SciFiPulse was recently fortunate enough to catch up with A. K. Larkwood, author of The Unspoken Name, and long time sci-fi fan. In this interview, Larkwood talks about what fantasy tropes engage her in a story and what makes a good hero or villain.
SFP: Do you think that spec fic offers representation to marginalised people in a way that mainstream fiction does not?
A. K. Larkwood: To be honest, I think all genres have come a long way on this – and still have plenty of ground to cover! I think what is unique about SFF is that it gives you some tools to explore aspects of marginalised experiences in novel ways – at its best it’s a genre that’s open to broadening our understanding of what it means to be human. I’m really excited for what the future holds in this regard.
SFP: I notice from your website that you’re a Farscape fan. What one Farscape episode stands out to you as the best and why?
A. K. Larkwood: I rewatched most of Farscape last year, and it was a surprising experience because what I remembered from my teens was that it got better and better season by season. Re-watching it as an adult, I was actually struck by the strange handmade genius of season one – the wacky costumes and sometimes-bizarre acting really added to the experience for me. There’s no other show like it in terms of chaotic expansiveness.
SFP: What fantasy tropes engage you in a story and what tropes make you want to stop reading?
A. K. Larkwood: It’s hard to answer on this because there are tropes I’m less drawn to – I’m not always wild about near-future SF, for instance – but if the book is good enough then it doesn’t matter at all – in fact two of my favourite books of recent years, Autonomous by Annalee Newitz and Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh, are in fact near-future SF.
SFP: Do you have any plans for a sequel to The Unspoken Name?
A. K. Larkwood: I am editing it right now and it should be out next year! The Thousand Eyes includes more snakes, more swordfights, more poisoning, more gods, more monsters, more kissing bits, and probably slightly fewer skeletons?
SFP: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
A. K. Larkwood: If you write a little bit fairly regularly for a long time you’ll eventually finish the book. There is no magic spell or secret permission slip that makes you a book-finisher.
SFP: What makes a good hero and what makes a good villain?
A. K. Larkwood: I want to be like “I don’t believe in heroes and villains” but the problem is that I’m absolutely wild about the grand old sci-fi villain aesthetic. Give me spiked pauldrons, give me a volcano lair, give me Eddie Redmayne howling I create life! as he swirls around in a Swarovski cape. That aside, I don’t think anyone really heroic thinks of themselves as a hero, and I don’t think anyone really villainous thinks of themselves as a villain, and I always appreciate it when the protagonists and antagonists have proper, fully-realised reasons for doing things that aren’t to save and/or destroy the world.
SFP: And finally, if you could trade places for a day with any fantasy character, who would you trade places with and why?
A. K. Larkwood: I am soft and lazy and I love modern conveniences so probably I would want to be an unimportant citizen in the Culture novels by Iain M Banks. Everyone lives a life of egalitarian post-scarcity leisure while god-like AI ships take care of all real problems? I have nothing to do but cook elaborate meals and maybe write some more books? Please.
SciFiPulse would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks and best wishes to A. K. Larkwood for so graciously answering our questions.
A. K. Larkwood’s website is A. K. Larkwood
Her Twitter is @AKLarkwood