Tim Marquitz Talks About Demon Squads, And Skulls
Today folks I like to welcome Tim Marquits US author, ex gravedigger and fellow metal head to the blog.
GNOH – Hey Tim, how’s things with you?
TM: Things are going good. I’m super busy, I have a million things in the air, and I’m accomplishing nothing. Business as usual.
GNOH – Can you tell the readers a bit about yourself?
TM: I’m the dork grown too big to pick on anymore. I like to read. I love to write, obviously, and the idea of creating my own little worlds that other people can get into fascinates me. I’m pretty laid back, for the most part, and I’m a homebody. I watch a lot of MMA, listen to music, and procrastinate with my schoolwork.
GNOH – Gravedigger, bouncer and dedicated metal head, it only seems fair that you’d be drawn to the darker side of fiction. Why do you think metal and horror go so well together?
TM: Metal has always been about the shock value, just as horror is, so it stands to reason the two would be married together. Metal has always tried to stand outside the mainstream and worry parents and the religious right with its ideals and it’s the same with horror. Each are seen as the personification of evil and rebellion, individually, so the idea of bringing them together only seems to add to the equation of its impact.
GNOH – What exactly is live action role play?
TM: For most LARPers, it’s running around in funny clothes playing live Dungeons and Dragons. For me, it’s a bit of a sport connected to a social network. My pleasure in it has always derived from my getting to hit people without going to jail, and then hang out and party afterwards. While the general view of such lifestyles is that it’s a bunch of dorks hanging out and pretending to be dragon slayers, my experiences were different. There were always cool folks to hang out with, beautiful women to hit on, and plenty of alcohol and drugs around to make it all surreal.
GNOH – A neurotic dog and a finger crippling cat, have you always been attracted to nutjob animals?
TM: Well, the cat was fine until the neurotic dog was brought into the house. That changed the dynamic and what was ultimately responsible for said finger crippling. The two animals have since learned to largely avoid one another and life goes on.
GNOH – What happened in 1995 that made you start writing fiction?
TM: A buddy of mine brought a book he’d written to work and showed it to me. I’d always been interested in writing, so when I saw that he had written a book it really hit me that I could do it too. It was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t have a whole lot going on in my life, at that point, and had delusions of grandeur I’d hoped one day to make come true, so I jumped on the inspiration.
GNOH – Who are your literary heroes?
TM: Clive Barker stands atop the heap. I can’t help but be humbled every time I open one of his novels. It’s his work that inspires me to write, and to reach for the stars.
Jim Butcher is in there, as well. I love his more simplistic manner of writing, his reliance on character to tell a story and to bring his readers back time and time again. There’s also the standard Stephen King mixed in there, as well as Brian Keene, who I think has a huge King vibe but with a modernized voice.
GNOH – How would you describe your writing style?
TM: I would describe it as standing on the edge of purple and sticking one toe over the edge.
Seriously though, I shoot for a very visual style that tries to translate the world through the eyes of the point of view character. It’s a fairly simplistic style that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the grand world building a lot of books seem to showcase. I really shoot to show my story through the characters without stepping outside their viewpoint, without going on and on about the décor when the character in question would never so much as glance at the paintings on the wall.
But that’s now. My style continues to evolve, so if you ask me the same question a year from now, I’ll likely answer it differently.
GNOH – Would you agree that horror, needs a dash of humour to ground it, otherwise it just becomes too much. If you look at horror from the 1980’s, especially horror movies there was a streak of humour that lent a heart to the film, something I feel is lacking in modern horror?
TM: I definitely agree. There needs to be something that eases the tension in the story or people start to feel overwhelmed or desensitized to it. You can’t keep hammering home the same gruesome gore and expect your audience to continue to be shocked by it. A story needs to pulls its audience up for air every now and again in order to plunge them under again.
I look at my books as riding a rollercoaster. You need the ups and downs in order to appreciate it as a whole.
GNOH – Do you write every day, and how do you find the time?
TM: I don’t write every day. I write when I can, and don’t worry too much when I can’t. Like anything in life, if you’re constantly pushing your expectations off on it, it’s going to crash on you. I’m always thinking about writing, and I’m almost always working on plotting, or organizing, or just thinking of the next writing task I need to accomplish, but I do it at a pace that suits me and the mood I’m in.
I’m fortunate that I have consistent time to write. I do it pretty much regularly, though there are days when it’s harder than others to get enough, uninterrupted time to focus on a story.
GNOH – Do you have any quirks or rituals that you go through when you write?
TM: Not really. My main OCD quirk is that I like to only work on one project at a time. I treat each as a priority, so I find it hard to do two things at once while I’m still focused one a different project.
GNOH – What gave you the idea to use Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg, a half man half devil as the hero of your series Demon Squad?
TM: When the story first came together, it was something entirely different. The main character was an out of work employee of death, unemployed thanks to God and Lucifer making amends. As I thought about the limitations of my writing and the story, I realized I needed to move away from the pure comedy aspect of the story and add in action. Once I did that, I needed a character that would be caught up in the middle of it, but not be one of the powerful guys.
I was really imagining a demonic Die Hard character, so I needed someone who was functional, but hadn’t come into his own. That’s when the idea hit me to make the main character related to the Devil. By placing him in the middle of all the drama while Lucifer was still around, it was pretty easy to make him a part of it once he was gone.
GNOH – And just what the is a Triggaltheron?
TM: Beyond the character’s name, it doesn’t have any meaning. It just seemed to fit inside my head.
GNOH – Had you always intended this to be a series?
