Chris Kluwe is a former NFL player and the author of Otaku, his debut novel about a young woman named Ash who not only inhabits the real-life world of Ditchtown, a futuristic city of skyscrapers “built atop the drowned bones of old Miami,” but also the deadly virtual world of Infinite Game. For Kluwe, both of these worlds represent the direction our society is headed as climate change progresses and the virtual reality becomes more realistic.
“I’m a huge fan of sci-fi that deals with where our world is headed,” Kluwe tells Inverse.
Kluwe is also a guest on Inverse Happy Hour to read a select chapter from his book followed by a Q&A where he reveals which video game universe he would live in in real life; how he defines the message board trolls on the internet, where he sees the future of football going; and the anime show he highly recommends checking out that's “a cross between Sherlock Holmes, Inception, and Hannibal.”
He also took the opportunity to recommend William Gibson's Agency, a sci-fi thriller with a cyberpunk feel that Kluwe says served as a kind of homage to his own book.
Below are some highlights from Inverse Happy Hour:
On the advice he gives people writing their first book— “One of the big things is you have to actually finish your book, and that’s a very frequent problem is that, you know, people get halfway through and then it’s like, Crap, the initial excitement has worn off. I still have to keep going with the story. I still have to keep making it entertaining. But the end really isn’t in sight yet and so you just force yourself to put words down on the paper. Get them out, finish that first draft. Because once you’re done with that first draft, then you can go back, start editing, start revising, you can clean things up. But it’s super important to actually finish that first draft.”
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On how his competitive background in the NFL influenced the way he writes— “That plays a big part in Otaku in that a lot of Ash’s character, specifically in terms of, like, not giving up and just always wanting to fight forward, is taken from my own experiences of, like, Ok, I know what it takes to go through intense physical training to reach the highest, highest peaks of what you desire to do. Not just in the NFL, but in gaming as well. I really tried to bring that across in that it’s almost like an obsession. And that’s one of the reasons why the title of the book is Otaku. Originally it was a Japanese word that meant, the rough translation is obsessive, and it was basically manga fans, anime fans, video game fans. At the core of the idea is that you’re so obsessed with something that you just can’t help but do it.”
“Fantasy football is D&D with football players.”
“When I was thinking about the book, my experiences with football, like, I don’t think a lot of football fans would consider themselves otaku, but think about all the sports stories where people are like, Oh, that coach spent 18 hours at the facility, he’s so dedicated. Or, you know, That player has been working out for 12 days straight! It’s like, you guys are just as obsessed as people who play videos games or read manga, but you just have a different sphere of influence.”
“Like with Fantasy football, fantasy sports, there’s such a huge crossover between sports nerds and fantasy nerds. Fantasy football is D&D with football players.”
A huge thanks to Kluwe for joining us!