Be warned, this interview got weird in a few places and could be uncomfortable to some, so continue at your own risk. We're entering one twisted mind, without accounting for my own. As such, this interview is rated M for mature, maybe X rated. Not for the faint of heart.
Please welcome Tim Marquitz, author of the Demon Squad urban fantasy novels and enjoy the tour.
Bastard: I know I promised you'd be my first, but Myke Cole was just sexier. Would you accept my sincerest apologies?
Tim Marquitz: I guess if I have to settle for sloppy seconds, there could be worse people to follow behind. You’re forgiven, but only because I enjoyed Myke’s book. Had it been Lincoln Crisler you let go first, you and I would be having a very different conversation. J
Bastard: I guess it's best to continue with the tradition which began on the first interview, what is your favorite beer? Coors Light?
Tim Marquitz: I’m easy, but I’m not that easy. The Rocky Mountains can keep that nastiness.
I’m not really much of a drinker these days, preferring on those rare occasions to drink a Black Jack & Coke, but since you asked about beer I’ll stick to the question. Back in the day, I would have listed a bevy of thick, motor oil-like beers with groovy names, but these days when I’m up for a beer, I go simple. Nothing beats an ice cold Budweiser.
Bastard: Oh, Budweiser. A man after my own heart, but speaking of beer, I understand you've worked as a bouncer before. Was it bars, at clubs?
Tim Marquitz: It was mostly at clubs, but I’ve worked at bars, too. I used to work shows at one of the places, anything from heavy metal acts to foam parties. Both have given me plenty of stories to share. Where I worked the longest was a huge country bar that felt it rational to make Thursday ladies night, during which they proceeded to alternate between playing country music and hip hop, changing it about every half hour.
The dance floor had four exits, all relatively small, so every time they shifted musical genres, you had to very diverse crowds of people pushing to get on and off the dance floor. Since the place housed about 1,800 patrons, and Thursdays were always packed, you can imagine the hijinks that followed…all…night…long.
Tim Marquitz: Yes, yes I am. No, not really. The foam parties and shows have gotten me into a whole bunch of fights. At one of the foam parties, which are basically an underage gathering that brings in high school kids from all over the city to frolic in soap foam, we had our usual grouping of opposing gangs. So, here we are, all five of us bouncers, in the middle of hundreds of teenagers, when a fight breaks out.
I was outside the club when a literal riot erupts. I’m keeping an eye on one of the managers when I see two guys beating a kid down. I shove them off and one of them hits a cinderblock wall nearby and is standing there all loopy. Right then, some punk runs to punch him. I step in the middle and push him back and he throws a punch, and hits my buddy who walks right between us. My buddy and I look at each other like we’re asking if the punk really swung on us.
There were a few minutes there where we reenacted a scene from American Me before the police and SWAT showed up to shut the scene down.
Sadly, that’s but one of the tons of stories I have.
Bastard: What else have you worked as? I've heard you say you've been a gravedigger, but I'm partly convinced you're just busting my balls. Tells us a something about that, certainly a curiosity.
Tim Marquitz: I’ve done a lot of things, all blue collar type stuff. I’ve managed convenience stores, worked for quality assurance, delivered pizza, worked fast food, as well as clerical work, and manual labor. But no, I’m not lying to you. I worked at a cemetery for about five years.
Honestly, it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, from a psychological perspective. It was hard work, mind you, because we did everything: installing gravestones, installing sprinklers, cutting grass, planting grass, maintaining the vehicles. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. If there was a funeral or a hole to dig, we were out there, 120 degrees or 10, but I loved it.
I’ve put more bodies in the ground than any serial killer can lay claim to.
Bastard: Rumor has it that you fought with one vicious lion a few years back, which left you a bit handicapped. As you feared for your life, what went through your mind? Also, what injuries still remain to this day, and how do they affect both your daily life and your writing process?
