7 min read

The Max Fun We Could Have

Event with Max Gladstone, interview with Kat Howard, and more
The Max Fun We Could Have
A Cooper’s hawk captured in Pennsylvania by yours truly.

Woo! Summertime! That means sun tea and green stuff! (At least where I am.) It also means grilling ridiculously good sausages. There’s this Quebecois saucissier in Gatineau across the river from Ottawa that has an amazing selection of over sixty sausages. Duck and elk sausage, for example. Whiskey bacon jack. No chicken apple, alas, but there’s apple bacon sausage. Blueberry Boar & Cider Sausage. Rabbit and Hazelnuts. I think Oberon would be happy. Are y’all grilling stuff and enjoying your warm months so far?

I have an interview to share with you conducted by the amazing Kat Howard regarding the forthcoming release of The Hermit Next Door. It’s a story that still makes me think about the choice the narrator makes at the end: Would I make the same decision, if given the opportunity? I honestly still go back and forth on it. Obviously I had the narrator make the choice she did, but she could have easily gone the other way. And some days I agree with her a hundred percent, and others I think, “no way.” The interview appears in Subterranean Press’s newsletter, but I’m reproducing it here for you in its entirety:

It struck me that an ongoing theme in this novella was that of characters transported to new places or living outside of their comfort zones. Was that something you engaged with deliberately? If so, what made you want to explore that?

 Yes, I personally learned so much by leaving home and living in different places. California, Colorado, Canada—all are very different from Arizona, which taught me that there are wildly different ways to live, and so long as we’re able to move, we don’t have to settle for what’s in front of us if we’re not happy. And moving sometimes helps isolate the issue: If you move “someplace better” and things are not actually better, maybe your environment wasn’t the problem. But sometimes it absolutely is the problem; you could be in an area plagued by any number of modern ills, or, like Winne Mae and Pax, you need to escape some rough memories. Living in a new place can be the equivalent of restarting your computer; the glitches are gone and everything works again.

 Another theme that struck me was the idea of grief as a parallel universe. Are there emotional states that you think become like parallel universes for us?

 I absolutely believe you can get stuck in emotional states that have you living in a different reality. There’s plenty of science to back it up too—if you’re depressed or suffering some other kind of brain goblins, you’re not processing input as you normally would. But outside of medical stuff, we can also see cult-like behavior in our everyday politics where large swathes of the population are refusing to acknowledge facts and are absolutely living in a different universe.

 Turns out that I explore grief quite a bit in my work—it’s in everything, but most prominently in the Seven Kennings. I didn’t start my career thinking I’d be doing such a deep dive on one emotion, but after a dozen books I looked back and said, “Huh. Guess I had some things to work through there.”

 If you were going to live in an ideal parallel universe, what would it be like?

 Bodily autonomy. No fossil fuels. No corporations. Health care, housing, and education as human rights. And if I could have a talking capybara friend, that would be rad. We’d sit in the spa together and chill, and go get lunch from a (solar powered) taco truck down the street. The taco truck would have spicy veggie tacos for the capybara. We’d talk about comic books and how Denethor eating a tomato was somehow more emotionally devastating than all the battle scenes in Return of the King.

 I know from social media that you have an interest in nature photography. How did you get into that? Does that interest influence your writing?

 I’ve always been interested in nature and distressed about how we’re wrecking it—regardless of the series, my work often has an environmental theme or two running through it. But the photography itself became a thing to get me out of the house and away from the keyboard for a while, which has its own benefits and tends to recast online dramas as not that big a deal. The planet gives you perspective. I have Chuck Wendig to thank for getting me into it; now my mom is too, and we often go birding together. I think it helps my writing because it refills my well of wonder at being alive. Keeps me grateful too.

 One of your characters collects paintings from a particular school of art. If you were going to collect visual art (or maybe you already do?), what artists or artworks would you be drawn to?

