An Interview with Andy Dittrich

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Originally from New York, Andy Dittrich moved with his family to North Carolina before entering high school. Andy will be graduating this May with a degree in History, English, and a concentration in Creative Writing. I sat down with Andy last week to talk to him about his writing and his short story, Cat Food.
Leah Chapman: When you were growing up, how did reading and writing play a role in your life?

Andy Dittrich: I read throughout elementary school. Then around middle school I didn’t read for fun much any more. I did love A Series of Unfortunate Events books.


LC: That was such a good series.

AD: It was one of my favorites.


LC: When did writing come into play? When did you become interested in writing?

AD: My sophomore year here, actually. I took Intro to Creative Writing on a whim. I had gone into writing with the impression that writing was literary and stuffy, and I didn’t think I could do that. Then I picked up Stephen King’s The Shining, and read it and thought, Yeah, I could do that. From there, I got into crime fiction.


LC: So you’re relatively new to writing?

AD: Yeah.


LC: That’s awesome! Since you’re new to the writing process and creating stories, where do you find inspiration?

AD: Anywhere really. You know a little story bit from a news item or music, especially. Music is a huge influence of my writing, actually.


LC: What is your writing process?

AD: I tend to get ideas early in the morning or late at night. If I get an idea late at night, I’ll sit on it. If I still remember it by morning, then I know it’s important, and I’ll write it down.


LC: Do you keep journals where you jot things down?

AD: I always have a notepad and pen on me, but I don’t [use it] for story ideas.


LC: Oh really? So if it’s meant to be —

AD: Laughs. Yeah, if it’s meant to be, I’ll work on it in the back of my mind. But if it’s not, I’ll forget it.


LC: Well, let’s say you’ve found a really good idea, what’s the next step?

AD: Then I’ll jot it down and see how it changes.


LC: Are you the type of person who plans or makes an outline?

AD: Nope.


LC: You just jump right in and get to the story?

AD: Yep.


LC: That’s awesome.

AD: After I have the general mood, I usually know where to work my way [into the story].


LC: I want to go back to the idea of finding inspiration because your short story, Cat Food, is not your typical crime story. What inspired you to write it?

AD: Crime story wise, there are writers that I like that are a bit different. Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite writers, if not my favorite. Also, Charles Willeford; I mean his stories are set in Florida, so naturally they get weird. One of the things I was happy about with Cat Food was I felt like it was the first time I perfectly blended quirky humor and violence together.


LC: I thought you did that very well.

AD: Thank You.


LC: Are there other types of writing styles you want to explore?

AD: I don’t really put a limit on the kind of writing I do. Obviously, it’s mostly crime stories. I think genre is a good place to start a story. Working in a genre gives you the material to work with and do something different with.


LC: Is writing something you want to do as a career, or is it more of a hobby for you?

AD: I would like to do something career-wise with it. Probably through screenwriting, and if a novel happens along the way, that would be cool.


LC: Do you see yourself writing a big Blockbuster?

AD: I wouldn’t hold out for my War and Peace or any of those other paperweights. The goal for me is to make the story as entertaining as possible. If you want people to read your stuff and buy it, if you going to drop $15.00 for a [trade paperback], on something I wrote. I want to try to get your moneys worth.


LC: Andy, it has been a pleasure talking to you.


Make sure you check out Andy’s short story, Cat Food on our website.

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