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It was only meant to be a few hours of fun.
A lark. On a sunny Saturday morning Lola, Kyle and Maria set sail on Puget Sound to look for a vision that had come to Maria in a dream. Then disaster struck, and the three of them were plunged into a dark adventure in which they would confront good and evil, past lives, and a timeless curse born from a tragic love. What are the hidden secrets of Bridge House and Riesgado Island? Part Gothic romance, part supernatural mystery and part fantastical adventure, The Curse of Septimus Bridge is Scott R. Larson’s homage to the horror and adventure stories of his youth, notably the 1960s television series Dark Shadows. In this new book, the author of The Three Towers of Afranor takes us on an adventure that ranges from 17th-century Ireland to the Pacific Northwest of today. At the heart of it all is the mysterious figure who lives out his endless, solitary days, having been rejected by both heaven and hell.

“This is a sequel to Larson’s earlier novel, ‘Maximilian and Carlotta are Dead’, which was set mostly in Mexico as a buddy adventure and introduced the character of Dallas Green, a young man with wanderlust from a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. ‘Lautaro’s Spear’ takes us on further romantic and political adventures to France, Germany, and Chile, and deeper into Dallas’ psyche which we find to be darker and more complex than in the first novel. An engrossing read by a first class storyteller, it leaves you wanting more.”

“Totally enjoyed the characters lost souls that they are. Life is not always what we would like.”

Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on

A legendary reclusive filmmaker. An enigmatic cook and restaurant proprietor, who is clearly more than he seems. Two mysterious deliveries to be made behind the Iron Curtain. A desperate search for a long-missing old friend. An unexpected love affair on the coast of Normandy. Dallas Green’s life has only gotten more interesting since his wild youthful adventures recounted in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead.
“I loved this book. It is a rollicking fantasy—youth must pass increasingly difficult tests to attain wisdom and perhaps, just perhaps, win the girl! A pure joy to read. And such a great metaphor for life!”

“It was a great read for young adults as well as adults. Can’t wait for the sequel.”

“A fantasy novel with magic and heart. It’s a quick read that is set up for a sequel. A great story about growing up and learning what you are capable of and it’s clean so it can be recommended to all ages!”

Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on

What secrets do the three towers hold? For years travelers have avoided the mysterious kingdom of Afranor, but necessity now requires three brothers—the valiant fighting princes of Alinvayl—to pass through Afranor’s dark, forbidding expanse. Not all will survive the journey, but one may succeed in finding his destiny.

“I loved this book! Once I started I couldn’t put it down… What an adventurous way to come-of-age in a place in time that no longer exists. Truly a great read!”

“Larson really captures the sense of a particular time and place. His details of clothes, music, cars, speech, etc. all ring true. Also, the first-person narrator’s voice is pitch-perfect…”

“Scott Larson does a magnificent job of taking his readers on a southern trip with the three young heroes.”

“What a wild and crazy adventure! … The characters were all very well developed; I especially loved Antonio, the star and the hero. Looking forward to the sequel.”

Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on

It is Summer 1971. With the Vietnam War raging and the draft looming, 18-year-old Dallas and Lonnie look for an escape. Fleeing their hot and dusty farming town in Lonnie’s ’65 Chevy, they head to Mexico. In one last misguided adventure, two lifelong friends blaze a trail to Tijuana and beyond, just to see how much trouble they can get it into.

Monday, October 12, 2015

That Dodgy Galwegian

This blog post will conclude the official Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead apology tour.

To my friends in Ireland: I apologize for including a dodgy Irish character. I know you will pick apart the way he speaks and find him inauthentic. My excuse—and I’m sticking with it—is that we are seeing him only as he appears and sounds through the narrator’s young, inexperienced American eyes and ears.

It’s a funny story how the character called Séamus came to be part of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. Well, funny to me anyway.

I had always promised myself that I would never write a novel in the first person. Maybe I’m just lazy, but it always seemed like too much work to have to write constantly in the voice of a particular character for hundreds of pages. But as I finalized my ideas for my first novel, I realized that I wanted it to be—among other things—something of an homage to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And that meant that it really needed to be narrated by its main character in his own regional voice.

But, I figured, that would be a piece of cake because the story takes place in the time and place where I myself came of age, so this would be a voice that I should know well—or so I thought. When reading over what I had written, I kept finding usages that sounded more like 21st century Ireland than 1970s San Joaquin Valley. Even when I thought I had fixed all of them, my indispensable friend Dayle found more. We went around and around for a long time over the verb “to bring” versus “to take” when applied to a person (as in “he took her shopping”). It turns out “to bring” a person somewhere is a particularly Irish usage of English—and one that I had not even realized I had adopted wholeheartedly. In short, my use of English had been hopelessly affected by all of these years living on the Emerald Isle.

