Monster Hunter Nation

Interview with author Mike Kupari

Hey all, Jack Wylder here. With Larry pushing hard to get Monster Hunter Siege out the door by Christmas he hasn’t had a whole lot of time to blog here lately so I figured the time was right to start a new thing- writer interviews!
This week we’re talking with Mike Kupari- author of Her Brother’s Keeper and co-author of the Dead Six Series with Larry. Questions in bold, responses in italics.

To start with, how should Kupari be pronounced?
KOO-pa-ree

What inspired the Dead Six series in the first place?

From 2004 to 2005, I worked as a security contractor at a US base in the Gulf Emirate of Qatar. I lived there for a year, and I actually lived in the city of Doha, not on base. It was a unique experience, and taught me a great deal about how the Middle East actually is vs. what you hear about in American media. Being over there got the creative juices flowing (it’s not as gross as it sounds), even though, at the time, I had no aspirations of being a novelist.

For those who don’t know, how did Larry get involved?

Way back in 2003 or so, I wrote a story on an internet gun board called The High Road. In 2006, having just moved to Utah, I wrote a sequel to it set in the Middle East. I didn’t have a plan or anything; I’d write a chapter, then write the next a day or so later, making it up as I went along. At the time, I didn’t really know Larry, though I’d transferred a handgun through his gun store.

Also at the time, Larry wasn’t the International Lord of anything. He was another aspiring wannabe with big dreams and a stack of rejection letters. He’d had absolutely no luck selling Monster Hunter to anyone, but wasn’t giving up.

Well, he was reading my story, and messaged me and asked if he could write scenes from the perspective of another character. That was how Lorenzo was born. The back-and-forth shtick, with two competing first person narratives, became the signature of the series. It’s still fairly unique, I think. I don’t know of a whole lot of other novels that have used this technique.

During this time, though, Larry self-published MHI, and heavily self-promoted it. He eventually got it accepted by Baen, it became a runaway success, and the rest is old news. After MHI, he was looking for another book to publish. We’d been planning a sequel to my last story online, and he did one of his binge-writing sessions and cranked out something like ninety thousand words (that was eventually mostly incorporated into Swords of Exodus). Not wanting it to go to waste, he started bugging me to agree to clean up the story we’d written together and submit it to a publisher.

This was 2008 or so. At first I told him no way. I thought it wasn’t fit to publish, and given that the POV character was originally intended for a not-at-all-serious first-person story, I was worried people would think the story was some kind of self-aggrandizement (TV Tropes didn’t exist back then, and “Mary Sue” wasn’t in widespread usage). Plus, I’d just enlisted in the Air Force and was beginning my career as an EOD Technician.

You know what finally convinced me? Larry read me a passage from a novel from a huge, big-name thriller author. I mean, this guy has books in airport bookstores and gets interviewed on TV. Larry read it, and I was like, “seriously? I can do better than that.”

Turns out, even the most successful guys in the industry don’t churn out Pulitzer material every time. Sometimes you just need a good story to tell. Besides, I told myself, writing seemed to be my only real innate talent. I seemed a shame to let it go to waste. Eight years later, here I am.

I owe Larry a great deal for talking me into pursuing this. But, to be fair, I paid him back by giving him the idea for Grimnoir and Tom Stranger. YOU’RE ALL WELCOME.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

The hardest part of writing Dead Six for me was my own inexperience. Writing a novel can be an intensely frustrating endeavor, and often you’re your own harshest critic and worst enemy. At the same time, from June 2009 on, I was down at Eglin AFB, Florida, attending NAVSCOLEOD (Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal). I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that EOD School was the most challenging and stressful thing I’ve ever done. It really put a damper on my productivity, and I’m pretty slow to begin with.

Working with friends can be difficult; did you and Larry have any problems working together and if so, how did you handle them?

Larry and I operate on pretty much the same creative wavelength. We had very few real creative differences along the way. The biggest frustration for him, I think, was waiting for me to catch up. Larry writes fast. I mean, he writes fast even amongst professional writers, and I write slow. Being in the middle of the hardest thing I’ve ever done, while working on Dead Six, certainly didn’t help matters any.

