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Posts Tagged ‘three parts dead’

How To Convince Your Friends to Read My Books

I’ve frequently had fans (I have fans!) tell me “I love your books but I have a hard time explaining them to people.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this!  My books aren’t much like what people picture in their minds when they think “fantasy novel.”  I have skyscrapers and deathless kings and law wizards and offshore banking and jet pack dragonflies and zombie field labor and water utilities and all sorts of crazy stuff.  I wrote the Craft Sequence in part because I had ideas I didn’t remember seeing before, and I wanted to get those ideas out of my head so they could nest in other peoples’ brains and remake all their gray matter into juicy gooey Idea Stuff, I mean, um, hold on a second, I wasn’t supposed to write that out loud, I’m sure I left my notes around here somewhere.

Whenever I hear a fan say that sentence, though, I get a touch nervous—because in publishing you hear over and over again that “word of mouth sells books.”  Word of mouth is only part of the story, of course: money spent on good marketing sells books, innovative approaches to distribution sell books, booksellers sell books, etc.  But word of mouth does, certainly, work.  Now, the Craft Sequence is selling well.  It’s just that, if readers have trouble explaining to people what this book they’re excited about is, it might be harder for them to convince other people who’d like the books to read them!

Fortunately, I’ve given a lot of thought to this issue.  Fact is, back when Three Parts Dead first hit stands I spent hours pacing back and forth debating what I’d say when someone asked, “what’s your book about?”  I have one-line pitches and thematic notes.  I can talk about my books in front of a room of people and walk out with them excited.

So, at the risk of sounding like a goof—and why should that phase me, I write books with wizards in them?—let me share the stuff I say.


Basic: I say some version of this sentence at least once in every panel: “The Craft Sequence books are set in a postindustrial fantasyland: gods with shareholders’ committees, necromancers in pinstriped suits, and soulstuff as currency.”

For Law, Finance, or Business People: “It’s your job, only with wizards.”

For Hardcore Genre People: “Phoenix Wright (or Wolfram & Hart, or whatever your favorite legal reference is) meets The Dragons of Babel.”

For People Who Communicate Solely in Hollywood-esuqe X-Meets-Y Elevator Pitches: “It’s LA Law with wizards.”  (Or “meets Harry Potter,” for those with a more severe case of the condition.)

For Magic: the Gathering people: “It’s what would happen if House Dimir controlled the Azorius Senate.”

For People Who Dig On Theory: “Late-millennial market capitalism envisioned as a soul-siphoning necrocracy.”

Bonus: io9 compared the books to secondary world cyberpunk fantasy, which is pretty damn cool.


So far, none of my books has had a straight white male protagonist; the lead in my most recent book is transgendered.  I’m writing a world here; it’d be a damn limited one if all my characters looked, spoke, screwed, and identified like me.


Three Parts Dead

Basic — “A junior associate at an international necromancy firm is hired to resurrect a dead god.”  (Bonus points: this is the pitch that actually found me an agent!)

For Law, Finance, or Business People: “It’s about bankruptcy law, only the entity in bankruptcy protection is a dead god, and the attorneys are necromancers.”

Two Serpents Rise

For people who’ve seen Chinatown: “Dammit, Jake, it’s fantasyland.”

For people who haven’t seen Chinatown: “A risk manager for an undead utilities magnate tracks down terrorists poisoning his city’s water.”

(Also, politely invite them to a screening of Chinatown, unless of course either of you has a moral objection to Roman Polanski.  And honestly, if your only exposure to California water issues is Chinatown, you owe it to yourself to read more.  The early chapters of Cadillac Desert are a good start.)

Full Fathom Five

Basic — “There’s this island where they build gods to order—but the gods are dying, and a priestess wants to find out why.”

For LFB people — “Offshore banking as a professional mystery cult.  Plus there’s a really funny bit in here about The Economist.”

For Theology and Philosophy people — “There’s a long argument about creation myths and existentialism in the heart of an extinct volcano during a break-in.”

Choice of the Deathless

Honestly, this one seems to take care of itself.  “Interactive necromantic legal thriller—you’re not the bad guy, you’re just his lawyer!”  In the form of a Lone Wolf-style interactive choose-your-own adventure.


I’ve written screenplay-format trailers for Two Serpents Rise and Full Fathom Five.  Maybe these will be helpful to you, maybe not!


The covers themselves are excellent: here’s Three Parts DeadTwo Serpents Rise, and Full Fathom Five.

So there you go!  I don’t know if this will be helpful at all.  Regardless, now the resource exists!  I may add to this over  time.

