Larry Sweazy is an original, but he’s also reminiscent of days gone by. Maybe it’s because I live in Texas, or maybe it’s because my dad loved John Wayne and Louis L’Amour, but I love a good cowboy story. Larry knows how to write one! So I thought it was fitting to talk to him just before Father’s Day and see what he has to share with us. Enjoy!
PJ: How long have you been writing?
Larry: I committed to writing professionally about 23 years ago, but I’ve been writing since high school. I always knew I wanted to be a writer.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
Larry: When an editor asked for more of my work.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Larry: The writing life is far more precarious than I thought, and more unstable, but any kind of security is an illusion. Corporate jobs vanish just as quickly as publishing contracts, so learning how to survive the long term, ride out the storms and droughts, maintain comfort without falling into complacency, has been a challenge I didn’t see. But after 15 years of living the freelance life, I think I have a little bit of a handle on how to survive.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
Larry: Perception and reality are two different things, of course. There’s nothing writers can do to change the general public’s perception of the rich and famous thing, but mostly, it’s just not true. Making a decent living is always the goal.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
Larry: Sure, now it’s on staying published.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
Larry: I sold my first short story for a little bit of money after three years of trying.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
Larry: Nope. Every mistake was lesson that got me where I am today—still making mistakes, and still learning.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
Larry: You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Writing, too, is done one step at a time. I’m reasonably disciplined. I have daily writing goals, daily tasks I have to complete. I don’t stop working until I’m done. Writing is not a five day a week, nine to five job.
PJ: I’ve always reminded myself of that saying – it helps keep things in perspective. What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
Larry: Holding my first novel. Interviewing Elmore Leonard. Getting that first check. Getting that most recent check. This is a long list that could on and on…
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
Larry: I chose to be a writer, nobody asked me to sign up for this life—so to be disappointed about anything doesn’t make any sense to me. I have bad days, get frustrated, get impatient, but in the end, it’s really hard to be disappointed when it’s possible someone out in the world is reading one of my books.
PJ: That’s a pretty sound position to take. What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Larry: There are always those times when no one shows up to a signing that could be discouraging, but again, I chose this path, and I know that happens to everyone. It’s part of the ritual of being a professional writer. My name has been pronounced wrong more times than I can count; books haven’t been where they are supposed to be. Really, there’s been nothing out of the ordinary. I’m just happy when someone walks away with a book, or two, or three.
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Larry: If I knew the answer to that question, I would be a #1 Best Seller. That said, I have great covers, and I primarily write in a genre that isn’t promoted heavily, so the rarity of a new (living) western writer publishing a new series helps draw people in.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
Larry: Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep reading. Don’t publish until your work is ready—regardless whether you go traditional or self-publish.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
Larry: Manners. Be persistent, but not pushy.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
Larry: The constancy of it, always keeping your name out there without being annoying and overbearing.
PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?
PJ: That’s a new one to me. I’ll look them up and see if I can pass their name around from time to time. Would you please give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order?
The Rattlesnake Season
The Scorpion Trail
The Badger’s Revenge
Those are all currently available. They are in the Josiah Wolfe, Texas Rangers series, a western set in 1874.
I also have a stand-alone, modern-day, mystery, The Devil’s Bones, that just came out in March.
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Sent to Corpus Christi to escape media attention for killing his captain in self-defense, Josiah Wolfe becomes a spy for the Texas Rangers, and finds himself in the middle of Juan Cortina’s invasion of the city. With his cover blown, he has to use every skill he has acquired to make it home alive.
Where can we buy it? Anywhere books are sold. In brick-and-mortar stores and online.
What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
I can’t imagine being anything other than a writer. But anybody who really knows me, knows that to be true…
Thanks for stopping in, Larry! Anyone have a comment or a question you’d like to post? Sometimes ya’ll are the quietest bunch of readers and writers I’ve seen. If you haven’t yet read Larry’s work, I challenge you to do something different and check it out. It’s good!
Till next time,