés.

This is an interesting challenge, because as an author and storyteller, the more technology you give a civilization, the easier it is for them to solve their problems.  No problems, no conflict, no story. So the problem becomes one of withholding technology in a credible way. If I give the Ethosians one technology, then the reader would expect that a similar technology would be available, but I can’t give them that technology because it would cause the plot to implode. The trick is in making the technology matrix (what’s included and what’s left out) credible to the reader.

Susan: What other topics do you explore in this book, aside from the moral and economic aspects of Ethos?

Larry: I have only begun to scratch the surface on other issues.  I have already written about 30,000 words on the Ethos backstory, and I haven’t yet put the characters into action. When I do, I know that more paradoxes and dilemma will surface. I have dozens of ideas right now, but I know that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Susan: When can we expect to see this book published?

Larry: When it is right. I am more concerned in writing good novels than in meeting deadlines. That is part of my promise to my readers. I want to outline all three books before I begin actual writing. There will be individual sub-plots within each book and sub-plots that span the trilogy. The main sub-plots of the trilogy are the backbone of the story, and I may want to write those sub-plots before I start serious work on the first book. It is a daunting task.  However, to answer your question, I would expect that the first book would be published late 2016 or early 2017.

Don’t worry: Between now and then, I will be publishing the third book in the Marathon trilogy about mid-2016, and continue with my Ship-Load of Sea Stories series as well. I’m excited!

Posted by: Susan Young AT 04:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 28 2015

Susan Young of Marshell Publishing

Larry’s newest book project involves a science fiction series called The Ethosians. The novel describes a complex society on a planet called Ethos, and delves into the social and economic facets of life on this planet. So I thought we’d kick off this new genre with some questions for Larry. Here is my interview:

Susan: tell us about this new book project and the characters who live in Ethos:

Larry: I am starting work on my next novel series, The Ethosians. Initially, three books are planned about this unique planet. The premise is that the Ethosians are ethical to a fault to the same extent that Star Trek’s Vulcans are logical and unemotional. Because of their ethical nature, they are intrinsically trusted in the galaxy, and have been hired by the other 71 advanced planets with sentient life to act as the peacekeepers in the galaxy. Each planet pays Ethos 2% of their GPP (Gross Planetary Product) to maintain peace in the galaxy. This is a good deal for everyone. 2% of GPP is less than what we earthlings spend on our military. As a bonus, the planets are free from the secondary costs of inter-planetary war, including loss of life, destruction of cities and infrastructure, medical costs for the wounded, and the diversion of resources.  So far, Ethos has been effective in keeping the peace for the last seven millennia. Sounds good doesn’t it? Ethos seems to be a perfect place to live; everyone is ethical and can be trusted, and no one will take advantage of your or cheat you.

Susan: Why do you think this book will appeal to readers?

Larry: Some people might get a kick out of the book because all of the males on Ethos consider themselves warriors. All of the intellectual stuff (science, engineering, etc.) is done by the women. It’s an interesting twist on things.

Susan: Tell us more about how you explore the social and economic aspects of the Ethosians in this book.

Larry: Because Ethosians can’t do anything that’s illogical or unethical, they have a very orderly society — almost an idyllic environment. Think about it for a minute. Such a perfect world has problems, and its society will face paradoxes. Some of the implications of such a world include:

  • How would an ethical society respond if someone committed a crime? Would they have the death penalty?
  • How do the Ethosians handle offenders of their ethical code?
  • If one assumes war is intrinsically immoral, how can the Ethosians engage in combat to maintain the peace?
  • What might the other planets do to take advantage of the Ethosians?
  • What does Ethos do when it discovers it has been cheated?
  • What relationship exists between Ethos and the galaxy’s criminal elements?
  • Are there paradoxes within the Ethosian culture?

Susan: Interesting questions, Larry. Hopefully the readers will respond with some their thoughts on how they would face some of these paradoxes if they were an Ethosian. I can’t wait to discuss more of Larry’s new science fiction series in the coming weeks. 

Posted by: Susan Young AT 04:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 15 2015

About Life on a Destroyer: Larry’s Trip to the USS Kidd Memorial Museum

April 11, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on the USS Kidd (DD-661) naval destroyer, where it was hit and suffered severe damage just miles from Okinawa, Japan. According to Wikipedia, the USS Kidd was a Fletcher-class destroyer and the first ship of the United States Navy to be named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died on the bridge of his flagship USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Larry Laswell mentioned to me that he had recently visited the USS Kidd Memorial in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so I was curious to find out more about his visit. Here is the interview:

Susan: When did you take the trip to USS Kidd, and what prompted your visit?