In other news—the Ghostbusters post escalated quickly!  Among other things, there was a great conversation about it over at Metafilter—including an excellent post by Charles Stross on Lovecraft.  Stross observes that my representation of Lovecraft’s worldview along Apollonian / Dionysian lines doesn’t include HPL’s materialistic shock as a writer working at the moment science revealed the world to be much bigger, older, and more complicated than we’d ever thought before.  Go check out that conversation.

Also, there’s a good chance I’ll be blogging more frequently over at Tor.com in the near future!  Never fear—I’ll not leave you in the lurch.  My Big Scheme is to post a little more multimedia content on this site as compensation, although I’m not sure what that would look like.

One Year behind the Keyboard

It’s been a TARDIS of a year: fast-moving, far-traveling, yet much bigger on the inside than I would have expected back in Jan of ’13.

Three Parts Dead came out a little over a year ago; I didn’t know what to expect, and like a genius started writing my next book the day before Three Parts Dead hit shelves.  Because Essays!  Travel!  Reviews!  and Airplanes! are all perfectly conducive to the germination of a novel.  I put fingers to keyboard, sure, but I threw out the first 20,000 words I wrote, and the next 20,000 too.  But the third 20,000—those stayed up.

Mostly.  I still deleted half of those and added another 10,000 or so, but the point is, they worked for a start.  The ensuing book was one of the hardest drafts of my life, but  eight revisions later, I think it’s the best book I’ve written yet.  Different, but then, so’s everything.

Meanwhile Three Parts Dead was very well received, for which thank you all.  The book was nominated (or got me nominated) for a few awards, including the John W. “NOT A HUGO” Campbell Award; I thought I’d been to cons before but there’s no con quite like WorldCon.  I can’t wait to go back this year.

(Three Parts Dead, by the way, is now $2.99 on various e-Book stores—if you’ve wanted a copy for the e-reader of your choice, no time like the present!)

So, yeah.  Tours.  Awards.  Two Serpents Rise hit shelves back in late October, and people seem to like it as much as Three Parts Dead.  Excellent.

In terms of creative productivity, last year I wrote a bunch of stuff:

  • The next Craft Sequence novel, Full Fathom Five, coming July 2014.
  • The Craft Sequence novel after that, which I’m tentatively calling Last First Snow—this one isn’t under contract from Tor yet, which is completely fair since they have two unpublished books of mine under contract.  But I’m really excited about Last First Snow, and can’t wait to share more of the plot with you.  It’s a return to Dresediel Lex, yes, but to the DL of the past.
  • Choice of the Deathless, a novel-length choose-your-own-path type text adventure game available for iOS, Android, the Kindle Store, the Chrome Store etc. etc.  Reviews for this one have been very positive, and the title’s been a bestseller for the publisher.  If you haven’t played this yet, it’s only $2.99—follow this link to find the game on your platform of your choice.

I also wrote a number of blog posts, including this one about how the humans of Star Wars are actually ginormous bees.  I even received threats of fanfic written in Giant Bee Star Wars Universe.  No such fanfic has materialized, but I go to sleep every night with my fingers crossed.

‘Tis the season to make long lists, so let’s talk standout artistic experiences from 2013.  (If you don’t really care what art I spent this year consuming, just skip to the bold text at the top of the next paragraph!)  I wrote a lot this year, which means I spent a lot of time listening to music, specifically stuff with beat and without intelligible lyrics.  Nomad, by Tuareg guitarist Bombino, was a huge help; I wrote an entire novel while listening to Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for The Fountain.  Not to mention the Pacific Rim soundtrack—perfect for fight scenes.  As for video games, 2013 was the year I became a Mass Effect-er (approved term?), and also the year in which I started forcing people to play through the first 20 minutes of Saints Row IV, because fun.  I played catchup on reading for much of 2013: Wolf Hall, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Witches Abroad, Bleeding Edge (in which Thomas Pynchon decides that Neal Stephenson’s been horning in on his territory enough and decides to horn back).  Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts is the Mongolian fantasy novel that I’m so glad exists , and I have no idea how I’d never read Barry Hugharty’s Bridge of Birds before.  Movies and TV…  Well, if I pretended I knew what I was talking about in this realm I’d look like an idiot.  I saw the first episode of Breaking Bad over Christmas?  Um.  Oh, and I loved Iron Man 3, in which Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Shane Black fused with A Long Kiss Goodnight Shane Black and absorbed some superhero DNA.  And The Raid, oh my god.  Comics-wise—if you like comics and you’re not reading Hawkeye and Saga and Chew, please, why?  Do you have a reason?  You should have a reason.

