Love In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is fantastic, so I’m thrilled to have its author, Judd Trichter on the blog today, where he kindly answered a few of my questions! Also, courtesy of the always awesome folks at St. Martin’s Press, we’ve got 5 galleys to give away to 5 lucky US winners, so be sure to fill out the widget below the post.
So, your new book, Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction…best title ever! Will you tell us a bit about it and what inspired you to write it?
I had recently reread the Orpheus myth in Ovid’s Metamorphosis and couldn’t shake it out of my head. At the same time, I had just written a short story, “Dea Ex Machina”, that featured a character who was half-Korean and half-android. It occurred to me that I could combine these two elements as a way of re-examining the story of Orpheus’ descent. Once I had the idea, it took me about a minute to come up with the logline. I think it was something like: after his android fiancée is kidnapped, chopped up, and sold for parts, a man goes on a journey to recover her parts to put her back together again. As for the title – thank you for the compliment – that came later in the process. It’s a riff on Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. In the sense that art is affected by technology, my title is meant to question how love is affected by innovation and what might be the blowback of that influence.
Tell us more about Eliot, and why you think readers will root for him.
Eliot is someone who found purpose in life through love, albeit love with an android. So when Iris is taken away, he’s back to zero again, addicted to drugs, working a job for which he has no affinity, participating in a system of which he’s highly critical. If Iris weren’t a robot, maybe readers would feel, Oh, it’s best for Eliot to move on after a loss, don’t dwell in the past and so on. But what’s discomforting about Eliot’s predicament is that Iris is a robot, she can be recovered, and what kind of a man would he be if he didn’t make the attempt? I guess we root for him because Eliot’s a decent guy trying to do the right thing in an indecent world.
Will you tell us a little about your future L.A.?
It’s an LA on the brink of violent upheaval. In its zeal to lower costs by any means, the system has created a race of androids that work for wages at which humans couldn’t possibly survive. Unemployed humans are in turn oppressed through deprivation, sterilization, and disease. They are used by the upper classes to suppress the swelling tide of android workers who plot to topple the system. Even the weather sucks.
Why SF? What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, in the genre?
It’s fun to imagine different ways in which mankind can destroy itself.
You were an actor as a child, but have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little bit about that progression?
I acted for 20 years, and toward the end, I felt incredibly stifled. As an actor, you submit your voice to someone else’s work, to someone else’s ideas. If those are ideas you’re in tune with, the experience is wonderful. But my ideas were taking a turn that just wasn’t on the same page with the opportunities I was getting as an actor. That and I hated wearing make-up.
What are a few of your favorite authors? Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading this year?
I like mythologies and ancient texts. Kafka is a favorite, the way he was able to tap into the mysteries and terrors of existence with his pitch-black humor. Shakespeare overwhelms me. I read Faulkner, Melville, Conrad, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth, Stefan Zweig, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Don DeLillo, Orwell, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy. I like the authors who tackle the big questions, but I also like the great American stylists like Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson and certain noir detective writers, like Charles Willeford and James Crumley. For sci-fi, I like Vonnegut, Orwell, Jack Womack, William Gibson, and Philip K. Dick.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m on the third volume of Robert Caro’s Lyndon Johnson biography. Caro is the best biographer I’ve ever read. He could write a 2000 page bio of Kato Kaelin, and I’d probably read it. The book is a little heavy to carry around though, so I’m also reading Pynchon’s Inherent Vice at the same time.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your free time?
I have an unhealthy obsession with the sport of boxing. I watch the fights every Friday and Saturday night. I read every article written about the sport. I listen to podcasts like In the Corner Boxing Radio when I’m running. I should probably find more social activities to engage in, but I can’t tell you how excited I get being a fan of the sweet science.
What’s next for you?
I’m almost done with a new screenplay called The Locksmith, which is a crime drama set in modern day Los Angeles. Once that’s finished, I’ll start another novel. I’ve been researching a murder that happened on my block a few years ago. The alleged killer was sentenced to life in prison but there’s reason to suspect the police got the wrong guy. I’m looking into that and might just wind up writing about it.
**Wanna win a copy of Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (you do, I promise). It’s US only, and I’ll pick a winner on (or around) Feb. 6th.
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