Scott Lynch is the author of the World Fantasy Award nominee The Lies of Locke Lamora and its sequels, Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves. His short fiction has been published in several anthologies and in Popular Science. His online serial Queen of the Iron Sands is available for free at his website, www.scottlynch.us. Born in Minnesota in 1978, Scott currently lives in Wisconsin.
This interview first appeared on Wired.com’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, which is hosted by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley. Visit geeksguideshow.com to listen to the entire interview and the rest of the show, in which the hosts discuss various geeky topics. Transcription service for this interview by Rev.com.
Your new book is called The Republic of Thieves and it’s the third book in the Gentleman Bastard series. So just for readers who are new to your work, do you want to just describe the basic premise of the series?
The Gentleman Bastard series, starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora, is a set of sword and sorcery crime novels. The protagonists are con artists in a Renaissance-era world where con artistry as we know it is not a very developed form of art; they’re essentially the first people to play with the deep and the long con. It’s essentially the story of how they are thrown from bad situation to bad situation, book after book, and have to live on their wits.
The first book in the series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, got published originally because an editor came across the opening chapters, which you’d posted online. Do you want to tell us about that?
Back in the dark days of the internet, or I guess the second dark age of the internet—this was back in 2004—I had been part of an online community that is now very, very defunct unfortunately. It was a discussion forum for people who were very serious about fantasy—double underlined, exclamation point. But there were some really great people involved in that, including Matthew Woodring Stover and Kage Baker, and a bunch of other people I’m still in contact with. Like many people, I was alleging to write a novel and threatening to write a novel, and finally people in the community just kind of lost their patience with me and said, “Look: Put up or shut up. Show us what you’re working on,” and I finally did.
So what I posted on a blog was what became the prologue to The Lies of Locke Lamora and everyone said, “Oh, that’s very, very nice,” and went on about their business. Unbeknownst to me, one of them was an associate of Simon Spanton, who is an acquiring editor for Gollancz in London and has been my editor since 2004, which is how the story turns out. So Simon contacted me and first said, “This is interesting. Do you have any more?” So I produced what became the first chapter in The Lies of Locke Lamora. So at that point there were about sixty pages in existence.
Simon sent me an increasingly desperate and fast-paced series of emails basically saying, “Okay, I’d like to approach my buying committee about maybe making an offer,” which sped up to, “Screw them, I’m just going to make an offer.” So in short order he had secured the rights to the novel and then all I had to do was actually write the novel.
I should disclaim at this point: This is not how it usually happens. This is how it very rarely happens, and my girlfriend is making gestures at me in the background, like a man being hanged and some very rude gestures I can’t repeat on the air. This is not how she got published. She did it the hard way.
And we should say that your girlfriend is also a writer, right?
Yes, I’m sorry. Elizabeth Bear, or as her new legal name goes, Four-Time Hugo-winning Novelist Elizabeth Bear.
You recently posted in a series of blog posts, taking a look back at The Lies of Locke Lamora, including a post titled, “You suck, Lynch.” What do you think are some of the strengths and weaknesses of that book, looking back on it?
Looking back on it, it’s not that I’m not proud of it. I’m very proud of it, and I would not want to rewrite it even though I think that I could rewrite it in several respects and make a stronger piece of work. It’s a testament to what it is and what it was. I mean, I was desperate in several ways and very passionate and that was the big break-out. I got the big chance to finally do it. So it’s an artifact of actually learning how to write a novel as I was writing it.
Structurally, it has this issue where you’ve got two plot threads, one of which is in the past and one of which is in the character’s present. The past episodes sort of wind down and the past story is told, and I started substituting in, rather than more narrative episodes from the past, bits of blatant worldbuilding and local lore and pithy sentiments. Some of these work thematically but some of them do not. Of course, it’s a first novel, so my grasp of language is not necessarily what it might have been. My grasp of gender roles, my ability to communicate what I wanted to. It is what it is for something written nine years ago. I’m still very proud of it, but all first novels have issues.
Speaking of structural issues, on your blog you said one of your friends took you to a Disney movie and said, “I’ve already seen this movie but I want you to watch it to learn basic plot structure.”