So that’s enough plugging.  Here comes 2014!  What does that mean for me?  A few convention appearances, on which more soon.  I’ve spent the last two days breaking story for a self-contained novel and am STOKED—both by the novel and by the breaking process.  After I write that book I have another Craft book in mind (really I have another 10 or so Craft books in mind, but one’s front-runner), and Choice of Games is interested in another game from me.  I have a comic project inching toward completion, and I really would like to try my hand at a screenplay this year, to stretch my legs.  With luck this’ll be a growth year for me.  I’d cross my fingers but they’re still crossed for Star Wars Bee fanfic.

And speaking of growth, I’ve been debating what to do on this site.  I’ve tried  many times to adopt a 3x or 5x/week posting regimen, and what tends to happen is: I start, I’m going strong for a week or three, and then I disappear for several months until I return for some crazy neat announcement.  This is a Bad Practice.  Not fair to y’all, really, and psychologically problematic for me, since I keep thinking “damn Gladstone you should post something to your blog” at inopportune times, like in the middle of a fencing bout, while cooking dinner, or—and this is the real killer—while I’m trying to write a book.  That ‘post’ button hangs overhead like the Sword of Damocles, which is not comfortmaking.  So here’s my plan.  This year, I’m going to post on my blog once a week.  Every Wednesday afternoon, I’ll have something here.  Might be a cool essay.  Might be an announcement.  Might be a video.  Might be a magic trick.  (Probably won’t be a magic trick.)  I’ll have ’em up noonish, so you can go watch the week’s Zero Punctuation, then drop on by.  That way you get stuff to read, and I can use this blog as an outlet for everything I think about that isn’t wizard-lawyer-related, while at the same time robbing the “Max you really should post something to your blog” gremlin of its guilt-ammo.  Gremlins are helpless without their ammo.

So that’s me, and that was 2013.  Awesome year.  Thanks to everyone who moved through it with me.  And—onward into the new era!

Choice of the Deathless—in time for Christmas!

UPDATE: The game is out!  Download it here!

Unlike MC Lars, I have not been touring everywhere  to give this world joy.  To the contrary, I’ve stayed put with my nose to the grindstone for joy-generation purposes.  It’s been a fun grind though and fortunately I have nose to spare.

Here’s why I’m excited: this Friday we launch  Choice of the Deathless, the Craft Sequence adventure game.  Take on the role of a young Craftswoman or Craftsman in Tara’s world!  Deal with demons!  Depose gods!  Make partner!  Pay off your student loans!  If you dare.


This is your chance to see how the undead half lives.  I mean, it is technically possible to make it through the game without becoming an undead skeleton wizard, but why on earth would you want to?  You might miss glandular emotion a little, but let’s be honest here.  Unstoppable law-lich or fleshy human being with a chance of achieving love and redemption?  I know which I’d choose.

Especially since skeletons can still drink coffee.

Some specifics: this is a text-based choose-your-own-path adventure of the “You wake up naked in a trackless desert with a hangover.  You: (a) hunt for water (b) arrange stones into the shape of an S.O.S. (c) Call upon the Dark Gods and sell your soul for passage to safety (d) wait can you run option c by me again?” variety.  Each choice you make affects your character’s statistics, which are then checked to determine success or failure.  Some of you may remember game books in the Lone Wolf style—this is sort of in that vein only with necromancer lawyers.

The game goes live Friday, and don’t worry, you’ll be hearing plenty about it from me on that day.  But I wanted to give y’all a heads-up.  If you want an email reminder, may I suggest my (very infrequently used) mailing list, or the more commonly updated but less Max-specific list over at Choice of Games?

Some other news:

  • For those of you who want a more Tabletop-friendly game experience, I have good news.  A couple weeks ago at Anonycon in Connecticut we ran a number of Craft Sequence tabletop games, in Dogs in the Vinyard, Fate, and D&D Next.  Excellent times were had by all.  I should have some system-agnostic information about how to game in the Craft Sequence soonish, once I figure out the best way to represent the Craft itself…
  • Tabitha of My Shelf Confessions loved Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise—and today she finally succeeded in tying me up for an interview.  Read our chat-slash-torture session over on My Shelf Confessions!
  • SIGNED BOOKS: If you want a signed copy of Three Parts Dead or Two Serpents Rise, but didn’t make it to any of the signings, you’re in luck!  I’m working with Porter Square Books to sign books by mail-order—order from them and we’ll make sure a signed copy gets your way!

