New Release Interview: Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves
by Scott Lynch is published today!

Every few years, a book is published that makes a huge impact on the fantasy reading community. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire and a writer’s fortunes change overnight. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch was one such book.

Now, Scott is back with The Republic of Thieves, a massive tome that reunites readers with Locke, Jean, and the rest of the Gentlemen Bastards. And not only that, but reunites Locke with his long lost love, Sabetha…

… and fireworks fly.

Here is more about The Republic of Thieves:

“A bright new voice in the fantasy genre” (George R. R. Martin), acclaimed author Scott Lynch continues to astound and entertain with his thrillingly inventive, wickedly funny, suspense-filled adventures featuring con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora. And THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES is his most captivating novel yet.

With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

I decided to ask Scott a few questions about his new book!

And here are those answers! Enjoy!


Shawn Speakman: First, let’s back up. Tell Unbound Worlds readers who might not be familiar with your work a bit about THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES, and the wonderful characters you’ve created.


Scott Lynch: Locke and his friends are con artists in a world where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and rare style of crime. Their world is roughly analogous to our late Renaissance or Elizabethan era; it’s a cruel, colorful place where our heroes attempt to swashbuckle their way through complex heists and scams, usually getting caught up in the machinations of others along the way. The stakes are always high and the emotional payoffs are always… complex. Life is hard and not everyone makes it to the end of each book. There’s magic, mystery, murder, a great deal of harsh language, and vivid descriptions of food and drink that sadly never had a chance to exist on our world.

Shawn Speakman: THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES is the third book and it is now published. What challenges were you confronted with while writing this book?

Scott Lynch: Well, the glib and straightforward way to put it is that during the process of writing this book, I discovered that the “quirky” behavior I’d been making excuses for was actually pretty severe clinical depression. And then my marriage dissolved. And it took years to put the pieces of my life reasonably back together. Even once that process was underway, I had to take the complete-but-outdated text of Republic and rewrite nearly half of it. The guy that went into the book is not the same guy that came out the other end, and the version of the story I’d finished in, say, 2010 isn’t anything I’d be proud of now.

Shawn Speakman: I re-read LIES in preparation for the new book. The first thing I was struck by when beginning THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES is your writing craft. You are a stronger, crisper writer now but with the same wonderful dialog and prose. Are you happy with your progression as a writer?

Scott Lynch: Well, thank you. I like to agree with you! I’m as happy as I can be, I suppose… I always want to do better than I have done, but I have a real sense of progress, which is a fine consolation prize. After the divorce and entering proper treatment for my illness, I went into a period of my life I often call “waking back up,” and I discovered that I had to re-learn how to do some things I had previously taken for granted, most importantly reading, writing, and exercise. Over the course of my untreated depression I had gone from reading about a hundred novels a year to about six, if I was lucky, and while I was writing a great deal very little of it was of acceptable quality. So I had to re-apply myself, line by line and page by page, with a new focus and care, until I’d trained myself back up to solid standards. So yes, I’d concur that prose-wise, the new book is tighter and smoother than its predecessors. Fewer weasel words. Fewer intrusions of my own speech patterns into the dialogue or description.

Shawn Speakman: I have one character in my own work that speaks on his own — much to my disdain at times. I always love the banter between Locke and Jean. Does that flow easily for you?

Scott Lynch: Relatively speaking! Those two have been hanging around for so long now that my mental models of them are pretty vivid. I don’t feel that I have much of a struggle for what they’ll say or do in any given situation. I just try to keep giving them complex, unfortunate, difficult, bemusing situations to render snarky commentary on…

Shawn Speakman: Locke finds himself in the worst situation ever — dying while being confronted by the love of his life, arguably his greatest adversary. It is a complex situation. How do you manage to keep track of the elements that go into a great “heist” novel?

Scott Lynch: It’s not a terribly magical or romantic answer, I’m afraid. Lots of notes. Graph paper and charts. Little reminders to myself to include such-and-such thematic link, such-and-such bit of plot or emotional resonance, such-and-such clue or red herring. I do a lot of work behind the scenes, because I tend to favor such concrete and intricate plots, trying to ensure they hold together and that all the plot threads I want to end do so properly. I have a strong distaste for novels that simply let entire plotlines and major characters just vanish from the pages as the ending comes speeding toward the reader. I have a strong distaste, in general, for story arcs whose creators have no real idea where they’re going, so everything flies desperately off the rails at the end. A number of recent TV series come to mind… I don’t want to be like them. I want to be the other kind of writer.

Shawn Speakman: Speaking of TV series and things you like, who do you enjoy reading in the book industry? Current favorite television show?

Scott Lynch: I tend to watch things on DVD or via streaming download several years after they’re current… my girlfriend and I both love Gravity Falls, and I’ve been following Breaking Bad a mere few weeks after each episode premieres, rather than years. I’m a Doctor Who fan from way back when, but have issues with the recent couple of seasons and am behind on them. I enjoy Game of Thrones as much as the next fantasy geek, but am a season behind (I might feel more anxious to stay current with the show if I hadn’t read the books). On my immediate to-read pile I’ve got stuff by Amanda Downum, Antoine Rouaud, Joanna Russ, Philip K. Dick, Barbara Hambly, and Laura Lam. I just finished reading Elizabeth Bear’s conclusion to the Eternal Sky trilogy, Steles of the Sky, which is a worthy end to a very cool trilogy. Delivered precisely on time, no less, because Bear likes to make the rest of us look bad.

Shawn Speakman: What can we expect from Scott Lynch in the future? Where are you at in writing the next book? Does it have a title?

Scott Lynch: The next book (Number four!) in the Gentleman Bastard sequence is The Thorn of Emberlain, and I’m already hard at work on it. I’ve also got a pair of novellas, The Mad Baron’s Mechanical Attic and The Choir of Knives, that will bridge the time between The Republic of Thieves and Thorn. Those will be available from Subterranean Press. I’ve also got several short stories slated for publication or in the works… one for the Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens anthology, and one already written for the big Gardner Dozois/George R.R. Martin theme anthology Rogues, available some time in 2014.

There you have it! From Scott Lynch! The Republic of Thieves is in fine bookstores today! And to learn more about Scott, visit

Locke and Jean… back at it! Throw a former love into the mix…

… look out!