Saturday Special Report: 2023 Dark Dozen: Andre Duza
Our final interview for the 2023 Fall Dark Dozen is the amazingly talented author, actor, and stuntman, Andre Duza.
Andre is a man of many talents and was one of my first supporters when I began my writing career a few years ago.
Read on to learn more aobut his incredible journey and why I admire him so much.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
Life decided that for me. It was a long, painful process that started with an incident when I was 8-years old that involved being forced to do horrible things at gunpoint. For approximately 2-hours, I was convinced that my life was over. I cycled through all the stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I said my goodbyes (in my mind), and thought of all the things I’d never get to experience. Surviving that changed me fundamentally.
Up to that point, I was an extremely gullible pussy who was ill-prepared for the harsh realities of life. Everything was Disney and God. Afterward, I spent several years in therapy and became obsessed with trying to understand those harsh realities. I would put myself in dangerous situations—anything that frightened me—in an attempt to conquer that fear, and to learn to navigate the dark side of humanity. I was determined to never be a victim again, physically or intellectually. I started collecting weapons and devouring books on martial arts and fighting. As I began to acclimate to all things dark (no pun intended) I found comfort in horror movies and books.
My therapist had me start journaling daily. Over time, I got bored with it and I started to embellish, making up all kinds of fantastical shit that usually had a dark comedic edge. Upon reading the journal entries, the therapist told my mom, “This isn’t what I assigned, but Andre is extremely imaginative, and he shows real talent as a writer.”
That’s how it all started.
If you had three sentences to pitch your work to a new reader, what is your pitch?
That Andre Duza is a baaad motherfu—shut yo mouth! Just talkin bout Duza.
“[Andre Duza]’s work has a dark atmospheric quality where the images linger in your head long after you've finished reading.”–Amazon reviewer
"Andre Duza is one of the most exciting new voices in horror fiction. His prose hits like a fist of razor blades.”–Brian Keene.
What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
The community. The freedom to honestly express myself with no filter, and no apologies.
What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world and have you ever written about it?
I’ll go the easy route here and say something happening to my wife or my kids. And yes, I have written about it.
Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be stuck in and why? Name the book and author, if not you.
Piggy-backing on my last answer, this scene from my 2005 novel, JESUS FREAKS…
“My name is Max Hedberg, by the way.
What I failed to mention in my last entry is that I’m stuck down here in the panic shelter. We all are: me, my wife Maria, and my 3-year-old son, Eric. I’m in the main room, a small windowless box with a control panel, a high-backed, leather desk-chair, and security monitors that don’t work. And when I do communicate with Maria and Eric, it’s muffled by two thick walls, which only adds to the frustration. For the past few days (my best guesstimate, as the clocks aren’t working), I’ve listened to them unravel. On top of being deader than Eric, Maria is claustrophobic as all get-out, and the freezer is no bigger than a walk-in closet.
In retrospect, I should’ve seen it coming. It happened just like in the movies, for Christ’s sake. She got bit, she turned; she bit Eric, he turned. And I call myself prepared. Because she wasn’t fully turned when it happened, I thought, I hoped that maybe there was a chance that Eric would pull through. I waited until the very last minute before I locked him up. It was an experience that I wouldn’t wish on any parent, the way he kicked and screamed and begged me not to leave him alone in that precocious tone that he used when he knew he was on my bad side. I literally thought I was going to die.”
Not the most violent scene ever, but I used real conversations with my wife and my oldest son, who was 4, at the time, during the scenes where they’re slowly unraveling. It made the scene strangely personal. So, yeah… wouldn’t want to be in that situation.
Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:
Cannibal Holocaust. I saw it at just the right age (12) and I had gone in blind as it was part of a triple feature and I was more interested in one of the other films (Mother’s Day) playing on that bill.
Darkest or most disturbing horror novel ever read:
This is going to sound lame by today’s standards. When I was a kid, before everyone realized that George and Kathy Lutz, and the Warrens were full of shit, Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror was on everyone’s nightstand—including my mom. The story was all over the news. So, being the curious kid I was, I would sneak into my mom’s room and read the book in chunks, just to see what the fuss was all about. When I got to the part about Jodie, the cartoon pig… man, something about that image scared the shit out of me.
Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:
The Brazen Bull….(look it up.)
If you had one hour to speak to any living author, who would it be and why?
Again, too many to name just one, but still alive…?
I’ll go with Joe R. Lansdale, so I can thank him for showing younger me that there’s a place for people who write weird shit. We have actually met, but I never told him that.
What has been one of the proudest moments of your writing journey?
It’s a toss-up between…
- Getting my first novel published way back in 2004.
- Whipping out a joint at a party during the Horrorfind Convention in 2006 and getting Reggie (Phantasm) Bannister and Jeffrey (ReAnimator) Combs high in a hotel bathroom.
Who are you outside of being an author? What makes you tick other than the worlds and stories you create?
Well, I write and workout/train obsessively, as both are tied to my sanity… and my career. I also work as an actor and a stunt performer. Outside of that, I’m currently living out a fairy tale marriage to my wife of 29 years and being a weird dad to our 4 children. Who knew?
What is a piece of advice that you WISH someone had given you early in your career?
Stay true to your voice and keep writing.
Andre Duza is an actor, stuntman, screenwriter, martial artist, and the author or co-author of over 10 novels, a graphic novel (Hollow Eyed Mary), and the Star Trek comic book Outer Light. He has also contributed to several collections and anthologies, including Book of Lists: Horror, alongside the likes of Stephen King and Eli Roth.
Andre has appeared in several movies and TV Series, including Hustle starring Adam Sandler, Alpha Rift starring Lance Henriksen, Booted, Blackout, Fatal Contact, Shadow Fist 1 & 2, Undercover Life, For Life, and For My Man. He is a member of the Samuels Action Stunt Team lead by Action Director Robert Samuels, who is a protégé of legendary Hong Kong Action Star Sammo Hung, and the first African American member of the Hong Kong Stunt Men’s Association.
He also wrote, co-produced, and starred in the award-winning proof-of-concept short-film Tagati, which is currently airing on Amazon Prime Video.
In his other life, Andre is a Certified Fitness Trainer and a Martial Arts Instructor. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and four children.