- How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
That honestly depends on the topic. If I am familiar with the subject, then the research is just a trip down memory lane. Though I try to stay away from topics that are far out of my experience range, it is always a pleasure to learn something new.
The longest I have spent on research is more than five years (and going). It is for a sci-fi story that requires interstellar travel. I don’t want to go the route of other such sci-fi stories—faster than light travel without explanation, worm holes, warp speed, light speed, ludicrous speed, etc. So I decided to spend time researching a viable way to travel around the galaxy.
For Absolution: Redux, I spent a good month researching. But, I do write as I research and adjust in revisions.
- How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police, medics etc when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
In my experience, whenever you approach someone and make them aware that they may be the inspiration behind a story, they are willing to help. That is an opportunity that is out of the ordinary; it flatters most. A few get too attached and want to make sure you write something that isn’t BS. About them. One or two won’t go for the idea at all.
- If you need specialist knowledge to write a book, how do you obtain it? For instance, do you interview people? Go to the location? Use Google Earth? Apps?
Early on, I wrote a murder mystery that took place in the military barracks where I lived. I was a soldier, so the specific military knowledge, terminology, etc. were all available to me. These days, there is a plethora of information out there on the internet.
There are videos and printed interviews with just about every kind of man and woman in the world. That is also true of locations. Google Earth is fantastic. Youtube is a library of the human condition. The only app I really use is a map app.
- What do you read when you are ill in bed?
Hahaha. I mostly read comic books in bed. My ipad pro is big enough so I get all the comic book experience without the bulk. I borrow digital comic books from libraries. I’m living the dream.
- If you could recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?
Nnedi Okorafor. She writes some outstanding scifi. I have not read a story from her that I did not like. She’s alive and still writing.
A dead author? Raymond Carver. He was a literary short story writer. “Cathedral” is fantastic.
- Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?
I think there were unique influences in my writing at different periods. When I was young, it was Steinbeck (style, genre). Later, it was Cormac McCarthy.
In my 30s, I decided to write genre fiction, specifically speculative fiction (fantasy, urban fantasy). The biggest influences then were Neil Gaiman and Ursula Leguin. I know many writers name Tolkien as an influence, but (though I appreciate his extensive world-building and characters) he didn’t influence my style.
Leguin’s Wizard of Earthsea and the Earthsea cycle are astonishingly grounded for a high fantasy setting. There are scenes of domestic situations in that first book that have stuck with me all this time.
As for Gaiman… The way his stories develop and pay-off (particularly Sandman) showed me how to plant seeds that grow into a forest.
And who can forget George R.R. Martin? He will likely influence the writers of high fantasy for the next century.
- In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?
In my humble opinion, that would be Mr. Christopher Moore. I enjoy reading comedy. And Moore’s comedic style is right down my alley. When I do read any of his books (or any other comedy books for that matter) I make sure they’re in audiobook format. There’s no greater joy than to hear a voice actor drop a well-placed F-bomb. Har!
- What music – if any – do you think inspires you to write? Is it different for each novel or the same?
Music sometimes plays a very influential role in my work. Each story has its own theme song—so to speak. When I can find a song or a sound for a story, it helps me visualize the events of the plot—the genre is irrelevant.
I play the music and the events appear in my mind like a movie trailer. For Absolution: Redux it is a song called “Waking up Beside You” by Stabbing Westward.
- Do you keep a timeline and character traits pinned up on your wall? On post-its? If not how do you remember important items about your characters like height, weight, colouring, likes and dislikes etc?
You know…it got to a point where I had too many details to remember. Technology has helped me here. Google docs has helped me keep track of characters: I have a document with character names and descriptions. I use an Office calendar if I need to see where events fall.
For my upcoming novel, The Wizards Collide, I needed to carefully map all the events; there are 11 stories, which take place in November and December of 2020. Characters pop up in multiple stories and the events of one story influence the others.
For Absolution: Redux, I used pen and paper to keep track of the important events.
- Should monsters /criminals be given a second chance? Can they be reformed? What is the best type of prison for them?
This question is at the heart of Absolution: Redux. The victim of the murder and several other supporting characters are criminals and have done horrible things. Many of them will end up in the Pit (the story’s version of Hell).
That’s not the whole story, though. The victim of the murder wanted forgiveness, a second chance, for himself, his girlfriend, and the world; he tried to perform a miracle that would accomplish this, but failed.
So, the reader will either sympathize with him and his actions or be repulsed. The dead detective trying to solve the murder has to grapple with this question, especially when someone close to him ends up in the Pit.
- Has the pandemic inspired you with any new stories to write? If so, what is the story premise?
The pandemic inspired me to change the ending of a story that takes place in the Los Angeles International airport. I was working there during the start of the pandemic and saw, first hand, how that place became a ghost town.
- If you were asked to write a family saga which century would you place it in? why? What would be the main premise?
I am working on a family saga. It takes place in an alternate history version of Latin American during the 19th century. During that period in Latin America, there were many wars of independence, which led to bloody civil wars.
And I remember G.R.R. Martin was inspired by the War of the Roses to write his Song of Ice and Fire. So, why not write something similar that has Latin America as a background? Like A Song of Ice and Fire, my story follows an affluential family.
It is a fantasy story, so there will be a magic system and mythological locations, like the Fountain of Youth, and of course, an overarching magical struggle. It also incorporates the cruel story of the conquistadores. It doesn’t have a name right now, but I refer to it as the coffee bean war story.
What about ‘snark’? is it good or bad?
Snark always has a home in a story…in moderation. A character can have a moment of snark or you can include a snarky character. Sometimes, when it’s overdone, snark can lead to an off-putting story.
- Is it easy to write humour?
Humor (humour) has to be part of your voice. Comedians don’t train like basketball players; they observe and put together material and try it on others.
If they are talented, humor comes easy to them. If they’re mediocre…crickets, man. For them, it’s tough since the audience is right there—and usually well-armed with tomatoes.
I tend to find humor in most situations, so I fall into the comedian crowd. Writing comedic scenes and events is a challenge because you don’t get to hear a reaction. You revise and edit to improve the timing.
Sometimes you delete a joke if you change your mind or if the scene didn’t need one (unless it’s a comedy book, then, yes, it needs one or two or three… Go nuts!).
At the end of the day, you hope someone laughs. There is always an audience for different types of humor, so there is no real limit to it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louis Corsair is an eight-year veteran of the United States Army. Currently living in Los Angeles, California, he spends his time reading books, going on walks, writing, and enjoying the occasional visit to the beach–while trying to earn an honest buck. As a Los Angeles writer, he feels the weight of famous Los Angeles novelists, like Raymond Chandler, John Fante, Nina Revoyr, among others.