Local Lutz Talks Pulse
by Tif Sweeney, Walrus Contributor
On a hot June night in the Central West End, a small yet personal crowd gathered at Left Bank Books to hear the “dark and deadly” John Lutz speak about his latest release Pulse. Lutz, a local author most well known for his novel that inspired the Hollywood film Single White Female, has written more than 40 novels with a number focusing on the capture of serial killers. Pulse is the latest in his Frank Quinn detective series, featuring a serial killer who blurs the gender line.
Fans discovered last year during the release of Serial that Lutz writes thrillers, or as the author terms it “suspense novels with velocity.” Being a fan of serial killer novels himself, particularly those written by Lawrence Sanders, he decided to give the topic a try and the stories just grew. As in previous novels, he gives his killers bad childhoods, motivating the characters in violence. The seemingly random victims continue to have two choices: submit or resist. However, in each novel, Lutz attempts to bring in something new. With Pulse, this “new” is a cross-dressing killer by the name of Daniel Danielle.
Lutz, known for his ability to write action from the first page, demonstrated his talent by reading a portion of the first chapter from this new release. Afterwards, readers on edge for more, had the opportunity to ask questions of the author. During this Q&A, Lutz shared some of his favorite authors to read: John Sandford, Lee Child, Thomas Cook, and Robert Randisi (who just so happened to also be sitting in the audience!). He also added a little local buzz by discussing one of his previous series featuring Alo Nudger, a detective whose office was located above a donut shop in our very own Maplewood. He then closed the event with some words of wisdom from fellow published authors to those aspiring, my favorite being from Lawrence Kasdan … “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”
The highlight of the evening came after the event, however, when I managed a few exclusive questions for the author. I leave you with the inside scoop:
Q: What book (not written by you!) do you recommend to your readers?
A: I would personally recommend Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, though many who write in the genre would mention Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. (Random fact: Did you know this latter title has ties to our very own St. Charles?)
Q: With many of your books featuring serial killers, how do you step into the minds of these violent characters?
A: Real serial killers tend to be “rather non-descriptive” and therefore, he tends to focus more on his fictional characters that stem from bad childhoods. Lutz is really much more interested in the reader’s perspective on serial killers rather than the killers themselves. To put it simply: fictional killers are much more interesting.
Q: To wrap up your event, you shared other author’s advice on writing. What is your one piece of advice to those aspiring authors?
A: “Write. Write. Write some more.” Lutz shared an interesting analogy using dance when talking about this piece of advice. In a nutshell, you can learn all the steps to a dance that you want, but unless you practice, you cannot be considered a dancer.