From time to time I like to give over my blog to a fellow writer to promote their work. I got to pre-read Chad Lutzke's lovely and unique coming of age tale, OF FOSTER HOME AND FLIES, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I am happy to have him here to talk about it.
When We’re Reminded of Us: A Love for Coming-of-Age Fiction
Over the past few years or so I’ve discovered something very comforting. An area where I once felt alone is filled with an abundance of like-minded individuals, ones who share my love for coming-of-age literature. Better yet, I’ve found there are many more books available than I thought there were that scratch that particular itch.
For those unfamiliar with the coming-of-age (COA) subgenre (though my bet is most of you don’t need an explanation), coming-of-age is a day, a week, a summer, or even years in the life of a child or children between the age of pre-teen and young adulthood.
To better explain (and by sparing you more description), I’ll give examples. Films like River’s Edge, Stand by Me, Ghost World, Suburbia, The Breakfast Club, Goonies, and The Sandlot all fall under the coming-of-age category. Popular literary examples would be Bradbury’s DANDELION WINE, King’s IT, Dan Simmons’ SUMMER OF NIGHT and of course Robert McCammon’s BOY’S LIFE. The tales can be dark and brooding with underlying themes that strike close to home, or it can be lighthearted, filled with hope and adventure from beginning to end.
Now, I knew I wasn’t completely alone in my love for books like BOY’S LIFE, but I didn’t realize just how many other authors were following the path that McCammon helped pave--telling their own fictional childhoods; authors like James Newman, John Boden, Stephen Graham Jones, and of course Mark Allan Gunnells. Writers who are providing more than adequate material for those on the hunt for digestible COA.
This month I’m releasing my novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES. It’s the story of a neglected 12-year-old boy who finds his abusive mother dead and decides to carry on with life despite her rotting in the living room. There is both tragedy and hope. Obstacles are faced, self inventory is taken, and discoveries are made. And it’s my hope that readers will find the same kind of magic in it that I’ve found in some of the COA I’ve read.
With many COA pieces, I think there’s a lot to learn from the characters--about love, life, fear, and gratitude. We hear their inner most thoughts. We’re on the outside looking in, a whole other perspective. We’re in their young, worn and dirty shoes. And I think that those of us who appreciate the subgenre tend to easily toss our judgments aside and watch with empathic hearts.
Without doing it on purpose, over the past few years much of what I’ve written has been coming-of-age; be it a young boy taking care of his undead grandfather in the attic, the victim of a rape being saved by an urban legend, a birthday party stayover gone wrong, or two boys desperately trying to prove to loved ones there’s a vampire in their midst. Not until this year did it occur to me just how much of my inner child (or past child) comes out in my work. This came to my attention at the same time I realized my most popular pieces have been the COA; those stories that speak to the inner child of the reader, tapping that part of their brain that takes them back, but with a headful of adult wisdom. This tells me one of two things. Either I write best when doing coming-of-age, or there are far more people who appreciate the subgenre than I thought.
I’m not sure what’s more fun. Reading COA or writing it. When writing, while the characters and situations most definitely can lead to unexpected places, you’re not driving blindly. There’s a map there on your lap you’re following, occasionally taking little detours that lead back to Main Street. But it’s not quite as unpredictable as turning the next page of a brand new read, enjoying a small bit of that excitement the young protagonist feels. Still, with writing you get to deliberately dig up a bit of your own childhood you may consider golden--people from your past, situations, events, maybe even dialogue. Then you get to share that all with the public, with the nail-biting hope that they’ll love it. John Boden’s JEDI SUMMER comes to mind. He bares it all, and fortunately for him, people love it.
There are two reasons I wrote this article; one is the selfish and shameless plugging of my new novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES, and the other is to invite you, the reader, to cast your own opinion on why we love COA as much as we do. Is it purely nostalgic? Is it because it safely takes us back to carefree days void of the responsibilities that now plague us daily? Bills, extra mouths to feed, work to show up for, and houses/apartments to upkeep. Or is it because as adventurous as we’d like to think our younger years were, we never did get to stumble across a dead body or single-handedly solve a murder or partake in a life-threatening treasure hunt, but at our leisure, in the comfort of our bed or favorite reading chair, we can. And we do.
Whatever the reason we’re drawn to it, I’m glad to see there’s an abundance. But like your favorite genre of music, film, or book, there is always more out there waiting to be discovered. I’d love to hear your favorites. Turn me onto something I haven’t heard of that meets the coming-of-age criteria. Author Bio:
Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife and children where he works as a medical language specialist. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene including articles, reviews, and artwork. Chad loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese. He has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue and Scream magazine. He is a regular contributor to Horror Novel Reviews, Halloween Forevermore and Heavy Planet. His fictional work can be found in several magazines and anthologies including, Great British Horror's What Goes Around, Devolution Z Magazine, Straight to Video II: The Sequel, Straight to Video III: Conquest of the Planet of the Tapes, Toys in the Attic: A Collection of Evil Playthings and many more. He has released three Double Feature Collections with books I, II, & III: TWO BEFORE DAWN, LITTLE ONES OF WOOD & HAIR, and DEATH DEALERS: AID FROM THE ELDERLY, as well as his 18-story horror anthology, NIGHT AS A CATALYST. He has written a collaborative effort with horror author Terry M. West, THE HIM DEEP DOWN. And early 2016 he released a book through Black Bed Sheet Books where Chad acted as editor/compiler for the BUMPS IN THE ROAD anthology. Later in 2016, several more releases will be added to Lutzke's body of work, including CAR NEX: FROM HELL THEY CAME, 47-16, A David Bowie Literary Tribute and two secret projects. Stay tuned!
Check out his website here: http://chadlutzke.weebly.com/
Buy his work here: http://www.amazon.com/Chad-Lutzke/e/B00L81FK9Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1468784018&sr=8-1