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Throughout Untold Histories

Eric Lard

Speculative Fiction Author

There’s evidence of other societies that were capable of things we can’t even do now. Plus there’s evidence of pretty regular cataclysms and ice ages and that sort of thing so I just ran with that idea, that society will rise and crash repeatedly. Then I imagined that it was managed... - Eric Lard, about The Soul Machine Saga

I met Eric Lard through a common friend, and I am glad I did. Eric offered me to read an excerpt from his work in progress, The Renegade Bodie Nine.

It was so much fun!

In a futuristic version of the wild west, shown through angles I had never experienced before, his protagonist is a gun-slinging, fancy-stetson-wearing... robot. A robot with very specific tastes, both in clothing and weapons. It makes for a gripping story, packed with quirky western humour and shootouts, breathless action, and an uncanny, unexpected reveal about the origins of Bodie Nine, our loyal and friendly robot. (Friendly, but not to be trifled with!)

I am panting to see what happens next...

In the interview below, Eric Lard and I discuss his background and creative process, his published works, and his upcoming projects. Do not miss any of it!

Interview with Eric Lard,

Author of Speculative Fiction

Eric Lard, tell us about yourself. Where are you from and where are you based currently?

Well, I was born and raised in Northern California. Currently based in the Sacramento area. Met my wife in Santa Cruz where I was going to UC Santa Cruz at the time. We have three sons who are adults now and doing that revolving door thing where they’re living at home but leaving to live in Santa Cruz or Wyoming with family just to get out and explore a bit. It’s tough on my wife but we’re really proud of all of them.

What first got you into writing?

I started writing a little bit in college, mostly song lyrics and poetry. I fronted and wrote the music for a couple bands in college and when I started my family, I couldn’t do the scene anymore but still had all this creativity that I needed to get out. That’s when I started to write stories. I wrote off and on for about fifteen years before I completed my first rough draft for a novel. That was Dawn of the Construct. Don’t ask me how that happened. It’s kind of a blur really.

What books have influenced you and your writing the most?

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first book that I read and just couldn’t stop. It made me realize that I actually liked reading. After that it was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guinn. Somewhere along the way I read The Hobbit, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so definitely it was all about fantasy in the beginning. I grew up on Star Wars, but I didn’t get into any sci-fi books really until high school, but I can’t remember reading much in that genre until I read Andy Weir’s The Martian many years later. His precision and wit were just so stunning to me. It renewed my desire to read and write sci-fi. I’ve been enjoying Neal Asher’s Jack Four and all of Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series.

Why are the science fiction and fantasy genres so important and popular at the moment? What do you think about that and how do you see the future?

Fantasy and Sci-Fi are a crucial component of how we as a species navigate the future. They are the feelers in the dark that help guide us to where we want to go, to grapple with our fears and to work out the morality of decisions we may have to make in the future. This is a little out there, but not really: I think that as artists, we tap into some sort of collective consciousness or other real but intangible structure of reality. There are many times when I’m thinking about an idea and a fully baked concept just drops into my mind and I’m like, thank you, but, what’s this and where did it come from?

Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?

Inspiration usually just happens. It’s never something I find when I’m looking for it. So, mostly I just let my mind wonder at different times and it will latch onto something shiny. As for mood? I don’t know. There’s rarely a time when I’m not in the mood to write, but if I find myself stuck like that I’ll either force myself to write something, anything, usually a short story idea or exploration of a concept, or I’ll just read someone that inspires me in the genre that I’m focusing on at the moment.

What does your writing process look like? What comes first, plot or characters? Why? Do you plan your writing thoroughly, or do you discover your story and characters as you write?

So, I have to write it to find out what’s in it. I start with an idea usually, then I imagine who the best character is to explore that idea. Then I think about how to make that character even more interesting and crucial so that there’s no way any other person would be right for that role. Once I have the right character exploring an intriguing problem, then I just let their choices guide the story. What has to happen and how do I make it worse? At a certain point I end up brainstorming and outlining just to keep the whole thing moving in the right direction and then also so that I can tie up all the loose ends into a satisfying conclusion.