Tim Marquitz: Honestly, I didn’t even know I was hurt until it was all over, and I wasn’t even concerned with it. I cleaned the wounds and went to bed. The next morning, however, I woke up in agony. It was like someone had crept in overnight and replaced my finger with John Holmes’ schlong. The thing was huge!
Ultimately, the infection destroyed the middle joint on my right ring finger. Over the course of three years, I had seven surgeries on my finger to restore mobility to the joint, to include tendon replacement and a joint replacement. I endured three years of physical therapy, the pain kept in check by Vicodin and the hope for a miracle that never came.
My finger is still limited in mobility and it’s dragged my overall strength down as it’s my dominant hand. The injury doesn’t do much to impact my writing, fortunately, as I’ve learned to work around it, but it radically changed the way I face life. I’m not the same person I was before the injury.
Tim Marquitz: I became a fan early on. When I was around 12-13, a buddy of mine showed me the first Venom album, Welcome to Hell, and I was hooked. I’d kind of already gravitated toward rock, at the time, but it never really satisfied. It wasn’t until Venom that I realized what it was I was looking for in music.
Like my writing, the style I migrate toward is dark and confrontational, irreverent and brutal, somber and depressive. I’m a huge fan of old style thrash like early Metallica, Venom, Slayer, Exodus, Nasty Savage, Dark Angel, and a billion more bands, but I like the classic vibe, too. Bands like Angel Witch and Hell, Victor Griffin and Pentagram. These days, I listen more to atmospheric doom bands such as Anathema, My Dying Bride, Candlemass, Isole, and a host of others.
Metallica is like the gateway drug of music listeners. They’re diverse enough to appeal to those who would never sit down and listen to Cannibal Corpse or Nile or Emperor. But don’t worry, Bastard, I won’t hold your non-metalhead status against you…much.
Bastard: Keeping it with the heavy metal theme, have you ever been part of a mosh pit? If so, tell us about it, and did anyone squeeze your ass?
Tim Marquitz: I’ve never had the kind of restraint it takes to be a part of a real pit. I’ve been to a bunch of shows and have stood at the edges, but I’m way too quick to put my foot in someone’s ass to willingly go into a circle where someone wants to run me over. I’ve moshed with friends at parties, and laughed as our heads were nearly taken off by a ceiling fan, but never at a show.
And while I can’t say I’ve been groped in a pit, I can tell you about a show I worked. It was one of those faux-rock bands that the young girls like, though I can’t remember the name. Muse, maybe, or along that style. Anyway, I was working the stage, which means I’m standing behind the small metal gate that separates the band from the crowd. When the kids come surfing over, it was my job to step up onto a foot-wide ledge and make sure they don’t come crashing down onto the concrete floor. Normally, it’s not an issue. Most of the kids weighed 100-120 pounds, no big deal. You grab a piece of them, pull them to you, and set them behind the gate and get ready for the next one.
In one memorable instance, for all the wrong reasons, there were about five young women hoisted up at the same time, all being passed toward the stage. So I’m trying to sort them out when they all get dumped on me at once and we crash to the floor in tangled mess. So here I am, the paragon of innocence and virtue, buried in young, nubile flesh for what seemed forever as they squirmed and squirmed and squirmed in what I remember thinking was a Twister game gone horribly right, until they managed to get back to their feet. Best damn moment of that entire show, let me tell you.
Bastard: In the next few days you'll be at Horror Con. When and where is it this year? Also, have you been there before, and how have you found it? Lastly, what do you hope to accomplish there other than having a good time?
Tim Marquitz: This year’s World Horror Convention will be in Salt Lake City, Utah, from March 29 through April 1. I was at last year’s con, which was held in Austin. I’ve never been to SLC. As far as the convention goes, it’s great. There are ton of writerly type events going on that help prepare writers, teach them new things, and plenty of opportunities to put your work in front of the agents and publishers you might not normally be able to reach. There are also a ton of parties, which are great for networking and getting to know your fellow authors, agents, editors, and publishers.