My life had its share of ups and downs over the next few years, while working on the sequels, and turmoil in real life really tends to stymie my creative process. I was gone a lot, too, for the Air Force, and was kept quite busy.

I’m fairly certain Larry has wanted to choke me sometimes. He’s even swore at me (it was adorable, I wanted to hug him). For my part, he’s so optimistic and happy that sometimes I want to punch him. I didn’t, because he’s way bigger than me, and really, he’s impossible to stay mad at. For all of the accusations of him being angry, hateful, judgmental, spiteful, or mean, he’s really one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.

He is also a very patient man, all things considered. One of the hardest parts of being a writer, the thing that discourages most people, is not believing in yourself. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Most people who have the inclination to be a writer don’t try because, like me, they assume they’re no good. It’s a balancing act, of course; you can’t get so up your own ass that you can’t take advice or criticism, because even the best can churn out a dud. That said, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try. Throughout the whole process, Larry was very encouraging, and helped me along when if, on my own, I might’ve given up.

We do have very different personalities, though, and I think I make a good foil for him. Between his excessive optimism and my dreary cynicism, between us we make a fairly well-rounded individual.

What part are you most proud of?

My time as an EOD tech. Getting my Crab pinned on me was the proudest day of my life. I got to do some really cool stuff over the next few years, too: I traveled all over, I blew a lot of things up, I rode around in helicopters, and I shot all kinds of guns. I went through some of the best and worst days of my life with some of the finest, bravest men and women I’ve ever known.

My own EOD career was fairly short, and I only deployed once. Even still, I got to work with people I consider heroes, people who are among the very best in the world at what they do. Not to diminish how amazing and humbling being a writer has been, but being part of a community like that has been hard to top.

Oh, you meant of the books? I knew that. Um…I like how different the Dead Six series is compared to other novels in the genre. Valentine and Lorenzo aren’t your typical cookie-cutter, almost interchangeable action hero archetypes. Both of their story arcs are tales of redemption, albeit in different ways, and both of them grow as people throughout the trilogy.

For me, Valentine was partially an exploration of loss, depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. He’s been through hell and has lost almost everyone he cares about. Some readers have said that he comes across as mopey or whiny, and this was (mostly) intentional. (I think some readers are just being a little harsh on a guy who’s seen that much death.) He’s a reluctant, unlikely hero. He doubts himself. He fails. He makes mistakes. He has regrets. He has to move on with his life, unable to change the past, and having to live with all of that. He also had to come to grips with the fact that he’s an innately talented killer.

Lorenzo is a man on the edge of the abyss, and he gets pushed and pushed while trying to in some way be a good person. He was raised by Mormons and has worked for some of the worst people in the world, doing terrible things, usually rationalizing it to himself. That dichotomy, the conflict of impulses, the struggle with the monster he knows he can be, is central to his character. Eventually, he figures out who he really is.

Both of the walk difficult paths, and both of them suffer mightily along the way. But they also grow, adapt, and evolve, learning to deal with what they can’t change and working through the violence and chaos around them. Despite the dark tone of the stories, I think there’s a positive message in there, and I’m proud of that, too.

If they made a movie of this, who would you cast?

Oh hell, I’m so bad at this. When I first created her, I imagined Ling as resembling a young Lucy Liu, or Gong Li from the Miami Vice movie, but I don’t know of any actresses that match her age and character now, in 2016. Idris Elba, Larry’s unabashed man-crush, should play Antoine. He’d be perfect for the role, in terms of demeanor, screen presence, and physical appearance. I imagine Lorenzo as having the voice of the guy that did Roger Smith and Spike Spiegel, but I couldn’t pick an actor to play him.

I don’t think Dead Six should be a movie. I think it should be one of those violent anime series, where they pay close attention to all the technical details of the guns and gear. Larry and I could fly to Japan to be advisors (hint hint, Funimation). The original soundtrack would have to be in English, though, and possibly dubbed into Japanese.

Dead Six would also make a great first person shooter, in my opinion. License the Frostbite engine they use in the Battlefield series, but make the campaign missions more open-ended. Let the player try different strategies for completing the mission vs. making the whole thing a rail shooter like most Call of Duty games. Plus, having a left-handed FPS protagonist (Valentine) would make me happy.

What’s something most people don’t know about Larry?

