Interview with Theron Langhorne

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California. it was middle class suburbia in a developing community miles away from downtown Los Angeles. Our neighborhood was quiet and comfortable and very spread out. I had a lot of friends in middle school and elementary school. I would mostly draw but I liked to read a lot. I mean, A LOT. My mom would drive my sister and I to the local library about twice a month and I would check out at least 30 books on every visit. And I would read every single one. I wrote here and there, but my story ideas were mostly for theme park rides because I wanted to build my own theme park. I still do!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I can't remember the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember writing squiggle stories back in fourth grade. My teacher was Mrs. Skidmore and she had us do a squiggle story every week. A squiggle story consisted of a random squiggly mark she made on a piece of paper. She then asked us to draw something out of the squiggle and make a story out of it. I would always overdo the drawing because I loved to draw and then I'd make a long story out of it that consisted of 1-2 pages, sometimes 3. At the end of the week, everyone would read their stories in front of the class. People would always clap at the end of my story cause they enjoyed it so much. I felt I had a little spark back then.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My mother used to read to me every night before I went to bed so it's virtually impossible to remember the first story I ever read. From the time I was born, I remember my mother reading to me when I went to bed. I must have had a hundred books in my room because she would always read a different book every night. One book that kind of stands out was about a caboose that was always sad because he was at the end of the train. When the train went by the kids in town, they would cheer for all the other cars on the train, but they would turn away when the caboose came by. Then one day, the caboose saved the train from sliding down a hill and the townspeople would always cheer for the caboose after that. I liked the illustrations and I liked trains at the time, but the story of changing your life's destiny was always interesting to me.
What is your writing process?
I've discovered that after writing Zuu, it's best to get all of my ideas down on paper. I don't worry about putting things into order. If I have a good story to tell, I can go back and put the events in proper order. Sometimes, the events won't make sense to the story. If I can't change or tweak it to make the story stronger, I throw it out. But I noticed that while I'm putting the scenes in order, other ideas will pop into my head and the new scenes will be stronger than the ones I threw out. I try to make sure I always have the ending in mind though. I also want to make sure that the character goes through a change that you'll be able to feel and understand. Once I feel I have enough scenes in mind, I put the scenes in order, add or take away more scenes or storylines, refine it again, read through it, make an outline, read it again, and then start writing. I like to hand write in a 9.5 x 6in college ruled notebook and then type it into a word processor. I find that when I write in ink, it helps me think slower and more ideas will pop into my head as I write. After I write several pages, I'll type it in and find that more ideas and changes will come to me while I'm typing. It feels refreshing to read it over again in the word processor because it feels more tight and consistent. I feel that every thought that could have occurred to me in that short time of writing is now in the computer and can still be rearranged if need be.
How do you approach cover design?
To get people interested in your book, you have to have a "hook". The first line in your book is a "hook". It piques their interest so they will want to read further. For a cover, it has to be interesting, unusual, have a good use of color, composition, and typography in order to stand out from the competition on the book shelf or, in the case of ebook standards, to stand out from other thumbnail images. But most importantly, it has to be relevant to the story and illustrate the drama or mood the book entails.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of Rick Riordan's books! I'm a big fan of ancient mythology and I love how he describes the gods in today's terms and the slang in which they speak is so humorous and meaningful all at once. He's a genius! The Heroes of Olympus are my favorite series so far. I'm also in love with Ransom Riggs Hollow City, the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. It was just fascinating all the way through. I also liked Kevin Follett's Pillars of the Earth. He's very good at making you feel an emotional admiration or disgust of a specific character. Of course, JK Rowling is one of my favorites as well. I would have to say The Goblet of Fire was my favorite. I would also have to include Suzanne Collins, not only because of the Hunger Games series, but because of Gregor the Overlander series. The way she writes is just inspiring and informative.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything by Rick Riordan, Eoin Colfer is great, too. I love young adult books, but if there is a good adult fiction out there, I'll read that, too. I don't care too much for profanity and sexual innuendo in my reading material, as long as it's not gratuitous or excessive. I also love Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, graphic novels, and concept art books.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Honestly, I've never read an ebook on any device. I prefer a tangible book because I like the solid form of having a book in my hand and be able to open it whenever I want. I don't have a tablet and I usually won't read a book on my computer unless it's the one I'm writing. I can't imagine reading a book on my iphone, but I do understand that this is the way people are receiving their reading material these days because it's convenient and easily accessible. I just personally enjoy the physical aspect of a real book.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My favorite movie of all time is The Goonies. I have literally seen that movie about 70 times. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Goonie. I wanted to go treasure hunting and explore areas around town that we weren't supposed to go into. I wanted to have an adventure like that. I remember writing stories in school that would include my friends and myself on weird trips to Egypt and the Amazon and we'd encounter booby traps and go on these crazy treasure hunts together. I was hoping for years that they would make a Goonies 2, but they never did. So I decided to create my own story and include teens that were about my age. Of course, it took years to finish it, but I always had the idea of kids on another journey together. My love of Star Wars was also reignited when the new trilogy came out with The Phantom Menace. So I thought, "Goonies in space"? That would be cool. So I fiddled around with the idea back and forth and then discovered Avatar, the Last Airbender. Quite possibly, the most awesome animated series in TV history! All of these stories inspired me and I jumbled ideas around and finally came up with Zuu.
What are you working on next?
The way Zuu ends screams for a sequel. So for those who finished reading Zuu, never fear. I am currently working on Zuu II: The Exodus. This is an epic story and this is just the beginning of what's to come!
Published 2017-04-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Zuu
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 80,940. Language: English. Published: October 27, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
An alien vessel invades a high school and abducts Jarvis Johnson and five other students and brings them to a strange planet called Zuu, a world where alien species from all over the galaxy are held captive in an intergalactic zoo. They are thrown into a dangerous struggle for survival and discover that being human makes it almost impossible to return home.