John Lutz Online Home

About the Author

John (on right) with Will of St. Louis Writers Guild 

John Lutz's work includes political suspense, private eye novels, urban suspense, humor, occult, crime caper, police procedural, espionage, historical, futuristic, amateur detective, thriller; virtually every mystery sub-genre. He is the author of more than forty novels and over 200 short stories and articles. His novels and short fiction have been translated into almost every language and adapted for almost every medium. He is a past president of both Mystery Writers of America and Private Eye Writers of America. Among his awards are the MWA Edgar, the PWA Shamus, The Trophee 813 Award for best mystery short story collection translated into the French language, the PWA Life Achievement Award, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Golden Derringer Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the author of two private eye series, the Nudger series, set in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Carver series, set in Florida, as well as many non-series novels. His SWF SEEKS SAME was made into the hit movie SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and his novel THE EX was made into the HBO original movie of the same title, for which he co-authored the screenplay.

When Lutz isn't writing, he's reading, following baseball, dining out with friends, or going to movies or plays.

Lutz and his wife, Barbara, split their time between St. Louis and Sarasota, Florida. His latest book is the suspense novel Twist.


An Interview with John

Q) Where do you get your ideas?

JL) They get me. Now and then something happens or I see something that provides a hook, or a concept, for a novel. I think what most people think of as ideas are really those and not full-fledged ideas. "Snakes on a Plane" is an idea for a movie - but not really. The idea is more about what's done with the notion. So what about snakes on a plane? Where do we go from there? That requires the idea, the mindset to think in story form, as do "Obsessive whaling captain pursues particular whale," "Poor guy wants desperately to be one of the rich," "Jilted fiancée gets her revenge years after the fact," "Bad guys commandeer subway train." What then?


Q) Do you base your characters on real people?

JL) Nope. Have you noticed real people aren't predictable and consistent? I really hate the DH. Real people might suddenly change on you, or pass on, leaving you high and dry. No problem there with fictional characters, who never really have to "die." (See Sherlock Holmes, the return of.) Better that characters are suited to the fiction - character, situation, setting, theme, all a cohesive bundle.


Q) How many hours per day do you write?

JL) Twenty-four. Being a writer is like being a cop; you're always one, even off duty. Fortunately, no one shoots at writers. Not often, anyway.


Q) Do you write about what you know?

JL) Well, I’m currently writing serial killer novels, so there are impediments to the research. I’ve often heard that oft-given advice on writing about what you know, while I was sitting on a panel with four or five other people who wrote about mayhem and murder and were mostly afraid to step on a spider. Keep in mind we get paid for lying convincingly.


Q) Why do you write serial killer novels?

JL)  Serial paychecks.


Q) That was pretty good. Any other reasons?

JL) Sure. I don’t frown on formulaic fiction. I think that within the framework of a serial killer investigation there are myriad interesting stories to be told. A real-life serial killer investigation often follows a dramatic arc, and there really are such bizarre and dangerous people as the villains; my monsters are ready made. All of this lends such a novel a certain plausibility going in. I don’t think readers get tired of this kind of fiction. After all, opera buffs see the same opera over and over with no changes other than cast and sets. The familiar yet fresh has its appeal.


Q) Has writing made you rich?

JL) Rich is relative. Probably the best measurement is what you have in proportion to what you want. I’m fairly satisfied with what I have, but being from what I guess you’d call a lower middle-class background, I’ve never assumed a yacht was my birthright, and if I looked out the window and didn’t see a yacht, something was wrong. I gave a talk to a fourth grade class some time ago, and one of the kids asked me if I had a butler. People have misconceptions about writers.


Q) Do you still enjoy writing?

JL) As much as when I began. It’s a process that lives and grows.


Q) And the object of that process is..?

JL) To create a thoroughly wrought alternative world that the reader can enter or leave with the opening or closing of the book.


Q) Thanks very much for your time. And I must say you appear younger and are much better looking than I imagined.

JL) Everyone says that.


Q) It’s been a pleasure.

JL) Same here. The butler will show you out.

Lutz-authored books


Praise for John Lutz

“Shamus and Edgar award-winner Lutz gives us further proof of his enormous talent for crafting great police fiction in his latest...As the bodies pile up, Lutz handles the situation with characteristic finesse, keeping suspense taut, details gritty and twists surprising...Lutz has a thorough command of plot and character, making this another enthralling page turner.”

—Publishers Weekly on In For the Kill

“Since Lutz can deliver a hard-boiled p.i. novel or a bloody thriller with equal ease, it's not a surprise to find him applying his skills to a police procedural in Chill of Night. But the ingenuity of the plot shows that Lutz is in rare form.”

—New York Times Book Review on Chill of Night

Fear the Night, the latest in a long line of slick thrillers from veteran author John Lutz, is a tense, fast-moving novel, a plot-driven page-turner of the first order. The characters are well drawn, multifaceted and sympathetic (even, to some degree, the bad guy). Best of all, Fear the Night has been released in mass-market paperback-at $6.99, this great read is the suspense steal of the season!”

—Book Page

The Night Spider is compelling, suspenseful and—dare I say it?—creepy. John Lutz knows how to make you shiver.”

—Harlan Coben

“I've been a fan of John Lutz for years.”

—T. Jefferson Parker

“Lutz juggles multiple storylines with such mastery that it's easy to see how he won so many mystery awards. Darker Than Night is a can't-put-it-down thriller, beautifully paced and executed, with enough twists and turns to keep it from ever getting too predictable. Anyone who likes hardboiled thrillers and fast-paced whodunits will love Darker Than Night.”

—Linnea Dodson for on Darker Than Night

“John Lutz is the new Lawrence Sanders. The Night Watcher has enough twists to turn you into a raging paranoid by page thirty. What's new is the sleek presentation of the detectives, the nocturnal underworld of NYC, and most of all the most original character I've seen in crime fiction in years (she brings out Lutz's Chekhovian side). This is a very smooth and civilized novel about a very uncivilized snuff artist, told with passion, wit, carnality, and relentless vigor. I loved it.”

—Ed Gorman in Mystery Scene on The Night Watcher

“Lutz knows how to seize and hold the reader's imagination from the start.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer on Tropical Heat                          John Lutz

“For a good scare and a well-paced story, Lutz delivers.”

—San Antonio Express News

“Lutz is rapidly bleeding critics dry of superlatives.”

—St. Louis Post Dispatch

“Lutz's real gift is to evoke detective work better than anyone else.”

—Kirkus Reviews on Oops