Bio.: Richard Kadrey is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He is the author of dozens of stories, plus ten novels, including Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha from Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues, Metrophage and Butcher Bird. His Wired magazine cover story, Carbon Copy, was made into one of the worst movies of 2001. It starred Bridget Fonda. Sorry, Bridget.
He has been immortalized as an action figure. “Kadray [sic]: The Invincible Wizard” was a villain in an episode of the Blackstar animated TV series.
Kadrey created and wrote the Vertigo comics mini-series ACCELERATE, which was illustrated by the Pander Brothers. He plans to do more comic work in the near future. He has written and spoken about art, culture and technology for Wired, The San Francisco Chronicle, Discovery Online, The Site, SXSW and Wired For Sex on the G4 cable network.
The entire Sandman Slim series—five books as of this July and a sixth on the way—came out of two sentences in two different notebooks. In one notebook I found the line, “Character name: Sandman Slim.” In another book I found, “Hitman from Hell.” That’s all it took to get me interested.
I then had to answer the key question: Who was Sandman Slim, aka James Stark? He was a hitman. Okay, he’s a killer. But what kind? Was he really a mob hitman before being sent to Hell? That seemed kind of boring. How about a reluctant killer? Someone who never killed or hurt anyone before being sent to Hell? And how did he die? Wait. What if he didn’t die? What if he was sent to Hell alive and had to endure Hellion tortures as a living person? That seemed interesting, but how would a regular person survive Hell? What if he wasn’t so ordinary? What if he wasn’t even a man, but someone who thought he was a man? What if he was the worst thing in the universe: a nephilim, half man-half angel, hated by Hell for being more than a man and hated by Heaven for being less than an angel? The last most important question was why, after eleven years stuck in Hell, would he escape now? Maybe because something happened to Alice, the woman he left behind.
Once I had a handle on Stark I began constructing the kind of world he would inhabit. Where would he live? Who would he know? After escaping Hell, how much connection would he have to his old life? How would he find the people who sent to Hell and murdered his girlfriend? What would he do when he found them? I quickly filled a book with a setting notes and backstory.
In a lot of ways, Sandman Slim is a story about last chances. Stark wasted his life before going to Hell, but when he came back he had a chance to make up for that. To stand up for someone who loved him with all his flaws and, reluctantly, to help save the world from destruction.
Sandman Slim was a last chance for me too. I’d been writing books and stories for years, gaining a miniscule audience along the way. Certainly not a big enough audience that would allow me to write full time. Then I wrote what I thought was a simple commercial book—and I couldn’t sell it anywhere. No one wanted it. That’s when I hit the wall. Writing books took me so much time and was so mentally and emotionally exhausting that I knew I couldn’t do it forever when no one would touch the work I wanted to do. So, I sat down and wrote the first hundred pages of Sandman Slim. It was my last chance. If it didn’t sell, I would abandon books and stick to occasional stories.
To my surprise, not only did the book sell but it did well enough that my publisher wanted more. And then a few more. Suddenly, I was writing a series. and people seemed to like it. Maybe because all the failures and half-successes along the way taught me one thing: that I needed to write like myself. In my own voice, on a subject that interested me, and was as violent and funny as I could make it, commercial concerns be damned.
So, here’s Sandman Slim. The story of James Stark’s last chance and mine. I hope you enjoy it.
Book Overview: Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero.
Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.
Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.
Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.
Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.
GIVEAWAY TIME!!! Thank you Richard for the guest post.
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