That’s it for now—but I’ll be back in the near future.  I have more chaos to inflict.  I mean.  Um.  News!  News.  I have more news to… provide.  Possibly.  Also chaos.


Greetings human beings from Planet Getting Ready For Book Launch, where we spend our days listening to Vienna Teng and Cake as we prepare for our book to come out NEXT TUESDAY AAAAH.

I am compiling schemes with regard to the plans I mentioned yesterday for Two Serpents Rise giveaways—expect more on that when I’ve assembled a sufficient lead time on my various guestblog posts and interviews.  In the meantime, I thought I’d fill y’all in on signing plans for TWO SERPENTS RISE, and announce an awesome sale Tor’s running for the rest of the month.


  • Tuesday, October 29: LAUNCH PARTY at Pandemonium Books and Games, 4 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA, 7:00 PM!  Come say hello, have a pastry, hear me read, recommend me books, grill me about magic systems, discuss your favorite Star Wars theories, communicate with me in Hawkguy-creepy-Russian-speak (basically you just say bro a lot), have a great time!
  • Tuesday, November 5: Reddit AMA at r/fantasy!  I did one of these super question-and-answer sessions last year, and it was a blast.  I look forward to even more blasting.
  • Saturday, November 9: New York City Signing at Enigma Bookstore, 33-17 Crescent Street, Astoria, New York, 7:00 PM!  I am informed that Astoria is actually within New York City, even though it’s not within New York County, which—awesome!  I’ll be signing with some other folks here—Laura Ann Gilman and Hal Johnson—and we should have an excellent time.
  • Tuesday, November 19: Signing at Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA, 7:00 PM! Back in the habit, just like Sister Act 2.  Readings.  Signings.  Possible performance art!  Probably no performance art.  But still, not an event to miss.
  • December 6-8: Anonycon in Stamford, CT.  Last year we ran a game based in the Craft Sequence world.  This year, possibly more games?  Also I’ll be there writing and hanging out and signing books, so come and say hi!

More madness will transpire throughout the next several weeks, but those are the in-person and / or live highlights.  However!  You may be interested to know, in case you didn’t already, that in preparation for the TWO SERPENTS RISE launch, Tor Books has cut prices on THREE PARTS DEAD ebooks down to $2.99 for the rest of the month of October.  Always wanted an electronic copy?  Get one now!  Available wherever fine ebooks are sold!  For example, available on Barnes and Noble! iBookstore! Those Guys Named After The River!  Other places too, I’m sure.

Time to run, but rock on folks!

ComicCon Panel Today, Signing Tomorrow!

I’ve been an absentee blogger for the last couple weeks, I know, but it’s been for a good cause.  If all goes according to plan I’ll have an Exciting Announcement or two in a few weeks.

Today, I break radio silence because I want to fill you all in on my New York Comic Con schedule.  Read on!

Myth and Magic in the City

Today (Friday Oct. 11), 2:45PM, Room 1A17

Speakers: Anna Jarzab, Anton Strout, F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Hirsch, Max Gladstone (that’s me!), Benedict Jacka, Tonya Hurley

What’s the deal: Alternate histories, parallel worlds, mages and saints shape modern day fantasy and new legends in the making. Join Max Gladstone (Two Serpents Rise), Anna Jarzab (Tandem), Jeff Hirsch (The Eleventh Plague), Anton Strout (Stonecast), Benedict Jacka (Chosen) and Tonya Hurley (Precious Blood) as they discuss the art of writing Urban Fantasy with F. Paul Wilson (Dark City), one of the originals of the genre.

(This’ll be interesting!  Once again it looks like I’m on the borderline, with Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise both set in fantasyland circa late-millennial capitalism rather than in, say, Kansas City with fantasy elements.  Should make for a great discussion.)

Also today (Friday Oct. 11), 4PM, Autographing Table 21

Right after the UF panel, everyone runs over and signs books at Autographing Table 21!

TOMORROW (Saturday Oct. 12), 5PM, Tor Books, Booth #2223

SIGNING (AND FREE BOOKS!) With me, myself, and I.

Tor has copies of Three Parts Dead, and we should have a few early finished copies of Two Serpents Rise for giveaway.  Come by, say hello, and let me scribble on your stuff!

Okay, I need to eat breakfast and then run off to this madhouse convention, but rock on, team internet, and I’ll see you soon.