This trip might be more about a good time than normal, but my hope is to reach out and make contacts that will help further my career in writing. No specific plans, but things just happen at these conventions, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open and basking in the literary greatness.
Bastard: Going back to my interview with Myke Cole, he had made mention of, 'Also occurs to me that when my goal was "get published," I didn't. Once my goal became "write a great book," I got published.' How do you think this applies to you, particularly balancing it with the pressures of providing for your family?
Tim Marquitz: I struggle sometimes with frustration seeing authors succeed at their first book while I’m trudging along, but I understand it’s part of the business. It’s subjective and things aren’t always going to work out the way I’d like, but that’s okay.
My goal has always been to write great books, and that isn’t going to change. I still want a publishing deal with one of the big six, but that’s not the only goal I’m shooting for in my career. I work to get better with everything I write, and I’ve set more realistic goals below the top ones, to simply better my position, my career, at least once every year. As long as I stick to that, I’ll be content with what I’m doing.
As for my family, I don’t look at writing as my priority in that aspect. I work a full time job, go to school full time, in order to carve a life out for us regardless of what happens with my writing. If the author thing works out, great, if it doesn’t, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing whether I continue to get published or not.
Bastard: In addition to being a writer, you also offer your services as an editor. Can you tell us about those services and what books have you edited?
Tim Marquitz: I had opened up my own editing business, but it was really too time consuming so I shut it down. I wasn’t getting any writing done. I’ve also edited for Damnation Books. That said, I’ve edited books from Lincoln Crisler, Nick Cato, Naomi Clark, Ed Erdelac, Alan Spencer, Dave Bullock, AC Croom and a number of other folks.
When I was editing, I tried to impart some of the things I’ve learned along the way about pacing and storytelling and do my best to catch all the errors that are inherent in writing. It’s a time intensive effort and very draining, but quite rewarding as it really helps you to notice your own writing flaws by seeing them in other people’s work.
Bastard: Does being an editor affect the way you read stories, stories you're not actually editing? I know that since I became a reviewer the perspective of what I'm reading has changed, for example, less patient.
Tim Marquitz: Yeah, for sure. It turns you into a picky bastard (no offense) if you can’t shut the editor part of your brain down. I’ll pick up a book and realize I’m criticizing the intro, the stylistic choices, and I’m shaking my head at typos. It’s very frustrating and ruins a lot of good books for me because I can’t stop tearing them down into the basic parts and analyzing them. I feel like Spock around Captain Kirk. “That’s just not logical.”
Bastard: Among your writing, you have written some horror, urban fantasy, and dark epic fantasy. Which genre do you love to write the most, which has been a better fit for your writing skills, and which one has been the most challenging? As a tangent, which genre do you enjoy reading the most?
Tim Marquitz: I enjoy writing them all, but I think writing the Demon Squad urban fantasy books are when I have the most fun. They're the closest to my real personality, so the writing flows and the attitude just slips into the writing.
However, the DS books are also the most complicated, in a sense. Because the entire book is from Frank's simplistic point of view, there are a lot of little glitches that pop in because I'm so limited by what Frank would notice or do. While there are others characters to help drive the plot, it comes down to Frank to pick up the slack. His tunnel-vision mentality can often be a hindrance.
I think writing the epic fantasy story was a test for me as it was so different from the DS series. With so many viewpoint characters and an emphasis on world building, it took me a little while to get into the right gear. I had to avoid being so terse and on point as far as the writing and plot. There was some wiggle room there that I wasn't used to operating with.
As far as reading, I have to say I prefer horror and urban fantasy. My interest in reading is purely entertainment-based, so I like the fast-paced stories that don't require much thought from me. I want to get into a world and get out so it doesn't wear on me.
