A. J. Larrieu A. J. Larrieu

Meet A.J.


How do you pronounce your last name?

A: My last name is pronounced "La-rue", like the French word for "road." It's a pen name, but it's also a family name. I'm a bit more than half Cajun.

Are all of your books in a series? Are they set in the same world?

A: Most of what I have published and under contract is part of the same interconnected series, set in the same supernatural world. They feature different main characters, though, and different aspects of supernatural society. In the future, who knows?

Are there going to be more books featuring Susannah and Jason from Anchored?

A: Susannah and Jason already got their happily ever after, but there are definitely more guardian stories in the works, and the happy couple show up in some of my other books. That said, folks have responded so positively to Susannah (I love her, too!), I'm not ruling out a full-length book about her continuing adventures. Stay tuned!

I don't have an e-reader! How can I read your books?

A: I'm so glad you asked! Even if you don't have an e-reader—I don't!—you can still read e-books. All you need is a smartphone or a computer. Check out the free apps for reading Kindle books.

How did you get a literary agent? Did you know somebody in publishing? Do I need an agent to get published?

A: I found my agent the old-fashioned way: I spent a lot of time researching agents who might like my work and sent them query letters. For me, the key to getting positive responses wasn't getting a referral—it was writing a better book. Once I did that, things started to come together.

As for whether you need an agent to get published, that depends. These days, there are lots of ways to get your work in front of readers. Traditional print publishing, e-publishing through large houses, small presses, self-publishing... I think each of these options can be a good fit for different kinds of books. And you only need an agent for some of them. My agent has helped me navigate these choices and decide which path works best for each project, and I find it very valuable to have her in my corner. Do your research, weigh the pros and cons, and figure out what's best for your unique writing goals.

If you want more information on the publishing industry in all its variety, check out PubRants by agent Kristin Nelson and agent Rachelle Gardner's blog. If you want to go the agent route, I highly recommend Agent Query and Query Shark (which is also good for a laugh).

Who are your favorite authors?

A: I have so many! Check out my Things I Like page.

What's a biophysicist doing writing romance novels? Isn't that kind of...weird?

A: Oh, man. How long do you have?

There are a lot of parallels between my science life and my writing life. Constructing a plot is a lot like figuring out how a complex biological system works—at least the way I write. I'm a "pantser", so I'm constantly surprised when my characters do things I never expected, and my books tend to evolve in cycles, with each revision changing the arc and feel of the story in a way that wouldn't be possible in one step. It's the same in science: I come up with a model or hypothesis for what I think is happening, and each new set of experiments leads me to new questions I wouldn't have known to ask in the previous round. To me, storytelling and science are both acts of creation and discovery.

Dorky enough for ya? I can do this all night.

Do you base your characters on real people?

A: Nope. Never. Some of my settings are based on real places or real cities (I didn't make up Biloxi or New Orleans), but the houses and businesses are all completely fictional.

Where do you get your ideas?

A: I'm going to quote Stephen King on this one, because he says it better than I could in his excellent book, On Writing. (I've never read a novel by Stephen King, but I really enjoyed On Writing. Go figure.) Anyway, here's what he says:

"Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up."

This feels absolutely true to me. I don't so much create stories as discover them. It feels like stumbling over a protruding brontosaurus femur in the mud and spending the next six months painstakingly unearthing the skeleton, getting periodically sidetracked by tree limbs and buried trash.

Got more questions? Email me!

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