Larry Correia is steeped in the gun culture. He’s been a licensed machine-gun dealer, competitive shooter, firearms instructor and all-around gun nut.
He’s also a New York Times best-selling author with his “Monster Hunter” series of novels which pit horror-movie monsters against guys with guns. Lots of guns.
The Michigan Firearms Examiner talked with Larry about firearms, writing, and the state of the gun culture
Michigan Firearms Examiner: You burst onto the scene with Monster Hunter International. What’s your “elevator pitch” for that world when describing it to someone?
Correia: Think X-Files meets the Expendables. Basically, in a world where monsters are real, MHI is a company that specializes in taking care of monster problems. Usually with lots of violence.
Two of my passions in life are guns and monster movies. I’m especially a sucker for the lower budget ones. If the cast was paid in beer and pizza and the monster is a guy wearing a trash bag for a costume, I’ve probably seen it. Except most monster movies would be over really quickly if the characters were my kind of people. “There’s the monster! Good thing I’ve got this shotgun.” BOOM. Roll credits. So I wanted to write a monster story for people with a clue. The Monster Hunter series has been really successful. I’m at five books now, with several more planned, and we’re also working on a spin off series set in the same world written by John Ringo.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: Tell us a little about your other works including the Grimnoir Chronicle series and the Dead Six series.
Correia: The Grimnoir Chronicles trilogy (Hard Magic, Spellbound, Warbound) is set in the 1930s. It is a hard boiled, alternate history, where magic appeared in the 1850’s, giving some people superhero like powers. On the gun side of things this gave me an excuse to play with classics like Thompsons, Lewis Guns, and BARs. Also, John Moses Browning is a character, and he is literally a gun wizard. Dead Six and Swords of Exodus were co-written with Mike Kupari and we are working on the last book in the trilogy right now. They are thrillers. Dead Six is about a team of mercenaries versus a gang of thieves in a Middle Eastern country melting down during a military coup. Mike just retired from being an EOD Tech, and was actually serving in Afghanistan when the first book came out.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: You were active on firearms forums before you started writing. How did that help inspire MHI?
Correia: It was a huge help. I was a member on The Firing Line. A good friend named Lawdog started a thread called “Lines I’d Like to Hear in a Horror Movie Someday”. One of the quotes really helped the MHI project gel for me.
“You know what the difference between me and you really is? You look out there and see a horde of evil, brain-eating zombies. I look out there and see a target-rich environment.” – Dillis D. Freeman, Jr.
Years later I used that quote in the first Monster Hunter International book.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: How important was the fan base you made on the forums?
Correia: I couldn’t have done it without them. I originally self-published Monster Hunter International. I wrote it for, and marketed it directly, to the posters on different gun forums. It was a national bestseller and I ended up with a publishing contract. The original rough draft of Dead Six started as an online fiction thread by Mike Kupari on The High Road forum called, “Welcome Back, Mr. Nightcrawler.”
Michigan Firearms Examiner: How did the leap from self-publishing to getting picked up by Baen Books happen?
Correia: One poster on THR used to work at a big independent bookstore (Uncle Hugo’s, Minneapolis Minnesota) and he loved it and passed it onto his old boss, who also loved it. He contacted the publisher at Baen and told them they needed to publish MHI because he could sell the heck out of it. Then MHI was a hit, sold mostly to gun forumites, which got Baen’s attention. They read it, loved it, offered me a contract, and the rest is history.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: How important are firearms in your fiction? Obviously you work to get the details right, but how do you use a character’s choice of firearms to reveal something about that character?
Correia: The choice of a gun says a lot about a person. Are they practical? Flashy? Do they put style over substance? Or is it utilitarian and pragmatic? You can tell a lot about a character by their hardware choices. Most readers won’t get it, but if I introduce an old guy, and he’s carrying a thirty year old, blued S&W .357 with the checkering worn off the grips, it tells a story.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: Our readers may not know, but you created the “HK – You Suck and We Hate You” concept from an article you wrote. What was the genesis of that meme and has anyone at HK ever said anything to you about it?
