I’m beyond thrilled to have the wonderful Tad Williams on the blog today. Tad is the author of a ridiculous number of books (at least 18!!), and his newest book, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, just came out! He kindly answered a few of my questions, and not only proved that he’s still one of the most talented guys in the biz, but also one of the nicest, and he has good taste too (see Adventure Time). The lovely folks at DAW have offered up a copy of The Dirty Streets of Heaven for one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the details below the post.
Tad, I remember reading Tailchaser’s Song when I was a teenager and absolutely loving it. Since then, you’ve published many more novels and short stories. Did you always want to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your journey?
I came a bit late to writing, mostly because I was involved in a lot of collaborative creative stuff when I was younger — playing in a band, theater, radio — and the quieter things like art and writing sort of took a back seat. Then, in my mid-twenties, I became more interested in things I could do in my own time, because I was working two jobs while trying to get lift-off on one of my creative interests. Also, about then I moved in with my ex-wife, who had cats, and that spawned the thinking (and, frankly, the incomprehension of how cats could get such a sweet deal for very little effort) that led to Tailchaser’s Song. Once I was offered money to write more books (the Dragonbone Chair series) that became my professional focus. But I could just as easily have been an aging rocker, probably playing county fairs these days.
The first book in your Bobby Dollar series, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, just came out. Will you tell us a bit about it and its hero?
Bobby, also known as Doloriel, is an earthbound angel. At first it’s just business as usual, helping defend the souls of the recently deceased in judgement, but then strange things begin to happen and Bobby finds himself no longer in just a Cold War with Hell, but something bigger and more dangerous and much more mysterious. Bobby tells the story himself, and (I like to think) he’s entertainingly funny while going through some pretty dark, scary experiences.
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
The freedom within classical form. It’s a bit like ballet — you have to know your basics, but if you satisfy those, the sky’s the limit. I also love the scope it gives me to imagine crazy, silly, or terrifying things. And I love worldbuilding. In fact, I’m sure that’s a big part of what attracted me to fantasy in the first place, that idea of Tolkienian secondary reality, making something that seems real, and (even better) people wish WAS real.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
In no particular order, Tolkien, Vonnegut, Pynchon, Ruth Rendell, Barbara Tuchman, Harlan Ellison, Hunter S. Thompson, Ray Bradbury, Alice (Tiptree) Sheldon, Philip K. Dick, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, Ursula Le Guin, Theodore Sturgeon, Roger Zelazny, Dickens, Austen, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, W. B. Yeats, and Borges. Patrick O’Brien. Roald Dahl. I could go on for days. Dr. Seuss. Kenneth Grahame. E. Nesbit. Stop me before I name more!
If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Wow, tough one. The biggest single influence on me was reading the Lord of the Rings when I was about eleven, so probably repeating that amazing, immersive experience would be the most tempting. On the other hand, the first time I read The Martian Chronicles was also a revelation. However, there is an even stronger (and more sentimental) part of me that might like to have the Milne books (poetry and Winnie the Pooh) read for me again, as in my childhood. I learned sarcasm from Eeyore, and that’s at least as important as any other first.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Small free time, reading and hanging with our kids and dogs and watching Adventure Time. Big free time, playing basketball, playing music, going on family driving trips to weird places. Talking crap and laughing with other writers is a big one, too.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’m finishing the second Bobby Dollar book, Happy Hour in Hell, and working on a bunch of other projects. Tailchaser’s Song is becoming an animated movie, and the Otherland MMORPG will go online very soon. And please don’t anybody give my family more pets. I have a nearly full-time job as zookeeper as it is.
Keep up with Tad: Website | Twitter
About The Dirty Streets of Heaven:
Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.
But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.
When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.
You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.
Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.
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