Author Stories Podcast Episode 840 | Matt Ruff Interview
Today’s author interview guest is Matt Ruff, author of Lovecraft Country, and the new novel 88 Names.
The critically acclaimed author of Lovecraft Country returns with a thrilling and immersive virtual reality epic—part cyberthriller, part twisted romantic comedy—that transports you to a world where identity is fluid and nothing can be taken at face value.
John Chu is a “sherpa”—a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character equipped with the best weapons and armor, and take you dragon-slaying in the Realms of Asgarth, hunting rogue starships in the Alpha Sector, or battling hordes of undead in the zombie apocalypse.
Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming. For Chu, this is a dream assignment, but as the tour gets underway, he begins to suspect that Mr. Jones is really North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, whose interest in VR gaming has more to do with power than entertainment. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, Chu also has to worry about “Ms. Pang,” who may or may not be an agent of the People’s Republic of China, and his angry ex-girlfriend, Darla Jean Covington, who isn’t the type to let an international intrigue get in the way of her own plans for revenge.
What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Now Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead—because in real life, there is no reset button.
I was born in New York City in 1965. I decided I wanted to be a fiction writer when I was five years old and spent my childhood and adolescence learning how to tell stories. At Cornell University I wrote what would become my first published novel, Fool on the Hill, as my senior thesis in Honors English. My professor Alison Lurie helped me find an agent, and within six months of my college graduation Fool on the Hill had been sold to Atlantic Monthly Press. Through a combination of timely foreign rights sales, the generous support of family and friends, occasional grant money, and a slowly accumulating back list, I’ve managed to make novel-writing my primary occupation ever since.
My third novel, Set This House in Order, marked a critical turning point in my career after it won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, a Washington State Book Award, and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and helped me secure a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. My fourth novel, Bad Monkeys, also won multiple awards; it is currently under development as a Universal Studios film, with Margot Robbie attached to star. My sixth novel, Lovecraft Country, is being produced as an HBO series by Jordan Peele, Misha Green, and J.J. Abrams.
In 1998 I married my best friend, the researcher and rare-book expert Lisa Gold. We live in Seattle, Washington.