Every once in a while, another author visits me on this site. It happens somewhat more frequently than the proverbial blue moon. I suppose it should happen more, but I find my time taken up in the pursuit of other things: cheese, angry mice, small popinjays, etc. Be that as it maybe may be, we (you and I) are visited today by Tony LaRocca. I find these visits interesting for several reasons, but the chief among them is that people are like books. And if one encounters a book responsible for writing other books, why, that’s even better. I haven’t read Tony’s writing, mind you, but we can certainly read him at this moment. So, without further ado: Tony LaRocca.
Let’s jump right into it. Who are you?
Like everyone and everything else, I am a collection of particles and energy that has existed in one form or another since the Big Bang. I’m also a writer, electrician, animator, U.S. Army veteran, artist, occasional karaoke crooner, and the father of two kids who are far too cute for their own good.
Well, that’s all well (non-water type) and good, but why do you write when you could be devoting a great deal of time to karaoke crooning?
Because none of those other things give me the delicious rush I feel when I’m writing, and a story or character takes on a life of its own. It’s incomparable, as if liquid fire is suddenly shooting through my nervous system. Then comes the miserable part, refining and polishing the gem over and over until I’m happy with it. That isn’t anywhere near as fun – it’s more like slicing my skin open with a lemon-soaked salt crystal – but the end result is extremely satisfying.
Speaking of crystals (I live in California and we’re infested with crystal-oriented people, both the medicinal and the non-medicinal sort), how do your beliefs instruct your writing?
I’m not sure how much my belief system affects my writing. Things lurking around in my id come out to play, but that doesn’t mean that they’re a part of my core philosophy. Part of the problem is that my feelings are in constant flux. I can be furious, happy, sad, or passionate about something one day, and then a week later, not so much. Writing is taking a snapshot of how you feel about something at a single moment, it doesn’t necessarily reflect how you feel all the time. Months or years later, someone can come along and judge your entire philosophy based on that snapshot. You just have to remember that you’re the one who was brave enough to put it out there.
Having said that, some things obviously do come through. For example, though I was raised in a very Catholic household (and at one time in my misguided youth even wanted to become a priest,) I’ve come out of the closet in recent years as agnostic. I think that there may or may not be some sort of higher being that created us and influences our lives, I don’t know. But to me, religions are things created by people. Now if you’re a person of faith, I’m happy for you, I truly am. Just don’t kill or demean anybody else, or pass laws that cripple our children’s scientific education. My frustration with religion comes across in my short story “False Idols,” with a bit of ire at Monsanto thrown in for good measure.
Likewise, I try in my daily life to keep an objectivist view on the world (A=A, a thing is what it is,) but my imagination is always questioning reality. This comes up in “All Part of Being a Dragon,” “Shattered Possibilities,” and “The Autumn People.” Keep in mind, I didn’t set out to write any “what is reality” stories, I just wrote them as the ideas came to me, and their themes became apparent on their own.
As far as morality and the meaning of life go, I’ll just quote Bill and Ted: “Be excellent to each other.”
Ah, Bill and Ted. They are sages. A lot of people (ie., the Taliban, most members of Congress, and Kim Kardashian) would do well to listen to them. Speaking of influence, do you think authors have a responsibility in terms of influencing their readers, sort of like parents with children, teachers and students, Plato and Socrates (or perhaps it was the other way around?)?
If you’re asking me if I think I should use my stories to influence people’s morals, then my answer is no, not consciously anyway. I say not consciously, because if you’re honest in your writing, then whatever you believe will shine through; it won’t need shoehorning. Besides, questions of morality pretty much wind up being a Rorschach test for the reader. Deep down, everybody has a moral code that may or may not be the same as the one they show in public. If their morality jives with your story, then they’ll come away feeling happy and vindicated. If it doesn’t, then they’ll feel offended and persecuted. If it touches part of their secret moral code that they don’t want to admit to having, then they might decry your work, and even feel angry that you’re admitting what they can’t, but hopefully, they’ll also feel relieved and enjoy the validation. I’ve always loved Kurt Vonnegut’s idea that the purpose of writing is to show others that they’re not alone.
I have to ask the proverbial island question, even though no man is an island, according to Dylan whatsisname (which seems pretty self-evident; I mean, an island floats indefinitely in the ocean, and a man would sink after a while, or get eaten by a shark). If you were banished to an island, such as Greenland or Australia, and then locked inside a building on that island (such as the Sydney Opera House), what book would you bring with you?
Escape by David McMillan, so I can learn how to break out, a Charles Atlas book about dynamic tension so I can be strong enough to make my escape, and a book on astral projection so I can arrange the getaway car.
Thanks for stopping by, Tony. Best wishes with your writing career!