Author Interview with Ari Marmell
Ari Marmell was born in New York, moved to Houston when he was a year old, moved to Austin when he was 27, but has spent most of his life living in other worlds through a combination of writing and roleplaying games. He has been writing more or less constantly for the last dozen years, though he has only been paid for it the past five. He is the author of multiple roleplaying game supplements including work on Dungeons & Dragons. Ari lives in Austin with his wife, George, and two cats.
Hi Ari welcome over at The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us!
BP: First off could you give us a short introduction as to who Ari Marmell is? What are your hobbies, likes and dislikes?
AM: Well, I’ve been a sci-fi/fantasy fan for as long as I can remember. I’m a die-hard gamer—not computer games; I have no problem with them, I’m just not terribly into them—but the tabletop stuff. Dungeons & Dragons, Vampire: the Masquerade, those sorts of things. I’ve been gaming since I was about nine.
Likes cats, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and torturing people with truly awful puns. Dislikes spending too long in large crowds, large swathes of modern music, anything remotely approaching most reality shows, and not already being rich and famous.
BP: What gave you the idea in the first place to become a writer?
AM: I’m not sure I ever actually had the idea. I’ve been a storyteller all my life, either via gaming or writing. (In fact, the bedtime stories my father told me always involved me going to meet my favourite characters—Luke Skywalker, Spider-man, etc. So even from four years old, I had the idea of original storytelling in my head.) I think, rather than saying I “decided” to become a writer, I simply realized one day in college that I already was one—I just didn’t yet have the skill to do it professionally.
BP: You have been involved with your own series as well as writing for Magic the Gathering and The Iron Kingdom. Do you like writing your own ideas more or do you have a lot of freedom of writing those tie-in books?
AM: There are certainly restrictions involved in writing tie-in fiction, but there’s still a lot of room for creativity. I’ve enjoyed doing those, and I’d love to continue doing them on occasion. That said, though, I think it’s more rewarding to work on my own material. I want to do both, but if I was forced to choose, it would be my own stuff.
BP: Last year Hot Lead, Cold Iron was released, and was very well received with lots of starred reviews, had you thought that would happen?
AM: I HOPED it would, certainly. Had I thought it would? Well, we authors are a neurotic bunch. So on good days, I thought it would; on bad days, I expected to see the book being used to balance uneven table legs, or perhaps used to stone me to death for one of my particularly egregious puns.
BP: Urban Fantasy is there is many different ways. What gave you the inspiration and idea behind the Mick Oberon series?
AM: Mick Oberon was what you’d call an “Athena character.” By that, I mean—like Athena from Zeus’s forehead—he sort of sprang full-grown from my brain one evening. I hadn’t set out to come up with a historical urban fantasy, or to combine fantasy with gangland noir. It just sort of happened, on a basic conceptual level. Once it had, it was all a matter of coming up with stories and setting details to match.
BP: Hallow Point, your latest book, will out August 20th, if you would have to sell the book with a single sentence, how would it go?
AM: The fae-driven, hidden-magic version of The Maltese Falcon.
BP: Even with having a lot of writing experience, did you still encounter any problems when you were writing Mick Oberon?
AM: It’s a different style, a different voice, than I’m accustomed to. Trying to make things historically and mythically accurate while also keeping the book accessible to people who lacked familiarity with those myths, or that historical period, was certainly a challenge. And it’s very easy to make a mystery TOO complicated. With Hallow Point, it took a few drafts of working with my editor to make it come out as well as it did.
BP: Besides the difficult parts that accompany writing a book, which chapter, scene or moment did you enjoy writing about the most?
AM: Oh, there were quite a few scenes in Hallow Point I enjoyed writing. Just to name a few, I had fun with the encounter between Mick and Herne the Hunter; Ramona’s introduction; and anything to do with the representative of the Wild Hunt.
BP: Now that Hallow Point is published, what else can we expect to see from him, have you mapped out how many additional book there will be?
AM: Oh, I have lots of plans for Mick. I’m about to start writing book three. After that? Well, obviously it depends on how well the books sell. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.) But if I’m allowed to do so, I have quite a few more stories of his I’d like to tell. Maybe somewhere between eight and a dozen? (That’s a guess—and again, it assumes I’m given the opportunity—so don’t hold me to that.)
BP: do you have any other writing plans besides Mick Oberon?
AM: About a zillion ideas. Currently my agent is shopping around a book that’s sort of half dark urban fantasy or supernatural horror, half Terminator-style post-apocalypse. After I write the next Mick Oberon, I might work on a book I have brewing that’s sort of “epic fantasy with a touch of supers.” And quite a few others.
BP: Everyone enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction in their own way, what do you like most about it?
AM: The imagination. The fact that you can do almost anything in sci-fi or fantasy as genres, but that each specific work still has to be cohesive. That you can play with the rules, but there are still rules. That you can tell so many different kinds of stories. That you can escape, but into something that—if written well—still feels like it has meaning.
BP: if you would have to name your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?
AM: Oh, yikes. Um… I’m going to cheat and name series, rather than books. And even then, I don’t know if they’re my absolute favorites so much as among my favorites.
The Vlad Taltos series, by Steven Brust.
The Elenium, by David Eddings.
The Chronicles of Number 10 Ox, by Barry Hughart.
The Alex Benedict series, by Jack McDevitt.
And finally, because I do love the combination of mystery and fantasy, the Hawk & Fisher series, by Simon Green.
BP: And just lastly, can you tell us a bit more as to what will be in store for the readers of Hallow Point and the possible continuation?
AM: Debts repaid and debts reneged; friendships broken; mobsters who know far more about magic than Mick’s comfortable with; new companions and some VERY old enemies; some answers regarding the changeling Adalina that Mick might wish he never learned; and maybe a few equally disturbing answers about himself.
And if I get there, possibly a wendigo, a few vampires, and a one-legged assassin.
BP: thank you very much Ari and good luck with your future writing!