Please welcome Max Gladstone to the blog! Max is the author of Three Parts Dead, just out, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, and some other stuff too!
Also, there’s a copy of Three Parts Dead up for grabs, so be sure to check the details at the bottom of the post!
You only give us a few tidbits about yourself on your site (Yale grad, studied Chinese!), so tell us more! Did you always want to be a writer?
My parents say that one day, when I was two or three, they found me in the living room scrawling in a notebook they’d left lying around—chicken scratch, I didn’t even know how to read then. But the ‘writing’ stayed within the lines!
Who knows: if it hadn’t, maybe I’d be an artist now.
Beyond that: I moved around a lot when I was a kid, and on the summers we’d take these big long trips across country, camping out of our van. I wrote my first book when I was seventeen. I went to Yale, studied Chinese, sang in a choir where I met the woman I married. After school, I went to southern China where I taught English in Anhui province for two years, wrote a few more books, returned to the states, spent a year writing and doing odd jobs before I found work in a marketing / research firm in south Boston. I worked in the day, wrote at night, and now I’m here!
Will you tell us a little bit about your new book, Three Parts Dead?
Three Parts Dead is the story of Tara, a first year associate in an international necromancy firm, who’s been hired to help resurrect a dead fire god named Kos. Kos’s death has put his city in danger—without god to fire the furnaces, how will people keep warm in the winter? How will the city generate power? Tara’s working against time and her own prejudices (she doesn’t have a great deal of affection for gods) to save the city. And, as she works, she learns that the city’s current troubles stretch back to religious conflicts in the God Wars, which tore the world apart decades ago.
What are some of your biggest influences (literary or otherwise)?
Roger Zelazny and Terry Pratchett are both huge influences—they have marvelous gifts for language, for using humor while remaining sincere, and for building worlds via context and conversation. I also take a lot of inspiration from musicians—songwriters have many of the same challenges as novelists, but even more constraints. Bob Dylan’s ballads (Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, Black Diamond Bay, Isis, All Along the Watchtower songs like that) create vivid moral worlds with immense contrasts of character, all in the space of a few minutes. Other bands & groups that spring to mind: A3, Tom Waits, Josh Ritter, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer.
If someone asked for you to recommend one book to them, what would it be?
Depends on who they were. Genre-friendly? Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Not so much? East of Eden, or maybe The Last Samurai.
If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles are an intense surprise when you read them for the first time. They do improve with re-readings, but I’d love to recapture the sheer joy of the first read-through.
What are you reading now?
A comic book about Neitzsche, and Dan Simmons’ Carrion Comfort. I just finished The Quantum Thief, by Hanu Rajaniemi, which impressed the hell out of me.
Will you tell us about your travels? What’s your favorite destination so far, and why?
When I finally get to Russia and Spain I’ll be able to trace a line around the world touching only countries I’ve visited. When I was a kid our family backpacked through eastern Europe for eight weeks, which started the travel bug for me. I wanted to learn all of the languages, and I started with Chinese only to discover that one does not simply ‘learn’ Chinese. Still, language study and work brought me to China several times throughout college and after; China’s also a nice home base for travel in that part of the world, so I got to SE Asia, Japan, Mongolia.
I loved the two weeks I spent in Mongolia. I don’t know how much of that came from my being on an adventure with two of my best friends, and how much came from Mongolia itself, but that trip shines gold in memory. We had an amazing ten day horse trek with Stepperiders, camping, galloping, eating goat, learning to wrestle.
If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow (that you haven’t yet been to), where would you go?
South America, probably. Peru, or Argentina. Hard to decide?
When you manage to get some downtime, how do you like to spend it?
Downtime? What’s that? If I had any, I’d spend it fencing, reading, or hanging out with friends.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
Yes! Lots of excitement in the works. My next novel, Two Serpents Rise, is due out from Tor next summer, and we’re working on two more books now. Other secret projects are developing more slowly, as I’ve had to focus on promoting Three Parts Dead this month, but I should have more news soon.
Keep up with Max: Website | Twitter
About Three Parts Dead:
A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.
Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.
Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.
When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.
Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.
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