Larry: I visited the USS Kidd last July (2014). The purpose of the trip was to do research for my latest book, Vows to the Fallen, because the USS Kidd is the only un-modified WWII destroyer left in existence. Secretly, though, I longed to get my feet back on the deck of a destroyer.

Susan: What can you tell us about the USS Kidd, and what was significant to you about it?

Larry: The USS Kidd is a significant historical site as the only unmodified WWII destroyer left in existence. It was like going home. For those who have never been to sea on a destroyer, it is hard to understand what it is like. A destroyer is a complex, floating, self-mobile machine designed to project military force to the far reaches of the world. To understand what life is like aboard a destroyer, you have to think of it as a machine. You don’t go to sea ‘on’ a destroyer, you go to sea ‘in’ a destroyer, and you live, work, and sleep in the bowels of the machine.

Living quarters are cramped, and there are pipes, wire runs, air ducts, and machines around you all of the time. Except on deck, it is impossible to walk more than 10 feet in a straight line without running into some obstacle. Seldom can you spread your arms without touching a shipmate. Living in a destroyer is a unique way of life.

The USS Kidd brought me back to all of those realities. By civilian standards, it is a hard life and requires sacrifice, but once you’ve gone to sea in a destroyer, you always want to go back.

Some things about the Kidd did surprise me. The destroyer I was on had been modified to make it a bit more sailor-friendly. For example, the galley on my ship was twice the size of that on the Kidd, and the deck house had been modified to provide an amidships passageway. The differences were mind-boggling. For example, on the USS Kidd, every sailor had to go on deck to get to the mess deck to eat. So consider this, no matter what the weather was—hot or cold, dry or raining, calm seas or a hurricane—every crewman had to go on deck and face the wind, waves, and weather just to get dinner.

The galley on the Kidd was on the main deck, and the mess deck was one deck down, so the cooks had to carry large pots and pans full of food onto the rolling exposed deck (remember the weather), and then carry the food down a ladder to get it to the serving line. That’s when sailors were real men.  On my destroyer, the galley was still on the main deck, but an amidships passageway allowed all of that to be done from inside the ship, and men could get to chow without going onto the exposed exterior deck.

It is things like that many people miss, and it is why memorials like the USS Kidd are important. The Kidd is living history, and it tells the story of destroyer men in a way no book or movie ever could to each new generation. 

Susan: What was the name of the charity in which you chose to donate proceeds of The Marathon Watch last year? Why did you choose this?

Larry: I made the donation to the Louisiana Veterans Memorial Foundation. They are the parent company that owns and operates the USS Kidd memorial. I have a hard time explaining why I made the contribution. Emotionally I guess it is a tribute to those who went before me; a salute. Logically, the education, understanding, and appreciation it gives to each new generation is valuable. It tells us something about who we are and where we came from. That has great value to our society.

Susan: How can people honor and remember those who served? 

Larry: I was in the service during the Viet Nam war when public sentiment was strongly biased against the military and the war. I was called names on the street and even had things thrown at me. It was hateful and it hurt. Remember that every individual in the service has given our government a check the government can cash in any amount -- up to and including the service member’s life. Our service members do that willingly for the honor of protecting our way of life. Let them know you appreciate their service.  Finally, visit and support memorials like the USS Kidd, or the USS Intrepid. Every visit provides an education that is as deep as it is broad; that is well worth the price of admission.

For more information about the USS Kidd and the USS Kidd Veterans Museum, visit http://usskidd.com/

Posted by: Susan Young AT 07:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 16 2015

Susan Young for Marshell Publishing

In the history of film, there have been many successful book-to-film adaptations (think The Da Vinci Code, The Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter). So this got me thinking about how well Larry Laswell’s book The Marathon Watch would translate into a film. In this interview, Larry and I talk about what makes a successful book-to-film adaptation, and particularly what he thinks about the idea of his books portrayed on the big screen.

Q. Larry, you've mentioned that some of your fans thought that The Marathon Watch would make a great movie. Why do you think they said that?

 Larry: Their comments surprised me at first, and they described the story as very visually compelling. I had thought of The Marathon Watch as a story about men struggling through difficult times; an inward story, not an external visual story. After some thought, I realized the first third of The Marathon Watch sets the scene, but after that, the story becomes very kinetic, and I have to admit, I wrote those sections as if I was watching a movie. This is another example of readers finding far more in my novel than I purposely intended. That taught me that a novel is finished only after someone reads it and makes it their own.

