Monday, September 10, 2018
Guest Post: Chad Lutzke
I thought I had only one coming-of-age book in me. I’ve written four. Arguably five. Author Mark Matthews calls STIRRING THE SHEETS coming of age for the AARP crowd. I think he’s right.
Whether it be pure nostalgia or it's just so easy to root for a young, innocent protagonist, there’s something to be said about the coming-of-age subgenre that people have really taken to. I blame McCammon’s BOY’S LIFE and King’s THE BODY for my attraction to it. And apparently that shines through in my COA books, as those two titles, in particular, are thrown around when readers leave their kind reviews for OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES. But this time around I drew influence from David Lynch, Stephen Graham Jones’ MONGRELS and my own life experiences in my latest, SKULLFACE BOY.
"My name is Levi. I’m 16. I’ve got a skull for a face. And here's how shit went down."
Having never been outside the walls of Gramm Jones Foster Care Facility, sixteen-year-old Levi leaves in the middle of the night with an empty backpack and a newfound lust for life. A journey that leads him into the arms of delusional newlyweds, drunkards, polygamists, the dangerous, and the batshit crazy. His destination? Hermosa Beach, California where he’s told there is another like him, with the face of a skull.
We all read to escape. Whether it be to Middle Earth, Castle Rock, a different era or another planet altogether. For me, carefree road trips scratch that itch thoroughly. So I wrote a book about one, with a character I’d like to think we can all relate to. As Stephen Graham Jones said of SKULLFACE BOY: "This is Huck lighting out for the territories, and kind of documenting an era for us on the way. Only––because it’s now not then––he’s got a skull face to deal with. As do we all."
He’s not wrong. We’ve all got a skull face. We’ve all searched for something we might never find, struggled to find our place in the world, and learned along the way. Sometimes shit broke our hearts, left scars.
There’s quite a bit in this book that is autobiographical (I’ll let you choose which parts), but I had the most fun with the “Lynch-ian” characters, those found in films like WILD AT HEART. Unpredictable and outlandish with a hint of weird, but never enough to alienate those who don’t care for that side of fiction. This isn’t bizarro. This is still comfortable. It’s still in your wheelhouse. You’ll just have to trust me.
I can’t wait for you to join Levi. To eat from the hollow shell of a dumpster, sleep under the moon in the bed of a truck towering high above a junkyard, share a flat beer with a denim-covered werewolf and befriend a Vegas prostitute, all while hitching across the country.
That’s all a small part of Levi’s journey. It’s how shit went down.