What is your approach to world building?

I see my worlds, I see scenes. It’s hard for me to try and tell a story without describing it almost as I’d see it in a movie. A swath of light cast across my character’s face, darkness in the background, the light casting shadows across cheekbones, eyebrows, nose. Steel blue eyes sparkling but that sparkle is the reflection off a massive battle droid that’s flying through the air toward my MC. Of course that description doesn’t work in 1st person or 3rd person limited so I have to pull back and think about things in terms of the MC’s experience. What they hear, smell, how they feel. That’s a pretty accurate description of how my process usually works. Then everything I saw becomes a playground for the action that’s about to play out.

What role does research play in your writing? What research resources do you recommend?

I just google what I need and don’t sweat it too much. My writing relies more on originality than on technical details most of the time.

What are you most proud of in your writing journey so far? (No matter how small!)

Just getting my first book completed. Then getting it published. I want to keep doing that over and over and over again.

The way you see it, what are the pros & cons of indie vs trad publishing?

Ooh, that’s very controversial isn’t it? Like all media, trad publishing has it’s gatekeepers. Certain types of stories with certain types of characters written by certain classes or races of people are going to be promoted because agents know they can sell them. That’s a reality that is very off-putting to that side of the industry. Indie on the other hand is the wild west. You can do whatever you want, but just don’t expect to have much of an impact. It still has to be great. I think, whether you’re on one side or the other, building your network, not of social media followers, but of fellow authors is a major key.

What’s the title of your current work in progress? Can you tell us a little about it?

I have a weird west story called The Renegade Bodie Nine that I’m working on. It’s about a six-gun packing robot trying to rescue a young girl from being enslaved by a mining operation because of her magic abilities. Only when her hatred of her captors gets supercharged by the bizarre element they’re trying to mine, the girl, Justine, turns into an even greater threat than the outlaws ever were. The whole area is filled with esoteric creatures from Indian lore and there’s just a really great high-plains drifter vibe to the whole thing. It’s a lot of fun.

What other projects do you have in the works, writing-wise?

I’m also working on the follow-up to Dawn of the Construct. I had already written a prequel to it and now I’ve smashed that prequel’s storyline into this next book and it’s just an absolute blast.

How did you come to write your epic series, The Soul Machine Saga?

That’s a really big question. I’ve felt like our present society being the pinnacle of millions of years of evolution seemed pretty bogus. There’s evidence of other societies that were capable of things we can’t even do now. Plus there’s evidence of pretty regular cataclysms and ice ages and that sort of thing so I just ran with that idea, that society will rise and crash repeatedly. Then I imagined that it was managed and how that would look. And why. It all really fell into place from there.

Can you talk a bit about Dawn of the Construct’s protagonist, D’avry? Who he is and what he does that makes him very special?

I like D’avry as a protagonist because he’s so beat down in the beginning of the story. Life just comes at him and he has to deal with it only instead of getting a flat tire on the way to work and spilling coffee on your tie, D’avry gets teleported into the middle of a battle or finds himself turned into a caribou, really random stuff. His character arc begins when the magic that has been randomly screwing up his life slowly begins to become more manageable. It takes a big shift for him to move from just reacting to life to being the driving force behind not only his own life but maybe saving humanity from a threat that no one ever expected.

I definitely want to read your books now! Where should I start?

My website is a great place to start. You can choose where you’d like to purchase Dawn of the Construct from and in what format.

Eric N. Lard

Eric's base camp is in NorCal at the foot of the oft-smoldering Sierra Nevada where he enjoys surfing, snowboarding & mountain biking with his wife and three adult sons. His debut Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel Dawn of the Construct is available in ebook and paperback. He has many other projects in the works.

Dawn of the Construct, Eric Lard


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