I first stumbled across S.Shane Thomas’ work in our crit group. I was taken by his microbiological approach to space travel and colonizing in his short story Chasing Stars, which is now a part of his short story collection LARC Transmissions. After getting my hands on an ARC of his newest novel, A Paleolithic Fable, I was surprised to discover that all his action-packed stories are linked! Naturally, I had to quiz him about this strange phenomenon.
Where to start? I’m totally bewildered by the array of stories you’ve thrown our way – from hard sci-fi to spec-fic. Even more bewildering is how you’re linking them all into one ever-changing and challenging universe! What in the world possessed you to do it?
It’s a universe. UNIVERSE! Too big for one person to complete every story nestled within. When I was a young reader, spending summer vacation crushing books from the expanded Star Wars universe, I fell in love with stories that would never become movies. The Force, Jedi, Sith, and a galaxy far, far, away promises (and delivers) more than a single mind could produce.
Then, as a writer I described a future where humanity discovered a humongous colonial star-ship from ancient aliens, the lost city of Atlantis. Distant Origins, my first novel, took us to the abandoned home world of magical aliens that started humanity down the path toward civilization.
LARC Transmissions includes the 39 pieces of flash fiction at LARC-scifi.com as well as five short stories and Distant Origin’s sequel novelette, Rakshasa. What links them all, and it is a minor, sometimes invisible theme, is that every adventure takes place on a reverse engineered vessel based upon the ancient alien’s Atlantis colony.
What was the first ever LARC story written? Why did you decide to link your other stories to it?
I wrote Distant Origins first. I had just finished college after attending part time for a decade. I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and then cranked out 120,000 words to prove to myself I could write. During my drafting, I also wrote Uprooted inspired by my encounter with a Rhododendron while painting my house.
LARC and the Anki Legacies are my mental playground. All my work is linked because it takes place between the same set of ears. I will only write LARC adventures until I decide to write Literary Fiction, which won’t come anytime soon.
To be honest, I found LARC Transmissions a little hard to get into, probably because most of the stories are short and flash-fiction which appear unrelated at first. And while I do have a short attention span, it was still a challenge for me. A Paleolithic Fable, on the other hand, is really more of a distilled epic. Did you fashion it as a more substantial introduction to the LARC universe, or was it just a story begging to be told? I’m guessing the latter, but please prove me wrong 😀
Your opinion on LARC Transmissions is likely shared with sci-fi and fantasy readers. After I wrote Distant Origins, and began researching peer critiquing groups, which led me to Critters.org, I presumed that writers crafted short stories and flash fiction because there was a substantial market for it.
This excited me, because I’ve got easily over a hundred ideas on the back-burner, so I thought it would be a great way to explore some things I wanted to write about, but only a little bit. It also fit my home life at the time. Jenny, my wife, had our second son Ronan while I drafted LARC Transmissions pieces. My very regimented routine of waking up at 5am and writing until 7am now had a little bundle of joy waking, soiling diapers, and cooing. It was distracting, so telling very short stories appealed to me. Now, after selling one novel and one short story collection, I believe that flash fiction is of value to the writer only as a piece of advertising toward their longer works. I think that most fiction readers prefer the long form.
In A Paleolithic Fable and other LARC stories, you have a satisfying range of science and science-fiction alongside some of the world’s oldest mythologies. I assume this was a result of your studies in Alternative History, but how did you choose which myths and folklore to incorporate into the story?
They choose me. I only wrote A Paleolithic Fable, which had nothing to do with my space explorers, because I became completely obsessed with the idea of Stone Age man living a in a world alongside other people that were not homo sapiens. All our works about aliens, dwarves, werewolves, and sentient seagulls drive at this situation. It was humanity’s reality and no one writes about it!
My favorite character from A Paleolithic Fable took me by surprise – Yawu with his quest to best the stork. I’d expected to relate more to Bobby, the scientifically advanced human, or Acacia, the homo sapien. Do you find most of your readers relate to the more…connected-to-nature characters in this story? Why do you think this is?
