Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.
Richard Lutman .
Fiona: Where are you from?
Currently, I live in Myrtle Beach, SC. Before that Vermont and Rhode Island.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a MFA in Writing from Vermont College in Montpelier, VT. My Bachelor of Arts was from Windham College in Putney, VT where I majored in English and minored in Biology and Art. Iam listed in the Directory of Poets and Writers. I have taught composition, writing and literature courses at Rhode Island Community College, The Learning Connection in Providence, Rhode Island, Fairfield University, and short story classes as part of Coastal Carolina’s University’s Lifelong Learning Program.
I have won awards for my short stories, nonfiction, and screenplays. I was a 2008 Push Cart nominee in fiction. My novella “Iron Butterfly” set in Hong Kong was shortlisted in the 2011 Santa Fe Writers Project competition. My first novel was published in 2016. A collection of my stories is scheduled for publication May 15th of this year.
I have also been involved in several butterfly biodiversity projects in Hong Kong, mainland China and Vermont where I worked in the field with high school and university students.Authored article about the butterflies of ShekKwu Chau Island.Also collected butterflies on Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands. Co-authored article “New Butterflies FromGuana Island, British Virgin Islands (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
After seven years my collection of short stories “Creek Bait” is scheduled for publishing May 15 of this year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing short stories in the early seventies.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I always did and wanted to be a screen writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It started from an incident at a folk festival and a wet guitar case. It took me one month to write it. It’s a very offbeat novella called “I Like A Little Bit Of The Handsome Americans Myself.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
When I was living in RI there was a door to the “shack” where we used to sleep. It became a center for a lot of transformative activities. We used to joke about “The Handsome Americans” and that became part of the books title: “I Like A Little Bit Of The Handsome Americans Myself.” It’s available on Amazon is anyone wants to try reading it—the humour isn’t for everyone. It still makes me laugh. There may be a sequel.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t like being characterised as a certain type of writer. I’ve written surreal pieces, westerns, humour and nonfiction. I get an idea and go with it. I’ve written more westerns that any other genre, but I don’t consider myself to be a “western writer.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of the stories in the collection have at least one or two actual incidents. “Handsome Americans” was written about a certain individual I knew and the way he did things. “The River” a novel in progress takes place in 1926 and has a lot of family history that I tailored to fit the manuscript.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My frequent trips to Hong Kong to collect butterflies resulted in a novella called “Iron Butterfly” that was short listed in the 2011 Santa Fe Writers Project. There is also a story in my forthcoming collection that is also set in Hong Kong. My western novel “Patch of Dirt” is set in Montana where I did some graduate work and spent time on my cousin’s ranch. There are also stories in the collection about driving a cab and living in New York City, which I did.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I chose the covers for “Patch of Dirt” and “Handsome Americans.” The other covers were designed by the publishers. I am very picky about my covers. I want them to stand out and represent something in the novel. In my collection there is a critical scene in the title story where the narrator catches his first blue claw crab at a bait shop. The cover has two blue claw crabs on it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
“Creek Bait” is a collection of fourteen stories exploring a range of genres. Each story portrays the world of characters who escape from life. Some succeed, others face heartbreak and the lucky ones find redemption. The stories are a journey that is passionate, surprising and sometimes tragic.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Don’t read as much as I used to. Richard Ford would be one of the newer authors I read. If I had to pick one writer and his novel it would be Scott Momaday’sHouse Made of Dawn. The imagery and the power of the writingis stunning.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I hope so. I’m retired and spend most of my day writing. So far have made hardly any money, but I don’t care. At last I have the time to write.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
The editing of the collection was the most difficult writing task I ever faced.
I had replace four stories with three new ones and address some tough editorial comments. I think the MS went through three edits.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Hadn’t thought about that as yet—current MS is a collection.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
This may seem obvious –always keep your reader in mind.Always.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Nothing at the moment. I want to rereading Virginia Wolf’s “The Waves,” and Lawrence Durrell’s “Alexandria Quartet,” Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine,” any short story by Chekhov or D.H. Lawrence.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I was an avid reader back then and don’t remember. I do, however, remember the first western “Coroner’s Creek” by Luke short in the ninth grade.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
It just happens.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I think it would be Leonard Cohen. I saw him live in Boston in 1976 and never forgot the concert. His songs always get me in the mood to write.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Collecting butterflies.Although I’m not Nabakov.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Love the Western channel. Most of the films of the “New Wave” foreign films out of France, Italy, Sweden, and Japan.The directors: Bunuel, Truffault, Bergman, Antonioni, and Kurosawa
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I’m a Type 2 diabetic and have to watch what I eat. I do like lobster, ham, and roast turkey. I’m color blind. Bluegrass, early Country and Western, music from the sixties.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Don’t think I could bear not writing.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Getting really stoned.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I gave life a try and it wasn’t so bad afterall.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
For links to my books see my website: www.patchofdirt.net.