 I really do love the Hudson River School—Thomas Cole is a favorite—but there’s some modern pop stuff where folks paint people and animals in very bright colors, perhaps you’ve seen it? Those paintings give me joy whenever I look at them, so I’d probably go that route. Also watercolors!

 One of your characters is, shall we say, not from around here. What are some of your favorite books that involve alien or nonhuman characters in a mostly human environment?

Going a bit old-school here and saying A Call to Arms by Alan Dean Foster. An alien collective finds humanity and enlists its aid—clandestinely—to fight in a galactic war against another alien collective. Humans are viewed as hopelessly primitive but ridiculously effective fighters. We change the tide of the war. And the protagonist keeps trying to change the aliens’ minds and say, no, no, we’re civilized, look at our art and listen to our music! We write a lot of books! Meanwhile, humans just kick all the ass once they’re placed on a battlefield and given a gun. A poignant examination of humanity’s beauties and horrors seen through the eyes of outsiders. And the cover art is over-the-top.

Are there any other projects that you’d like to draw our readers’ attention to?

Yes! Right now folks can grab Canines & Cocktails, a wee collection of novellas about dogs and drinks. Chuck Wendig and Delilah S. Dawson join me with stories from their respective literary universes, while my novella is a cozy mystery narrated by Oberon the Irish wolfhound from the Iron Druid Chronicles. It’s called The Chartreuse Chanteuse, and it’s set right after the events of Paper & Blood. For fans of Atticus O’Sullivan who have long wished for a happy ending, this is it. And later this year, after The Hermit Next Door, I’ll have my third Ink & Sigil novel coming out, called Candle & Crow, which folks can preorder now. It resolves not only the Ink & Sigil storylines, but we get final farewells to the Iron Druid characters as well.

The Hermit Next Door is out on June 30 in ebook, and you can preorder now wherever you like to get your ebooks—it’s cheap at $4.99! Originally the signed and numbered print edition was supposed to come out June 30 as well, but due to scheduling shenanigans at the printer, it won’t be out until July 17. You can preorder that too! Somewhere in between the ebook release and the print release—early July—the audiobook will appear. The audiobook has different cover art, but I promise it’s the same story! Here’s what they look like:

Also out now from Subterranean: The hardcover limited edition of STAKED, book 8 in the Iron Druid Chronicles. The cover art features the climactic battle on the Spanish Steps in Rome, and you see not only Atticus but Granuaile and Owen there. I love it! These editions are so gorgeous—they’re signed and numbered too—and the interior art is stunning as well.

Last month I told y’all I’d be in Beverly, Massachusetts, for the paperback release of A Curse of Krakens, and I’d be joined by a very special guest. I can announce who that is now—and also amend the event time because it changed! (Same place and date, just a different time.) It’s Max Gladstone, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-authored with Amal El-Mohtar) and many more novels besides! If you haven’t heard of Max before, it’s a great time to get acquainted, because he’s brilliant.

So here’s the deal: The event is July 23 at 7 pm at Copper Dog Books. We’ll sign anything, no limits, so come see us if you can. And if you can’t, we’ll also sign anything, no limits, to be shipped to you, just contact Copper Dog now to preorder whatever you want (like A Curse of Krakens) and we’ll sign it on July 23.

BEFORE the event, at 5 pm, we’ll be two blocks up the street at an Irish pub called The Indo. We’ll try the fish and chips and would be happy to chat with you if you’d like to drop by and raise a glass. So we hope to see you or a duly assigned minion next month!

What I’m Reading

I’m reading MAX STUFF because, you know. I’m seeing Max next month.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

This is a novella that has become so popular that snippets from it are used in wedding ceremonies and sometimes as pickup lines. I’ve already read it but I’m reading it again, as many people do, because it’s that gorgeous. Also: It won, like, all the awards.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Three Parts Dead

This is the first book of the Craft Sequence, a fabulous series by Max. MAGIC LAWYERS. I mean. How cool? But lots of ideas too: How do we build a just society? What happens to people suffering a crisis of faith?

Three Parts Dead