Max Gladstone has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia and nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. Two Serpents Rise, his second novel, is about water rights, human sacrifice, dead gods, and poker.
From the author's Q & A with Leah Libresco at Patheos:
How do you keep track of/expand your worldbuilding? Is there a set list of questions you ask yourself about a city and culture as you create it? When you start fleshing out a deity, does your mind run ahead to questions like “Which kinds of heresies does this theology tend toward?”Learn more about the book and author at Max Gladstone's website and Twitter perch.
I have a monster timeline in a Google spreadsheet. Four books in, that’s where I go to remember the dates of characters’ births, deaths, major live events, historical precursors, revolutions, battles, and so on. The God Wars. When Ms. Kevarian was born. The fall of Dresediel Lex, and the birth of the Hidden Schools. Seril’s death. Tara’s matriculation. Otherwise, I’d get all Billy Pilgrim, having this nation’s war before that character’s marriage when it needs to be the other way around! Not to mention the characterization issues: thirty-year-old mortals think differently from those in their early twenties. Some of my characters are gods and Deathless Kings and the like, and don’t have to worry about lost opportunities, aging, and so on in the same way we do. Most aren’t, and do.
That timeline reflects key events in books I’ve written, since they’re the firmest truth. I have notebooks full of history sketches, maps, myths, and interpretations, a bit of primary-source material (some sections of a History of the God Wars are buried deep within my email, as are pieces of metacriticism on Gerhardt)—nowhere close to Tolkien, I’m not that systematic. But all that material is sort of fanon of my own work. Some of it may need to change, and much is still vague and unfilled.
I think of worldbuilding kind of like Go. In joseki stage, opening stage, you play...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Two Serpents Rise.
My Book, The Movie: Two Serpents Rise.
Writers Read: Max Gladstone.