He’s not an animal person. I don’t get it, either, but if I had to guess? He grew up on a dairy farm. I think having animals that you don’t eat is just weird to him. He thinks it’s crazy and dumb that I go on road trips with my dog and my bird. I say he doesn’t know how hilarious it is to pull up to a toll booth and have a Conure shout “hello!” to the attendant. (A Colorado county sheriff’s deputy didn’t think it was so funny one time, though.)

A lot of his detractors would probably be shocked to learn just how charitable he is, too. I’m not going to get into any specifics, but he really pays it forward. He’s personally helped friends, family, and fans alike when they fell on hard times, sometimes in big ways. It’s easy to talk about helping your fellow man when your idea of “charity” is voting for politicians who will raise taxes or vote for social spending. It’s another thing altogether to pony up your own money, take a chunk out of your own budget, and use your success to help another human being.

The petty, jealous, small assholes who tear him down in virtual effigy probably don’t see it that way, but they’re probably all terrible people, too.

With this trilogy finished, what’s next for you?

In the works is the sequel to Her Brother’s Keeper, tentatively titled Heirs of Ithaca. I’m under contract for more books after that, including story of a father-son team of post-apocalyptic bounty hunters who pursue mutant collaborators of a failed alien invasion, and something I can only describe as retro-futuristic, noir adventure inspired by the look and feel of Alien, Blade Runner, and Cowboy BeBop. I also have a short story in the upcoming Monster Hunter anthology.

One Week Left on the Illustrated Christmas (Noun)!

Hey all, Jack Wylder here again. The ILoH is still recovering from an awesome weekend manning the WordFire Press booth at New York Comic Con (full after action report once he has a moment to catch his breath) so I’ll give you a quick update.

I just got the first run of the prints today and I am SO happy with these! Once again, the pictures fail to do them justice. I called them mini-posters which was probably a mistake- think of them as high quality prints, suitable for framing. I snapped a quick picture to share (PUFF exemption tag included for scale purposes only.)

Christmas Noun Posters

Once these come out there are going to be a bunch of people angry they missed out- don’t be one of them! First editions only come out once.

Someone asked if Larry will be able to sign these- the answer is yes, but only at events he’s attending. These are shipping out of the CorreiaTech outpost code name Burning Lizard and not Yard Moose Mountain.
Act now- operators are standing by!
https://mhiswag.myshopify.com/

What the Hoon?

Hey all, Jack Wylder here. Did you know that Larry has an official fan group on Facebook? https://www.facebook.com/groups/99503651773/ One of the things we’ve noticed is that there are a lot of folks new to Larry’s books and it can be daunting when you join a group to not get the inside jokes. This post is intended to remedy that a bit. If you see something we’ve missed, just drop it in the comments and we’ll add to this as needed. Ladies, Gentlemen, and Hunters of all sorts CorreiaTech is proud to present:

What the HOON?

(as compiled by Jesse Barrett, official CorreiaTech Minion first class)

The Monster Hunter Nation is populated by some… interesting people. We hold a Manatee in such respect that it’s almost reverence and attempt to speak his language (often assisted by FaceBook’s Translate function). We tell alt-history stories about a blue muppet doing black ops. Most of all, though, we are fans of the writings of Larry Correia.
As often happens, a number of unusual in jokes have developed over time. This is an attempt to explain a few of them for the newer members of MHN.

HOON!
huːn
(Noun, Verb, Adj, other)

1) The sound made by a Manatee, the inflection being the key to understanding the meaning.
Example: Hoon!*
2) The Battle Cry of Wendell’s Roughnecks.
Example: HOOOOON!
3) A comment made by a citizen of MHN, usually showing strong support of the previous comment.
Example: HOON!
See Also: Maniteese, Facebook’s Translate ‘feature’.
*It is important to note that while HOON! is perfectly acceptable, HOON! is considered vulgar and offensive.