[Laughter] That was several years before The Lies of Locke Lamora, when I was even more of a neo-neophyte writer. Apparently it was his impression that basic story structure was eluding me and to some extent he was right. He was absolutely right. I appreciated that and actually I’ve often recommended that if you want to learn plot, you want to learn story, you want to learn how to construct these things on a very basic but effective level, what you want are good Pixar films, because they are as good a tutorial in basic story-crafting as you can possibly find anywhere on Earth. The good ones, mind you. There’s some you should skip, but nearly everything they did from Toy Story onward for a number of years is an excellent and valid model for a story in any genre.
What about the sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies—has there been enough distance from that that you can be objective about that or is it still too fresh? Do you have any thoughts on that book?
It was written in late 2006, very early 2007, and it was a different experience because at that point you learn that you can write the novel, and you set up to do it again so it’s not as daunting the second time around. I mean the project is as daunting, but at least you know you could do it once. Lies was a very rough time for me and for my then-fiancé, who is now my ex-wife, because we were living on our own together. We moved out on my first advance, and so we were learning to be adults together. We were learning about each other in ways we hadn’t previously. We were living on our own, and we were far from our friends. I mean, we moved to the outermost ring of suburbs, having lived in the middle of the city more or less previously, and I was locked in my room fourteen hours a day working like mad to produce this novel.
It was very stressful on our relationship and she basically delivered an ultimatum that the second book could not be like that. The second book was not like that. We, for a while, got along much, much better and it was a smoother process, life-wise and writing-wise, and I really wish that I could recall more of the specific process because it’s all sort of fading into the gray mists of memory because I don’t have the same level of documentation as I did for Lies of Locke Lamora, which of course was preceded by years of research and false starts and everything that goes into a first novel.
Let’s talk about the newest book, the third book in the series, The Republic of Thieves. Like The Lies of Locke Lamora, this one also has a storyline that takes place in the past and a storyline that takes place in the present. In the present, our heroes have to engineer a winning election strategy; in the past, they have to put on a play under very high stakes circumstances. What was it just about theater and electioneering that made you want to make them the focus of the book?
Well, some of them are obvious; it’s just the obvious metaphorical parallels to the life of crime and the life of false-facing that the protagonists tend to lead. It’s in some respects totally congruent in both politics and with acting. As Father Chains, the mentor figure of this little gang, tells his charges in The Republic of Thieves when they are sent off on this errand, they don’t know anything about this and he says, “To the contrary. You’ve had training in speaking, in deportment, in poise, in manners. You’ve got skills that can be applied; you just need to learn how to apply them on a stage so the people can appreciate them. The experience will be good for you, get lost,” and the jokes write themselves, as Locke and Jean observe.
They’re not changing careers; they’re just doing what they usually do in another city for different clients. There was literary discussion in the second book when we bump into a couple of characters who are strangely erudite for pirates. I’ve always wanted to sort of expand on that. Locke’s world has a Shakespeare figure and a Marlowe figure. There was this whole artistic flowering in the last years of this empire that collapsed six or seven hundred years previously, and that body of work has been handed down through Locke’s culture as their great plays. It’s a very cool narrative framework to hang everything on. It’s the classic play-within-the-play.
The title of the book, The Republic of Thieves, actually comes from the play that the characters perform, and you go into an enormous amount of detail about the plot of that play and the characters, and you actually provide long sections of the play that’s written in a sort of Elizabethan poetic style. How much of the play did you actually flesh out in your mind, and what was it like writing those poetic passages?
I wrote a plot summary. It’s your standard-issue Elizabethan five-act structure sort of play. So I just scribbled out all the events I needed to cover and then just wrote the bits that seemed the most interesting. I like to think that enough glimpses of it are given so that the reader can construct the full length and breadth of the plot.
As for writing it, I decided very early on that I would avoid writing in strict iambic pentameter simply because it was always going to be awkward and the expressiveness was going to be constrained to the format and whatever was being said was going to be lessened because I’m not a particularly great poet and compressing what I wanted to say into that format never struck me as a very wise decision. It’s not meant to directly emulate anyone’s notion of blank verse or iambic pentameter, it’s just meant to work and sound a bit different than the standard spoken language of Locke’s world.
One really cool section of the book is the initiation ritual for the Priesthood of the Crooked Warden. How did you come up with that?
