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Q&A | August 19, 2014

Richard Kadrey: IMG 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... Continue »
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Q&A | August 19, 2014

Richard Kadrey: IMG 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... Continue »
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Kids' Q&A

Sam Enthoven

Describe your latest project.
The central character of my new book, Tim, Defender of the Earth is a confused thirteen-year-old male. He's a bit clumsy, and he's perhaps not the sharpest tool in the box, but he's very brave and he's got a good heart. He's also green, he's a hundred meters tall, and he's a genetically modified Tyrannosaurus Rex.

His name's TIM, which stands for Tyrannosaur: Improved Model. He was created by the British government as part of a top-secret military experiment in a lab buried seventy stories below London's Trafalgar Square. But what neither he nor his creators know yet, is that Tim has a special destiny...

Tim, Defender Of The Earth is a giant monster story in the style of Godzilla and King Kong — full of destruction and combat. While touring and promoting my first book, The Black Tattoo, I asked members of my young audiences which of London's famous landmarks they'd like to see trashed in fiction: I'm delighted to say that in TIM I've pulverized pretty much all of them. I called in an air-strike on Hyde Park; something horrible happens to the London Eye; the Big Ben tower gets snapped off and tossed like a caber — and that's just for starters. Give Tim, Defender Of The Earth a wallop, I think you'll like it.



  1. Tim, Defender of the Earth
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  2. The Black Tattoo
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    The Black Tattoo

    Sam Enthoven

What is your favorite family story?
One of my relatives was a gentleman called Andrew Crosse, better known in Britain at the time (the 19th century) as "The Wizard of the Quantock Hills". He wasn't actually a wizard: what he was a pioneering amateur scientist, with a keen interest in electricity. He wired up the tall trees surrounding his house so that when lightning struck it would run straight into his laboratory: he'd then pass massive amounts of electric current through... whatever took his fancy.

One night in 1836 while he was conducting one of his experiments something weird happened: some strange insects appeared — fully-formed and apparently spontaneously — in what he thought had been a simple dish of chemicals. When news of his discovery reached the public there was a national sensation (nb: Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein was a big hit at the time). Although Mr. Crosse had never claimed to have "created life" he was accused of blasphemy — and some of his, let's say, less enlightened neighbours even performed an exorcism!

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
I write what I love: fantastical action thrillers. And one of the absolutely best writers of this stuff around right now is an author called Chris Wooding. Over the holidays ('08) I read one of his called The Fade, and it was absolutely tremendous. The book's got echoes of the great old-school prison-break stories like Papillon or even The Great Escape. But The Fade's fantasy setting — and its hard-as-nails female assassin narrator — make it something else again. Fast, fresh and very VERY cool, this will grab you from page one and never let you go.

What do you do for relaxation?
In the mornings, I practise t'ai chi while listening to skull-cracking drum-and-bass (kind of an odd mixture you might think, but it seems to work for me!) And I play lead guitar in a band called Sour Mash Daddy And His Sixty Wives. We play cover versions of classic songs from the 60s and 70s. It's basically an excuse to meet up with some mates every six weeks or so in a shed — sorry, I mean "rehearsal studio" — and make a cathartic and gleeful racket that leaves my ears ringing for days afterwards. Relaxes me better than pretty much anything!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Plan A was actually to be an internationally famous rock and roll guitarist. I had it all worked out: I was going to die aged 21, having made an indelible mark on musical history. But this plan had some major flaws. First — and quite crucially — I wasn't good enough. Second, I didn't have the looks for it. And nowadays, I don't even have enough hair for it. So, writing it is, then. Hee hee hee!

Why do you write books for kids?
Several reasons. For one thing, I love the discipline of it. Many older readers seem prepared to put up with almost any amount of description, lengthy exposition, endless period detail and so forth. Younger readers, by contrast, tend to prefer to focus on a STORY — and I do, too.

But (second) there's also a freedom to young people's literature — a joyful acceptance of wildness and weirdness, a willingness to take risks. Example: my first book, The Black Tattoo, contains (as well as swordfights, monsters, flying kung fu and the end of the universe) some vomiting bats. Where adults might ask, "Why? Why bats? Why vomiting? What point are you making here?" younger readers (again, rightly I think) will simply say "What? They're bats. They vomit. Cool." All too often, and rather drearily, adult readers seem to need to have everything explained to them. Younger readers haven't forgotten how to have fun.

Third, and most important, the age for which I write is the age I was when I began to choose books for myself: in doing so, I discovered a love of reading that has become one of the central passions and pleasures of my life. The chance, however remote, of having one of my stories do something similar for someone else... wow. That's a hugely exciting goal to aim for, it seems to me — and one that writing for adults can't ever hope to match.

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I love giving talks at schools, and at a recent one I misheard a question from a young student in the audience. Joe Craig, author of the wonderful Jimmy Coates: Assassin series, was due to be appearing at the school later in the week. What I thought the student asked me was, "Could you eat him?"

I'd met Joe, and he's a nice guy, but I believe a straight question deserves a straight answer so after due consideration I said: "He's a little smaller than me, so yes, I suppose I probably could. I don't think I could eat him all at once though, so I'd have to cut him up into portions, keep most of him in the freezer, maybe cook him a bit at a time..." Lost in the details, it was only then I realised that what I'd actually been asked me was, "Could you meet him?'"

The student was looking a bit perturbed, so I apologized profusely. The young lady raised her hand again and asked, "Have you always been so violent?"

If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why?
Anyone? Really? OK, you asked for it: I would pick Gustave Dore. His jaw-dropping engravings for texts such as Dante's Divine Comedy and (particularly) Coleridge's The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner are a constant source of inspiration and amazement to me. Only problem is, he's been dead for over a hundred and twenty-five years!

Actually (and especially for a near-beginner like me) I've been incredibly lucky about the people who have illustrated my stories so far. For The Black Tattoo my U.S. publishers, Razorbill, commissioned a stunning painting by the internationally renowned fantasy artist John Jude Palencar. And the first edition of Tim, Defender Of The Earth has a frankly gobsmacking central gatefold painting by the supremely talented Dan Dos Santos. So believe me, I'm not complaining. Hee hee hee!

÷ ÷ ÷

Sam Enthoven For ten years Sam Enthoven worked as a part-time bookseller on London's Charing Cross Road, recommending books to young readers — and living largely on instant noodles — while chasing his dream to become a published author. In September '06 that dream came true with the launch of his rollicking debut novel, The Black Tattoo. Tim, Defender Of The Earth is, as he modestly puts it, "Phase Two of my sinister masterplan to conquer the universe!" Find out more at timdefenderoftheearth.com

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