Romantic Times Loves Two Serpents Rise. Also, xo Orpheus Anthology launches today!

xo Orpheus launches today!  If you liked my story Drona’s Death—about fatherhood, war, gods, and close air support—check out the other myths re-imagined and reconfigured in this anthology.  I’m here, Kit Reed is here, Brian Aldiss is here, Emma and Peter Straub are here, Madeline Miller’s here—august company.

On a related note, Romantic Times Book Reviews (reviewers of basically all genres in addition to romance) gave Two Serpents Rise four and a half stars—their highest rating!  (The story behind why Romantic Times doesn’t give out five star ratings is pretty awesome, and can be found here.)

According to RT Book Reviews:

Newcomers and fans of the series alike will enjoy the mystery, demon-caused mayhem, and fast-moving plot in this stellar, engaging read.

I hope you’re not surprised that this book contains mayhem.  Minor spoilers, I suppose.


TWO SERPENTS RISE Cover Reveal and Details!

It’s been an insane week, so why not make it a little madder?  Yesterday I received the final cover for Two Serpents Rise from Tor, and now it’s time to share!


2SR Cover


Once again, Chris McGrath’s cover does not disappoint.  Pyramids and stone carvings and a city in the background, cards and snappy suits, and Caleb.

Two Serpents Rise is set in the same corporate fantasy world as Three Parts Dead, but it features a new cadre of characters, in a new city.  Alt Coulumb was a city living with its god, and shocked by His death.  By contrast, the citizens of Dresediel Lex rebelled against their pantheon sixty years ago in the God Wars, and killed most of them—only to find that after you depose the gods, you have to take their place.

I’m excited about Two Serpents Rise for a lot of reasons.  It fleshes out the consequences of the God Wars, and shows people living with their scars.  We see the world the Craftsmen built and struggle to maintain, and discover how it feels to live there.  More politics, more necromancy, more demons, more intergenerational strife, more magic, more revolution, more class dynamics, more love (or something like it).  Late millennial capitalism never looked so much like human sacrifice.

Initial buzz is really positive.  Publishers Weekly gave Two Serpents Rise a starred review:

“Gladstone outdoes himself in this exciting and imaginative return to the brilliantly realized world of Three Parts Dead.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

And Locus devoted a whole quarter-page to their review, which puts me in some elevated company.

“The advantage that the best science fiction can give you as a reader is to teach you how to fall into an unfamiliar world.  You learn how to give your trust over to the author … [and] the author will reward that trust.

Heinlein was great at this… Banks’ Culture books did this, as did Tolkein.  Either the reader could accept the ambiguity, or not.  Those that could were richly rewarded.

Max Gladstone excels at this.  Two Serpents Rise drops us in Dresediel Lex, a city where the residents act like we do—the main character isn’t a mighty warrior but a risk manager for a corporation—but the ground rules are changed… Then stuff gets weird in the best ways. …

[Cutting some plot info]

For those who can hand Gladstone the reins, a rich, compelling ride is in store.  No, it’s not a typical transparent fantasy quest story, but is, instead, a satisfying story that muses about environmental catastrophes, troubling father-son relationships, and corporate mergers.” – Locus

Here’s the back-cover copy:

Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc — casual gambler and professional risk manager — to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father — the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists — has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire… and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.

I am excited, folks.  Less than two months to go!  Mark your calendars for October 29!  And get your preorders in gear at AmazonPowell’s, BN, or some other retailer of your preference.

And in the meantime, looks like we’re giving away a few copies at Goodreads—so get on that if you want free books!

Three Parts Dead in Paperback Today!

So you know how it is: you come back from Comic Con, reeling, because you’ve just spent 72 hours solid with 150,000 of your closest friends, and you retreat into editing your manuscript since you don’t actually have all that much time left to edit your manuscript and you’re completely socialled out.  And then you wake up on Tuesday and do the same thing, only to realize around noon that, wait a second, when was your paperback launch date again?

Check it out, guys.  I’m a paperback writer.

If this is your first visit to the site, hi!  Three Parts Dead got me nominated for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and a lot of people have been saying nice things about it (including io9, ThinkProgress, Strange Horizons, All Things UF, and others).

The paperback release is a big personal milestone, as I think I’ve mentioned before.  When I was a kid, I didn’t read in hardcover.  I discovered science fiction and fantasy through paperbacks, and when I got around to buying my own books, I didn’t have much money to go around, which meant paperbacks and the library.  The hardcover release of Three Parts Dead gave me a little frission for that reason—I wrote a book I would have loved to find when I was buying books out of my pizza money, but I couldn’t see how Teenage Max would have discovered the book I wrote.  Well, it’s out there now.  Enjoy, Teenage Max!  (And other readers, too!)

