|Illustration by Luke Spooner, © LVP Publications|
Welcome to The Pulp Horror Author Interview Series. Today's interview is with Chad Lutzke who explores the fear of feeling pleasure in his short story "Passing Judgement" in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias.
LVP PUBLICATIONS: What draws you to horror, both as a writer and as a reader? Who is your favorite horror creator? Who are your inspirations or influences?
CHAD LUTZKE: For whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to darker things. This dates back to kindergarten with teachers writing notes to my parents with their concern about my “obsession” with “monsters and gore.” I can enjoy reading books that have no element of horror in them, but when I write I have the tendency to always bleed dark elements. A few of my most recent books, while not traditional horror, have tragic events that reflect the horror of real life. By creator, I’m assuming you mean writer or this answer could take a while. I don’t know that I have a single favorite horror author, but Ketchum, Poe, and King are certainly at the top of the list. I am heavily influenced by Ketchum and Lansdale. By pure accident, I tend to write like Lansdale with topics Ketchum would likely cover.
LVP: What were your biggest fears as a child? Do you have any current phobias or fears now as an adult?
LUTZKE: I had a tremendous fear of drowning when I was very young that later went away. As an adult, I have a lot of the same fears anyone does. Losing loved ones, going insane.
LVP: Horror has a million sub-genres, from psychological to splatterpunk. Which sub-genres have you written in? What's your favorite flavor of horror?
LUTZKE: I’ve written a lot of coming-of-age, some psychological and some splatterpunk. I think coming-of-age is my favorite to write in. It’s most relatable and I’m big on nostalgia. I also like to read it, but I love anything that is character driven with engaging subplots.
LVP: Is there any sub-genre or area of horror that you won’t go anywhere near? Any one area that is completely off-limits?
LUTZKE: Off limits for me is just anything I find boring. Stuff that’s been done to death. You’ll not likely see me writing a post-apocalyptic zombie series. I also have no interest in writing the kind of extreme stuff that really pushes the envelope. I’d rather touch someone’s heart or make them think rather than turn their stomach, and most of us are desensitized to much of that anyway. It’s just not for me.
LVP: In your opinion, what is the scariest or most terrifying thing you’ve ever written?
LUTZKE: Great question, but from my perspective I look at it nontraditionally, I suppose. My book Stirring the Sheets is about a man who loses his wife after 49 years and tries to cope with that…by any means necessary. It wasn’t a fun book to write, being in that widower headspace. The thought of losing my wife is the scariest thing I could ever think of happening to me, and the book deals with that in a very visceral way.
LVP: Have you ever had an idea for a story so scary or disturbing that you couldn't bring yourself to write it down? Tell us about it.
LUTZKE: I was dealing with my first bout of insomnia over the course of two or three days, which in turn was causing a lot of anxiety. I’d never suffered from that before (nor have I since) so it was very alarming to me. I then came up with a story that almost felt like it was exacerbating everything, particularly the anxiety. The main character in the story is a truck driver who is also suffering from insomnia and is unable to eat due to an abscessed tooth, so he slowly loses his mind from sleep deprivation. He ends up feeding his teeth and other bits to a drain in the bathroom of a truck stop and has “rationale” behind it. It was very uncomfortable to write all that lunacy in the middle of those insomniac episodes while racing against an approaching deadline, so I almost didn’t finish it.
LVP: Are there any ways that your interest in horror bleeds over (so to speak) into other areas of your life? Do you throw legendary Halloween parties, do you dress like Alice Cooper when you go grocery shopping, do you have a pet albino snake named Nosferatu?
LUTZKE: Other than some of my décor, my dog’s name, the T-shirts I wear or some of the music I listen to, not really. The dressing up like Alice, owning a python and all that are things from my youth. I’m a pretty boring guy anymore.
LVP: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to try dabbling in horror writing for the first time?
LUTZKE: Write what scares you, not necessarily what you think would scare others, and certainly not what’s popular. Be as original as you can.
LVP: What would you like your legacy to be? Or alternatively, what should your survivors engrave on your tombstone?
LUTZKE: As far as writing goes, I just want people to continue to read my books after I’m gone. Particularly my children and their children, etc. with the hope that they would feel connected to me in some way as they read.
LVP: Anything else you'd like to say or add? Any final thoughts?
LUTZKE: Whatever your fear is, don’t let it rule your life. Unless it’s to buy books. In that case, buy the books. Buy all the books.
~ Chad Lutzke has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. He's had a few dozen stories published, and some of his books include: OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES, WALLFLOWER, STIRRING THE SHEETS, SKULLFACE BOY, and THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU. Lutzke's work has been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, Stephen Graham Jones, James Newman, Cemetery Dance, and his own mother. He can be found lurking the internet at www.chadlutzke.com
Pre-order The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias (paperback or hardcover) from your local indie bookstore through IndieBound, from Barnes & Noble or Amazon now... or come see us at Crypticon in Seattle, WA and StokerCon in Grand Rapids, MI to read this story along with all the other madness contained in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias (including limited edition autographed phobia card sets, available at conventions only)!