Chad Lutzke is a name you should make yourself familiar with. His style is all his own, and it’s one filled with two of my favorite things: horror and, more importantly, heart.
Hot on the heals of his 2018 releases OUT BEHIND THE BARN (co-written with John Boden), SKULLFACE BOY, and STIRRING THE SHEETS, this man is dropping a new novel titled, THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU (which releases today, January 11th).
I invited him over for a quick chat.
SHARE THE HORROR : You’ve had quite a year. I’ve seen three titles of yours popping up on the Best Of lists–SKULLFACE BOY, STIRRING THE SHEETS and the one that I absolutely loved, OUT BEHIND THE BARN co-written with John Boden. How long did each of these books take to complete?
CHAD LUTZKE: I think a few months for each one. I can’t remember exactly, but I think SKULLFACE BOY, though it’s twice as long as the others, took the shortest amount of time. It was just really easy to write because I was so into it, and while I pants everything I write, that one even more so. I had no idea where I was going with it other than eventually getting the protagonist to the beach. SHEETS felt like it took much longer because it was depressing being in that mindset of losing loved ones and being alone. As far as OUT BEHIND THE BARN goes, once John and I actually started working on it, it went pretty fast. Maybe 4 to 6 weeks? Plus we already had Boden’s short that we were using as a skeleton.
STH: Which one are you most proud of?
CL: SKULLFACE BOY because it was kind of experimental and it turned out to be a lot of people’s favorites, even surpassing OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES, which I wasn’t sure I could do.
STH. You have yet another new book. Tell us a little about it.
CL: The book is called THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU. For that one, the reader is basically a fly on the wall, watching a group of kids in their late teens go through love, let downs, tragedy, drugs and alcohol. I’ve been comparing it to the films KIDS, RIVER’S EDGE and DAZED & CONFUSED. It definitely gets dark. And in a very personal way the book is heavily influenced by The Cure’s Disintegration album.
STH: Your style is unique. Of Foster Homes and Flies was brilliant. It was one of the most original coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read. Do you ever see yourself going for a straight forward horror story, or is it just not appealing to you?
CL: I really appreciate that. Thank you! I really don’t have any interest in doing anything I feel has been done before. I really try and come up with concepts I feel are original and fresh. Sometimes I just want to write some silly slasher that is outlandishly absurd, but I don’t know if I could make it entertaining enough to not have it feel like everything else that’s already been done, and if I can’t then I won’t bother. I prefer to write about things that have to do with the human condition, things we can all relate to. The horrors of the heart and mind.
STH: Who are some of your favorite horror authors past and current.
CL: The usual suspects like King, Koontz, McCammon, Poe, Matheson, Serling. For some of the newer guys, I’m a big fan of Stephen Graham Jones and Joe Hill. But I think my style more reflects my sincere love for Ketchum and Lansdale.
#FridayReads: DOUBLE BARREL HORROR VOL.2, Michael Weber, editor, two stories each by John Boden, Simon Dewar, Patrick Freivald, Chad Lutzke, Karen Runge and M.B. Vujacic, strong work, Lutzke and Runge standouts
— Jack Ketchum (@JackKetchum) December 1, 2017
STH: I know Jack Ketchum read Of Foster Homes and Flies. What was the interaction like with him? I know when he read my book, Things We Fear, I saved every email from him. What were those interactions like with you guys and what would you say was Jack’s number one strength as a writer?
CL: This may be a long answer because I really miss Dallas and think the world of him and his ability to write. I’ve told this story before, maybe a few times, so some may be tired of hearing it but I don’t care. I love sharing how awesome Dallas was. My communication with him was short, only over the course of a year, and it started by a friend of mine congratulating me on Jack Ketchum tweeting about my book. I had no idea what he was talking about so he sent me a link and I kind of never left the cloud I found myself on that day. I reached out to Kevin, the guy who run the Ketchum website, and asked if he’d forward an email to Dallas for me. I think it was within an hour Dallas contacted me. Now, I keep in contact with a few “famous” people in the music world and I’m very careful about making sure I don’t get all fanboy on them and I keep things to a minimum and that’s how I played it with Dallas and I wished I hadn’t. I wished I would have gotten closer with him, reached out more, because I now know he was that kind of guy. He wouldn’t have minded. Months went by and he tweeted about an anthology I was in, calling the two stories I contributed as standouts. By this time, I had already had Dallas’ home address and I had sent him a book (WALLFLOWER). Then when I was doing the final draft on STIRRING THE SHEETS for my publisher, I reached out to Dallas and asked him for a blurb. He told me that he doesn’t just hand them out, that he would have to love the book. And then he told me “But since it’s you, I’d love to read it.” He was dying at the time and I had no idea. I scrambled to get the cover together for SHEETS and we were having issues because I wasn’t using a template because we were creating a custom-sized book, so the cover kept getting rejected. Finally, all the files were accepted and I had spoken with Dallas again, he was looking forward to the book. He didn’t know this, but he even had a little cameo in it as Dallas Doud, “the neighbor who maybe smokes too much.” The day we were to send the book to Dallas I got a message on Facebook from a friend that Dallas had passed. I had no idea he was sick. No idea. And all I kept thinking was “Who does that? Who agrees two weeks before their death, while their sick with cancer, to read someone’s book?” That told me everything I needed to know about the man and wished I would have reached out more than I did. Within minutes I contacted my publisher and had him dedicate the book to Dallas.
As far as his strengths as a writer, he just had this way of putting words together in a sentence that completely floor you. When you’re reading Ketchum you’re never safe because you know at any moment he’ll go straight for the dark, and when he does it’s worded in a way that is profoundly disturbing. Nobody does that like him. He also shares my love for human horror, fictionalizing things that either did happen or could absolutely happen. Or maybe is happening somewhere right now. In a nutshell, the way the man crafted a sentence was like no other. He knew exactly what to say to get under the reader’s skin, and with few words.
STH: He is certainly missed. I’m right there with you. we definitely lost , not just a great writer, but one of the most amazing people in our business.
What’s up ahead for you this year?
Lutzke: THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU will be out January 11th. Unfortunately, you caught me at a time where a lot of the cool stuff I can’t even talk about yet. There are a handful of anthologies I’m in that will be out in spring and summer that I can’t name yet. I’ve gotten a few anthology invites I still need to write for and I assume those will also be out this year. I have a huge deal coming sometime this summer that I can’t talk about yet. I signed the contract but haven’t been given the go-ahead. I’ll be in another Corpus Press anthology due out this summer. July, I believe. This spring/early summer I will be putting out a collection of stories that are all Patreon exclusives. The paperback will only be available to my patrons, but the Kindle will be available to everyone else. Also, I’m part of the editorial team that is resurrecting Shock Totem Magazine and we’ve got some great surprises with that one and we’re all neck deep in reading slush right now from the open call, but the first return issue should be out late spring/early summer. And Boden and I are going to see what we can do about releasing another novella before the year is up. Overall, the plan is to be even more prolific than I was last year and with some other things I’ve got in the works I hope to have that happen.
STH: Well, I think I have a story in that Corpus Press anthology with you and a few of our friends. That should be rad. Also, I cannot wait to dive into THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU.
CL: Thanks, Glenn!
Grab your copy of THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU HERE
Chad Luztke lives in Michigan with his wife and children. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene, offering articles, reviews, and artwork. He 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.