Tired of the office rut by Monday afternoon? You’re not alone: for Richard Kadrey, Hell is not the dystopian L.A. of his Sandman Slim series so much as a 9-5 job.
Zola: In the series, Satan is kind of the good guy and God has had a nervous breakdown (he’s also been sort of murdered). Has this subversive treatment of Heaven/Hell dynamics gotten you any flack from religious groups?
Richard Kadrey: I’ve been trashed by Christians in some reviews and had them show up at a few book signings. So far I’ve been able to calm the most hostile ones by talking with them one-on-one. I tell them that I respect their point of view, but we’re simply not going to agree on Biblical or pop portrayals of Lucifer or God. In some cases, we’ve ended up shaking hands and they said they’d pray for me. I make it a point to always thank them.
Zola: You paint Hell as a bureaucracy of paperwork. Have you ever had to work an office job?
RK: Many. The last was as the head editor at a successful online company that I won’t mention. The work was tedious and full of gruesome interdepartmental fights. Management varied from capricious to downright hostile. I’ve never seen more miserable people than I have in office jobs, and I’ve worked in warehouses and tarred roofs.
Zola: Sandman Slim, a.k.a. James Stark, really hates Hell but, despite his rather harsh treatment of some of its denizens, his actions reflect a certain sympathy for them. Where does that come from?
RK: Even monsters have a point of view. And pain is universal. In the case of Hellions, Stark feels a certain kinship because he sees that they’ve both been abandoned by an allegedly loving God. Both humans and Hellions have lives based largely around confusion and fear. As Stark puts it, “We’re just bugs on God’s windshield.”
Zola: Otherworldly thrills aside, your series is reminiscent of a Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe mystery–with its West Coast setting and sarcastic lead trying to sleuth out the truth. Are you more of a noir or supernatural fan?
RK: I’m both. And I prefer American thrillers and crime novels to mysteries. I’m more influenced by Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard, and Richard Stark (which is where I stole my protagonist’s name) than I am by Chandler or Hammett. I’m also influenced by fantasy and horror writers such as Clive Barker, Michael Moorcock, and Lovecraft, as well as mainstream writers such as William Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, and Cormac McCarthy.
Zola: If Hell exists, is it really L.A.?
RK: I love LA. If Hell is LA, I’ll fit in just fine.
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.