Eric LaRocca burst onto many a horror reader’s radar with their viral sensation, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. The novella was a devastating look at the peaks and pitfalls of an online relationship but in true LaRocca fashion, the lengths at which the relationship festers and falls apart will leave you breathless and, well, shocked. Since then, he has continued to build up through books like You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood and June’s We Can Never Leave this Place a unique voice in the darkness that continues to speak to a legion of readers looking for something new.
LaRocca is an emerging horror author who's quickly rising to the ranks of the horror greats. We were lucky enough to chat with LaRocca just in time for the release of his next book, We Can Never Leave This Place—out June 24, 2022, from Trepidatio Publishing.
The Lineup: Congratulations on the release of We Can Never Leave This Place! The book is about a teenage girl trapped in a sequence of toxicity. Reading it is a truly claustrophobic and intensely emotional experience. Could you speak a little bit about it? How did the book come about?
Thank you so much! I’m so delighted those feelings of claustrophobia crept in while you were reading the novella. I suppose the genesis for the idea really began with my interest in grieving rituals in other countries. The inevitability of death remains a constant source of anxiety for me, and I was interested in learning about how other cultures grieve when their loved ones perish.
During my investigation, I discovered a particular ritual that truly unnerved me but also fascinated me. I read about a particular ritual where the relatives of the deceased would have their fingers amputated, as if it were a physical penance for their suffering, for their grief. That really fascinated me. It also inspired several key moments in We Can Never Leave This Place where I attempted to illustrate the physical manifestations of the grieving process.
We Can Never Leave This Place
What’s your writing process like? I sense that you might be a little bit like me—writing with a quickening pace, likely in bursts.
That’s absolutely accurate. I tend to write only when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I don’t see much good in strapping myself to the keyboard and demanding that I execute a certain word count or else. That’s not fun. In my experience, that doesn’t elicit the best quality of writing.
If I’m working on a certain project, I’ll make sure I carve out enough time to write between one thousand and two thousand words. But I never beat myself up for not meeting the goal or make unreasonable demands of myself to catch up quickly during my next writing session. I try to keep the writing process as fluid and as enjoyable as it can. Of course, it’s hard work and sometimes very difficult at times. However, I try to enjoy myself and make certain that I truly love what I’m creating. If I don’t, I usually stop working on that project and focus my energy on something else.
What was it like publishing You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood directly to your readership? Any peaks and/or pitfalls of the process?
It was such an honor to share You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood with my readers. I knew that some folks were clamoring for new material from me, and I desperately wanted to offer them something until my new releases arrived. What’s been so inspiring about watching the success of You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood has been the fact that the book has had zero promotion and zero author endorsements. Meanwhile, it’s found a devoted readership, and folks really seem to enjoy it.
You've Lost a Lot of Blood
Let’s talk about writing rituals—do you need to listen to music? Need coffee, tea? Need a quiet dark corner away from society to commune with sinister forces?
Well, I always need a quiet, dark corner to commune with the sinister forces. Other than that, I usually need the room to be completely quiet. I cannot write in public places because I usually become far too distracted. If I’m editing a piece, I’ll sometimes put on music. But if I’m writing a new draft, I find it very difficult to concentrate if too much is going on around me. I usually have a cup of tea near me when I’m working as well because that always calms me down and keeps me centered.
What keeps you up at night?
Other than my crippling anxiety, usually thoughts of death and destruction. I think I’m most fearful of loved ones passing away and leaving me behind.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
Name a book that has stayed with you in the years since you started writing, be it one of your own projects or a book you read. I’m always curious about the stories that imprint themselves onto us and never let go.
A book I constantly think about has to be The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It’s so decidedly gruesome and yet so elegant and sophisticated at the same time. It also captures such a nuanced view of human sexuality. I absolutely adore that book.
The cover art of your books is consistently detailed, majestic, and horrific all at once. Do you have any part in the creation of these representative images?
For all of my indie released books, I’ve had total creative control when it comes to the cover artwork. For You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood, I knew I wanted to work with artist Kim Jakobsson (Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke) and I knew for a fact I wanted to use a particular print for the cover. For We Can Never Leave This Place, I came across the work of a Greek artist named Ble. I found a painting he had done called “Fever” and was completely awestruck by it. I knew it had to be the cover art for the novella!
What’s next for Eric LaRocca—what’s on the publication docket and what are you working on right now?
After We Can Never Leave This Place, I’ll be focusing all my efforts on my upcoming Titan Books release, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes. The collection contains the titular novella as well as two never-before-published novelettes, “The Enchantment” and “You’ll Find it’s Like That All Over.” Then, in October, I have a very special release coming out on Halloween from Bad Hand Books. The release is titled They Were Here Before Us. It’s a novella told in various vignettes/stories. I’m very much looking forward to sharing more of my work with such kindhearted and devoted readers!