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Eric LaRocca Interview


Eric LaRocca is a riveting voice in horror. Their books include Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes, They Were Here Before Us, You've Lost a Lot of Blood, The Trees Grew Because I Bled There, among others. This summer, Eric is making their novel debut with Everything the Darkness Eats from CLASH Books. Everything the Darkness Eats is a eviscerating work that traces a string of disappearances in a small Connecticut town, exploring what really lies beneath the town’s picturesque façade.


Read the full interview below.


I have to say, your voice as a writer is mesmerizing. With every one of your stories, a reader can tell that they’re reading something by Eric LaRocca and that they are experiencing something special. Did you always know you wanted to write fiction and, specifically, horror?


That’s so very kind of you to say. It’s always so rewarding when very kind readers tell me that I have a distinct narrative voice. I struggled for many years, attempting to define myself as a writer and trying to organically develop my voice. Some days I feel so ineffectual as an author to be perfectly blunt, so it’s always so heartwarming when folks help you understand a new perspective about yourself. To answer your question more specifically, yes—I always knew I wanted to write fiction, particularly horror fiction. I became acquainted with the horror genre at a very young age thanks to my mother and I found myself totally unnerved and inspired. That said, I often wondered if I would be welcomed by horror readers. When I was growing up, I didn’t see a ton of overt queer representation in horror fiction and cinema. More specifically, I didn’t see the kind of complex, problematic, villainous queer characters that I was interested in reading about. I’ve now noticed there’s a surge of queer characters dominating horror fiction. It’s utterly brilliant to see.


Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke was a huge success in 2021. Over the last two years, you’ve released several novellas and short story collections—including one of my personal favorites, which you published yourself, You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood. What has this journey been like?


This journey has been so many different things for me—rewarding, exhilarating, terrifying, maddening, etc. In all sincerity, it’s been so encouraging to witness so many kindhearted and thoughtful readers discover my work and connect with the characters, stories, etc.


Did you know when you started Everything the Darkness Eats that it was going to be a novel? Did any of your novellas start out as novels?


Yes, I think I always knew on some level that Everything the Darkness Eats was going to be a novel. I was actually encouraged by my manager, Ryan Lewis, to tackle this project back in early 2021. Ryan had just signed me as a client and was very eager to see what I could do with a novel-length work, considering all I had written previously were short stories or novellas. He assisted me tremendously throughout the intensive outlining process and really helped me strengthen some of the characters. Of course, the novel is still somewhat on the shorter side, considering the fact it’s a little less than fifty thousand words. However, I find brevity and conciseness very attractive as a reader. As much as I love sprawling, epic works like McDowell’s Blackwater or McCammon’s Swan Song, I’m probably more inclined to pick up shorter novels like Gran’s Come Closer or Evenson’s Father of Lies.


Your work is incredibly intimate and you explore characters in great depth. Were there any characters in Everything the Darkness Eats that were particularly challenging to get under the skin of?


The character of Ghost Everling was decidedly uncomfortable for me to write for many reasons. I often found myself struggling to write his particular scenes because they were so dark, so hopeless, so relentlessly bleak. That said, I see so much of myself in Ghost’s somber and forlorn character. I think many people feel haunted and worry tirelessly about things they cannot control. Even though this novel is extremely bleak, I wanted to offer a glimmer of hope for readers. Without giving too much away of the ending, I knew I wanted Ghost to come to terms with himself and find a modicum of comfort in the trauma he endures. He deserves that at the very least.


Brian Evenson, author of Last Days, says Everything the Darkness Eats has "a double row of very sharp teeth.” Your writing delves into some incredibly dark places, how do you come up for air after that? Do you need to manage yourself in-between projects?


Mental health is very important to me. Yes, it’s accurate to say that my work explores the bleakest aspects of human existence. That said, it’s important for me to step away from certain projects when I feel overwhelmed or when I feel drained mentally. When I’m working on a novel-length work, I’m usually consumed by it. I’m fairly useless when it comes to other matters while I’m working on a novel. However, I often take extended breaks between projects so that I can recharge and compose myself. I’ve also found it considerably healthy to develop interests in other genres as opposed to consuming horror 24/7. Of course, I love the horror genre; however, I certainly don’t expect anyone to eat, sleep, and breathe it. I think it’s important to take time away from the thing you love and return to it when you’re ready.


