Richard Kadrey's Kill City Blues, the fifth installment in the Sandman Slim series, is now available.
Devil Said Bang takes readers on a pretty epic ride: James Stark returns home after relinquishing his throne in Hell. Where does Kill City Blues pick up? What kind of
conflict are the old gods stirring up?
At the end of the previous book Stark lost his weapon, the Qomrama Om Ya, and this book is about him searching for it. It's like Aloha From Hell, which I wrote as a twisted fantasy quest story--this is another kind of fantasy quest. But I wanted to mess it up a bit, so a lot of it takes place in Kill City, which is an abandoned shopping mall in Santa Monica. I wanted to take Stark out of his comfrot zone--out of Hollywood--and put him somewhere he's completely lost.
Is this the most vulnerable we'll have seen Stark?
Yeah. As bad as it's been for him over the course of the series, thing happen to him in this book that have never happened before--and I hope never happen again.
I compare this to Aloha from Hell because it has that quest element but the difference is, in Aloha from Hell Stark was solo. He had to go off on his own because he was much more in that Sandman Slim frame of mind. In this one he brings friends. He has backup for the very first time in his life.
Why did you decide to introduce an ensemble?
I wanted that mix of personalities. If you remember that Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, it's the story of this freakish littly family that forms as Josey runs away. I kind of want Stark's place in the world to be like Josey with his mutant family.
What other new elements can readers expect in Kill City Blues?
I introduce some new characters that will be important later--some will stick around longer than others. We expand the mythology, we get our first glimpse of one of the Angra, and we learn more about god.
What else is in store for Stark, either in this book or upcoming ones?
I'm actually writing the sixth book right now; the tentative title is The Getaway God. This is where we're going to meet the Angra--this is where god shows a face we haven't seen before--and there are going to be huge changes both to Los Angeles and to Stark's life.
I can tell you this much: The book opens in L.A. as it's trying to depopulate itself. Horrible things are happenings to the city and the entire population is just trying to get out of town. They don't know what's going on but it is the influence of the Angra on the city.
You have another book, The Dead Set, coming out in October. It's your first book for the young adult crowd. What's it about?
The basis for the book is the biggest writer cliche of all time: I had a dream. It came completely out of a dream. It was a young woman in the back of a strange record store. There were racks and racks of old vinyl LPs, only none of them had covers. They were blank with strange Egyptian glyphs on them. There was a man on the other side of the records that you couldn't quite see, and the young woman and man were talking. The young woman pulled out one of the records and looked at it, and it had veins and arteries and a heart right in the middle. The man explained that the records don't have music, they contain souls. That in fact the girl's dead father was in the record store. This girl was wrecked by her father's death and is trying to recapture his soul, and of course it goes badly. She ends up having to rescue him from a dark and awful version of the afterlife.
What made you want to do a YA book?
I wanted to do something as far from Stark as possible. It ended up being a young woman because that's who it was in the dream. It felt like it would be a lie trying to change it to a guy or someone older. I wanted to be true to that first little spark.
Did you have to stray from themes you'd normally incorporate into your writing?
Not really; the book is pretty dark. There's definitely a lower body count, not too many guns--things like that. But it's dark in different ways. Thematcially you can make something very sinister without going into violent, and that's more what it's about--the fear and awfulness of existence for somebody who has no power. That's why making it about a teenager was so interesting, because you look at someone like Stark and I'm writing about a character with power. And then you look at some 16-year-old, they have almost all the responsibilities of an adult but they have almost none of the power. To have somebody stuck in that middle position with this horrible magical thing--having to admit there is magic, and I'm stuck in it and it's bad.