On a somewhat related note, The Ranting Dragon asked me to nominate a book in their search / contest to identify The Great Fantasy Novel.  I wrote about what that means, and why A Wizard of Earthsea is the obvious choice—read it here.


Paperback Writer! Also post-Readercon catchup!

Today is run-around-getting-ready-for-the-big-tour day, but I wanted to take a second first to say how great a time at Readercon.  Granted, I slunk home on Sunday after having slept only a few hours, and promptly sought out the coolest, darkest place I could find, but man was that con fun.  Times like these I wish I was more of a photo-junkie—instead I end up wishing I could describe five-hour wine-fuelled conversations about books & storytelling & general madness, the description of which, while possible, would involve me sitting here until we were both entirely confused.  One of the best parts of these cons is the ability to hang in person with folks I know primarily through the internet.  Bodies and voices are better than phosphors about 99% of the time, give or take a percentage point.

How good was this year’s con?  Well, it should tell you something that the Irish pub was closed and we still had an awesome time.

On another note, Monday afternoon I checked our mail and found the following giant package waiting:

These paperbacks look awesome, folks.  Here’s a shot of the back cover, with rocking quotes from John Crowley, Jim Morrow, io9, and Felicia Day:

This is a big milestone for me.  When I was a kid, I didn’t get hardcover books—I only had so much money from the pizza place, and one night’s check could buy me maybe three quarters of a hardcover, or three paperbacks.  This is the point at which my childhood self would have bought my book, and he, finally, feels gratified.

Also, well, there’s this:

About the Craft Sequence and the Sequel to Three Parts Dead

In the eight months since Three Parts Dead hit stores, I’ve seen a lot of people wonder if the book was part of a series.  I’ve answered this question in readings and in person, but as I was reading through some material about Two Serpents Rise, and contemplating the Three Parts Dead paperback launch this next month, I realized I’d never discussed the issue on the blog before.  So!  Here we are.

Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise (and Five Eyes Break for that matter, plus the other book of which I just finished a first draft) all take place in the same universe, on the same planet, in the same timeline.  Characters, organizations, and universal properties (like the way the Craft works, or the soulstuff economy) in one book exist in every book.  Sometimes books will have a lot to do with one another, or have a direct causal connection.  Sometimes books will share very few characters, or be connected only by more-or-less continuous spacetime.

If I do my job right, a new reader should be able to read each book on its own, but readers who have read more books will understand more about the world and the context for the actions they describe.

Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise, for example, take place in different cities at different points in time.  Two Serpents Rise (which Publishers Weekly really likes by the way, starred review, “Gladstone has outdone himself,” so that’s cool!) is set a short time before Three Parts Dead, in a city called Dresediel Lex, across the continent from Alt Coulumb.  There aren’t any characters obviously in common between the two books (though the King in Red, who killed Seril in the God Wars, is a central character in this story), but their plots are relevant to one another for reasons that will become clear in the third book and beyond.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is an obvious inspiration here.  I love the scope of the Disc, and the freedom Pratchett has within it to tell stories that mean something to him and his readers without having to squeeze characters into plots that don’t fit.  There can be more than one interesting event happening on a planet at any given moment, and these events don’t necessarily have anything to do with one another or with the same band of plucky heroes who always happen to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time.  I also love the feeling of writing in a shared universe, like Khazan in the old Fantasy Powers League where I used to write fic: stories sparking off in all directions, and occasionally reconnecting.  I guess you might say that I’m sharing the Craft Sequence with myself.  (Nobody ever accused writers of not being solipsists I guess.  I can only hope I’m as cool a solipsist as, Baccano! spoiler warning, Clare Stanfield.)

Currently, I’m using numbers in the titles to indicate where the books fall on the timeline relative to one another.  Two Serpents Rise is a bit before Three Parts Dead, but only a bit; Five Eyes Break (again, tentative title) is a few years after.  I’m planning to write a direct sequel to Three Parts Dead continuing the specific story of Tara and Abelard from the first book; some characters from both the first two books show up in the third.

As for overplot, arch-villains, and so forth, all I have to say is RAFO.

So that’s the major thing.  I still owe you folks detailed information about Two Serpents Rise—it’s coming, don’t worry.  I do have one question: I’ve been thinking about hosting this information, bio details on characters, and some other frequently asked questions, in its own section on the website.  What do you want to know more about?