INTERVIEW: RICHARD KADREY
What makes a story a story for you?
It's a question of compulsion. Like most writers, I have a million ideas, but the ones that get written are the ones that won't get out of my head. These stories have some juice, some twisted extra-literary element that I can never identify until I've written them.
Do you have any tips on how to keep going on a writing project once you've begun? Do you keep some sort of writing schedule? Would you recommend it?
If you can keep to a schedule, it's the best thing you can do. Make starting to write ordinary, commonplace. If you have rituals around writing, do them (sharpening pencils, writing a letter beforehand, whatever). Schedules and rituals will help get you past the hyper-critical, self-conscious part of your mind.
In a novel like Kamikaze L'Amour, you create a rich interaction between character and setting, using one to bring out the other. Could you talk about how and why you did that?
I'm an absolutist in this: setting is character. This works in two ways. One, considering the setting itself as another character who walks, talks and has desires. Letting the setting have its own opinions will allow the story to surprise you.
Two, setting is a key to the human characters. There's a reason everyone ends up where they are, whether it's a rainforest, sneaking into a girls dorm, scaling the walls of Versailles on Xmas Eve or creeping along a collapsing road in the Himalayan foothills (I've been all those places and there were always reasons, though some were better than others . . .).
What sort of advice do you wish someone had given you when you were just starting out as a writer?
Getting published is only a tiny part of the process. Writing is something you'll do for the rest of your life. A career will take longer, much longer than you think, to establish. Keep your day job. Write what you want. Few people are going to pay you enough to make it worth your time to write shit.
Your style is crisp, clean, yet richly metaphoric. Can you talk a little about your sentence-writing process?
I'm obsessive about my fiction prose and never, never satisfied with it. I want every word to do several jobs: to carry information and images, to convey poetry/rhythm and to kick the whole damned mess forward. I rewrite obsessively on a sentence level. Turn sentences around, inside out and backwards. But I try to keep my word choices simple. The thesaurus is not your friend. It can be useful, but like a snake you milk for its medicinal venom, you'd better approach the thesaurus with thick gloves and a stick.
RICHARD KADREY is the author of several books, including Sandman Slim, Metrophage, Butcher Bird and the novel Kamikaze L'Amour. He also created and wrote the Vertigo comics mini-series ACCELERATE. This interview first appeared in Rebel Yell (1998).