Q. Did making your books into a movie ever cross your mind as you were writing them?

Larry: Never. My only focus was to tell a good story about the people and the navy. Again, my intended purpose was to tell a story about a ship and crew trying to uphold the navy ethos of duty, honor, and tradition in very difficult circumstances. I think I succeeded, since some of my best reviews came from women — very unusual for a military book.

Q. What military movies do you believe have inspired your writing?

Larry: To me, most military movies aren’t inspirational. They tend to be about historical or fictional events and are plot-driven. Few, if any, do a good job of showing the tribulations, grace and courage of our fighting men and women. Saving Private Ryan is an exception to that rule. I see Saving Private Ryan as the story of an officer struggling against post-traumatic stress and finding a way to do his duty and look out for his men. That is the type of story I enjoy; it makes you think, and it moves your heart. I hope my readers agree that The Marathon Watch and my next novel, Vows to the Fallen, fall into that mold. I will feel honored if they do.

Q. If The Marathon Watch were made into a movie, who would you see directing it, and playing the main characters?

 Larry: There are a lot of great directors and actors out there so I wouldn’t want to get too specific about names, and risk excluding other capable professionals. Let’s approach it this way: I would like to see a director who has made compelling emotional movies about people. After all, that is what my novels are about.

I am not an expert on acting, but in some movies I see an actor playing a part. In others, with great actors, the actors become the character and I only see the character. I would like to see actors of that caliber. Admiral Durham and Captain O’Toole would require strong heroic actors whose mere presence on the screen would grab your attention and shout courage, duty, honor, and tradition.

Durham and O’Toole are the defenders of tradition. Perhaps someone like Gregory Peck could play Durham.

Meyers, the Farnley’s executive officer, grapples with tradition when he discovers he is on the horns of a dilemma, since duty and honor are in conflict. He is a man destined for greatness, and would need an actor who could convey his internal struggle and courage; perhaps someone in the mold of Tom Hanks.  Ross, the engine room chief, would be the most difficult to cast. That character would have to be as tough as a Marine Corps drill instructor, and at the same time tell the audience his tender heart still carries very deep, old scars. Admiral Eichhoff, the antagonist, is a cruel, conniving, yet smooth-talking slug. I can’t think of anyone to play him.

Q. How would you convince a Hollywood director that your book was worth making into a movie?

Larry: Well, I couldn’t sell a Band-Aid at a train wreck! I’m just not a salesman. If the book doesn’t sell itself, there wouldn’t be much I could to help it along.

Q. What would you change about the story line in order to adapt it into a film?

Larry: Later this year, I will release the second edition of The Marathon Watch. In the first third of the book, I will add new material and sharpen the focus on the characters’ internal conflicts. Beyond that, I would hope a director would stick with the story line. However, since Hollywood is Hollywood, they will want to add a love interest, and perhaps some sex, which is entirely missing in The Marathon Watch. There is hope though, since neither of those elements was in Saving Private Ryan.  It ultimately would come down to how much I want The Marathon Watch up on the big screen.

Q. Of the books you know that have done well as adaptations, what do you think made them so successful at the box office?

Larry: I have heard actors say the magic is in the writing, and that no amount of great acting can save a weak script. I have to agree. A recent movie adaptation is from the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The book was moving and the characters compelling. The producers resisted the urge to “improve” the novel with changes and additions. The movie faithfully followed the book, and is a moving and compelling movie.

Now that I think about it, this relates to your earlier question about changes in the storyline to adapt it to film.  Let me change my answer to that question, and say that I would hope The Marathon Watch and my characters are compelling enough, Hollywood wouldn’t want to change a thing.

Posted by: Susan Young AT 05:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 09 2015

By Susan Young for Marshell Publishing

If you have read any of Larry’s blog posts, you’ve probably noticed that he enjoys sharing stories of his experiences and adventures in the U.S. Navy. It’s easy to see how these experiences have shaped his viewpoint and perspective as an historical and military fiction author. So I was curious what made Larry decide to record his stories and share them with his fans.  Here is what he had to say:

Q: What made you decide to share your own sea stories as part of your author website?

Larry: There is a simple multi-part answer to that. First, my eight years in the navy were truly an adventure. Over the years I shared my sea stories in their verbal tradition with my family and friends. They all said, I should write them down, but for years I resisted. One day my wife challenged me to write down a list of all of my stories, and being a well-trained husband, I complied.  I had over 80 sea stories, and I keep thinking of more. Since I see myself as a writer, I decided to write them down – duh!