Yuwa is a lot of fun. Beta readers and critiquers either love him or hate him. I had to fall in love with each of the seven point-of-view characters in A Paleolithic Fable in order to bring a unique voice to their chapters, so it’s hard for me to wonder about who is most favored.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find myself evaluating the theory of mana as expressed by Thokmay and Sachet. Your characters explore spiritual, mental and philosophical concepts all the time. Did you find these themes creeping in, or was it also deliberately worked into the characters and their responses?
The book, Ideas That Changed the World by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto was a huge inspiration for some of the ideas, including mana, that I explore. It is also what inspired me to make the Ghostkin cannibals. I am a plotter, big time. If it isn’t the fight scene, I have likely premeditated it.
You’re busy creating your own LARC universe online. Tell us a little about the plans you’re working on for both readers and fellow authors.
So, I, like many indie writers and authors starting down the path toward traditional publishing, spent a huge amount of time trying to sell short stories and to get my work reviewed in order to draw in readers. I heard the advice that starting a blog about writing is a great way to collect a tribe of fans. I read some great blogs from authors and decided that I have nothing to contribute that hasn’t already been said online. So I took all my flash fiction, themed around my first novel and created some lead in pages for SEO terms that get googled frequently, like “free sci fi” and cool sci fi” and wrote landing pages that direct Googlers to my flash fiction.
I thought, how better to attract people that might want to buy my books, than giving my short stuff away for free, then linking my books within the same site. LARC-scifi.com has been bringing in around 500 unique people each month for over a year now. I can’t say the same about any of the people I asked to review Distant Origins.
Then I thought, since writer blogs review books in order to uplift and promote other fledgling writers, LARC-scifi can accept fan contributions. Anyone who likes my work and wants to promote their own is welcome to submit flash fiction they wrote that fits into the LARC Universe in exchange for a link to their other work or website. Instead of my fans hearing my opinion about their work, they get direct exposure to it, within a context they already enjoy.
It’s something new, and to date, I’ve only had one taker, Paul Bentham, check out his story Entikraft, on my site under the Your LARC Scifi section.
I think the concept could become the proving grounds for up and coming science fiction and fantasy writers. There is no better way to promote a fledgling writer than to display their handiwork to your audience. I hope it is both accepted and emulated. I’d rather write a bunch of flash fiction in another author’s universe that wait around, hoping to hear that some of them had the time to read my stuff and offer a positive opinion to their audience. Let’s put our craft within one another’s framework and let the fans decide for themselves what else to read!
A Paleolithic Fable has recently been released on Amazon along with the rest of the LARC series. How else can readers and writers connect with you?
Please look for me at LARC-SciFi.com. You can find everything I’m up to there. I’ve been experimenting with audio recording and 15 of my flash fiction stories are there to stream or download, links to my books for sale are there, along with fan contributions, LARC-SCIFI’s facebook feed, and even a link to most of A Paleolithic Fable on Wattpad is there.
I’ve put the first seven chapters of my next project, Monkeyboy on a novel writing platform I’ve never used before, but if anyone really must find it, they are on their own. I’m experimenting with how these platforms actually perform at driving fans toward me without my promotion.
I’m sold! I’m definitely looking to read more of S Shane Thomas’ longer works 😀
About S.Shane Thomas:
S Shane Thomas explores the highways of the Northeastern United States peddling industrial filters to earn a living. After dabbling in English, Journalism, and Communications he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Post University with excess credits scattered by the wayside. With a proper education out of the way, his mind strayed back to Alternative History theories, especially theories that involve alien contact at the dawn of civilization. When he isn’t hanging out with his wife and boys he’s crafting League of Atlantis Reborn Colonies adventures into his book series Anki Legacies.
His website www.larc-scifi.com will connect you to everything in the LARC Universe.