Local radio talk show host Neal Larson releases debut fiction novel
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IDAHO FALLS — Neal Larson has been a trusted fixture on the east Idaho talk radio scene for years. Now, he’s taking skills he’s developed over a career in news radio and applying them in a new way.
Larson recently published “Cerebellix,” his debut as a fiction writer. “Cerebellix” tells the story of Omnividia, a dystopian nation ruled by the despotic Henry Irvine. Irvine implants chips that subdue human emotions in the brains of all Omnividians to keep the population docile and quell potential uprisings.
After thirty years of living under these bleak conditions, a resistance movement seeking to end Irvine’s reign begins to coalesce. Amidst this backdrop, a mother searches for her children, friendships form and are tested and the seeds of a worldwide resistance movement are planted.
It’s a story that Larson has been kicking around in his head for several years.
“I’ve written columns and I collaborated on a nonfiction book a few years ago, much shorter and smaller in scope,” Larson told EastIdahoNews.com. “But I’ve always had this story in my heart and as a writer, I’ve always wanted to venture into fiction so I decided to move forward this year and do that.”
Larson said that while he’d been carrying the idea for “Cerebellix” around with him for years, he finally felt an irresistible compulsion to write the story in 2021.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” he said. “Every so often, I’d think about this story and I knew writing a fiction novel was a bucket list item. But for some reason, early this year, that spark tipped me into action.”
Larson spent a month developing characters and constructing an outline for his novel. On June 1, he started writing his story.
“Three to four days a week, I’d leave the radio station and head over to the public library,” he said. “I would sit, sometimes for three or four hours. Some days, I’d get 500 words written, and some days I’d get a couple of thousand words out.”
The Idaho Falls Library was not the only site Larson chose for his writing. He did quite a bit of writing in his home studio. On days when writing was difficult and a special remedy was required, he changed things up.
“There were days, in fact, there were weeks when I had a block,” he said. “Once in a while, maybe to break things up, I’d get in my car, throw the laptop in and I’d drive somewhere. I’ve written in Dillon, Montana, of all places. I went to the library there. I just needed a change of scenery and some car time to think. Sometimes, a change of scenery would shake things loose a little bit.”
“Sometimes life would get busy, so I would go four or five days, maybe even a whole week without writing,” he added. “But I knew I had to get back to it. I knew I didn’t want to drop the ball and two years later feel like, ‘Oh man, that was wasted effort.”
Larson finished “Cerebellix” in early November and, after a few weeks of editing and cover design work, the book was released on Dec. 6. The story is one that works with universal themes and he said he believes readers from all walks of life can get something out of it.
“It’s not just a futuristic or predictive story,” he said. “There’s an opportunity for symbolism. I want anybody who reads the book to consider what it is in their life that stifles their emotions and it doesn’t have to be a political idealogy, though it could be. It could be religious viewpoints, dynamics at your workplace, how your family functions. It could be any of a number of things, and to what degree does that stifle your emotions? Is that good or bad and are there things we are doing to stifle ourselves? And to what degree should we push back against those forces?”
“Cerebellix” is self-published and currently available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon. Click here to order a copy. You can also read a sample chapter and find more information on the “Cerebellix” website.