TM: As the idea came together, I realized it was so open-ended that I could do almost anything with it, so it was pretty early on that I decided it would be a series. There are so few limitations to the world, that it was just easy to picture it as a multi-book concept.
GNOH – How concerned are you that this may be lumped in as an Urban Fantasy, I’m not sure what the connotations are over in the US, over here the term conjures up love struck teenage girls?
TM: I think there’s a bit of a backlash starting that’s separating urban fantasy from paranormal romance. I don’t mind being called urban fantasy if you’re comparing me to Jim Butcher, Kadrey, Hearne, or even Greene, but it won’t take but a few seconds into my book to realize I’m not in the same category as Laurell K Hamilton or her ilk.
I think the genre is open enough to handle both types of writers, but I think dark fantasy tends to clarify things a little by moving away from the perceived stereotypes of the UF gone PR.
GNOH – How would you sell the book to the readers? I personally think the plot outline is a lot of fun.
TM: Thanks. I think the books work best when you think back to the fun times you had when you were a teenager. Frank is the consummate joker/smartass that always livened up the party, the guy who never took anything seriously and always made you laugh. You didn’t want to be the guy’s close friend or anything, but he was cool to hang out with for short periods of time, when you were drunk or bored. That’s the Demon Squad series in a nutshell.
GNOH Can you tell us about the Sepulchre Wold Series?
TM: Of course. Sepulchral Earth is my take on the zombie craze. I wanted to do something a little more serious than Demon Squad, but I didn’t want the story to be the typical, world ends, zombies pop up, people fight to stay alive. I wanted to dig a little deeper into the motivations behind why the main character wanted to go on in such a nightmarish world. I gave him an end goal: rescue the spirits of his family.
By making the main character a necromancer, I gave him the tools to go beyond hitting zombies in the head with a bullet or bat. His fight isn’t so much with the zombies but with the other people in the world who need him to help further their own agenda.
GNOH – You’ve also written a YA novel the Skulls. How hard or easy did you find to make the switch to writing for kids?
TM: In this particular case, I found it very easy. I wrote the book for older kids, teenagers, so the separation between my normal work and Skulls wasn’t very much. I dialled back on the gore a bit, and tried to make the book more psychological than visceral, as well as not making the mystery aspect of it too complicated or obscure.
With all books, it comes down to the character. For Jacob, I really had to kind of go back in time to remember what it was like to be sixteen. Fortunately, I’m immature enough to get it close.
GNOH – How do you draw the line of writing a scary story, and writing a story that is suitable for kids?
TM: I think it comes down to the details. Any adult book would likely show a sex scene followed by a murder, where a YA book likely wouldn’t. I think, as a writer, you really have to get into the mindset of a younger audience: what scares them, what are they worried about, what issues do they deal with that keep them up at night. Being home alone isn’t so much a threat for kids these days, but being home alone without a phone or power changes the dynamic.
GNOH – Your books are published by Damnation Books, what made you decide to go with them?
TM: If I’m going to be completely honest, availability and who the company is as people were my first motivations. Beyond that, they’ve been great to me, which makes me happy to be there.
I go back to them because they treat me right and allow me a lot of freedoms I wouldn’t likely enjoy were I to go anywhere else. They’re a great company that’s only getting better.
GNOH – You gave a reading as part of Damnation’s World Horror Con pitch. How did that go?
TM: The pessimistic perfectionist in me thinks it sucked, but I guess it went okay. I wasn’t loud enough, stumbled a few times, but it came off all right. I got lots of compliments, and after watching the video, I can say my criticisms of myself are mostly me just not making it perfect.
GNOH Did you have much time to mingle? Who was the one person you were most honoured to meet?
TM: I had a lot of time to mingle, but I’m kind of anti-social so I didn’t do anywhere near as much as I should have. I mostly hung out at the Damnations Books table.
I’d have to say Brian Keene was the person I most wanted to meet. I didn’t get to talk to him much, but I got to thank him for the great books he’s written. He’s always surrounded by folks and I don’t want to add to it, but it was cool to shake his hand, get an autograph, and have the experience, short as it was.
Also had a great time talking MMA with Wrath James White. It was cool to get some inside dirt on the world from a guy who’s been around it for a long time.
GNOH – You been collecting some glowing reviews, how much work do you have to do getting your name out there?
TM: I’m always doing something, but it never seems like it’s enough. I think I’ve gotten lucky that I’ve a dedicated group of reviewers who like my work and are always happy to get a copy. They go out of their way to support me and promote my writing, so it’s really them that do all the work.
I’ve kind of realized I’m not going to get struck by the lucky lightning of publishing fame, so I’m taking the road of perseverance. I figure, if I can amass a track record of good books of consistent quality, sooner or later, someone is going to take notice.
GNOH – Reviews make or break small press authors, have you had any negative reviews and how have you handled them?
TM: I really haven’t had any negative reviews. I’ve honest reviews that point out my flaws, and that’s fine with me. I take what I see in them and move forward, doing what I can to better myself.
MY being small time helps with the negative review aspect, because I’m not in front of enough eyes to really pick any up. Even if I do get to that point, I’ll do the same thing. I’ll examine the review for what it can add to my writing and move on. I’m not going to be hurt because someone doesn’t like what I write. That’s the nature of the business.
GNOH – Can you let us in on any breaking news?
TM: Sadly, no. Right now, I’m in a bit of limbo. I’ve got a bunch of things being juggled in the background, from agents to movie producers, but I don’t have anything solid to report.
GNOH – Many, many thanks Tim for nipping in for a chat. It’s been fun talking to a fellow metal head.
TM: Thank you. Happy to be here. Hail and kill. \m/
you can but Tim’s book by clicking and following the links below.