I interviewed Max last summer when he wrote a book for my birthday, and look! he’s been kind enough to do it again! So here’s another interview with everyone’s favorite Max Gladstone, better than all the other Max Gladstones on your block.
1. Are you going to keep writing books for my birthday? I think this is a pretty good tradition.
Let’s make it a tradition! We can have cake and ice cream, maybe a sort of ritual where we dance around and buy books and give them to people! Honestly, it wouldn’t be that different from my current, less formal, but none the less annual ritual of publishing books, then sprinting around and waving my hands over my head saying, “hey, everybody! I think this is really cool!”
2. Is every story about gods about families?
Every story about gods is a story about communities—we’re born into some families and we choose others. Whatever else gods are, they’re at least things people do. We tend to confuse faith with propositional belief, as if the important element of, say, a Roman Republican’s religious life was her belief that these specific gods had these specific histories. For one thing, she had lots of blatantly contradictory stories to choose between! But more important than those mythical propositions, I think, or at the very least *as* important, were the fears and desires she wanted to understand and control, which expressed themselves in myth and ritual she learned, or invented. We all do this. We build ourselves from rituals our parents and friends teach us. We refine those rituals (which are stories, after all) as we pass them on. That’s the work of a family.
3. Nightmare matrices: I think that every former physicist or physics major hears this phrase and goes OH YES. Did that spring into your head fully formed, and do you want to say more about the concept? And is there any more of my undergraduate trauma you’re planning to mine?
Hah! I’d have to engage in further research on your undergraduate trauma specifically, but I spend a lot of time mining *my* undergraduate trauma, and the undergraduate trauma of my friends, for story ideas. That concept did spring into my mind full-formed, though it’s part of this long process of trying to work through how information technology works in the Craft Sequence. We’re basically playing around with the computational power of shared dreams (and shared nightmares). I’m really looking forward to getting into it much earlier.
4. So far you have not repeated any numbers. Do you have plans to do any books that are happening at roughly the same time but in different places/with different characters?
I am really interested in that! A possibility for later in the series. I’m torn at the moment—on the one hand I really want to expand the world, but on the other hand I’m trying to push into the future!
5. Let’s talk about your non-Craft projects. Do you have a different work process for serial and non-serial work, or are you writing your serialized things all at once and just releasing them serially?
I do have a different process for serial fiction! Though the different process mostly traces back to the fact that, with my Serial Box work, I’m writing alongside many other writers at one time. We write sets of episodes in parallel, and then we compare notes. It’s a convoluted dance, but I love seeing how other writers run with the story material—even after we’ve all shared outlines, the writers’ execution differs in wild and really cool ways.
6. You’ve had a few more short pieces out recently. Are you planning to do more, or is this not a plan/lack of plan thing but something that just happens in 1-7K word chunks?
I naturally write longer pieces, but recently I’ve done more short fiction—in part because my writing schedule is tight! If I have a burning idea that *can* be a short story, it’s much easier and more satisfying to get in and out in two or three thousand words than to spend nine months two years from now hammering it into shape.