Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the witty and entertaining Larry Enright, Independent Author of Four Years From Home. Which, by the way, has been climbing the charts in the top 100, so you better get your copy now before Larry realizes he could make more money with a higher price. There are a couple of spoilers here, so if that bothers you skip over those questions. Spoilers don’t really bother me unless it’s a murder mystery and you tell me up front who the murderer is. That kind of takes it out of the mystery category for me.
LP: Good morning, Larry, and thank you for joining me today.
LE: Good morning, Linda. It’s a pleasure to be here.
LP: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
LE: I was born in Pittsburgh four years after World War II ended and I am the middle child in an Irish Catholic family of five children. My father and mother were married during the war and started their family after Dad came home in 1945. I have his wedding photo. He was in uniform and my Mom was in a beautiful dress – her mother’s wedding dress. Things were very different then. People were happy to be at peace again and struggling to rebuild their lives, always hoping for things to get better. There was no personal computers, no Internet, we shared a phone line with the neighbors, TV – if you were lucky enough to have one – was black and white. And if you were a writer, you used a pencil and paper.
Today, I live on a small farm on which things grow despite my best efforts. I have been married since 1980 and have two sons in their twenties. We are still all together on the farm, though I suspect my younger son will be moving out soon. I love my family and I love my writing space at the house – enclosed sun porch that gathers the morning light and graciously provides me my best spurts of creativity.
LP: Being a farm girl myself, I know all about those things that grow despite your best efforts. Mostly weeds. But I do love farm life. Do you feel that the environment you were raised in had any effect on the genre you chose to write in?
LE: I grew up loving stories and apparently I was fairly adept at spinning yarns and tall tales when the need arose. Mystery, science fiction and fantasy were my favorites. I don’t know that my environment had an impact on the genre of “Four Years From Home,” but it certainly had an impact on the setting, the plot points, and the need for a message with the story.
LP: It seems almost every author has sort of a unique reason for beginning their writing career. When and why did you begin writing?
LE: I began writing novels around 1980 and have written three. Only “Four Years from Home” has been published. I started writing because of the need to express what was rattling around in my head.
LP: You know, Larry, that’s sort of scary to me. I wrote my first novel in 1980. So what inspired your first book?
LE: The first was a fantasy called the Windshaper Chronicles. The premise was – what if you could change things but had to go to such extreme lengths to do so, that you could lose it all? Would you do it? Some people, who would probably disavow knowledge of it at this point, liked it. When I submitted it to a literary agent, the primary criticism was that it was printed on a dot matrix printer. I’m sure someone out there remembers what they were. My second novel, from 2003 was called ForestWalker. It was a fantasy-reality mix piece, in the guise of a mystery, in which the protagonist and the story moved back and forth between the reality of an online game world and the real world. It was an interesting concept that I didn’t pull off. Someday I may go back to it when online games are obsolete and see if it can be salvaged. “Four Years from Home” was inspired directly by my Irish Catholic upbringing.
LP: How do you come up with your titles?
LE: I don’t recall how the first two titles came about, but “Four Years from Home” was a simple line from the book and it captured the essence of the story in four simple words.
LP: When you wrote “Four Years From Home”, was there something specific, some message that you hoped your readers would grasp?
This is a spoiler
LE: Always. For “Four Years from Home” it is – What if someone sacrificed their life for you? What would you do?
LP: Are parts of your book realistic or based on real life issues?
This is a spoiler
LE: Tom Ryan is a hyperbole. That is a given. But messages conveyed by hyperbole can have their own distinct, and in some ways more effective, impact when the truth is finally known. The issues presented, of redemption, of sacrifice, of brotherly love, these are real.
LP: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
LE: I believe I began my writing career in the 5th grade. Miss Mellucci was the best. I had a minor setback in 6th grade when I got my first “D” in penmanship, but I have overcome that with therapy and coffee.
LP: Do you have a specific writing style?
LE: “Four Years from Home” is written as if spoken by Tom Ryan’s mind, so the style is at times wandering, disconnected, and full of things you and I would never think to say but just might dare to think.
LP: If you had to choose, which author would you consider a mentor?
LE: Agatha Christie – she’s extremely cool.
LP: Most Independent Authors are also voracious readers. What book are you reading now?
LE: “All for One” by Ryne Douglas Pearson. It’s a fascinating and scary study. I’m not too far into it, but it’s fantastic so far.
LP: Are there any new authors that have caught your interest?
LE: There are so many wonderful authors in the independent community that I am going to refrain from naming any one or two. I might regret this when they are famous and I am trying to get them to push “Four Years from Home the Exercise Video.”
LP: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
LE: Maybe a word or sentence here or there, but not the heart of the story.
LP: Are you currently working on a new book, and if so, can you share some of it with us?
LE: Yes, I’m so glad you asked. I am working on a new novel, and Tom Ryan (from “Four Years from Home”) will be in it. It is the story of three men on totally different life paths whose lives intersect. I am still tinkering with the title so that, and the mysterious details will obviously remain a mystery, which makes it a mystery! Did I mention that it will be a mystery?
LP: What is the most challenging part of writing your current work in progress?
LE: The timelines. As three separate stories that eventually intersect at different times, it has been difficult writing them in such as way as not to obviate what follows in another character’s story.
LP: Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really sticks out in your mind about their work?
LE: Agatha Christie, the Hercule Poirot books, and their inspirational way of delving into the “little grey cells.”
Jules Verne – I really love the adventure in all of his writing. They seem dated now, but I read and re-read as many of them as I could get my hands on.
LP: Do you have to travel much in researching your books?
LE: This must be a question for an author who is actually popular? No, I don’t travel. I might have deleted an email from Letterman once, but that was an accident, honest!
LP: Do you design your own covers?
LP: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
LE: I knew how the story ended, but the moments before the ending had to be rewritten four times before I was happy with how it went. I agonized over that.
LP: Did you learn anything from writing your book, and if so, what was it?
LE: I believe I was writing this book to myself. I believe I am and have been in the throes of a metaphysical debate over the exact issues in “Four Years from Home.” The debate is not over, but I am feeling better about it. My next book will help.
LP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
LE: Write what you know, picture the scenes, the characters, make it as real for yourself as possible. It won’t seem real to anyone else if it is not real to you. (This applies to fantasy as well, but I am not recommending any weird dress-up thing, just so you know.)
LP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
LE: To my readers, I say, “Thank you. I wrote this book for you. If you liked it, great; if not, I’ll try harder next time.” To those who are not my readers, I say, “You do know that Tom Ryan has your home address and email, right?”
Thank you, Larry, for being with me today and entertaining all of us with your definite charm and wit. I hope you’ll drop me a line when your new book is ready. Of course you could invite me to the release party, but by then, of course, you’ll be rich and famous and I’ll be long forgotten.
Well, ladies and gentlement, “Four Years From Home” was already on my TBR list, but knowing a little more about Larry makes me want to read it even more. Ready to download a sample? Or better yet–get your copy now before he reaches No. 1, and then like me you can say you knew him when he was just a struggling author.