Eric Lahti came late to writing, but he brought a certain manic energy along with him. A prolific writer, he feels bad about himself if he doesn’t manage to write a little something every night. His currently preferred genre is urban fantasy blended with action and topped with horror. His writing has been described as a mixture of laugh out loud funny and plunging the depths of adventure and horror. Lahti currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he acts like a programmer during the day and a writer at night. He enjoys cycling and martial arts when he’s not perched on a keyboard.
There is nothing to dislike about this book. Seriously, if more books were written like this more kids would be reading instead of watching reality television. Yes, there is graphic violence (at one point someone's head may get twisted around) but it's cartoony violence. Lahti's writing style, in my opinion, is kind of Quentin Tarantino meets Elmore Leonard. Everything on the page is there to entertain the reader.
One of the biggest strengths of this piece were the characters. Since it was an evil gang, the author had a lot of flexibility to give them terrific quirks, which only added to their complexity. The inclusion of details so specific that you know the ring tone and pizza preferences of characters makes it not only easy to relate to them, but cheer for them
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Eric: He’s got some things in common with me. They say write what you know, so some of my experiences were folded into him, but so were a bunch of other people’s. Steven was built around the idea of someone who actually has a lot of ethics, they’re just really different from everyone else’s. Bits and pieces of all the characters have a bit of me in them. Actually, I don’t know that you can write a character that doesn’t have a bit of yourself in him or her.
RK: Jessica is one of the most attractive fictional characters I have ever read. How complicated was she to create? Was she based on a real person and if so could I have her number?
Eric: Jessica was based on a whole bunch of different women I’ve known over the years. Her base personality – generally pretty nice, but quick to anger – was based on a couple people I knew in college. The trick with her was trying to make her feel real in this otherworldly adventure the rest are having. Eve is so far from human I could really have fun with her and Steven had already displayed serious situational ethics. Jessica had to be the one person in the group who was grounded in reality and who manages to rise above the craziness. She doesn’t get much air time in Henchmen and really more came into her own in Arise. In the upcoming Transmute, she’s a bit different. She’s got the experience of having been around these people, but things keep getting crazier and she still manages to hold her head above water.
Her number is 876-5309. Be careful, though, she’s not always the easiest person to deal with.
RK: Henchmen is loaded with layers of mythology, religion, and general badassery. Did you go into the Henchmen series with some kind of road map or did it just sort of play out on its own?
Eric: You know, I really like to think I had a plan in mind when I started it, but all I knew was I had this idea of looking at the henchmen in super villain stories as more capable than they’re generally portrayed. Comics, especially, tend to portray henchmen as disposable boobs, but if you’re trying to take over the world or do something really nefarious, why would you hire a bunch of idiots to help you?
So, it all started out with just that idea and sort of spiraled out of control from there. When I first started writing it, I wasn’t 100% certain what their end goal was going to be. I knew it had to be something big enough no one would really try it, but something people could kind of wrap their heads around or it wouldn’t make sense. Why try to take over the world? It’s too much of a hassle to maintain it once you’re done taking. Fortunately, while I was writing Henchmen, the government got shut down over some trivial thing or another and Congress’s approval rating sunk even further than it usually is. So, I had their plan, they just needed to figure out how to make it happen.
RK: Among all the violence in your books there is a fair amount of swordplay and hand to hand combat. If you could master one martial art what would it be?
Eric: I’ve actually been studying martial arts since 1989 or so, focusing on Kenpo since 1999. I’m not sure there’s really such a thing as mastering a martial art. After you’ve looked at them for a while, except for some outliers, most martial arts are pretty much the same.
RK: Were all the creatures (gods) based on real mythology?
Eric: Kind of. Throughout history there have been gods of this, that, and the other thing, so there have been numerous gods of dreams in various cultures. Arise added to the pantheon a bit with Fear and John Begay. I’m not sure there’s ever been a god of fear or a spirit of a region of the United States, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
RK: Have you ever spotted a UFO?
RK: What is your theme song? What song would you want playing whenever you enter a room?
Eric: It probably varies depending on my mood, but I can usually go for “Born With A Tail” by the Supersuckers.
RK: Do you see yourself expanding the henchmen universe beyond the trilogy or do you have other projects in the front of your mind?
Eric: The Henchmen series will end at book four. The Saxton spin-offs were always intended to be limited run and I’m finishing up the last of those now. For the future, I’ve got a dystopian sci-fi piece I’m working on. If you’re wondering just what the heck my Twitter banner is all about, it’s about that book. I actually started it early this year, but got stuck in Transmute and the Saxton series and had to back-burner it. The other thing I’m working on is taking the story of The Clock Man and seeing where Chan and Crow wind up after Crow walks out of the bar. There are a lot of moving pieces in that one, though, and I’m still trying to figure out how to tie it all together.
RK: What’s your favorite quote to define writing?
Eric: Neil Gaiman summed it up nicely with “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard.”
That was the part of writing that took me by surprise, just how damned long it takes to write a novel. Seventy thousand, eighty thousand, one hundred thousand words. It takes time to put those down.
Of course, there’s also Hunter S. Thomson’s famous quote: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.”
RK: Do you have any advice for new writers trying to break into the indie scene?
Eric: There’s a huge amount of support out there if you know where to look for it. I wrote Henchmen completely in a bubble and had absolutely no idea what to do with it when I was done. I wound up looking up instructions on how to publish it on Amazon and stumbled across various support groups (Hi, I’m Eric, and I’m a writer. Hi Eric). IASD – The Indie Author Support and Discussion group on Facebook has been great. If I have a question, someone there has an answer. Find a group and listen and learn. Or, hell, drop me a line. I might be able to point you in the right direction.