There is an element of humor or irony in most of the stories, but some are serious such as the post I have scheduled for April 6th that relates my experience as regular visitor to Haight-Asbury in San Francisco at the height of the Hippie movement. The humor comes into play because I have always had a warped view of the world and can always find humor in anything. For example, one upcoming sea story tells of my adventures the day I blew up a torpedo launcher. I thought it was hilarious (have you ever seen four burly sailors chase a five-hundred pound torpedo that is rolling back and forth on a rolling deck). Unfortunately, my captain saw no humor in the situation at all.

Whether the story is funny or serious, I caution my readers be wary of the veracity of my sea stories since the older I get the better I was. But then again, every sailor knows a sea story is absolute gospel and should never be questioned.

Q. What kind of stories can readers expect in future sea stories?

Larry: To say my collection of sea stories is eclectic would be an understatement. Some relate to the interesting people I met, like the little old Greek woman who was the wife of the British Ambassador to France during the De Gaulle years. She called him “Charles.” Some stories are about my experiences and adventures ashore and afloat, like how I used to camp out under the bushes in Golden Gate Park at night to save money. Some, I think, are absolutely hilarious, like the time a high powered radar lit-up every fluorescent light bulb in the business district of a major city at about midnight. Some are wistful like my post on Haight-Asbury, and others are serious as I consider the danger our sailors face and the sacrifices they make.

Q: Why do you think it's important for military men to share their own sea stories?

Larry: I have another multi-part answer for that question. Service members who have read my sea stories tell me. “Yeah, I’ve been there and done that at a different time, and under different circumstances.”  In that vein, it is a validation of their service and a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Those who have not served in the military love the military nuances of the stories, and it informs them of nature of the work our military personnel do and the challenges they face.  From the feedback I’ve received, everyone enjoys some aspect of the stories, be it information, humor, or my merrily-warped view of military life.

Q: How do you plan on sharing any submissions?

Larry: I will post any well written sea story submitted to me provided the story isn’t of the “R” or “X” rated flavor. Trust me there are lots of those, but there are far greater stories of the “G” flavor.

Q. Are you offering any incentives for sharing sea stories?

Larry: I will select one sea story each month to receive an autographed copy of The Marathon Watch.

Share your Sea Stories with Larry:

We’d love to hear from other veterans about their life at sea or life after the Navy. If you’re willing to share your own Sea Story, please use our online submission form, or email larry@larrylaswell.com. You just might see your Sea Story in a future blog post on Larry’s website.

Posted by: Susan Young AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 03 2015

Susan Young for Marshell Publishing

I’ve been speaking a lot lately with Larry Laswell about his experiences in writing The Marathon Watch, as well as some of the feedback he’s received from readers as well as literary critics. Here I’ve gathered some of his thoughts and perspective as he reflects on the criticisms he’s received thus far, and how he’s taken that information to heart.

First, how do you view reader reviews?

The reviews have been very gratifying and all positive. In the US my average review is 4.6 our of 5 stars, and in the UK my average review is 4.3 stars. I am thankful to anyone who provides feedback on my work. I appreciate they read the book and took the time to let me, and other readers, know what they thought. I don’t take criticism of my work as a bad thing. Instead, I view it as a learning opportunity to improve my craft. So far, all of the criticism I have received has been on point and I have learned from it although I may not agree with it because of the goals I set for my novel.

Reader Comment  #1: The Marathon Watch begins with heavy narrative.

Larry’s Response: There are several reasons Larry claims that he starts the book with a lot of narrative, rather than dialogue. The first reason is the huge backstory he needs to convey to readers. “Most readers are not acclimated to military thinking and culture,” Larry says. “In order to convey (the backstory) to them through dialogue would have doubled the size of book, unless I did it in narrative (form).”

Reader Comment #2: The Marathon Watch breaks standard literature rules.

Larry’s Response: Larry admits that he knew the literary critics would get on his case for breaking many of the rules of standard literature, which are set by publishing houses. The publishing houses are not concerned with great literature; only minimizing their risk by using proven formulas. However, he believes he broke the rules for a purpose – to have a positive effect. “If you write those rules down, and then take work of Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Michener – not any of them will pass the test on those rules,” said Larry. “To a certain extent, I hope I’m in that class.”  Larry also mentioned that some of the most critical reviews he has received have been from other authors because he broke the rules. Larry responded that he knows that there are many cookie-cutter book formulas out there. He offers those critics a spirited response:  “Would you rather write a cookie-cutter novel that followed all the rules or write a great one readers will enjoy?” he said. “To hell with the formula!”  My goal is to write great books, and my readers deserve more than a cookie-cutter formula book anyone could crank out in three months.