That I’m very proud of, actually. I think that scene turned out really well. If I may be allowed to gloat, I dig that section of the book.
Every once in a while you have something turn out more or less exactly as you want it and you just kind of go, “Ah,” and then nothing will happen again for months, but that one happened.
That one was an “Ah,” because the thieves in Locke’s world have this priesthood—the secret priesthood—that they take seriously. They’re very devout, but they don’t have temples. They don’t have constant meetings. They don’t have literature. They have an oral tradition and a lot of scuttling around in shadows. Now, this is also part of showing the general structure of the Therin religion because this is how they all work, all the twelve gods and goddesses and then their nameless thirteenth brother, the black sheep of the family. All their theology follows this pattern, that essentially you can pledge yourself to live loosely on behalf of all the gods or you can choose one that you’re going to be especially faithful to. It’s supposed to be a two-way street. You are supposed to expect better things of that god but you are also expected to open your wallet more often on their behalf.
The third and deepest level of religious devotion is of course becoming a priest or a priestess. I wanted to show these characters interacting with the structure and how it physically, emotionally, and sociologically works, and also how it doesn’t work. This is not a grand gathering of every thief in the city. It’s always easier to mouth platitudes and proclaim yourself to be a believer than it is to show up on time at the temple, and that’s very much the case for this initiation ceremony. It’s only a segment of the underworld of Camorr. It’s not everybody.
Speaking of thieves, I think one character that readers have been looking forward to seeing the most is Sabetha—who was mentioned in some of the earlier books—but this book is the first time we really see her as a character. Did you know when you wrote The Lies of Locke Lamora what she was like or did the character develop in your mind in the meantime as you started writing this book?
I tried to put her in The Lies of Locke Lamora. One of the failed prologues that I wrote for the first book became a chapter in Republic of Thieves called “The Undrowned Girl.” It’s there in Republic of Thieves in more or less its original form.
It became very apparent to me very early on that Sabetha should either be a full part of the proceedings or she should be concealed for maximum effect until it was time for her to do so. I did not want her to have just one little appearance and then vanish for a long, long period of time. Again, it was structurally unbalanced and plus it seemed like it might be a lot of fun to torment readers, in the best possible way, as much as they scream and howl.
Part of the fun is not revealing every secret at the earliest possible opportunity; part of the fun is saving something for every book in the series.
As for who she was: When I started writing Lies I had a conception of her as a young girl. She’s a redhead for a very simple reason: She is and was originally an homage to Charlie Brown’s little redheaded girl, an eternal symbol of Charlie Brown’s unrequited love, which is something I very much sympathized with as a boy growing up. I had a lot of little redheaded girls in my life, but she’s evolved well beyond that because as it turns out, what’s going on between her and Locke is not unrequited love, even though it was at first. It’s just a meeting of two very complex minds and worldviews, and they each have their problems and weaknesses and hang-ups and limitations.
Part of the fun of not having her for two books is I want readers to wonder just how much of what they thought they learned about her comes from an unbiased source. Because with Locke and Jean and the Sanzas as our only real witnesses to who Sabetha was and what she did, there’s got to be an element of serious observer bias here. When she shows up, she might or might not confirm those things that the boys have been saying about her all these years. I leave it to the reader to judge.
In this book we see Sabetha express the feeling that she’s been treated differently by the gang because she’s a girl and that they don’t take her opinions as seriously. I also saw that you wrote in your blog that in Republic of Thieves you wanted to “Frame some issues of consent and false idealization that I think sex in Science Fiction/Fantasy has at times, been prone to.” Could you just talk about that aspect of the story?
This is a relationship between teenagers, and Locke and Sabetha have a lifelong relationship starting when she was perhaps seven or eight and he was about six or seven. But they’re teenagers together. When you are a teenager, you’ve grown no protective coverings on your nerve endings yet. You are a bundle of nerves and hormones and everything is felt so deeply and so hard and everything is so new and everything is more difficult than it needs to be.
