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Powell’s Q&A: Richard Kadrey

Describe your latest book.
The Getaway God is the sixth book in the Sandman Slim series. In it, the very unholy nephilim, James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya — the insatiable, destructive old gods. But their imminent invasion is just one of Stark's problems, as L.A. descends into chaos and a new evil — a knife-wielding Christmastime serial killer the media dubs St. Nick — stalks the city.

No ordinary killer, St. Nick takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He's also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. He's also Stark's worst enemy — the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice — and one with a direct line to the voracious ancient gods.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands, and why did you read it?
The book was The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard. One of the perks of being a writer is that people send you books for free. Sometimes they send you books that aren't out yet. I'm a big Johannes Cabal fan, so Jonathan Howard arranged for me to get the new book early. It's great. If you haven't read the series, you should. Start with Johannes Cabal the Necromancer.

What do your bookshelves look like? Are you a book hoarder? Do you embrace chaos, or are you a meticulous organizer?
All writers are book hoarders whether they know it or not. My shelves are generally a mess. I'm able to keep fiction and nonfiction separated, but that's about it. At my old apartment, books flooded onto the floor. I finally put a few boxes together and gave away some that I was just holding onto for sentimental reasons. Let other people read them and get sentimental.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations. Architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable. Originality is non-existent. And don't bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said, 'It's not where you take things from. It's where you take them to.'"
– Jim Jarmusch

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
At a reading in Colorado, I showed some Clive Barker skull paintings to a fan with a lot of tattoos. When I told her I was thinking of getting one of the skulls on my arm, she got very excited and said that she knew an artist nearby and that she'd get a skull to match mine. Unfortunately, when we got there, her tattooist was booked for the night. If I get back to Colorado, maybe we'll try it again.

Name the best television series of all time, and explain why it's the best.
I find myself going back to two old series, Twin Peaks and The Prisoner, for the same reason. Why? J. J. Abrams got at the heart of it when he said, "Sometimes mystery is more important than knowledge." Both The Prisoner and Twin Peaks celebrate the beauty of not knowing all the answers. I think that stories need a few strands dangling. They give watchers and readers something to think and argue about, and the strands give a sense of a life beyond the pages of a book or a TV episode.

Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration.
Brian Eno because he refuses to work in one medium. He has a lot of interests and indulges them all. And he does it well. Or well enough that he gets to do it again. And isn't that all that matters? Getting to do the creative work you want over and over?

Nick Cave because he's a great singer and, more importantly, a terrific writer. Not a lot of musicians can tell the uncompromising stories he crafts into his songs. He's also an accomplished novelist and screenwriter.

Sergio Leone because he told big stories boldly and well. He said something very useful to writers: "The important thing is to make a different world, to make a world that is not now. A real world, a genuine world, but one that allows myth to live. The myth is everything."

The Surrealists because I always liked their philosophy that art should induce the state of dreaming in the viewer. Also, I saw Dalí's Persistence of Memory as a child and I'm convinced that it completely rewired my brain.

What fictional world would you want to visit?
As wet and tragic as it looks from the outside, I wouldn't mind spending some time in the Los Angeles of Blade Runner.

Five graphic novels I read while writing The Getaway God:
I can't always read other people's prose when I'm working on a book, but I can always read graphic novels. Here are a few that really stood out.

Velvet by Ed Brubaker
Fell: Feral City by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith
Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth by Mike Mignola and Others
Revival by Tim Seeley

÷ ÷ ÷

Richard Kadrey has published nine novels, including Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha from Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues, Dead Set, Butcher Bird, Metrophage, and The Getaway God. He has been immortalized as an action figure, his short story "Goodbye Houston Street, Goodbye" was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award, and his novel Butcher Bird was nominated for the Prix Elbakin in France. A freelance writer and photographer, he lives in San Francisco, California.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Sandman Slim
    Used Mass Market $4.95
  2. Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  3. Sandman Slim Novels #03: Aloha from Hell Used Trade Paper $6.95
  4. Sandman Slim #4: Devil Said Bang: A...
    Used Trade Paper $8.95
  5. Kill City Blues (Sandman Slim Novels) Used Trade Paper $10.50
  6. Dead Set Used Hardcover $11.95
  7. Butcher Bird: A Novel of the Dominion Used Trade Paper $10.50
  8. Metrophage
    Used Trade Paper $10.50
  9. The Getaway God (Sandman Slim Novels #6) Used Hardcover $17.50
  10. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
    Used Trade Paper $9.95
  11. The Brothers Cabal New Hardcover $25.99
  12. Revival Volume 1: You're Among... New Trade Paper $12.99
  13. Locke and Key
    Used Hardcover $17.50
  14. Fell, Volume 1: Feral City Used Trade Paper $9.50
  15. Velvet Volume 1 Tp New Trade Paper $9.99

Richard Kadrey is the author of The Getaway God (Sandman Slim Novels #6)

One Response to "Powell’s Q&A: Richard Kadrey"

    Stephen Young August 26th, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    "What fictional world would you want to visit? As wet and tragic as it looks from the outside, I wouldn't mind spending some time in the Los Angeles of Blade Runner."

    You are welcome to visit Vancouver, BC, during the rainy season any time you wish. Please refrain from feeding (the habits of) the locals. If P.K. Dick found plenty of inspiration here, then, I don't see why you wouldn't. Drop by the hack space bunker, "VHS" on a (rainy, wintery, blustery?) Tuesday night.
    "Do Android Dream Of Sheep" and "Blade Runner" are my favorite stories. They differ and yet they both carry something that hooked me. I think this story is why I have never been able to leave and not return to Vancouver. That and having a father who thought nothing of putting a coffee table book of Dali's chef-d'oeuvres in my hands, at a much tender age. So much for brain diversity, eh?

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