Reader Comment #3: The Marathon Watch is too long.

Larry’s Response: In this case, Larry started to believe some of the criticisms, and has responded accordingly.  In fact, the original first draft of The Marathon Watch was 30 percent larger than the current book, but Larry cut the word count by 30,000 words – nearly one fourth of the book. The wisdom behind that decision was that in print format, for size and shelf considerations for retail stores, a shorter book made more sense, even though the larger size typically sells better in the electronic (eBook) world.  Because of that decision, Larry said, his beta readers were angry with him because they said his first draft was a work of pure literature, and what he wound up with was all of the prose – beautiful descriptions, the history and the mythology on the cutting room floor. Larry holds on to the possibility that someday he’ll release the “author’s cut” of The Marathon Watch for those who would like to read the longer version. He is also considering re-releasing The Marathon Watch this year with a revised front end to address the narrative criticism.

Posted by: Susan Young AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 16 2015

Smashwords – an Interview with Larry Laswell – Part 1

Reader’s Note: This interview is an excerpt from a two-part interview with Larry Laswell conducted by Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. During this first portion of the interview, Larry discusses his early literary influences, favorite books, as well as what inspires him every day.

Q& A With Larry Laswell:

Q. Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

 I grew up in North College Hill just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. My neighborhood was lower middle class, and almost every household was led by a World War II veteran with at least two children. It was a no- nonsense culture in which children learned to address adults by mister and misses, and answer questions, "Yes, sir." and "No sir." It was a pay-it-forward community. Everyone always helped each other out, and never expected anything in return. In a way, it was militaristic, and a man had to stand for something. I think my readers will see a little of that in my work.

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

I think that depends on the genre. Serious literature would be Ayn Rand, Hemingway, Michener, and Steinbeck, Orwell’s early work, and perhaps Orson Scott Card. I like Heller’s Catch-22 although he beats the reader over the head with his vocabulary.

For action adventure, thriller, spy stories it would be Tom Clancy, Ken Follett, Stephen Coonts, David Poyer, Dale Brown, John le Carre, and Dan Weber.

For science fiction, I would say there’s two: Isaac Asimov, Stanley Kubrick. 

Then there’s Douglas Adams, who is a genre all by himself.

Q. Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Wow, no I can't, but in the sixth grade, my teacher gave me a book report assignment on Quo Vadis. I had to get permission from my parents to check the book out of the library. Let me say, that was a heavy assignment for a sixth grader. I will never forget that experience. Quo Vadis, gave me an appreciation for nineteenth century European literature, in terms of structure and style. I will never forget Lygia,

About that time, I went through periods of reading everything written by different authors like Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack London, and O'Henry. Each of those authors brought a different approach to storytelling, and I learned from each one.

Q. What are your five favorite books, and why?

For pure narrative art, my favorites would be The Bridges at Toko-re, The Pearl, and The Old Man and the Sea. When I think of emotional impact, The Grapes of Wrath comes to mind. Those four books have heavily influenced my writing style.  Douglas Adams was the master of fantasy and humor in his Hitchhiker series. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings are excellent examples of masterful storytelling. For techno-thriller action, it has to be The Hunt for Red October.

Q. What do you read for pleasure?

Recently it has been books like Enders Game, and books in the Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum. I guess I’m going through a phase again, aren’t I?

Q. What is your e-reading device of choice?

I purchased a Kindle about five years ago, and my wife stuck her nose up at it. Then I showed her how easy it was to find a book and download it. After that, I couldn’t get it back from her, so I bought an I Pad and put a Kindle reader on it.

Q. How do you discover the e-books you read?

Depends. About half my reading is for pure enjoyment. For those books, I pick up what looks interesting or books recommended by my friends. The other half of the books I read are for professional analysis to develop my craft. For those books, I pick up specific authors or genres. Every so often, I re-read what I call my "classics," Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Kubrik, Mitchner, Victor Hugo, LeCarre, and Gustave Flaubert.

Q. Describe your desk.

Organized chaos. I have a hutch-like desk about five feet wide. To my right, I have twelve writer’s reference books and three binders with story ideas and notes. Between those books and my computer monitor, is a stack of papers relating to my current writing project. That stack changes daily, but usually includes my manuscript bible, and a smattering of loose notes. The rest of my desktop is an eclectic collection of notepads, loose papers, and pens that surround my large screen monitor.