We, in our culture, not just in fantasy, not just in literature, but in general—I mean, listen to the pop music, or at least cheesy pop music—we fictionalize this version of carefree teenage years and easy teenage romance and say, “Oh isn’t it wonderful to be young and in love and everything is just effortless.” Those of us that actually remember being a teenager, remember that. I mean, yeah, everything was wonderful. These sensations are wonderful and exciting the first time it happens, but goddamn, it’s difficult. It’s confusing. It’s stressful. You are wrapped up in so many competing stresses on so many different sides of your life, it’s not an idyllic summer of nonsense as adults would have it. I really wanted to translate that into Locke and Sabetha’s situation.
Actually there was a piece on Jezebel last year that mentioned your response to a reader who criticized you for writing about female pirates. You want to talk about that a little bit?
That was in relation to Red Seas Under Red Skies. That actually happened in 2005, which is hard to believe, but I hadn’t even written Red Seas Under Red Skies at that point. All I had were a few scattered scenes, so I posted one as a preview and it happened to be that little bit with Zamira Drakasha. It’s made very clear in the text that Zamira is black, and so I got this email from this complete tool. Fortunately I don’t get an awful lot of crazy email. I don’t get an awful lot of stupid email, but this guy’s tone of voice and the approach he took spurred me to send him a love note back.
[His email went something like] “Hey dude, let me rescue you from yourself. You’re a prisoner of political correctness. What are you doing? You don’t have to put black people in your fiction,” like I had been brainwashed or forced to do it, and it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, like I could be free with all the other free white writers who don’t have to write about black people in their work, so I snapped. It’s fucking offensive to me. I live in the 21st century and if you want to sulk and pretend that we don’t, that’s your own business, but don’t tell me to participate in your bullshit.
It was that whole, “Well, now I’m not going to tell my friends to buy your book.”
“Fine. Don’t tell your racist fuck-head friends to buy my book.” I am happier with the sales of the hundreds of people who wrote in appreciation of me telling him to get bent.
I mean, I’ve seen a couple of people saying, “Oh, well that was harsh.” Well, you know what, I don’t give a shit. If you send me stupid demands in my email, you don’t get the right to dictate what you should expect in return. You should probably expect something very colorful in return.
Have there been other occasions like that where you felt compelled to respond to people?
There have been a handful that I’ve felt compelled to respond to. There was another guy that I responded to in public a couple of years later. Some of us experimented with donation-model online serial fiction, and someone sent me this really snotty, hoity-toity, “Oh, you’re a professional author. Who are you to rattle your cup like a bum on the side of the road selling pencils?” It’s that whole misconception of “All authors are rich,” we’re just rolling in dough. Again, it was the tone of voice, the weird demands and the feigned disinterest, “Well, I’m not very interested,” and that’s like, “Bullshit. Of course you’re interested or you wouldn’t be sending me this email. You didn’t stumble across my frickin’ planetary romance serial project by accident; you were interested in the subject or in my work and you’ve got this just very sort of controlling attitude.”
So I smacked him around in public and he actually sent me an email saying, “I’m very sorry. I think I was a dick.” The guy who sent me the Zamira Drakasha email I’ve never heard back from, but this guy apologized.
I guess we should say your serial project is called Queen of the Iron Sands; it’s sort of an Edgar Rice Burroughs homage. How is that going? Do you think serial fiction is working for you?
It was created for a couple of reasons. I mean, it was a dream project, literally; I had an extremely vivid dream that I was holding a new book in my hands and woke up to discover that the book didn’t exist, which is the worst thing your own head can do to you when you’re a writer. It was a stylistic experiment and it was also a therapeutic effort because I had, and I still have, some pretty serious anxiety issues, but they were overwhelming at this point. They have been mitigated now with therapy and medication and more life experience, but oh, they were bad when this began because I was not in treatment and I was not medicated.
I attempted to use this project as a way of dealing with and overcoming my own anxieties, at which it was only intermittently successful. It is on a sort of unofficial hiatus at the moment because Republic of Thieves is just eating so much of my time. But it will continue. It is plotted out and it’s good to go, and it will continue, and I want to finish it and have it be a novel-length project.
The character Locke really struggles with some depression and hopelessness at the beginning of both The Republic of Thieves and Red Seas Under Red Skies. Do you feel like your own experiences with that helped and formed the character?
At the time I wrote Red Seas I was pretty functional. I was perhaps occasionally moody and quirky, but in that the way that artists are traditionally supposed to be. We’re supposed to be flakes and weirdos.
