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INTERVIEW | David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

I've always had a penchant towards thieves in Fantasy. From Robin Hood and my old days playing DnD all the way up to Lynch's Locke Lamora and Hulicks' Drothe, thieves have always come across as great characters because they often fight with themselves about what to do and just happen to get in scrap after scrap. So I was immediately drawn to David Tallerman's very fun debut Giant Thief from Angry Robot in late January. Tallerman has been busily writing short stories for a few years having his work published in Lightspeed,  Bull Spec, and many other places, but it was the first line in Giant Thief that really drew me in and wouldn't let me put the book down.


MH: Thanks for joining us today David. To begin can you tell us a little about yourself and your road to becoming an author? You've published quite a bit of short fiction over the last 4 years, but Giant Thief is your debut novel. Did Giant Thief have its origins in any short story in particular?

DT: I'd been talking about wanting to be a writer since I was in my teens, but six or seven years ago it sank in that it had to be a lot more more than talk. I'd spent maybe five years writing a book I knew would never sell (and which no one will ever read!) and I finally realised writing was too important to me to treat that way. I wanted to write stories I liked and cared about, I wanted to work towards a point where doing that was more or less my life, and I finally felt like I was willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen.

I had an actual full-on Stalinist five year plan at the start there, but I don't remember what it actually was, and it changed a lot as things went on. At first I wrote vast numbers of short stories, which was a lot of fun. I tried to keep pushing myself, to be getting a little bit better all the time, or at least learning how to do something I'd never tried before.

There came a point, maybe three years into that, where I began to realise I'd have to have another go at a novel. Giant Thief didn't originate with any one story, but it did come out of not wanting to make the mistakes I'd made with my first attempt at novel writing. I was writing one or two short stories a month, and I didn't want to lose that pace. So it had to be something fast-paced, fun, not too convoluted. Something I could throw myself into and just keep moving with.

MH: Why giants?

DT: You know, I have no idea.

The image it all started with was a guy escaping on a giant ... I don't remember the particular train of thought that took me there, but it came from somewhere and I liked it, on a whole lot of levels. It met the criteria. What's more fast-paced, fun and linear than a chase? Then close on the first idea came the realisation of what kind of a character would think stealing a giant as an escape vehicle was a good idea - and there was the core of Giant Thief.

MH: Giant Thief is told in the first person from the titular thief Easie Damasco. Was there ever a time when the story was told third person?

DT: No, never. I guess that goes back to what I was saying above. I figured, not entirely correctly, that it was harder to tie yourself in knots with a first person narrative. Then again, once Damasco started to take shape it was obvious it had to be his voice doing the telling - because there was no way he'd ever shut up.

MH: Easie definitely has a tongue on him. Darker characters or what is becoming known as gritty, grey, and ambiguous characters have been on the rise in Fantasy the last decade and Easie seems to fit in that somewhere. When you were growing up what characters in Fantasy were you interested in? More of the reluctant born hero types like Aragon? Or someone who wants to do good, but isn't above doing a bit of evil to get their way? Or just an out and out bastard?

DT: With a couple of exceptions, those being Pratchett and Gaiman, I wasn't a big fantasy reader in my youth. It's really only in the last five years that I've been seriously reading fantasy. I guess both Gaiman and Pratchett did leave their fingerprints on Giant Thief, though. They're both terrific writers of protagonists you can't help rooting for despite, or because of, their overwhelming defects as human beings. My instinct with Damasco wasn't so much that he'd be gritty or ambiguous, but that he'd stay true to a few basic traits that were bound to come with the lifestyle he'd been leading. He's a thief. That means he steals stuff and doesn't beat himself up over it. He's used to getting by on his own, and he's got far too big a mouth. I'm okay with any kind of hero, good, bad or indifferent, so long as they have that kind of consistency.

MH: If you met Easie in a bar and he struck up a conversation are you more likely to buy him a drink or slap him for trying to steal your wallet?

DT: I'd buy Easie a drink, I owe him that much. But then I'd get the hell out of there. Even if he didn't make a grab for my wallet, there'd be sure to be trouble close behind him.

MH: Will we get to learn more about Giant culture in Crown Thief? Speaking of which where does the story go from Giant Thief?

DT: Not so much their culture, but we'll certainly see much more of the giants in Crown Thief, and get more of a sense of what makes them tick.

I don't want to say too much plot-wise about Crown Thief, for obvious reasons Suffice to say that it picks up directly where Giant Thief ends, with our heroes (that is, all the main characters who aren't Damasco) quickly realising that everything isn't just going to return to normal, that there are some major pieces left in the wake of the first book's events still to be picked up - in fact, that by trying to do the right thing they may have opened the floodgates to an even bigger threat. In amongst all that, we have Damasco heading off to meet the King, with the Castoval's greatest assassin at his heels ... and you just know that's not going to end well.

MH: Now on to the important stuff. What is your favorite type of hat?

DT: A plain straw hat is fine by me. They never seem to last though. I've had my current one for a couple of years now, which has to be a record.

MH: Besides the release of Giant Thief what are you most looking forward to in 2012?

DT: Why, the release of Crown Thief of course!

No? Okay. Well, I'm hoping to finish the decorating and refurbishment of the house I bought a couple of months ago. That's pretty exciting.

MH: Since you're still early in your career I'm going to throw some good old standard questions at you that every novelist has to answer at some point. First, who is the one author living or dead you'd like to have dinner with?

DT: I'm going to say Terry Pratchett. Asides from the fact that I'm sure he'd be good company, I can't think of any writer, save perhaps King, who's struck such a balance between popular success, critical approval and tending to his own writerly needs. Long after the point where the Discworld should have got tired, long after the point where he ever needed to work again, you can tell Pratchett's still loving what he's doing.

MH: Next what are 3 of your favorite novels ever?

DT: Without giving it too much thought, I'm going to say...

Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household
The War of the Worlds - H G Wells
Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

MH: Very nice picks. Lastly, if you could live in a Fantasy world, which would it be?

DT: Tough question. Most fantasy worlds are fairly unsafe places to live in, aren't they? I'm going to opt for Vance's Lyonesse; it might not be significantly less dangerous than anywhere else, but at least I'd never be bored.

MH: Thanks for playing along. Besides January's release of Giant Thief is there anything you'd like to mention to close us out?

DT: Well, it would be lovely if a few more people read my blog at And if anyone happens to be at the UK SFX weekender in February, come say hi at the official Giant Thief book launch.

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INTERVIEW | Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves


Kevin Reynolds said...

I can't get enough thieves either. Definitely checking this one out.

Anonymous said...

I hardly ever pick up paperbacks. I generally buy hardcovers. But this one screamed out to me and I pre-ordered it at Amazon. Great cover, and sounds like fun.

Mieneke van der Salm said...

I really liked Giant Thief as well! Thanks for the great interview :-)