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R. KARL LARGENT WHO?

August 7, 2013

            During my formative icky bug years in the early 90’s, I was in the midst of finding my muse. There were certain authors that rocked my boat while others (Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert McGammon) just didn’t do it for me. Obscure authors attracted me, maybe, or just something about the book jackets and back blubs lured me in.

            One such “new face” came from R. Karl Largent (also known as Robin Lawrence), an author that started as a mid-list icky bug writer from Indiana. Robin had worked for industry for a long time and after either quitting or retiring from that, took up writing.

I discovered him in Hastings in Altus, Oklahoma with a novel called The Lake. It rocked! Now that was good icky bug. I can’t remember all the details so many years later, but after reading a batch of Dean Koontz, this was a refreshing change. I became obsessed with finding more Largent and haunted the bookstores until I found Ancients, Black Death, Pagoda, and much later on, The Witch of Sixkill. His stories directly added to my muse as I was writing The Greenhouse. Though my story is completely different, Largent’s early novels inspired me with their monsters (icky bugs) and the heroes prevailing in the end.

Between Ancients and The Lake, he started a military thriller series which he continued until his unfortunate death from cancer in the early 2000’s. That first novel, Red Tide, featured T.C. Bogner, his ex-military hero who went around the world, saving mankind. These stories were Tom Clancy-like in nature but a lot less wordy and therefore, more enjoyable. I never finished a Clancy novel, where these books were a pure pleasure, especially since I was already familiar with Largent’s style.

This was a case of real frustration where I tried for years but could never find or get hold of Robin. There was just no info on him, or when I found the little that was out there, no contact e-mail. Finally, after much perseverance, I tracked him down to Tri-state University in Indiana where he once taught. I discovered he’d recently passed. At that time, I was able to contact his widow and had several e-mail exchanges with her. A great lady, she was very generous with her time and information.

Those of you who trolled the bookstores back in the late 80’s and all through the 90’s are sure to have run across some of Robin’s books, possibly without ever realizing it. You may have read a few of them. I’ll always remember him fondly as he was a much bigger influence on me that many of the major players out there at the time.

My hat’s off to you, Mr. Largent!

Happy writing!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy West permalink
    August 7, 2013 3:44 am

    Isn’t it great to find a writer you like so much that you read all of his or her books? The writers whom I gobbled up one after the other were Joyce Carol Oates, Muriel Sparks, Toni Morrison, Andre Brink and a few hundred others. I was bothered by JCO (a good thing) – a book’s voice would become lodged in my brain. If I had my life to live over again, one of the few things I wouldn’t change is reading what I read.

    • August 7, 2013 4:14 am

      Peggy,

      Exactly! Favorite authors stick with us and I’m just glad I have the ability to thank mine publicly. I have quite a list, many not top-shelf authors. However, they are all authors I think deserve a nod for what they did for me. Just like what those authors you mentioned did for you.

      Thanks for the comments!

      Fred

  2. October 2, 2013 6:43 pm

    Karl was a great friend, a mentor, a teacher and had a great sense of humor. I came upon your site while searching for things about Karl. I’m really sorry you didn’t get to meet him. We all miss him much. Glad you got to talk to Wilma however! Thanks for the sweet tribute to a great writer.

    • October 3, 2013 1:11 am

      Jana,

      Wow! I’m so glad you found me. I am a big fan of Karl and wish I could have met him face-to-face like you did. His writing rocked! I did get both your messages but I have to approve them before they show up.

      Did you know him through Tri-State?

      Fred

  3. wishladya permalink
    October 2, 2013 6:47 pm

    Well, I entered one comment, and don’t see it anywhere so I’ll start again!
    Karl was a great friend, mentor and teacher and we all miss him greatly. I was just thinking of him and his great sense of humor when I found your site. Wish you’d gotten to meet him, but glad you got to talk to Wilma!

    • October 3, 2013 1:14 am

      Jana,

      I wrote Wilma a few times but lost touch with her. She was really nice. Are you two still in touch?

      Karl wrote some great icky bug which helped inspire my icky bug novels. I also liked his T.C. Bogner thrillers and chose them over Tom Clancy, who just passed today, as a matter of fact.

      Please keep in touch.

      Fred

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