This made the writing a lot more work—and a lot more frustrating—than I had anticipated. So, to amuse myself, I decided to include an Irish character. This was an entirely plausible story detail because you cannot go anywhere in the world without meeting the Irish. They turn up everywhere—even, presumably, in 1970s Mexico. And, in my deluded thinking, I figured that the exercise of actually trying to make a character sound authentically Irish would somehow, by contrast, make it easier to maintain the American sound of my other characters. At least that was theory. In practice, however, it was even more work to make Séamus sound authentically Irish than to keep Dallas and his friend Lonnie sounding like they were from Kern County.

To make it worse, there was the added pressure from the fact that the Irish tend to be extemely critical of Irish characters who do not come off as authentic to them. Not only do American and English actors get roundly slated for bad Irish accents in movie and television roles, but my wife has been known to roast perfectly competent Dublin actors for doing inadequate Connacht accents. Fortunately, it wasn’t as though I had to somehow get vowel sounds just right. After all, you cannot actually hear the accent of a character who exists only on a printed page. But the usage and tone certainly have to be right.

After the book was published, I was on tenterhooks every time I heard from anyone who had read the book and who was Irish. Strangely, to date no one has actually said they found Séamus inauthentic as a globe-trotting Galwegian. To be clear, no one has praised the character as a masterful creation either. Irish readers, at least in my limited sampling, seem to have little reaction to him at all. I would be tempted to attribute this lack of criticism to politeness, but I have never known the Irish to be polite about this sort of thing in any other situation. Even my wife—who I expected to excoriate me over the character because, well, that’s just what she does—had virtually nothing to say about him.

Yes, I would prefer that lots of people were heartily congratulating my on getting the nuances of my Irish character exactly right. But, realistically, I am actually ecstatic to be hearing nothing at all. I have convinced myself that that is actually the highest praise of all.

To everyone I know: I apologize one more time for all the bad words. It won’t happen again.

Hmmm. I may have lied about that one. I really can’t promise I will never again have any sweary characters in anything I ever write again. But I can promise that there will be virtually no expletives in my next book of which, I am happy to note, the first draft was completed over the weekend! And yes, it is written in the third person. And no, there are no Irish characters (or American ones for that matter), although there are characters with Irish names.

And I do not plan to make any apologies about any of it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Still Aboard the Apology Train

The official Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead apology tour continues.

To my friends in Seattle: I apologize for the misogyny, racism, homophobia, casual acceptance of economic inequality and irresponsible gun use. The characters are most definitely not meant to be role models. Please focus on their character growth, not on their myriad character flaws.

This particular apology was really tongue in cheek. After all, the offenses I enumerated above are, after all, well entrenched features of our popular entertainment. And yet…

I did regret that there are no great female characters in the book. Marisol features somewhat prominently, but mainly as an idealized fantasy in Dallas’s feverish teenage mind. The Pérez family includes some nice women, especially Mama Marta, but they are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. No, this is a guy story told by a guy and about guys. I’m sorry. I’ll make it up in my other writing.

Also, it did concern me that the two main characters’ attitudes toward Mexicans (not even bothering to distinguish between actual Mexicans and Mexican-Americans) could be offensive. But the attitude was true to the characters and to the time and place. And the whole point of the book is how the narrator Dallas has his world view enlarged by actually getting to know Mexicans and Mexican culture, so I’m not sure that an apology is really called for.

Then there is the question of gay characters.

I do not consider myself—or any author of fiction, for that matter—responsible for presenting balanced or positive portrayals of any demographic group. (That’s the job of non-fiction writers and propagandists.) Having said that, however, it did bother me that this particular story resulted in all its portrayals and/or references to gay people being associated with pedophilia. But frankly, in that time and place, that was the only context in which I—and other guys my age that I knew—had any awareness of homosexuality. In the end, I hope that Dallas’s growth on the issue—partly from learning more of the world and partly from dealing with his own instances of sexual confusion—mitigate the thin portrayals.

Anyway, if you want a more deeply diverse set of characters, just wait until I finish my epic novel about 1980s Seattle. None of them will be role models either, but at least they won’t all be seen through the prism of badly behaving rural teenage boys.

Actually, you may not have to wait that long. Now that the end of the first draft of my sword and sorcery tale is actually in sight, I have lately been leaning toward going ahead and taking on a sequel to Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. For a long time all the ideas I worked on in my head for a sequel never seemed quite right. But then I literally had a dream about something I experienced while traveling around in my twenties, and something clicked. I have to believe it is fate because the dream involved a train. And it was a dream about a young woman on a train that inspired Dan Curtis to create the classic 1960s TV show Dark Shadows.

Part of the interest in the sequel for me—and hopefully the reader—will be to see how Dallas has grown and changed in the several years since the first book. One thing will be for sure. He will definitely meet and know a more diverse set of characters.