A common thread in the people that I interview is that they started somewhere and in the midst of their life discovered a passion for what they love and turn it into something for others to appreciate. Larkin Magnus is a fine example of that. Larkin, who currently resides in San Diego by way of Chicago, is an amazing author who recently released his fascinating sci-fi book called “Death Lord”. Like other people that I have interviewed before, Larkin has also developed quite the following on his social networking pages, due in particular to his funny, positive outlook on things. Oh, and he’s just so freaking handsome and full of brains and wit. So naturally, I had to interview him about the book and so much more.
Take a look at my exclusive with Larkin including his inspirations into sci-fi growing up, his amazing body transformation, how he sees the gay community and what is next for him.
Hey Larkin, thanks for sitting down with us! So tell me about your book “Death Lord”, what is it all about?
Death Lord is a story set 10,000 years in the future. thousand years since humanity first began expanding into the wider galaxy. There’s been a cataclysm that nearly destroyed the empire and now humanity is nominally united but practically fractured and factious. The greatest force holding the empire together and protecting it from alien predation is the Archon Guard: superhuman gene-fabricated warriors designed to destroy the Empire’s enemies, both from without and within.
The story follows Captain Cain Sigarian of the archon IV guard core Death Lords, who commands the strikeship Nightwing. He and his squad, along with a crew of mortal warriors loyal to the IV, are on a priority mission whose parameters are secret to almost everyone except the captain himself. But Cain soon finds that while he has been keeping secrets, his commanders in the Death Lords have an agenda of their own that could tie him into a web much larger than he bargained for. The characters all struggle with their own secrets and loyalties and over the course of the story have to face decisions about betraying their oaths to the Empire and fulfilling their mission.
What inspired you to become a writer and ultimately choose the sci-fi route?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I was little, but for whatever dumb reason thought you needed an education for it. After a BA in English, and Masters in 19th Century Literature, and slogging my way to ABD in a PHD for Rhetoric, it dawned on me that I actually hated working at a university and didn’t need it at all to do what I wanted with my life. Lesson learned, if a few years too late. What really made me want to write was also what drew me to science fiction: growing up watching scifi and wishing the storied turned out differently. I would daydream about how I wished a Star Trek episode had gone, or how I thought an episode of X-Men could have been better, or how I wished certain characters got more face time than the others. So now I write stories and get them to go the way I want.
Did you have any inspirations in the writing and sci-fi world that led you to write this story?
I have many influences. I grew up watching Star Trek, but while I like it, the universe isn’t really my aesthetic. My imagination is a little darker and a little more pessimist about the human race. I took more influence from anime and video games I think. Death Note, Bleach, Gundam Wing, Iria, Big O, and Evangelion were all favorites, and I played Dawn of War, Starcraft, Halo, and Mass Effect as well. I like all Science Fiction but particularly I enjoy sprawling epic narratives like space operas with a darker hue. Not quite dystopian – a dystopia to me implies something fundamental has changed about human society, and I think at a basic level that mankind doesn’t change a whole lot from age to age. We just get better toys!
Speaking of inspiration, something you document on your Facebook page quite often is your body transformation which is quite incredible. As someone who has yo-yoed with their weight there is always a point where you reach your bottom at your heaviest. What was yours?
I was driving home from the grocery store when it happened. My car was loaded up with sacks of groceries for the coming week: hamburger patties and multigrain bread, whole wheat pasta and a few cans of diced tomatoes with basil and onion, a few boxes of lean pockets, three 12 packs of Coke Zero (they’re by 2 get 1 free!!), skim milk and Honey Nut Cheerios, a dozen eggs and a bottle of OJ, low fat sliced cheese and a couple pounds of deli meat, a head of lettuce and a sack of peppers, and a box of sugar free chocolates as a treat for later on. This was a Friday, though, so a couple of other things made it into the car: a box of Publix sushi (half consumed on the ride home), and a sack from Empire Cuisine next to Publix containing General Tso’s Chicken, Krab Rangoon, and Steamed Dumplings. Because while the groceries were there for the week, Friday was the day I could eat what I really enjoyed: Asian food. At that point in the afternoon I was basically starving, which is why my sushi was half gone on the ride home. I was racing, fast as I reasonably could through a part of town notorious for speed traps, to get home so I could toss the groceries on the counter, crack open a Coke Zero, and drop on the couch to dig into some General Tso’s Chicken. It was this amazing future that was on my mind as I drove too fast over the speed bump at the entrance to my apartment complex. And that’s when it happened. My boobs flew up and hit me in the chin.
“Oh my God…” was all I could say as my face bunched into a scowl and my car rolled into the parking space in front of my building. I sat there for a long moment, staring down at myself. My boobs had just hit me in the face. I was a 23 year old man and I had boobs. Serious boobs. That was it for me… I had to make a change.
How long did it take for you to transform your body to where it was?
The thing is I’ve been struggling with my weight my whole life. I grew up fat and was fat into my mid 20s. I tell people it took about 4 years to go from 310 down to 180, then bulk up to 260 where I am today but the truth is that it was a really long-term struggle, both physically and psychologically. You have to do a lot of mental and spiritual work on yourself to get this kind of transformation done. It is way beyond physical.