Bastard: You have referred to yourself as both a horror writer and a dark fantasy writer, and its subgenres, having only read your Demon Squad books the part that has resonated with me the most has been the comedy; dark perverted comedy at that. Bottom line it has been the funniest series I've read so far. Was the comedy aspect something you wanted to focus on with this series, or did the character of Frank just made it happen as he was developed?
Tim Marquitz: Thanks. The comedy actually came first. I’d written the start of a story where comedy was the primary objective. It was, however ineptly, similar in style to Terry Pratchett, but I realized how limited I was comedically. My strength lies in the one-liner, the off-the-cuff response to things that come up, so writing pure comedy just wasn’t working.
As I realized that, I took the story I had about a minion of Death being unemployed after God and Lucifer called a cease fire, and thought about what I could do to make it work. Fortunately, I already had a role model for the series: the Die Hard movies. That was the foundation for what I wanted to do, combining the sarcastic attitude with over-the-top action, the underdog who gets his ass kicked the entire time, but wins out in the end. The Demon Squad evolved from there as I figured out what would be the most unlikely of heroes to stick in the middle of all that.
Bastard: The Demons Squad novels seem like books that male readers would enjoy the heck out of, particularly with Frank being well, a pig. I'm always hesitant to recommend it to female readers because of this, but to my surprise, they're also enjoying the books. Has this been your experience so far, and why do you think it has been accepted as it is?
Tim Marquitz: I’ve also been surprised that a number of women, older and younger, have enjoyed the Demon Squad books. While I didn’t intentionally target it toward males, it just seems natural they’d be the dominant audience given the nature of the books.
I think women enjoy them because they can relate. They all have uncles, brothers, fathers, husbands or boyfriends who probably act like Frank does. It’s probably no real shock to them to see someone like him, so they’ve probably grown numb to it. I also think they can see beyond the BS he spews and can tell there’s more to him buried under it all.
Then again, I could be pulling all of this out of my ass. Who knows? I don’t understand women and won’t pretend otherwise.
Bastard: Frank Triggs has quite vivid sexual fantasies, some of them involve Scarlett, his Angel cousin. Do you think he ever fantasized about his mom that way?
Tim Marquitz: And I thought Frank was the freak. :)
Frank was taken to Hell at the age of 15. He was basically turned loose in a world without morality and lots of opportunities to get into trouble. He was also protected and allowed to indulge, thus Frank was a kid in a candy store. That lifestyle lasted for over 400 years and was a big part in shaping Frank's personality, such as it is. It’s who he is, even now.
That said, while he drools all over his cousin (as he does every woman), Frank is a massive mama's boy. She was around before all of the experiences that perverted him so badly. His mother is his link to humanity and to a moral existence, because that's how he remembers being raised by her. Her memory is the rock he clings to when he’s in too deep or knows he’s gone too far.
So for the record, no, Frank doesn't think about his mother the same as he does Scarlett, but thanks for asking. Sicko!
Bastard: Recently the anthology Corrupts Absolutely? edited by Lincoln Crisler, who you mentioned previously, was released by Damnation Books. Can share a few words with us about what the anthology is about and how it originated? Also, what role did you play in it?
Tim Marquitz: The anthology is built on the question, “What would happen if real people were to develop super powers?” There wouldn’t be a lot of Supermen out there, but there would probably be a whole bunch of Wolverines. The reality is, people are often too selfish and morally ambiguous to be these classic icons of heroes. We would use super powers for good, for sure, but we’d probably use them for personal/selfish reasons, too, and likely more often.
Lincoln came up with the idea and pitched it to Damnation Books. He’s very interested in comics and the world of superhero prose, but felt there just wasn’t enough out there. He wanted to make a statement with a strong book that carried the superhero/metahuman idea to a new level.
My part in the book ends at me contributing my story, Retribution, which is about a man who watches his wife and unborn child die in 9/11 and is given the opportunity for revenge.
Bastard: Can you tell us a bit about your other works? Yes, too lazy to look them up.
Tim Marquitz: Of course you are. Good job, Mister Interviewer.