I did not consciously write anything that was happening to him from the perspective of depression. I was working on Republic from about late 2007 onward, and I didn’t begin therapy until 2009. There were two long years of this worsening situation and it was still bad for quite some time afterward. It never magically goes away. It hasn’t magically gone away. It’s just not as bad as it was.
I’ve talked at length about it on my LiveJournal and in a couple of other places. I don’t want to infect everything I write with whatever the latest thing that’s happened in my life is. I don’t necessarily want to explore depression through my work right now. Locke has had some pretty understandable situational depression. He’s a mercurial sort of character, and his temperament suits itself to periods of sulkiness and low periods. Without getting into too formal a diagnosis of what ails him, I think there’s explanations for it other than clinical depression.
Republic of Thieves was a distinctly different animal when I began writing it than it is now because the guy who went in on one side is very different than the author who turned in the book. I’ve been through this illness, the therapy, my divorce, and my view of some things in the world has shifted significantly. I think it makes for a better book.
Of course that’s what you would expect me to say: “Oh, it’s a really fortunate thing we’ve had, this five and a half year pause. I think it’s great. Everybody should try it.” Obviously I’m going to try to sell it that way, but seriously, it started out being written by a guy who thought that he was in a relationship that was going to last forever and it was finished by a guy who made the discovery that relationships are work. That’s a very, very, very trite and simple way of putting it, but the whole “one true love happens by destiny” thing, it’s not what the book is about. The book is sort of dedicated to shooting that whole notion down.
You mentioned earlier that you’re in a relationship now with writer Elizabeth Bear. Has spending a lot of time with her influenced your writing generally or this book in particular?
It has influenced my process most definitely, and she gets to be the first set of eyeballs in anything I write, so her input is very important. We’re both, as we’ve discovered, strong-willed individuals with serious control issues.
We have not fully integrated our creative processes. We’ve tried to collaborate a couple of times but we’re still working on getting it right. We have not slipped effortlessly into one another’s narratives, but she seems to trust me to give her a lot of feedback as a first reader and an editor, and I trust her in the same fashion.
She’s a very, very, very sharp cookie, as you might expect, and I’ve always been a very, very lone wolf sort of author. I’ve never had a writing group. I essentially lived under a rock and hissed at anybody who tried to look at my work-in-progress. This was not emotionally healthy and this was not necessarily artistically healthy. I’m still not part of anything I would describe as a writing group, but I have broadened my little circle of trusted readers. I’ve added new people and made an effort to seek out new opinions. That started with her. Her influence has definitely brought that approach to things into my affairs.
On your blog you mentioned that at a Kaffeeklatsch at Readercon you told an embarrassing personal story from your teenage years about a prank that caused unexpected emotional grief?
[Laughter] Oh god …
And somehow involves The Stainless Steel Rat books. Do you care to share that?
I would actually prefer not to. It is a very amusing story. It is a story of how Scott learned many, many difficult and important things, but the thing is there was a party that was hurt, and I’m just not comfortable with having a recorded version of me talking about what I did. I mean, I was a minor. I was still a teenager, but it was a very complex prank involving an awful lot of phone shenanigans, nothing creepy or stalkery, just a lot of services and goods were ordered and sent to this house: taxis, pizzas, plumbers.
These were the days right before ubiquitous caller ID and we thought it was harmless harassment, but it actually scared them and that was not what we were after at all, so for the sake of that I’m not going to tell the story like I’m proud of it. I love The Stainless Steel Rat books and it’s not their fault. I took them to heart, and I was a very, very energetic sixteen-year-old with a little too much time on my hands. And maybe my social conscience was a little bit underdeveloped at that point and the thought of sneaking into places and pranking people and being a general malcontent Stainless Steel Rat sort of character was very appealing. Eventually I learned the hard way that people have feelings that you can’t control and people have situations you might not know about and you might accidentally scare the bejesus out of somebody without meaning to.
Speaking of Kaffeeklatsches, and at the risk of setting off a rant, you recently posted that you’re declining to attend the Kaffeeklatsches at World Fantasy this year. Do you want to tell us about that?