I would like to say, that I am better organized since I discovered the power of Scrivener. It’s an editor and organizer for the manuscript and research. The authors designed it for writers, and I love it.

Q. What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Ninety-nine days out of a hundred, I look forward to getting out of bed because I have so much to do that I value. Being retired, I am not responsible to anyone, or for anyone except myself. That’s tremendously liberating, and means I can do what I value. What do I value? I value those activities that enrich my life, and the lives of others. That’s why I write.

Q. When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?

My favorite activity is spending time with my wife, Marsha. We do everything as a team, and we learn from each other. When we’re together, five minutes can’t go by before we are laughing about something. We even work together on my writing projects. She has amazing insight, and is my toughest critic, and number one supporter.

I guess reading would be number two. Between my wife and me, we read 10 to 20 novels a month. Number three would be woodworking and tinkering in the garage -- that’s my man-cave.

To receive a discount code to download the ebook format of Larry Laswell’s latest book, The Marathon Watch via Smashwords, sign up to receive email updates from Larry Laswell here.

Posted by: Susan Young AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 04 2015

My Interview with Larry Laswell

February 2, 2015

Susan Young for Marshell Publishing

Today I sat down for a discussion with historical fiction author Larry Laswell to discuss his latest book as well as his upcoming book projects. Here is that interview in its entirety:

Susan: What kind of feedback have you gotten so far from readers of your latest book, The Marathon Watch? Was the response what you expected?

Larry: I would say I’ve been blown away by the response. I’m getting mostly 5-star reviews and it’s selling better in the U.K. than in the U.S. right now, but there are a lot of people who  have said positive things, including that they can’t wait until it is made into a movie.

(The Marathon Watch) is one of the few military books where there is no fighting or war. It’s all about the turmoil that individuals go through on a ship during difficult times. If I had a catch phrase (for this book) – it would be ‘duty, honor and tradition’ –and the characters succeed because of duty, honor and tradition.

It’s scary when you put a book out there and let everyone comment on it. I’ve received a few critical reviews, and I agree with them and I’m taking them into account in my next book, Vows to the Fallen.

Susan: Tell me about your newest book launch.

Larry: Vows to the Fallen (publishing August 9, 2015) is a World War II book that follows the main character, naval officer O’Toole, who was in The Marathon Watch.  It examines what I call the burden of command. O’Toole is a skilled officer who is very good at what he does, but he has to come to terms with his inner demons in that he has to deal with sending men to their death. He is very much concerned about his men and that just makes his inner demons worse.

Susan: So are there themes throughout the book?

Larry: The catch phrase for that book might be ‘a commander can bury his death, but where does he bury his guilt and grief?’ The book follows the evolution of O’Toole from absolutely being devastated by the carnage of war and becoming a fearless leader. It is his men who get him straight (in order for him) to be able to order men in battle to their death.

Susan: What inspired you to write this book?

Larry: Really it’s a couple of things. One – it is a dedication to destroyer sailors. Destroyers never really get the credit for dangerous things that they have to do. For example, 80 percent of all U.S. Navy ships that sunk during WWII were destroyers.  The second thing which inspired the book was the tremendous emotional burden that a military commander has in dealing with sending men to their death. I also (briefly) examine the topic post-traumatic stress disorder in the book.

Susan: Do people need to have read The Marathon Watch to understand Vows to the Fallen?

Larry: No –it’s a stand-alone book. There are still three or four common characters between the two books.

Susan: What should your fans look for in the coming months?

Larry: I will be publishing the first chapter of (Vows to the Fallen) in a month or so, and will put that on my website. I will also going to start a blog series, which will include all of the technical, strategic and geo-political facts and figures that were the background research of my latest book.  It’s a lot of stuff that people don’t realize and that Hollywood doesn’t get quite right – they gloss over it.

Susan: What type of people will enjoy reading your books?

Larry: The books fall into the genre of “action/adventure” and also “military,” and another category which I’ll call Sea Stories. Anyone in military will extremely enjoy it. The story in The Marathon watch is universal theme and Vows to the Fallen also has a universal theme, so I think the book can be enjoyed by both men and women.

Susan: What do you think is the biggest surprise of the book?

Larry: I think the ending, from an action standpoint, is pretty intense, and the last page of the book is very interesting in terms of the main character’s evolution, and how he resolves his problems. That will surprise readers.

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