Raima Larter is a fiction reader for Little Patuxent Review. She lives in Arlington, Virginia and received her MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2016. Prior to devoting herself to full-time writing, Raima was a college chemistry professor in Indiana. She moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 2003 to work for the National Science Foundation, a federal agency located in northern Virginia. Her first novel, “Fearless,” will be published by New Meridian Arts Literary Press this year. You can read more about her work at raimalarter.com.
We’re very grateful she’s willing to answer a few questions for us.
Q: How did you get involved with LPR?
I met the publisher, Desirée Magney, at a writing conference and introduced myself. When I told her I was interested in becoming a reader, she talked with the editors and it turned out there was an opening and I was invited to join. I’d wanted to volunteer to be a reader for awhile, since I’d heard it was a great way to improve my own writing. I also wanted to give back a little to the writing community, by helping with the process of screening submissions.
Q: You’ve told me that being a reader for LPR has changed your own writing. Can you elaborate?
After reading for a short period of time, I began to realize that while craft elements like point of view, the balance of exposition and active scene, dialogue, setting, etc, were important, the story itself was really key. Mistakes in craft elements can be fixed, but if a story doesn’t seem to have a point, it doesn’t make the cut. Before being a reader I had been almost totally focused on craft without thinking much about story. I’ve gone back and re-written a number of my older stories since I started reading, sometimes even abandoning them completely when I couldn’t explain to myself why this story needed to be told.
Q: And how about your own submitting?
I was already submitting quite a lot, but one thing that’s changed for me now is that I will go back to a story that’s been rejected a few times and see if it needs more work. I used to just keep sending the piece out without further revision, but I’m much less reluctant now to revise a story if it isn’t getting picked up.
Q: Do you have a favorite piece from the current issue?
I was blown away by Hunter Therron’s story, “Some Birds Sing So Hard They Die.” This story is told in a non-chronological way by a hitch-hiker who is trying to figure out why the man who picked him up doesn’t seem able to speak. The writing is stunningly beautiful and the story that slowly unfolds is simultaneously painful and joyous. I thought this story was a true work of art and felt privileged to be among the first to read it. I’m so glad LPR was able to give a home to this story by a very talented writer.
Q: Are you working on anything now?
Yes. I’m always working on something! My main project right now involves finishing a draft of my third novel. My first two novels are being published this year, so I’ve been busy with galley pages and cover designs and all that goes into the publishing process—but I’ve also been trying to carve out time to finish this third novel. It’s a science fiction story, complete with an alien planet, a futuristic earth and some wild science that I had a lot of fun making up. I’ve also always got a lot of short stories in the works and hope to, some day, pull some of those together into a collection. A number of those are also science fiction or fantasy, so that would likely be the focus of a collection, if I ever manage to get to it.