You’ve posted some wonderful photos on social media of your mom holding your books at various bookstores. Does she like horror or is she just incredibly supportive? My mom is very supportive of my work and I appreciate it a lot because horror is definitely not her thing.


Yes! My mom is a devoted horror fan and one of my most supportive advocates. I should probably clarify: she’s not a fan of all horror films, books, etc. In truth, she’s very particular when it comes to the kind of horror she enjoys. My mom grew up watching films like Dracula, The Wolf Man, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Those are her favorites. She really enjoys the old, black-and-white monster films from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Obviously, my work differs considerably from those hallmarks of the genre. However, my mother has learned to appreciate the modern horror fare and remains very engaged whenever I try to show her the latest film or book I’m obsessed with.


The cover for Everything the Darkness Eats is bold and arresting. Who designed it and how did you feel when you first saw it?


I’m so delighted you appreciate the cover for the novel! It was quite an arduous process to get the artwork just right. The black-on-black art for the US edition of the book was designed by Joel Amat Güell. He’s worked with CLASH on many other design projects; however, this was an especially rewarding commission for him as Joel has been eager to work on a very simple (yet complex) black-on-black cover. More than anything, I wanted this book to feel as though it was cursed. When shoppers at bookstores pick up a paperback copy of this novel, I want them to feel as though they’re holding something they’re not supposed to be. I want them to feel unnerved, unsettled.


What has it been like working with CLASH Books?


Working with CLASH Books has been such a joy and an honor. They really have gone above and beyond to make me feel valued and respected as a writer. Both Christoph Paul and Leza Cantoral (editors/owners of CLASH) have made me feel so welcomed and continually remind me that I have delivered a really exceptional debut novel. It’s rare to work with a press that so passionately believes in you and your work. Not only are they so supportive of all the talent they acquire for their catalog of published works, but they are also eager to take risks when it comes to cover artwork and promo. It’s more than obvious that a black-on-black cover would never be approved at a Big 4 publishing imprint. CLASH thrives on the kind of madness you can only get away with as an independent publisher. I really am so pleased that my very first novel found such a warm and loving home.


Do you have any other work coming out this year you’d like to tell people about?


After Everything the Darkness Eats launches in June (from CLASH Books in the US) and July (from Titan Books in the UK), I don’t have any releases scheduled until early 2024. I hope to spend a considerable part of this year promoting the novel and connecting with readers. Of course, there’s a huge possibility I’ll feel unhinged and will surprise release a short novella in autumn 2023. But nothing’s decided yet. I’m really looking forward to my 2024 releases with Titan Books. As of now, I have two major releases planned—a collection of novellas titled This Skin Was Once Mine and Other Disturbances and a new full-length novel titled Each Living Thing is Here to Suffer.


What’s your favorite recent read? Any genre or category. It doesn’t have to be horror.


I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, so it might be difficult to narrow down to merely just one book in particular. I was recently blown away by María Fernanda Ampuero’s excellent short story collection, Human Sacrifices. Explosive, electric writing coupled with such unflinching brutality and violence. I also recently read a new short story collection from Michael Wehunt called The Inconsolables. Absolutely devastating and gut-wrenching as we’ve come to expect from Wehunt’s exceptional work. As for novels, I recently read and enjoyed E. Saxey’s upcoming Unquiet, which was so intense and compelling. A very unsettling and engaging Gothic horror. Also, I must shout out Alison Rumfitt’s upcoming Brainwyrms. Probably one of the most disgusting and depraved novels I’ve read in recent memory. Soul shattering and utterly sickening, it’s one of my favorite reads from this year.


Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!


Everything the Darkness Eats hits shelves on June 6, 2023. The US paperback will be available on June 13, 2023.


Eric LaRocca (he/they) is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated and Splatterpunk Award-winning author of the viral sensation Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. A lover of luxury fashion and an admirer of European musical theatre, Eric can often be found roaming the streets of his home city, Boston, MA, for inspiration. For more information, please follow @hystericteeth on Twitter/Instagram or visit ericlarocca.com.

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