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Wendell D. Manatee

Wen-duhl dee ma-nə-ˌtē
(Proper Noun)

CFO of CorreiaTech, the most powerful mega corporation in Earth #345-B-98081’s universe and manufacturer of the CombatWombat pistol. Wendell is originally from the alternate universe of the Christmas Noun and Tom Stranger short stories. Since that universe allows for interdimensional travel, Wendell often appears in this universe where he is practically worshiped by the citizens of MHN. Wendell got an MBA from Harvard, before serving several years in the Florida state legislature. That, coupled with his logistical and tactical genius during the manatees’ war against the Deep Ones, put his resume at the top of the pile when CorreiaTech started looking for a new CFO. Then he just blew them away with his eloquence during the interviews. Although he is primarily a CoD player, he still regularly beats Larry Correia at World of Tanks. Wendell usually travels in a mobile tank that bears a passing resemblance to the Spice Tanks used by Guild Navigators in Dune but has also on occasion made appearance in his prototype tank walker suit. In every known universe, Wendell is unanimously recognized as the most interesting Man(atee) alive. Fun fact: General Mattis and Wendell hang out. Once he retired, Wendell taught the General how to snorkle, and he introduced Wendell to home brewing.
Wendell appears to have his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as giving interviews on occasion.
https://twitter.com/wendellmanatee
https://www.facebook.com/Wendell.The.Manatee/
http://superversivesf.com/2016/01/06/interview-sad-puppies-wendell-the-manatee/

See Also: You’re kidding right? $)(*& tank dwelling Hax0r!

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Cookie Monster
ku̇-kē män-stər
(Proper Noun)

During the 2012 presidential election, someone posted a meme on Facebook about how electing Romney would kill Sesame Street. Larry chimed in and performed possibly the greatest thread hijacking of all time, beginning with the line “Except Cookie Monster. Because that dude is a straight up hard core operator… Conservative too” followed immediately by “And Cookie Monster is in favor of teaching war rather than reading. The dude is a freaking killing machine. He was in my mercenary company in Bosnia. I saw Cookie Monster massacre a whole village once… We paid him in cookies.”Things really got rolling after that and stories of Big Blue’s out of control black ops exploits are still whispered around MHN to this day. It would appear that his public face as a cookie gobbling star of children’s television is just a cover his real work as a covert operative nominally in service of the US government. Unfortunately, just as he does when faced with piles of tasty snacks, CM often loses his fragile self control, and when he is packing an under barrel EZ Bake the results are best left to the imagination… David Burkhead archived the whole thing on his blog and it can still be viewed there in it’s entirety. http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/07/17/the-great-cookie-monster-thread/

See Also: Muppets, really? Where did all these crumbs and blood come from?

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Tom Stranger
Tahm strān-jər
(Proper Noun)

Tom Stranger is an Interdimensional Insurance Agent from Earth #345-B-98081 who often travels across the multiverse, caring for his client’s needs, and providing quality customer service. Tom always strives for perfect tens on all customer satisfaction surveys (or fives, when a world’s rating system is based upon stars, smiley faces, or stickers.) His job takes him to many worlds, where he deals with a variety of insurance related, sometime apocalyptic crises. On Earth 169-J-00561, Larry Correia (the writer) documented a day in the life of Mr. Stranger and released it as an Audible book (read by the Adam Baldwin of Earth 169-J-00561 where he is an actor instead of the president and leader of the Libertarian Space Cowboy Revolution.) The entire saga can be read at: http://monsterhunternation.com/online-fiction/

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Superfluous Marketing Dog™
su̇-ˈpər-flü-əs / mär-kə-tiŋ / däg
(Proper Noun)

When super author Jim Butcher told Larry Corriea that he needed to add a dog (that did NOT get eaten), Larry created an adorable marketing ploy as revealed in CHRISTMAS NOUN 8: Too Noun Much Adjective. Superfluous Marketing Dog™ plush toys were intended to be sold across the all universes, but insider espionage resulted in a delay on sales to Earth 169-J-00561.
http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/12/18/christmas-noun-8-too-noun-much-adjective/ See Also: Awwwww! The original “It’s So Fluffy!”.

