San Francisco-based author Richard Kadrey just released his fifth book of his Sandman Slim series, “Kill City Blues.” The series follows the story of James Stark, who lives in Los Angeles after leaving his former home — Hell.
Kadrey will hold a discussion today at Flyleaf Books. He spoke with Staff Writer Gabriella Cirelli about his newest addition to the series.
Daily Tar Heel: Can you tell me a little bit about the book?
Richard Kadrey: It’s the fifth book in the Sandman Slim series, called “Kill City Blues.” Basically, it is about this guy named James Stark, who I took out of Hollywood — his comfort zone and where he has spent a lot of time — and relocated him somewhere where he wouldn’t be happy, which ended up being Santa Monica at the beach and in a shopping mall.
But the shopping mall is a really evil one, full of ghosts and supernatural beings, and it was supposed to be the biggest in the country, but while it was being built, half of it collapsed and killed most of the construction workers, which is why it’s now called Kill City. Stark is looking for a supernatural weapon to fight a set of old gods who used to rule the universe and are headed back, and that weapon is located somewhere in Kill City.
DTH: What was the inspiration behind it?
RK: I really wanted to do a haunted house book, but I hate haunted houses. So I thought about what could be interesting and decided to make it into a shopping mall. Los Angeles is a city of malls — it’s one of the signatures of the place — they have both mini malls and giant shopping centers, so it seemed like a logical place for me.
It’s also great because it allowed me to play around with consumer culture, which is very different from typical haunted house stories.
DTH: How are you hoping this will progress your series?
RK: This book, which is the fifth in the series, is hopefully going to be the set-up for the final confrontation between Stark, his allies and the old Gods that are coming. I wanted the book to stand on its own and be entertaining as well, though.
Stark has spent so much time in his comfort zone in Hollywood and central Los Angeles, so I wanted to get him out of his comfort zone to a place where he doesn’t have as much power as he usually does — I wanted to weaken him a little in this book. Especially with fantasy and science fiction works, there’s this tradition as a series goes on where the hero accumulates more and more power until he or she becomes almost omnipotent.
I’ve hurt (Stark) a bit with these things that happen that have never happened before, which shows his vulnerability.
DTH: What is enjoyable about writing fantasy stories?
RK: You get to play with archetypes and mythology and fairytales a lot, and in my case, religion. A lot of what’s in my Sandman Slim series is based on playing with Christian ideas of God and the universe, and kind of dismantling those ideas along the way and reconstructing them in what I hope is a new and interesting way.
Lucifer has been a major character in the books, and as the story progressed, Stark was Lucifer for a while. God has also become a character on-and-off — he sort of appeared out of nowhere in one book and then became a regular — like Norm in “Cheers.”
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