Updated: May 2
Welcome to our interview blog where we have the pleasure of speaking with Chad Lutzke, an accomplished author who has written in a variety of genres. With a literary career spanning 20 books, Chad has made a name for himself in the writing world, receiving high praise from esteemed authors such as Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Chizmar, and Stephen Graham Jones. His novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES has even been translated into multiple languages, including Arabic, Russian, and Spanish. But his talents don't stop at writing. Chad is also a skilled artist and musician, creating his own book covers as well as covers for other authors and publishers. With a 32-year marriage, 3 children, and an abundance of pets, including two ferrets, Chad is a true testament to balancing creativity and family life. Join us as we delve into the mind and experiences of this multi-talented author.
Hi Chad. Pleasure to have you for this interview. How’s your life going as a writer?
Thanks for having me, Neda. It’s been an adventure. Both highs and lows, mostly highs, but overall I’m happy with my accomplishments. Because I started writing with zero expectations, I’ve gone much farther than I originally anticipated.
How do you typically approach the creative process when it comes to writing your stories? Is there a particular routine or environment that you find most conducive to your writing?
It’s usually a very quick, random thought prompted either by an image, article, or just sitting there daydreaming. A few books were written based on life experiences. No real routine or environment. I have no set time of day I write. Sometimes I write in my office, sometimes outside on the patio, or in bed. I don’t think I could ever be one of those people who writes in a café or library. I’m a people watcher, so I’d get distracted too easily.
Me neither. As Stephen King said never plots because he believes it's useless as "our lives are largely plotless". Your work spans across multiple genres and audiences. How do you balance the needs of each genre and audience to create a compelling story that resonates with readers?
I think it’s because I hop around so much that it makes it compelling. If I stuck to the same thing over and over again I’d lose interest, and that would come across in the story. I’ve written things while uninspired, whether it be to meet a deadline or for a paycheck, and I’m just better off writing what I’m in the mood for. If I want to write something sad, that’s what’s next. Something funny, then I’ll fuse that into some crime fiction. Something dramatic, I switch gears there too.
OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES has been translated into multiple languages, which is a huge accomplishment! How has the response been from your international readers, and what does it mean to you to have your work reaching so many different people around the world?
I get several emails and messages from international readers, and it’s humbling. I feel so grateful, and it amazes me how something created here in Midwest America can be so appreciated on the other side of the planet. When they take time out of their life to contact me or even just leave some kind words on Goodreads or Amazon, it really puts a smile on my face. Seeing some of these countries get their hands on my books makes the world feel smaller somehow.
You're also a musician and artist. How do you think your creative skills in those areas inform your writing, and vice versa?
I’m not so sure being a musician helps, but I think being an artist does. I can visualize an entire book before I’ve written a word, knowing it’s going to be something I’m really proud of. If anything, being a musician makes it so I can’t listen to most music while writing because I’m an attentive listener. Even when hanging out with friends, if music is played in the background, half my mind is on the song. It’s a real distraction when writing.
Your book covers are often striking and unique. Can you talk about the inspiration behind some of your favorite cover designs, and how you decide what visual elements to include?
Thank you. I usually like covers that paint an ambiguous picture of the contents inside, asking the question on what does this really mean? Same with my book titles. I like it when the reader has that moment where they finally understand the title and the cover. The title for OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES and STIRRING THE SHEETS are perfect examples of that. They’re like little epiphanies when you get to them. Inspiration always comes from the story inside as well as a mood I’m trying to convey before the spine is even cracked. CANNIBAL CREATOR screams gory fun, whereas SLOW BURN ON RIVERSIDE says this is something more literary.
What was the most challenging book you've written so far, and how did you overcome any obstacles you faced while writing it?
Probably either WALLFLOWER or STIRRING THE SHEETS because of the headspace they put me in. With WALLFLOWER, I did a lot of research on heroin use, watching videos of people “nodding off” while high, hearing testimonies, visiting message boards where the drug was romanticized. It was all very sad, and I wrote the book in response to a great number of overdoses that had happened in my hometown one year.
With STIRRING THE SHEETS, I had be in the mindset of someone who has lost their spouse and can’t cope. That situation is my greatest fear, so to write about it was unsettling, and I couldn’t wait to be done with the book.
Makes sense. I have the same issue with my recent duology. You've received praise from some incredibly accomplished authors, including Joe Lansdale and Jack Ketchum. How does it feel to have your work recognized by such respected figures in the industry?
It’s a little surreal. I am so grateful to anyone who takes the time to read something I wrote, but when your idols take the time…and actually enjoy it….that’s a whole other level. Getting some of the praise I’ve gotten over the years is something I never anticipated. I just set out to write for me, to maybe have one book on the shelf to pass down to my kids and grandkids. Now I have nearly two dozen of them.
No doubt. Are there any upcoming projects that you're particularly excited about? Can you give us a sneak peek into what readers can expect from your next book?
I have three books coming out within the next year that I’m excited about. The first one will be released by Deadsky Publishing on May 15th, 2023. It’s called HOW THE SKIN SHEDS. It’s a splatterwestern filled with revenge, bizarre happenings, and bloodshed, all while on a horseback road trip hunt with two men and a 9-year-old girl.
My book BRUISES ON A BUTTERFLY will be released January 2024 by Cemetery Dance. That one is coming-of-age body horror that’s horribly sad. And then early 2024 will see the release of my collaborative novel with John Boden called THE BEDMAKERS. Another sad book. This time it’s a crime thriller and will be published by Crystal Lake Publishing.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are trying to make their way in the industry?
Just start writing. The important thing is to get the book written. You don’t need to do months of research, a typewriter, a desk, or tweed jacket. Just keep your head down and write on napkins if you have to. Just make sure you’re writing for you.
Learn from constructive criticism and don’t surround yourself with “yes” men and women. Get honest feedback so you can hone your craft. There are too many subpar books being celebrated because the author is surrounded by people who aren’t honest.
Finally, what do you hope readers take away from your stories? What themes or messages do you strive to communicate through your writing?
I never set out to have anyone take anything away from my stories or teach them something or change them somehow. But based on the letters I get, they often do. I guess if I have to answer the question, I’d say to be empathetic, open-minded, and understanding of others. To consistently and constantly take self-inventory. You’re not as right as you think you are. You have a lot of growing to do. We all do. Every year. Every day.
Beautiful. Thank you Chad for this interview.
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