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Clamps, NickWolf, and various other Internet Trolls
(Sort of) (Proper Nouns)
Unlike Melvin, MHI’s IT Troll, some internet trolls just can’t be reformed. Two notorious examples are NickWolf and Clamps. NickWolf was featured in several blog posts on MHN, where he kept coming back for abuse like a baby seal out for a night on the town. Clamps, on the other hand, is a more sad and sinister figure who is quite literally under police orders to have all of his internet activities monitored by his caretakers. He sometimes slips the leash and crops up on MHN or the various blogs of Larry’s friends and associates.
“http://monsterhunternation.com/best-of-mhn/ >> Politics, Fisking, and Idiot Trolls
http://voxday.blogspot.ca/2014/12/pity-poor-troll.html

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Yard Moose Mountain
yärd / müs / mau̇n-tən
(Proper Noun)

Yard Moose Mountain, Utah is the Semi-Secret Base™ and Home of Clan Correia. It got the name when Larry looked out the window of his Secret Base™ and noticed that there was a moose in his yard. The legend soon grew and spread to all corners of Monster Hunter Nation. Larry has recently purchased a mountain and is working on Yard Moose Mountain 2.0, which will include, among other things, a zip line from the gun tower to the mailbox…
http://monsterhunternation.com/2016/02/19/yard-moose-mountain-2/

See Also: What, no volcano? ..with frickin laser beams on their heads, Outpost: Hippo River, Outpost: Burning Lizard

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Straw Larry
str-aw / lahree
(Proper Noun)

You know how in TV shows the protagonist always gets split into “good” and “evil?” Or how in FAMILY CIRCUS there is “Not Me,” who is guilty of everything? Straw Larry is who is responsible for all the evil Larry Correia has been accused of, but hasn’t actually done. CHRISTMAS NOUN 8 describes him thusly:

Straw Larry was a hideous creature, dredged up from the fevered imagination of thousands of SJWs, given unnatural life through their salty tears of perpetual outrage and powered by their endless butthurt, he was the living embodiment of every awful, nonsensical, conflicting, mutually exclusive, asinine thing they’d ever accused Larry Correia of, made real. He got the name because he was literally a straw man. I guess it just kind of just stuck, what with all the straw and stuff.

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Website Update

Hi folks, Jack Wylder here. Things have been rather crazy for me here lately, but Larry noticed that when he shared one of his posts on the Facebook it was grabbing an image at random to go with it and asked that I look into it. Well I got that squared away, but while I was doing that I noticed that when we made the switch from the old domain to the new one, many of the subscribers’ info didn’t make it. So I’ve added a new link to subscribe over there on the left <— (of you’re on mobile, you’ll have to go down to find it.) For this one post, you can just use this: [jetpack_subscription_form] So if you didn’t get an email about this, but found it through Facebook or by just checking the site, sign up now! I’ve also set it up so you can log in with either WordPress or Google+ credentials. (Facebook and Twitter are going to take some time from the ILoH, and time is the one thing he does NOT have right now, so you’ll have to continue to be patient.) In the comments there are also now options to be notified of all comments on that post, or just responses to YOUR comments- your choice. I’ll be making a few more changes in the weeks to come- I’ll let you know when the time is right. We now return you to your regularly scheduled internetting; had this been an actual emergency, you would have heard screams in manateese, quite possibly followed by explosions. So once again, we have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.

Into The Wild

Jack Wylder here. Did you ever read Larry’s

If so, you know how awesome it was reading Correia write essentially the Dirty Dozen in a Fantasy setting. It’s obvious he had a lot of fun writing in this world and that really comes through in the story. So today the sequel is finally out:

Into the Wild (2016)

(The Malcontents Book 2)

IntoTheWild

Here’s the Amazon synopsis:

Now under the leadership of the reluctant Lieutenant Kelvan Cleasby, the Sixth Platoon of Storm Knights has been ordered to accompany an archeological expedition from the Royal Cygnaran University deep into the Wyrmwall Mountains. There, the scholarly team from the university will investigate an ancient site of potentially great historical value while the Malcontents stand around playing bodyguards and wishing for just a little excitement.

But what seems a simple enough assignment rapidly turns into a test of the platoon’s survival skills—a seemingly abandoned fort, the lone survivor of a horrifying attack, and a ferociously territorial tribe may be more than even the Malcontents can handle. And even once they know the monsters they face, escape may well be impossible—it’s never as easy to get out as it is to get into the wild.

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So if you’ve already read the first I don’t have to say anything else about it, but if you haven’t read the first- you really should! You do NOT have to have any preexisting knowledge of the setting and it will definitely help tide you over until the next MHI installment 😉