Canadian teen up for book award
Grande Prairie writer surprised his sci-fi novel makes final three from 5,000 submissionsBy the age of six, Richard Larson was an award-winning author.
His short story on Mexican freetailed bats used as radar-guided missiles in the Second World War garnered the Grande Prairie native a children's short story award at the public library.
"It wasn't that good but it was good for a six-year-old," he says with a laugh.
His submission, a 51,000-word science fiction novel called Devolution, is a futuristic thriller about a computer virus capable of infecting the human brain.
The competition started with 5,000 entries. Larson was surprised to learn he is one of the three finalists in the young adult fiction category.
"It's really more like winning the lottery. It was a lucky break."
Larson's inspiration for the novel stemmed from a longtime love of science fiction. "That's what I read mostly when I was young. I was still imaginative enough that I didn't want to read about the real world."
Larson spent his early childhood in Niger, West Africa, where he was home-schooled. His parents often took him to the library.
To support her son's writing endeavours, his mother found Canadian author Kenneth Oppel's home phone number and called him.
Oppel, author of the Silverwing series, was receptive to giving the aspiring writer some advice. The conversation helped give Larson the confidence to pursue writing professionally.
"That was a neat moment for me. I realized authors are people and I'm a person and I could be an author."
Though he is pleased to have made it to the finals, he doesn't expect his novel to win.
"Sci-fi traditionally is not really a crowd-pleaser. It's not typical young adult fiction."
Larson hopes the experience will give him some exposure. He will be returning to the University of Alberta this fall, studying creative writing.
Larson completed his most recent book a month ago and is starting to move away from sci-fi.
"I don't want to lock myself into a genre. I'm going to start writing more general fiction."
For more information, go to amazon.com/abna.
Kindle readers can link to an excerpt from Devolution and can vote for their top choice.
The winners will be announced June 13.
AU Press will offer its imprint only to scholarship of the highest quality, as determined through peer review. In keeping with Athabasca University’s mission of overcoming barriers to education, we intend to work with emerging writers and researchers to promote success in scholarly publishing.