Charles Tan Interviews Laird Barron

Laird Barron

Hi Laird! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. The elephant in the room is all your nominations. In your opinion, how has your writing evolved over the years, especially when it comes to horror?

Hi, Charles. Can’t say whether I’ve evolved, but I hope I’ve learned a few things along the way. I worked different notes in Occultation; where The Imago Sequence dealt with horror through a hyper- masculine, noir lens, the new collection features, on the whole, a broader spectrum of protagonists, most of them quite ordinary. The focus is much more on relationships than gunfights. People dealing with each other, the wilderness, the inner dark. More focus on atmospherics, more attention to the ghostly and the weird. The third collection, The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All, is a fusion of the first two in many ways. I worked in cosmic horror tales alongside the occult and one pure ghost story.  Hope to see it out in a year or so.

A lot of your stories tend to be quite lengthy. Where are you more comfortable, the short story or novelette format? What are the pros and cons of each?

I prefer the novelette and novella forms; anything between twelve to twenty-five thousand words. The majority of my recent work is somewhere in that range, although I occasionally write a short story as well. I enjoy longer forms because there’s room to develop secondary characters and plots, more space for the darkness to expand, more layers of the onion to peel. I guess I’ve bought into that theory the core of art creation is akin to archaeology—you don’t write a story, you unearth it. My tendency is to keep boring in, to keep mining for the next black artifact my subconscious has convinced me lies in wait.

How did Night Shade Books end up publishing your second (as well as first) short story collection

The first collection came about after I spoke with Kelly Link at Readercon and she suggested I contact Jason and Jeremy at Night Shade. Turned out that Kelly and Nick Mamatas had championed my stories in Fantasy & Science Fiction and SciFiction to NS among others–this proved to be a huge boost for me. So, I dropped NS a line and Jason Williams took the collection a few weeks later. I ended up with a beautiful book, too. The guys made a nice offer for another collection and a novel. Occultation is equally gorgeous. Next, The Croning novel, which has been running behind due to unrelated life complications on my end.

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