Well, my flagship series is the Demon Squad, but I’ve got a bunch of other things going on.
I’ve released a young adult horror book entitled Skulls, which I think gets a little overlooked in my bibliography. It’s about a young man, Jacob, who stumbles across a hidden bunker full of skulls. Through the eyes of the skulls, he’s able to witness the death of the person it belonged to, from their perspective, at the hands of an axe-wielding serial killer. Ultimately, the killer learns of Jacob’s trespass and forces a horrific choice on him.
Sepulchral Earth is my entry into the zombie genre. Written initially as a serial novella, the first two episodes follow Harlan Cole, a necromancer, who traverses the zombie infested landscape in a quest to free his wife and daughter’s spirits from the machine that keeps them from their peace in the next world. The last two episodes are plotted, but not written. I have plans to finish the series and release it all as an omnibus so people can read it all together.
Dawn of War is my effort to expand my fantasy writing by diving into a more epic style. It’s the first book in a trilogy entitled the Blood War Trilogy. In the story, an ancient magic is returned to the world and delivered into the hands of a savage race of carnivorous beasts intent upon laying waste to the world. The story revolves around a group of folks caught up in the chaos and brought together to stop the carnage only to learn the plots runs much deeper.
Bastard: What else do you have planned in the near future, and any future projects that are in the planning stages?
Tim Marquitz: This year is going to be pretty busy. I’m currently accepting short stories for an anthology out through Damnation Books, entitled Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous. That releases on September 1, and I’ve got some great names and stories lined up for it.
I also have a literary horror story, Cenotaph, coming out June 1, through Damnation Books. Bundled with that will be all new stories by Lincoln Crisler, Ed Erdelac, and Malon Edwards. The collection is called Four in the Morning and it examines the idea of aging (child, young adult, middle age, old age) in a speculative manner. This was a fun one to write. All of the stories are radically different in style, from steampunk to urban fantasy to sci-fi. Each of the guys stepped up to write their ass off.
Coming sometime between July and September, give or take, I have two novellas bundled into a single book, Prey and Anathema, which will be published by Genius Publishing. Prey is a horrific suspense thriller while Anathema is more classic horror in the vein of Stephen King.
I’m also looking to release the fourth Demon Squad book sometime this year, as well as the second book in the Blood War Trilogy. No real details on those yet.
Bastard: Before I remove the handcuffs and let you go, anything you've read lately worth mentioning?
Tim Marquitz: Kinky.
Yeah, definitely. I ran through the entire series of the Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan last week and thought it was great. Wonderful characters and a fast, enjoyable read that kept pulling me back. I've also managed to get back into the Shadow Saga by Jon Sprunk. The books are cool. Lots of action and good stories.
I've also read the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne that I thought was just fantastic. Very Dresden-ish but with it's own identity. Mark Lawrence's book, the Prince of Thorns was another amazing read. Dark and gritty and full of violence, I loved it.
On the indie trail, everything by Ed Erdelac is something to look for. He tells a story from left field, but it's always smart and well written. Naomi Clark is another writer whose books I've been digging, Night and Chaos being a visceral read. There's, of course, the usual suspects I always preach about, Lincoln Crisler and Malon Edwards.
Bastard: Thanks for stopping by Tim, always a pleasure. Make sure to leave the donation on your way out. Any last words?
Tim Marquitz: Thank you for honoring me with Myke Cole’s leftovers. I feel...dirty.
Congratulations, you've survived. You have made it to the end. Make sure to check out the current giveaway for five e-copies of Corrupts Absolutely? and eBooks from Tim Marquitz.
Thanks for stopping by Tim, hope we can do it again some other time. It's been fun. And for those interested, here's my review for Resurrection, second book in the Demon Squad series. I should have a review for At the Gates at some point soon too.
For more information, please visit Tim Marquitz's website, and urban fantasy fans, don't miss out on his Demon Squad series, they're a blast.