The Inquisition – Martin Lastrapes
Martin Lastrapes grew up in the Inland Empire. He studied at Cal State San Bernardino, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Composition. Inside the Outside is his first novel and is featured here as part of Martin’s blog tour. Welcome to The Black Abyss Martin –
1 – Which book has been most influential in your career?
Goodness, let me see…it’s hard to name just one. Off the top of my head, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair comes to mind and Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien continues to be extremely influential. But, I guess if I had to pin it down to one, I’d say Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. He was the first contemporary writer I discovered who was able to fuse a literary tone with the sort of dark themes that aren’t often associated with literary fiction. I knew as soon as I finished reading it that that was the sort of novel I wanted to write.
2 – Which writer has most influenced your style?
There are so many writers whose style I love, but, in terms of the writer who has most influenced my own style, it’s a toss-up between Tim O’Brien and Chuck Palahniuk. Because Palahniuk’s stories are much, much darker than O’Brien’s, I suppose it would be fair to say that he has had the most influence on my writing style.
3 – What’s the future for the horror genre?
I think the future of the horror genre is as bright as it’s ever been. And I think this has everything to do with all the various trends in horror that we’re seeing not only in literature, but also in film and television as well (I just finished watching the first season of The Walking Dead and I thought it was brilliant). I think more and more artists—authors and filmmakers alike—are discovering the potential the horror genre offers for telling interesting and complex stories. And, more than that, I think, thanks to the emerging technology of e-readers, readers are getting younger and many young readers are drawn to horror. So I think all of these things bode well for the future of the horror genre.
4 – Which book do you wish you had written?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Period. I swear that book is perfect. From the characters to the setting to the rich metaphors and subtext, I just love that novel.
5 – What writing equipment could you not live without?
My computer and the Internet. As long as I had those two pieces of equipment, I could make do. The computer because my mind seems to work better when I’m typing a story, as opposed to handwriting it. And the Internet because, as a writer, it’s an invaluable asset to have immediate research at the touch of a button. For example, if I’m writing a novel about cannibals (which I did) and I need to know the details of how a dead body changes as it goes through rigor mortis (which I also did), then I can jump onto the Internet and look it up. And if I can’t find an answer, I can at least find a person who will have an answer for me (did that, too).
6 – Do you plan in detail before starting a new piece of writing?
Yes, I plan in embarrassingly rigorous detail. I know there are many authors who abhor outlines, who like to let the story unfold in front of them, discover things as they go—but I’m not one of those writers. For me, I like to structure the entire story, especially if I’m writing a novel. I’ll spend at least a week outlining the overall story arc and all the chapters in between. I keep the outline fluid, however, so if I come up with something new in Chapter 7 that will effect something that’s supposed to happen in Chapter 23, then I make the necessary changes in the outline.
7 – Ebooks or Paper Books?
Paper books, absolutely. I’m totally blown away by the advancements in ebook technology, the way you can zoom in and out, change the font, and even look up words you don’t know. I think all of that stuff is terrific, but, for my money, I just love paper books. I love the way they feel in my hands, I love turning the page, I love seeing my bookmark travel from one end of the book to the other, and, most importantly, I love having a giant bookshelf where I can completely appreciate the size of my library, as opposed to having it condensed into a light and portable piece of technology.
8 – Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
All three have their merits, but I’d have to go with dark fiction. It has a little more breathing room, I think. Dark fiction can be a story about a teenage girl who grows up within a cult of cannibals or it can be a story about a man traveling down a long road with his son in a post-apocalyptic world. I like that about dark fiction. I like that it can produce terrifying stories where the monster can simply be the circumstances a character must deal with.
9 – Who should I read next?
You should read Ron Currie, Jr. In particular, you should read his book, God is Dead, which is a haunting collection of interrelated stories that work under the premise that God has literally died. Between the stories and Currie’s terrific prose, it stands out as one of the best books I’ve read in the last ten years or so.
10 – What was your last book and what is your next book?
Well, my last book was actually my first book. It’s a literary/horror novel called Inside the Outside and it’s about a fifteen-year-old girl named Timber Marlow who grows up as a cannibal within a cult deep in the San Bernardino Mountains. Inside the Outside is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com and it’s available for the NOOK, as well as in paperback, at BarnesandNoble.com. The next book, which I’m currently writing, is a vampire novel. It’s a nice fusing of traditional vampire mythology with my own original takes on vampire lore. And it’s set in the Inland Empire, because, well, I figured my hometown was long over due for a vampire story.