- Author of Utopian Dystopias and all-around science enthusiast!
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Chris Lodwig!
Chris lives in Seattle with his wife, daughter, dog, lizard, and an unlikely number of shrimp.
He spent his younger years playing music, throwing illegal parades, adult science fairs, underground Mexican wrestling matches, bring-your-own art parties, and clandestinely installing monoliths and other sculptures in local parks.
He writes science fiction, volunteers at his kid’s school, fly fishes, and runs the neighborhood haunted alley. In his free time, he works for a major technology company in the Seattle area.
Chris Lodwig, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
A mutty old dog that follows at my heel, waits outside when I’m in the store, and hangs out by the river while I fish. Not because she’s submissive, mind you, but because she’s just that cool. She’d still like to wrestle, chase frisbees, and go for runs. I’m pretty sure that dogs and humans have evolved to love one another. And since I’m a slave to my genes, I can’t get enough of them. When my kid read part of the rough draft of Systemic and said, “You need a dog in here,” I thought, “You’re totally right.” It was one of the best writing decisions I ever made.
A good, friendly, loyal dog is hard to beat.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
At the moment I’m writing speculative fiction. Systemic was a sci-fi novel, mostly because it had to be. I was interested in memory, and ideas of objective truth, and the moral hazards of a utopian existence. The confluence of those things turned out to be a global AI. It could have been a wizard or god, but science and technology just come more naturally to me, and I felt I could write a more credible story in that genre. The sequel is decidedly less sci-fi in that it takes place after the technological melt down. I like to say Systemic was my pre-apocalyptic novel.
As far has how I got started, an image just popped into my head on my bus ride home one day. My phone and my laptop had both died and I had nothing to do. I had recently driven home to Seattle from Yellowstone, and there were all these beautiful wide Montana river valleys, and then we drove through the sagelands of Eastern Washington. I smooshed all that together along with a rainstorm that couldn’t quite reach the ground and a young woman hiking, and I was off to the races. 9 months later I had the rough draft of a sci-fi novel.
It’s always lovely when life and random thoughts inspire stories. Those images in your head that you have to tell the story so you know what happens and how it all works together. What a great discovery process!
What do you like to read?
I like a lot of non-fiction. Popular science, anything dealing with quantum weirdness and crazy speed of light stuff. As far as fiction, it changes all the time but there are a couple that stick around. Neil Gaiman is always great, and Neal Stephenson. I love how Philip K. Dick was always playing around with reality and consciousness.
Cormac McCarthy writes like no other human alive. China Miéville’s pretty remarkable as well. I never think I like Stephen King, but then I always turn out to be wrong. There are a ton of authors I’ve been reading lately who will certainly become favorites given time. Gareth L Powell, Iain M. Banks, N. K. Jemisin, and John Scalzi to name a few.
But I love all sorts of books for all sorts of reasons. Currently the books that have me pounding the table and shouting at people to read them are: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill which is incredibly charming. Erin Morgenstern’s, The Night Circus wins for atmosphere, and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor was refreshingly original. I’m halfway through Gideon the Ninth and I think Tamsyn Muir’s writing is some of the best I’ve come across in a long time.
Oooh! *takes notes* Those sound right up my alley, especially since the earlier names you’ve mentioned are right up my alley.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
“Listen to my unsolicited writing advice.”
I’m just kidding. I’m a new writer and an old man, so no one bothers to give me any advice at all. Most the advice I have gotten came from my editor and she was almost universally correct. I’ve been told I take direction very well.
Other things like, “write what you know” are great advice really. Even though I write spec fiction, and necessarily cannot know of the things I write, I think there is something there about writing what is experientially real to you, like if you came to find that your entire reality had been constructed by a machine, how would that make you feel? Be real about it.
Definitely. Humanity, or a sense of it, is something all human writers know. And infusing our writing with that is what gives our voice that authenticity that can really draw in readers and make them love our worlds maybe as much was we love them. And if we’re lucky? More.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Write every day on a schedule, even if you’re not in the mood.
Write every day on a schedule, even if you’re not in the mood. I’m pretty much always in the mood to
write, so this is probably easy advice for me. That said, I’m not always inspired to write. But I do it
every day anyway and I manage to write something that surprises me most days, and that’s pretty
It’s always a good idea for those it works for! I’ve got that day job thing and excessive amounts of social media, but if I only waited to be in the mood to write, I would write a bit less. Instead… writing is what I do, so I make time for it, I carve it out.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
The book is somewhere between a utopia and dystopia depending on who you ask.
For generations, a sentient AI has watched over the world and solved all of humanity’s problems. It was an era of objectivity, social equality, and ecological recovery.
It should have been a golden age.
Now, three strangers are on a pilgrimage through the arid lonely sagelands and underpopulated cities of the Systemic era on their way to the seemingly innocuous town of Prower. There, they will uncover the secrets that lay buried beneath the town and learn the truth about their half-remembered pasts. In the end, they must choose between their sanity or solving humanity’s final and most intractable problem.
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