1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I was actually working as a producer/development executive for a small production company. We did mainly documentary television. My business partner approached me and suggested I try to write a scripted show, a drama. I had toyed with the idea of writing over the years, but really nothing more than just thinking about it offhandedly. I told him no one was going to buy a scripted show from us, because we were documentary people, he said I should do it anyway. So I did. I had a concept in my head (this was in 1999) for a drama series called Hunters & which was a show about two warring secret societies. It involved , supernatural creatures and races and the ultimate fight between good and evil. I basically describe it as The Lord of the Rings but modern day and set in the San Fernando Valley. Long story a little less long, I wrote it and never had more fun, something inside me just clicked and I felt like I had finally found my calling. A couple of days after writing the pilot script I quit my job and have been writing ever since.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
I wasn't much of a reader until I turned 13. I could read of course, but it wasn't something I did for fun. Then at a book fair I saw a novel by Robert Heinlein called Tunnel in the Sky. I bought it because I liked the cover. I'm pretty sure I read it in about a day and a half. I went back and bought every Heinlein book I could and I've been reading voraciously ever since. I also enjoyed the original chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman when I was in high school as well as by William Gibson. As I got older I read Mark Twain, Hunter S. Thompson, Robert Anton Wilson and Ernest Hemingway. Some of my favorite writers are comic book writers. I consider Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Frank Miller and Garth Ennis to be some of the greatest writers I've ever read.
Nowadays I still sometimes go back and re-read certain books. I'll pick up an old Heinlein every now and again and I think I read every five years or so. Like most people I absolutely adored Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and have read it a few times, and I'm really enjoying Brian K. Vaughan's Saga series which is absolutely brilliant. I read lots of magazines because I'm always looking for a bit of research or info that I can put into something. I recently finished The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and am currently working my way through The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel The Geek?
The Geek was actually the second thing I ever wrote. At the time (early 2000s) I wanted to do a live action, original comic book and it was developed with that in mind. It was put into development as a series twice and then as a feature film. In it's original incarnation it was very over the top and a bit campy. I've grown and changed as a writer and the times have changed as well. When I started writing the novel I realized it just didn't work, so I scrapped the campiness for the most part as well as a lot of the comic elements and let it evolve naturally from there and it turned into the hardboiled, pulp thriller it is today. It sounds cliché of course, but I really do think this is the truest version of the story and the tale it was always meant to be. I'm really happy with how it turned out.
4. Do you plan on writing a sequel?
Yes and no. There is a character in The Geek named Marion Stillwater, and I've begun fleshing out his story as a sequel. A lot of the characters from The Geek, including Gary will be very present in the story, but it will definitely be Marion's book. So not so much a sequel as it is an expansion of the universe The Geek takes place in.
5. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?
Oh yes. There is a lot of me in Gary (the main character), as well as Schmidt (the antagonist) and bits of other aspects of my personality strewn throughout various characters. I explore some of my own issues with confidence, alienation and intimacy as well as my problems with drinking in the book. Some of the stuff Gary goes through is right out of my own life...well not the whole killing people thing, but other stuff.
6. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
Well my first love will always be Science Fiction and Fantasy so I'm looking to go in that direction. The Geek is a bit of a departure for me, but Stillwater the sequel to The Geek will take me back into a more occult based story, with the same hardboiled elements of The Geek.
7. Would you like to see The Geek as a film? Who do you want to see play your characters?
I honestly try not to think about those things, because it's just heartache waiting to happen. Recently though I have been approached by a couple of producers who are very interested in turning The Geek into a series for Television (Oh irony how I love thee) and that would be pretty awesome to be able to do that again. Since you asked I'll go with my ultimate dream casting. For Gary the ultimate two choices would be either Simpson (who played Gavin on House of Cards and Liam on It's Always Sunny) or Rami who is just phenomenal on Mr. Robot. For Schmidt Michael would be incredible which I know is just a ridiculous dream but hey you asked. Diane Kruger for Greta would also be fantastic...as well as Kevin Durand for Marion Stillwater, hey I guess I have thought about this a lot recently. I better get that disappointment/shame spiral cake ready.
8. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
I'd like to be doing what I do now, telling stories. I'd like to see some of my concepts on the big screen and of course television. If given the opportunity I'd love a crack at writing an epic, story driven, open world game. Video games are great vehicles for storytelling and I have an idea I'd love to see be turned into one. But just to be safe, every morning, when I wake up, I look at my reflection in the mirror and say "Good Morning, would you like to try a fresh pumpkin scone with your ', latte' macchiato?" Because you should always have a backup plan.
9. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
If I'm being completely honest, I have absolutely no idea. However I'm fairly certain it would either be down right illegal or at the very least border on illegality. I know I should say something like teacher or scientist, but it would probably be a lot more along the lines of smuggling.
10. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next? I've recently had a screenplay optioned so I'm waiting to hear from the producers on what the game plan is on that, which would really dictate my schedule for the foreseeable future. However, aside from fleshing out the main story points for Stillwater, I'm also working on a new screenplay and two different stories I'm hoping to launch as kindle serials in the near future. The first serial is called Blood Rebellious and is straight up sci-fi adventure and the second serial is called Night Mage and is a modern day sword and sorcery story. I'm not sure if I would launch them at the same time or not it really depends on how confident I feel on being able to produce two quality stories at the same time.
11. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
Grant Morrison, without question. Perhaps Mark Twain, but I get the feeling we'd just spend hours each other and getting nothing done.
12. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
Hmm. Let's see...okay 1) I still have the Rupert bear I was given when I was born. He's a lot worse for wear, but he is still with me. We had many adventures when I was growing up and if that bear could talk I'd probably have to kill him. He rests comfortably on a shelf in my living room.
2) The intricately detailed, pool ball handled knife Gary uses in The Geek is in fact a real knife and I own it.
3) I've been sober for two years and three months and I'm as surprised as everybody else that I haven't relapsed yet.
Find Mr. Latt online via his official site.