NefretitiM: What inspired you to write Axel America And the U.S Election Race ?
Andy Luke: I was watching a lot of video by people like Alex Jones, Bill O’Reilly and the Tea Party, and their promises to make America great again. Defeat the forces of darkness, yadda yadda yadda, and because I was working in the comics industry and thinking about superheroes, I came up with this ‘Cosmic Adventures’ story, where someone like Glenn Beck might declare war on Galactus, Thanos or Darkseid. Well I spoke with my colleague, writer Richard Barr, and the focus of one person overturning the New World Order quickly turned into being grounded in a domestic environment. We were having so much fun writing scenes of what it was like to live with one of those people and the off-the-wall scenarios that would come of that. The story sessions were very organic! The political conspiracy theorist sitcom is very much at the heart of the book, but it does come back around, featuring robots, doppelgangers and demons. Bigfoot even makes a brief appearance.
NefretitiM: Woah.. Did you say Big Foot! How did you come up with the title?
Andy Luke: The main character is all about the showbiz. He’s got the Saul Goodman thing happening. That said, I like to think he was born as Axel America. My publisher added ‘and the U.S. Election Race’. He was keen to market it alongside the 2016 Presidential campaign, which is fair as that’s the setting. We’ve satires of political people like Clinton and Trump in there, and news media folk like Rupert Murdoch and Kay Burley. There’s references to real things that have happened since March 2016, as well as confirmed events still to happen.
NefretitiM: This sounds so cool! What genre does this book to fit into?
Andy Luke: Sitcomspiracy! It’s straight up conspiracy theory situation comedy. We’ve got The Philadelphia (time travel) Experiment, Illuminati lizards, the Bilderberg Group, FEMA, the CIA and an Area 51 Nazi, but also stuff you see on your TV everyday. It takes place in the nearly-down-to-Earth setting of Axel’s home in Texas, and moves to Washington to Sheffield, England to the bowels of the Illuminati and Hades. It’s quite surreal but there’s also critical media analysis, and a great thriller/drama to boot.
NefretitiM: This sounds amazing! What influenced your interest in writing?
Andy Luke: I’ve found it to be the easiest way to tell stories. It’s one of humanity’s great creative traditions, like song, though moreso as it’s something everyone can do. So I think most of existence I’ve met has played a part! I’ve always been a great reader, especially of comicbooks, and I’ve always loved television and sought out the best of it. Creative writing books, guides and courses have been a good help. In choosing a career I knew I write well, and I know other people will come to me for the gold. With Axel, it was largely the desire to make myself and others laugh, while talking about dark things we’re not supposed to know.
NefretitiM: I don’t know how you’ve come up with this stuff. What is the writing process like for you?
Andy Luke: It’s a lifestyle. I’ve written since I was a boy, and when you hit on an inspiring idea, there’s this sense you have to make use of it, follow the trail for the thrills and laughs and horror, get all those brilliant thoughts down and share them, because friends will love them, and you’d be mad not to. Inspiration can come from anywhere; from the Samuel Becketts of Waiting for Godot and Quantum Leap!
I tend to start with plot or dialogue, or whatever element feels most organic. Sometimes I’ll draw my stories out as rough comic strips. I can get very into research. You can spend weeks at this, depending on how much needs to be there for the piece to feel authentic. On the other hand, early on, too much research can stifle a story. I try to write everyday, but the business of selling your work can get in the way. Everything has to be proof-read three times or more. When I’m working with an editor that helps a lot.
NefretitiM: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Andy Luke: I find dishwashing therapeutic but ironing a task best suited to Cybertech drones. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing, or researching. It’s really a life-encompassing role. I really enjoy travelling but find it wears me out. A friend and I have driven through Southern Ireland in the last year: Donegal, Sligo, Cork, Galway, the small islands. It’s amazing what beauty you can find not far from your doorstep.
NefretitiM: What tips or words of encouragement do you have for other writers?
Andy Luke: Get to know what you want as a writer. Among those I know who wouldn’t consider it as a career are some incredible authors. As creative people, we have a thousand ideas spinning around our heads. It’s important to settle on one at a time and work it. You’re not going to get rich writing, it’s poorly paid, but there’s reasons why it’s in the top five jobs people most want. Make the time for your muse, your inspiration, and you’ll be looked after. And read, and embrace stories widely. There’s a lot of creativity to love out there, and it’ll rub off on you in the most delightful ways. Follow your bliss. Ignore anything I’ve just said that doesn’t work for you.