Health wise, what can you advise people do in order to get in better shape or stay in the shape that they have achieved?
The most important thing you can do to reach your goals is to be persistent. A river doesn’t carve through a mountain because of its power, but because of its relentlessness. If you stumble, get back up immediately. If you miss a workout, don’t miss the next one. If you eat off your program, get right back to it. Far too often we expect perfection from ourselves when we aren’t perfect creatures, and that expectation sets us up for failure. So when we do fall – and we all do – often that one slice of pizza turns into an all-day gorge, or that one missed workout turns into a week. But if we can accept that we will stumble and resolve to just get back up again, then that persistence will pay off.
We all have cheat meals, cheat snacks, cheat desserts, etc. What is your ultimate that you still indulge in every once in a while?
All you can eat sushi is my go-to. I love sushi so much. And while people may think “oh, but sushi can be healthy” you should make no mistake: I don’t want healthy sushi. I want the baked rolls covered in spicy mayo and cheese. And I want 7 plates of it. Nothing healthy going on here…
As an out gay man, did you notice a shift in how men viewed you when you were overweight and now that you are in shape?
I’ve had two experiences about this. On the one hand, yes, there is an element of what I call “revenge dating” when you’re an ugly duckling. There have been those guys who couldn’t give me the directions to Hell when I was obese and all the sudden see me in person now and throw themselves at me. There’s the temptation to get revenge and shoot them down, or better yet to bang them and never talk to them again. At the same time, though, I think that my transformation has given me an appreciation for the difference between genuine cruelty and just having your own tastes. I know for my part that I’m not chasing after guys who are seriously overweight: I changed my body from fat to bodybuilder because I’m attracted to bodybuilder and not to fat. So while some guys may treat me differently now, I look back and I can remember who was actually unkind vs. who was just simply not attracted to me physically. And I can’t really blame them for that.
On the other hand, what I’ve learned is that assholes exist at every strata of attractiveness. I expected – and honestly, judging by what people say to and about me, everyone else also expects – me to get whatever I wanted from men I was attracted to. I’d get all the ass I wanted, or have whatever boyfriend I wanted, or any combination of those things. Because I thought that how I got treated was strongly correlated with how I looked. The most attractive guy I ever dated was actually when I was chubby, and right now I get blown off, dismissed, rejected, trifled with, and completely stood up with alarming frequency. There is no golden ticket when it comes to how you get treated among the gays. A douche will be a douche no matter what you look like.
What has been your overall take on this community? Where can we improve on and where do you think we have made the most achievements in?
That’s a pretty sprawling question, but I’ll do my best. I don’t want to be that guy that attacks “the community” for whatever petty sins seem typical in a bar or on Grindr or something. The truth is that I thin the community is what you make of it. If you don’t like how you get treated at a bar, don’t go to that bar. If you don’t like how you get treated on Grindr, don’t use Grindr. If you don’t certain people, you don’t have to interact with them. Each venue and each group and each micro-social-ecosystem is what it is and no one forces us to participate. What I think the community at large can do to improve is to focus more on what we do have power over instead of always focusing on where we think we are powerless. For example, while I like bear culture and many of my friends are bears, I’m not really a bear. I don’t fit in. The bears are nice to me, but bears aren’t going to date me and aren’t going to invite me to things, not because they’re jerks but just because “bear” is a group and I’m not really in it. I could bitch and moan about the bears, or I accept reality and play to my actual strengths. I’m a giant, muscly, All-american looking, Power-lifter type. That’s not a bear, but it’s not nothing either. I think individually, and as a group, gay guys would be happier and stronger if we embraced our strengths instead of seeing every boundary as a fight.
I think we have made the greatest achievement in just being Out. A generation ago it would be lunacy for high school kids to come out and take a same-sex partner to prom… anywhere in the US. A generation ago it would be impossible to hold hands with your lover anywhere that wasn’t New York or San Fransisco. But now I have no problem being affectionate with someone I care about in public almost anywhere, and kids feel freer to be who they are, and even the guys who have the most to lose because they’re the easiest to hide – the much-derided “masc bro” types – can come out without the fear of thirty years ago. Of course there is still work to be done, but by just being visible we have made a cultural change in the United States that is undeniable.
You also recently moved from Chicago to San Diego. What prompted the move and are you happy where you are now?
I’m happy with the move. It’s dramatically warmer in San Diego than in was in Chicago, which is obviously a powerful reason to get out of Chicago haha. At the same time, I just like the social scene more in San Diego. Chicago is frozen for half the year and nothing really goes on because no one goes out. It’s easier to be social when it’s warm all year.
What are your ultimate plans for 2015 and beyond?
For 2015 I want to expand my brand and try to branch out in my training and fitness business. One problem with personal training is that you can hit your profit ceiling pretty easily. So part of that will be attempting a bodybuilding competition, expanding my modeling work (I’m in a forthcoming spread from Djak Azran in November actually), and doing more to diversify my online presence. And of course the sequel to Death Lord is in the works and I expect it to be released in the Spring. So yes the next year is very busy for me! I’m looking forward to it.
For more information on Larkin’s book Death Lord and where you can buy it, check the link here!