If you're interested in speculative fiction, dashes of fantasy and darkness, and Los Angeles, then A.P. Thayer is the author for you. It was fantastic to interview him about his participation in Made in LA (an anthology that releases today!), which famous writer he'd take to lunch, and how speculative fiction offers so many opportunities.
To kick things off, tell us a bit about yourself!
Hey! Thanks for having me. My name is A.P. Thayer and I’m a Mexican-American author living in Los Angeles. I write grimdark fantasy, magic punk, and horror with a latinx-centric bent. I love fluffy animals, street tacos, ASMR, and Dungeons and Dragons.
What has your writing journey looked like?
I’ve been writing casually for a long, long while, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I decided to really pursue it professionally. I started watching lectures by Brandon Sanderson and YouTube videos by Jenna Moreci. I found a writing critique group and before too long I was submitting my writing (and getting absolutely destroyed in critique). Joining that writing group was the single best thing I’ve done for my writing. It’s been great to meet with smarter, more talented people than me and siphon their knowledge as I’ve done. After a couple years, I started a writing podcast with some of my writer friends and increased my knowledge even further through that. I was first published in 2018, my first professional paying publication was this year, and I’m working on getting my first novel published.
If you could sit down to lunch with any author, living or dead, who would it be?
What a great question. Hm. I think I would have to say either Joe Abercrombie, because he is my current, living, favorite author, or Poe, because I get the feeling that lunch with Poe would be absolutely wild. I imagine an absolutely bonkers and kind of haunting lunch punctuated by heavy drinking. Actually, maybe Poe wouldn’t even eat lunch. Hm.
What draws you to speculative fiction? How does it differ from other genres?
When I was around three or four years old, my father read me The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings aloud. It’s one of my earliest memories. I even have memories of what I imagined as he was reading it to me. I can’t help but imagine that the seed planted by my father and Tolkien. Ever since then, I’ve loved everything that isn’t strictly of this world. Speculative fiction is anything that asks “what if?” and that’s such an intriguing way of experiencing life. I spend a lot of time manufacturing what if scenarios in my head already (thanks anxiety) so why not put it to good use?
Today the anthology Made in LA releases and you’re a featured author! Before we dive into your short story, can you give us a general overview of the anthology?
Absolutely! This is the third volume of Made in LA, though the first one I’ve been a part of. They’ve all been a collection of stories by Los Angeles area authors all around a central theme. This volume’s theme is the art of transformation, and the stories within all deal with transformation, in either a literal, figurative, or philosophical sense. Every story in it has a speculative bent, whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, magical realism, or horror. I think it shows just how diverse speculative fiction can be, even when given a prompt or theme.
Can you pitch us your short story?
Los Angeles is a city of dreamers, but what happens when you squander the dream? This story is about what being a creative in Los Angeles could be like, and how ruthless the city can be when you fail.
Where did the inspiration for this come from?
Part of the inspiration came from writing to an anthology. I had never done that before, so it was very interesting to sit down and write a story with an open prompt like that. A lot of the rest came from my own experience in Los Angeles. I’ve been here for over a decade and experienced the good and bad sides of the movie industry, writing, and the late night scene. I’ve met so many people like the main character in this story over the years and there were times in my life where I shared some attributes with him, too.
Regarding Los Angeles, do you think more writers should consider the city for genres like horror and fantasy? What draws darker genres and Los Angeles together?
Oh, absolutely. I think Los Angeles is a prime location for so much. It’s such a sprawling, wild place and you can find almost anything here. It makes a very strong character for so many genres. It’s light and dark and everything in between.
If you had to pick the creepiest place in Los Angeles, something perfect for a spooky story, what would it be?
Excellent question. There are so many! I love driving around the city in the dead of night, 3 or 4am, and seeing all the places that were packed with people and traffic totally barren. Especially on cool nights when the fog rolls in. This was all pre-Covid, of course.
Do you have any advice to writers who want to try speculative fiction?
If you’re hesitant for any reason, don’t be. I’m not sure how helpful that actually is. But seriously! Speculative fiction is so broad! It doesn’t have to be castles and dragons or spaceships and lasers. Just a hint of something intruding that’s out of place is enough. There’s a whole range of flavors and you’re in control of the dial. I think the world runs on speculative fiction and if you’re at all interested, you should get in there.
Also, read. I don’t care how cliché that is, it’s repeated for a reason. Read often and read broadly.
Do you have any projects on the horizon you’d like to talk about?
I am working on a Latinx-centric magic punk novel right now and if all goes well, which it won’t, I should be querying it by summer 2021.
Anything else to add?
People can find me on Twitter and Instagram under @apthayer or at my website, www.apthayer.com.