Today, I’m interviewing Damien Lutz, who lives and writes in Australia. I must admit that I don’t read much sci-fi, but I met Damien in a writer’s workshop so I read Amanojaku and became an instant fan of his writing. His style so easily blends the technical aspects of sci-fi with the human elements that make a story worth reading. He writes about the human condition and wraps it inside a futuristic world. Bravo!
Damien – tell us about yourself.
I’m a writer and web designer living in Sydney. When I’m not working at my full-time job or writing in my spare time, I like to swim, or do some digital illustration. I couldn’t live without my laptop. If the power ever goes out for too long, there’ll be no more Mr. Nice Guy.
I hear you on the laptop thing, but I’m going to have to try this summer when I spend two weeks in Africa.
What would you like readers to know about your book, Amanojaku? And what the heck does that mean anyway?
Amanojaku (天邪鬼), n : a demon-like creature in Japanese folklore, able to provoke a person into perpetrating evil deeds.
Andre Cross keeps his volatile temper on a sturdy leash—an implant auto-medicating him to subdue his violent impulses.
Dreaming of leaving his dark past behind, he slaves away on Brulle’s perilous vertical farms, and peddles the drug Neura, to fund his escape to a distant ocean city called Anchora.
But when he meets the beautiful, self-aware android Mo Da, he discovers the implant not only sedates his aggression, it also subdues his ability to love. Andre’s desires unravel his carefully controlled plans, delivering him to a place where even his implant may not contain his rising emotions, or the madness of Amanojaku determined to consume him.
I know you don’t yet write full-time… what kind of job do you have and does it play any role in your stories?
I’m a User Experience Designer for digital products (apps, websites, etc.), so I research how humans interact with technology, and design apps and websites based on those findings. The work gives me insight into the relationship between humans and technology, and the UX processes have similarities and parallels with the writing and storytelling processes. So, my job both inspires and financially supports my writing. But it also steals my writing time.
The way you write it wouldn’t surprise me if you suddenly become famous.
How long have you been writing seriously?
I started writing seriously at the beginning of 2014. I had an epiphany, that I was single, childless and had plenty of spare time, something many people would love to have, and I wasn’t utilizing that. I figured it was time to make the most of that luxury of spare time, to pursue a dream. The fear of failure makes us put a lot of expectation on ourselves, so much that we don’t even try to chase a dream. I told myself I was testing the dream of writing, and if I didn’t like it or do well, it was okay to give it up. At least then I had tried and knew it wasn’t for me, and I’d be free to move onto something else. But I loved it, and I have many stories inside I’d love to articulate and share.
That was right about the time we met. How fortuitous for me, and of course for your readers. 🙂
Who are your favorite authors? Have they influenced your style?
I read Stephen King constantly, as his style and creativity inspire me. I take notes while I read his books—on structure, technique and style. His writing breaks rules, but his style feels like someone very real is telling you the story, which is what I’m hoping to develop in my own style. Also, I love Tom Robbins. His stories are crazy, funny, poignant romps through metaphorical stories that turn preconceived notions, about all things, inside out. He’s changed the way I view life. I’m hoping develop a style that is a Robbins/ King hybrid.
Good to see you shooting for the top, and you’ve sure got the writing chops to succeed.
In your wildest dreams, Amanojaku is made into a movie. Who plays the lead roles? Why?
Yes, that is my wildest dream! I don’t have anyone in particular in mind, but Andre, the main character, is non-Caucasian, and the cast has a mix of ethnicities, religions, sexualities, etc. to reflect diversity, so I’d like to see that kept true.
What is the most special thing a reader has said about your writing?
There are two most special comments. The first is from a San Francisco Book Review, which likened Amanojaku to Blade Runner, such a compliment, especially considering that BR is a film. The other is from a reader of Android’s Orchid (the short story that Amanojaku was born out of), which said “The story of the android Ki Po is beautiful and soulful.” The fact that the spirit of the story shone through the sci-fi made me very happy, as it’s a goal of mine to give my stories insight into the human condition as much as how technology might affect us.
What can readers look forward to next from you?
I’m working on the four sequels to Amanojaku, which is a big job and will take a while. While I’m ticking those over, I’m also writing shorts stories for an anthology, one of which, The Motherhood Effect, will be printed and illustrated in the April 2017 issue of Popshots Magazine.
I’m hoping to publish my next stand-alone book, Dismantling Henry, later this year, which follows the attempts of an unreliable, out-of-work actor trying to reclaim his career, and fighting the effects of signing over the rights to his digital image.
I can’t wait to read the next one.
Where can readers find out more?
Check out artwork, explore Brulle and more: http://www.damienlutz.com.au/author/
Damien, thank you for your time and for sharing with us. Good luck on your next book.