Richard Kadrey is one busy writer. The New York Times bestselling author released The Getaway God, the sixth book in his urban fantasy series Sandman Slim, earlier this summer, and while he writes the seventh he’s actively consulting with the De Laurentiis company as they bring the series to the big screen.
Sandman Slim draws inspiration from just about everywhere: religion, zombie films, young adult fantasy, western novels. At its heart, though, author Richard Kadrey describes it as a modern version of old American crime writing. Kadrey tells the story of James Stark, a magician who is dragged to hell and comes back seeking vengeance. Along the way, Stark finds himself fighting alongside angels to stop a fellow magician from unleashing a band of demonic creatures on Earth. He may save the day, but make no mistake, Stark’s a true anti-hero through and through.
With a film on the way, many fans are desperate to find out who will be playing the hell-raising protagonist James Stark, but Kadrey isn’t telling. Thankfully, he isn’t shy with the dream casting of other characters: Jean Reno as the immortal alchemist Vidocq, Paul Giamatti as Kasabian’s bodiless head, and the devilishly handsome Idris Elba as Lucifer. Kadrey would cast Beyonce (yes, Queen B herself) as the human Allegra, though he approves of our suggestion of Danai Gurira (Michonne of The Walking Dead) as an alternate.
Though hard details on the upcoming adaptation are hush-hush, Kadrey is feeling good about the people in charge. “I have no fears,” he told Bookish confidently. It’s no surprise that Kadrey is feeling positive about the project, the De Laurentiis company produced Silence of the Lambs and are behind the Hannibal television series. If anyone can tackle Sandman Slim’s mixture of violence, fantasy, and snark, it’s them.
With the film in safe hands, Kadrey is free to focus on taking his series in a slightly different direction. “After you save the universe, you gotta kinda take a step back and be small for a while,” Kadrey jokes. Instead of focusing on powerful gods, Kadrey is using the next two books to dig deeper into the heart of Los Angeles, from fearless gangsters to German occult groups. “I keep calling it my James Ellroy novel because it’s much more grounded in the history of L.A. and L.A. crime rather than gods and devils.” Kadrey describes the writing as fun, but admits needing to watch himself. “All the craziest stuff in the book is based on real people and real groups, and these people I’m writing about have relatives that could still be alive. If I write them the way I want to write them, that could be bad.”
The new direction even includes a slightly tamer Stark. Though Stark comes out guns blazing in the first book, Kadrey hopes the series as a whole shows the “rehabilitation of a monster.” Getaway God shows Stark exerting far more patience than he ever did in Sandman Slim. Kadrey envisions the seventh installment as being less violent than it’s predecessors, though admits that there’s a limit to Stark’s self-control.
With Stark consciously reeling himself in, Kadrey can also focus on letting other characters shine. Eugene Vidocq, Stark’s alchemist friend, is based on a real thief of the same name who is considered to be the father of modern criminology. A fan of intertwining real history and fantasy, Kadrey is itching to dig deeper into this character. “It’s hidden history—the stuff that’s right there in front of you, but it’s not the stuff they taught you in school. That’s the stuff that really attracts me.” Vidocq’s protege, the human Allegra, is another character Kadrey hopes to explore further in the future. He hints at plans for Vidocq’s mysterious past to catch up with him, though isn’t spilling the beans just yet on how or when that will unfold.
Then there’s Candy, a character who took both Stark and Kadrey by surprise. In the first book, Kadrey’s desire to have a vampiric creature led him to creating the Jades (tarantula-like demons). When Stark first met Candy, a Jade attempting rehabilitation, she was meant as a throwaway character, but she quickly charmed not only Stark but his creator. While fans were busy reading, Kadrey has been secretly adding to the Jades’ mythology and will be writing a short story featuring Candy. “Stark’s in there for one page,” he shares. “Then it’s just Candy and the Jades.” Kadrey even credits Candy with Stark’s slow but steady humanization as the series continues.
Will focusing on gangsters rather than gods help tame Stark or merely stoke his temper? Who will De Laurentiis company cast as Sandman Slim? Will Beyonce make an appearance as video store clerk Allegra? Waiting for answers is going to be hell on Earth.