Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing the fantasy author Ari Marmell.
Ari Marmell is a fantasy writer with novels and short stories published through Spectra (Random House), Pyr, Wizards of the Coast, and others. He is the author of role-playing game materials for Dungeons & Dragons and the World of Darkness line, as well as the tie-in novel to the hit video game Darksiders. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, George.
Ari Marmell is the author of the new Mick Oberon urban fantasy series (the first novel of this series is called Hot Lead, Cold Iron). He has also written many other fantasy novels.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ARI MARMELL
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
Arpt glurng schleep nobule.
Oh, wait. "Your own words" didn't mean words UNIQUE to me, did it?
Well, saving most of the sci-fi/fantasy stuff for the next question...
I'm a full-time writer at this point. My genre tastes span horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, but with fantasy definitely at the pinnacle. I'm an unrepentant punster of the worst (best) order. And I like animals more than most people.
- How did you become a fantasy author? Have you always been interested in fantasy and writing?
I'm a lifelong sci-fi/fantasy geek. I've been involved in Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games since I was nine, and in writing my own stories almost as long; and even before that, I was into the "Genre Kid Basics"--Star Wars, superheroes, etc. I basically studied D&D and fantasy novels throughout school, which didn't do wonders for my grades. I decided to switch to a creative writing major in my sophomore year of college, which absolutely everyone told me was a bad idea. But I'm good at those.
All told, it's a good thing I managed to become an even vaguely successful author, because I'm ill-prepared to do much else.
I spent many years, in the late 90s, trying to get novels published and failing miserably. (This was the stage of my writing where I, to use a technical term, still kinda sucked.) Since I wasn't getting anywhere with that, I wrote and submitted a supplement rulebook I'd had rattling around in my head for the Vampire: the Masquerade role-playing game. They couldn't use it, but they liked the writing, so they began hiring me for other freelance projects. I wound up doing freelance writing for multiple RPGs (including, eventually, D&D) for several years. It was through those that I got my first novel contracts, for tie-in books, which in turn got me an agent who was able to sell my (now much better) original material.
- Are there any fantasy authors you'd like to recommend to your readers?
Well, I'm going to assume the HUGE names in fantasy don't need my help, so leaving out anyone who's sold enough copies to choke a volcano...
Steven Brust (both alone and his co-projects with Skyler White). Barry Hughart. C. Robert Cargill. Saladin Ahmed. Howard Andrew Jones. Kevin Hearne. Erin Evans.
I'm going to on forever if you let me; there are a LOT of underappreciated authors out there in the field. We'll go with the above, for now, but there are PLENTY more.
- Hot Lead, Cold Iron is the first part of a new urban fantasy series. What can readers expect from this book?
Let's say, the mutant love child of Harry Dresden and Philip Marlowe.
I really wanted this to feel genuine to the 1930s. The slang, the attitudes, the general description, all of it. I wanted it to be something you could expect to see Bogart portraying in grainy black-and-white.
Then I threw in magic and monsters and the courts of the fey, as well as--in some cases--more modern storytelling sensibilities. And I wanted it all to flow.
So... Action, intrigue, deception, double-cross, the underworld and the Otherworld, magic wands vs. Tommy guns, and... warm milk.
- The protagonist of Hot Lead, Cold Iron is Mick Oberon. What kind of a detective is he?
Well, he wants you to THINK he's a traditional one. The same kind of hardboiled gumshoe you see in something like 93% of stories set in the era. The more traditionally you see him, the better.
Means you're less likely to really see him.
Mick is fey; one of the aes sidhe, specifically. He's in exile from the Seelie Court, though whether that exile was self-imposed or forced on him depends who you ask. He usually charges symbolic objects rather than cash for his services, and he's good at what he does because, if luck appears to have turned against him, he can quite literally make his own.
Sometimes it's even worth the cost.
- How many sequels are you planning on writing?
That's kind of nebulous at the moment. I have story ideas that could go for a while, but I don't want any of my characters to outstay their welcome. (And of course, how well the market takes to him matters, too.) Let's say, if I have my druthers, anywhere from six to a dozen. BUT, while there may be an exception or two down the road, each is written to be more or less a self-contained story. There'll be a few plot threads woven throughout, but as far as any of the main plotlines? You're not going to be left wanting when you finish any given book.
- What inspired you to write Hot Lead, Cold Iron? Were any urban fantasy books a source of inspiration to you?
I'd say lots of them probably inspired me, but none PARTICULARLY. Mick was one of those "shower characters." As in, he just popped into my head in the shower one day, not quite fully formed, but close. (Maybe I watered myself enough that he sprouted.) After that, it was just a question of reading up on fey mythoogies and watching various noir movies until I came up with a story that worked for him.
- You have written several fantasy books, and you have also written young adult fantasy. Are you planning on writing more young adult fantasy?
Oh, quite probably. It's a little ways down the road, but I've enjoyed my experience there thus far.
- What are you currently working on?
I'm actually writing the second Mick Oberon novel right now, and I'm working on selling a recently completed novel that's... Well, let's just say you've seen the component parts before, but probably never put together like this. It's still genre, but not really akin to anything else I've published. More on that soon, I hope.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Only that I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you folks, and I'm looking forward to seeing how people respond to Mick and the world around him.