[Laughter] Great. I love controversy. Controversy’s awesome, but I guess I have been public about this, so I will try to be as polite as I can. Yes, in relation to the World Fantasy Convention this year, I’m a member of a couple of different mailing lists, and a number of authors who are attending were contacted and asked if we would like to do these Kaffeeklatsches and some of the things that were offered to us in these terms, they made us uncomfortable. WFC, or whoever is responsible for this announcement, the organizers at WFC in Brighton announced that there would be a five-pound surcharge for those attending the Kaffeeklatsches.
It really seems like nickel-and-diming the participants and since the participants in a Kaffeeklatsch are basically readers and people who want to meet us as authors, we bristle because we felt like our readers were being mistreated or insulted. The wording of it has been insulting; there was this whole presumption that the people signing up for these things must be such deadbeats that they’ve got to have a preemptive monetary fine in place to keep them from running off someplace else.
I don’t mean any disrespect to those people who have elected to do the Kaffeeklatsches. The con has not been particularly evil in its communications; they’ve been very polite. They haven’t shown up and burned poop on my doorstep or anything. I don’t think they’re bad people for this; it’s just part and parcel with the fact that a lot of the communications going out from this WFC, for whatever reason, have not been particularly diplomatic, friendly, or well-considered. I like WFC. I want to support WFC. I want to be a good con-going citizen. I agreed to be on a panel too. This particular instance, I think, went a little too far toward something that I really can’t support.
As we start wrapping this up here, do you want to mention some of the other projects that you’ve done the last few years? On your website you mentioned “The Effigy Engine” and “He Built the Wall to Knock it Down?”
“He Built the Wall to Knock it Down” is the leadoff short story in an anthology called Tales of the Far West from Adamant Entertainment. It is a Weird West setting that takes a little getting used to because it is not just the historical United States. It is all an analogy and a remix. So you have an East-Coast Empire that is actually a cross between Feudal China and the United States in the 1860s/1870s, and then you have this magically unrolling frontier that just keeps on going to the western horizon with no evident end in sight for thousands and thousands and thousands of leagues. So it’s decidedly not our world: It’s the tropes of our world stretched on a totally different canvas. That short story is my contribution to it.
“The Effigy Engine” is a short story in an anthology from Jonathan Strahan. It is the first Solaris Book of New Fantasy and it was out in May of this year. It was called Fearsome Journeys and it featured a really, really, really good set of original tales. It’s got Saladin Ahmed, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Kushner, K.J. Parker, Jeffrey Ford, and Ellen Klages. A bunch of really good stuff. “The Effigy Engine” is the first tale in a little sequence I’m calling the Red Hats, which are my very not subtle homage to Glen Cook’s Black Company stories. For my sins, in presumption, there’s a Black Company story in the book too. But the Red Hats are mercenaries in a sort of a “gunpowder and sorcery” world and there’ll be more adventures from those guys, “The Effigy Engine” is just the first.
I have a story called “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane,” which is going to be coming out hopefully in 2014 in a big, big George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois anthology called Rogues, which is a follow up to their Warriors anthology a couple of years ago. I’m in it, Neil Gaiman’s in it, Matt Hughes is in it. Basically it’s a cross-genre anthology of original tales of thieves and skullduggery and everything the word rogue is associated with. I wrote a nice long story for that one that is once again set in a fairly high-magic sword and sorcery setting with lots of action. I’m pretty proud of it and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.
I’ve got other short stories lined up. I’m doing a lot better functionality-wise these days, and I’m getting past some of the anxiety and trouble I’ve had with these, so my short-story production is definitely accelerating, and I would really like to continue building a solid retinue of short pieces to accompany the novels.
There’s that and there’s the next book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence after Republic, which is The Thorn of Emberlain, which is what I’m writing at the moment.
There’s also a set of novellas coming from Subterranean Press, which will bridge the story between Republic of Thieves and Thorn of Emberlain, and the first of those will be called The Mad Baron’s Mechanical Attic.
When could we expect to see those?
I don’t know if it’s going to be late this year or early next. I still have stuff to turn in to Bill at Subterranean Press, but the artwork is finished for it. Once I get my crap together and pass it all on to him, the production process should be relatively quick.
We’re certainly looking forward to all that stuff, and I think we’re going to wrap things up there. We’ve been speaking with Scott Lynch. His new book is called The Republic of Thieves. Scott, thanks for joining us.
Hey, thank you for having me.
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