Correia: I wrote that article back in 2007 after getting annoyed by a combination of HK’s customer service and rabid fan boys. I didn’t expect it to become a meme. Nobody from HK ever said anything to me about it, but on the bright side, I’ve heard that their service and willingness to listen to customers is supposed to be a whole lot better now.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: Tell us a little about your background with firearms before you started writing. What were your interests?
Correia: I grew up hunting, mostly pest control on the farm, and loved shooting. I was always fascinated by military guns, evil black rifles, and anything that would show up on the cover of Soldier of Fortune. But, we were too poor to own anything too nifty. We were a big shotgun family, and the only handgun my Dad owned was a Ruger Blackhawk. My first rifle was a Winchester 30-30 and the first handgun I bought myself was a Ruger P91. I didn’t try competition until I was in college. I started out with IDPA, but my favorite type of competition was 3 Gun.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: What did you like about 3 Gun competition specifically?
Correia: I loved going from run and gun with a pistol, to long range rifle, to knocking over steel with a shotgun, all in one stage. It tended to be more physical. Many stages had an element of problem solving, like should I do it this way, or do it that way? 3 Gun is never boring.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: What was your 3 Gun setup?
Correia: When I started it was still the early days of 3 Gun in Utah, so I showed up with a Springfield 1911, an iron sighted 7.62×39 Vepr K, and a Remington 870. We had guys out there running SKS and Mini-14s, and nobody realized you could load more than one shell into your shotgun at a time. It was sort of learn as you go. Some of the people I started with, like Craig Outzen, have gone on to be fantastic competitors at the national level, but back then most of us were just USPSA or IDPA guys trying to figure out how to run rifles and shotguns fast. By the end I was using STI 2011s, various AR builds, and a customized Saiga 12.
Michigan Firms Examiner: Do you still compete?
Correia: I haven’t shot a match in a couple of years. Writing is awesome, but it is a very time consuming job. I also had to give up my CCW instructor certs. Most of my shooting now is low key for fun, and teaching my kids. Though I’ll probably be getting back into competition because my teenagers really want to try it.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: What is your favorite gun?
Correia: That’s like asking which one is my favorite kid… I’ve got different favorites for different reasons. Like my 870 Wingmaster I’ve had since I was twelve years old. It wins just for sentimental reasons. My favorite handgun is my STI Tactical 4.15 9mm. Fantastic accuracy, recoils like a .22, holds half a box of ammo, and shoots so well it makes me look like I’ve got a clue.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: What is the coolest gun you’ve ever shot?
Correia: Tough one. Working in the NFA side of the gun business I got to try a lot of cool, odd guns. I really like playing with full auto. Overall it is pretty hard to beat an M2 Browning Machine Gun for sheer cool factor.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: As an outsider looking into the Mormon culture it seems that they have a more positive view of firearms ownership than other cultures. Is that truly the case?
Correia: I can’t speak for my church, and I’m sure out of thirteen million people we’ve got plenty who don’t like guns, but overall, Mormons tend to be very pro-gun. First, we believe the Constitution to be divinely inspired. Second, look at our history. We’re talking about a group of people who were driven from their homes, while the state either failed to protect them, or actively joined in the attacks. Then they walked to the middle of nowhere to be left alone, built a society out of nothing, and had nobody to rely on but themselves. That self-reliant western spirit goes hand in hand with gun ownership.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: There’s a lot of discussion about “Gun Culture 2.0” with more women and minorities getting into shooting. Did your experiences as a gun shop owner and instructor reflect that?
Correia: Yes. Anti-gunners try to portray gun owners as being all straight, white, males, but that’s nonsense. It is just a lame attempt to divide us. The Second Amendment is for everyone. My CCW classes were filled with people from all walks of life, united in their desire to protect themselves and their families.
Michigan Firearms Examiner: Besides the series we’ve talked about what else do you have out or coming out soon?
Correia: My newest book is called Son of the Black Sword, and it is the beginning of a new epic fantasy series. There aren’t many guns in the first one, but that’s because I’m going old school in this series, and I’m going to use early black powder technology to throw a slave revolt.
You can check at more from Larry Correia at his site Monster Hunter Nation.