Interview with Author Cody T. Luff

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My first experiences with storytelling were around the campfire in my childhood. My family spent many nights around campfires sharing stories, retelling old tales, or making up new ones to keep the night at bay. When I was very young, I shined shoes in my grandfather’s barbershop for a time. I admit to being terrible with a rag and brush but I listen to every story that was passed back and forth between the old men that haunted the place as they waited for their trim or shave. I found my way into theater as a young man and eventually into independent film in college. The entire time, whether I was sitting by the fire or behind a camera, I was always writing, always composing my own stories or at least witnessing them as they composed themselves.

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

Most of my work is inspired by a simple moment that ignites my senses. Ration started in the hallway of a hotel, a single small sound caused a ripple in my mind that blossomed into a scene in the book. Most of my work begins with this kind of small spark and then blooms across the bones of a story that grows from the world around me. I have been an educator for nearly two decades, food insecurity and violence are constant issues many of my students face. I wanted this story to reflect struggles that I witness in the real world.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Ration is about love, which seems to be incongruous with horror and dystopia, but the truth is each of these characters is worthy of some form of love, no matter how ugly their own idea of love is. With Ration I wanted to write a kind of book that could explore the imperfections of how we see love and experience it, especially in the darkest moments of our lives.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

Writing horror offers a great deal of freedom, and while I am not bound by genre in my writing, I recognize that horror gives me the opportunity to write about dark and beautiful things. I want my writing to stretch across all genres, but I also want to write something that reflects the terrible little personal horrors that we must all face and at the same time, demonstrate how those horrors simply make us human.

5)      If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I think I would sit down with Ms. Tuttle and ask her why she didn’t break away from her mother like she so wanted to. I would ask her why she struggles to remember her love until she is quite sure that she can no longer feel love.

6)      What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter is an interesting mechanism for developing a readership. I have no gift in social media, in fact, I admit to enjoy hiding in my office and quietly writing in the hopes that the world might simply stumble across my work, but unfortunately that’s not the way things are. Twitter has been a remarkable platform to put me in touch with hundreds of other writers. This has been a tremendous boon that does my heart good to find such a supportive community. So, no matter how clumsy I am at it, it remains one of my most useful tools.

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

The thing I can offer is something that I’m sure most writers have heard before, but it remains profoundly true: you must write the thing that you love, no matter how risky or terrifying that might be. If you love what you write, and you feel what your characters are feeling when you write it, the reader will feel these things also. Writing is about passion, one that you can share with your readers, but one that you must cultivate by yourself. And never forget that there will be people who love your work just as much as you, so even though you must write by yourself, you must never read alone.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am currently working on a new novel. It’s also a scary story about how each of us sees the world in very different ways. This story will also be about love, centering on a family, a town in the Pacific Northwest, and a terrible loss.

About the Author

Cody’s stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, Cirque, KYSO Flash, Menda City Review, Swamp Biscuits & Tea, and others. He is fiction winner of the 2016 Montana Book Festival Regional Emerging Writers Contest. 

Cody teaches at Portland Community College and works as a story editor. He completed an intensive MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Cody grew up listening to stories in his grandfather’s barber shop as he shined shoes, stories told to him at bedsides and on front porches, deep in his father’s favorite woods, and in the cabs of pickup trucks on lonely dirt roads. Cody’s work explores those things both small and wondrous that move the soul, whether they be deeply real or strikingly surreal.


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