Welcome to another Monday morning, the start of a new week and a brand new interview with author Tim Marquitz!
Tim is the author of the Demon Squad series and a myriad of fantasy and horror stories. He once worked as a gravedigger, loves martial arts and is a familiar face on fantasy forums across the web.
I’m really excited to have had a chance to pick at Tim’s thoughts. Read on to discover what he had to say…
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Hi Tim and welcome.
TM: Thanks for having me.
Let’s start off with a question I’ve asked everyone so far: Can you share with us your favourite books/authors?
TM: First and foremost, I’d have to say Clive Barker. I love his mix of horror and fantasy and the ease with which it flows. I’m also a huge fan of Jim Butcher. He has a comfortable style that focuses on story first.
More recently, I’ve taken to the newer crop of popular authors, all of which are such for obvious reasons: Michael Sullivan, Mark Lawrence, Jeff Salyards, Jon Sprunk, and Chuck Wendig. These guys all bring terrific storytelling and prose to the table, but they take it a step further through their characterization. I’m able to shut down my inner editor and read their books solely for pleasure, and that’s rare indeed.
How important do you think it is for writers to have a place to test out their ideas and sound off other people? I’m thinking of writing forums like SFF World.
TM: I think forums like SFFWorld are great for networking and for receiving feedback from like-minded folks. At the same time, I think an author should really kind of close off their writing to the world at large until it’s done. There’s a ton of influences, both positive and negative, that I think should be avoided until an author has a true sense of what they’re trying to do.
For writers learning their craft and wanting to figure out the intricacies of the publishing world, SFFWorld and its ilk are great. There’s tons of information to be had and plenty of wonderful authors to interact with and learn from.
What would you say you focus on first when you’re planning out a story? Characters? Worldbuilding? Plot?
TM: That depends entirely on the story I’m trying to tell. Sometimes I’ll have a one sentence idea of the story, but other times I’ll only have a scene or two, or a character idea with no bigger picture evident. It evolves from there.
I sit down and write a list of story ideas, in no particular order, just things I think of. It’s kind of like a snowball rolling downhill from there, ideas and concepts collected as it goes. Once I get into the story points, that’s when things start to come together, pieces falling into place as I wrap my head around the story concept. I then construct the story outline based on the concept I’m trying to get across, plot, worldbuilding, and characters all in order of what the story needs most. The vast majority of this process is unconscious.
You mention in your bio that you once worked as a grave digger. Now you write horror and fantasy–do you think that’s coincidence or did that experience inspire you?
TM: I think the job was a good experience with regards to writing about death and the process of dying/funerals, but I was a dark spirit long before that. In fact, I wouldn’t have taken the job if I hadn’t felt some level of comfort in that environment. It did, however, provide me with a lot of mental down time to contemplate my writing and the ideas I’d always had rumbling around inside my skull.
Ultimately, I would have written both genres regardless, having grown up reading both, but being so entrenched in the atmosphere of the cemetery and the funeral process was a definite influence on how I write, if not what.
How easy was your path to publishing?
TM: Surprisingly easy at the early stages. I was offered the opportunity to publish Armageddon Bound right after it was written. I had an agent six months later and things seemed perfect. Then reality kicked me in the ass.
I left the agent because she was too busy to help me, and I learned shortly thereafter just how wide a universe the internet was. With a small publisher more interested in quantity than quality, it was like throwing my book into the ocean and expecting it to hit every shore. It didn’t happen.
I’ve since learned I’m not destined for instant success, and have dedicated myself to writing the best stories I can while keeping my nose to the grindstone. I still find it easy to be published, but the hard work isn’t in being published, it’s how you’re published.
What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out and looking at getting published?
TM: Practice your craft, grow thick skin, be confident (not arrogant), and work to better your situation with every opportunity. Take chances and put yourself out there. You’ve nothing to lose.
How did you find writing epic fantasy compared to more familiar horror? I’m referring to your book, Dawn of War.
TM: Dawn was a learning experience. I really had a specific goal in mind, a certain style, and that ultimately made it harder. Rather than listen to my instincts, I wrote to that style and made it harder than it needed to be. With my horror writing, the story flows easily. There’s no hesitation in the words or concept, but with Dawn, I had a lot of that early on. I lacked confidence in my writing.
In the end, I realized I was forcing the story and relaxed and stopped fighting my nature. Once at that point, things came together. The sequel to Dawn, Embers of an Age, showcases the adjustments I made in Dawn.
Are there any fantasy/horror authors you could recommend to us who perhaps haven’t gotten the recognition or publicity they deserve yet?
TM: Ed Erdelac is an author that I think deserves a wider audience. He has an erudite style that comes cross without pretension. It’s very involved historically, yet the characterization and story are written to the same standard. He doesn’t get near the credit he should.
There are a bunch of other folks I know who should have bigger followings but don’t for some reason. Many of them can be found in the upcoming anthology through Angelic Knight Press, Fading Light.
Finally, could you tell us about your current/upcoming projects?
TM: Certainly. I’m in the process of plotting/outlining the last book in the Blood War Trilogy and hope to have it out by November of this year. I’m also closing out the last of Fading Light, and getting into promotion mode for it. I’ve also got two novellas coming out at the end of September through Genius Book Publishing, Prey and Anathema. Prey is a horrific thriller in the vein of the movie seven, while Anathema is more of a classic horror story.
I’m also working on a sword and sorcery book that combines assassins and zombies, which I hope to write soon.
Tim, thanks very much for your time.
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I really hope you enjoyed today’s interview. I’m going to put up our Epic List of the Week a little later on, so don’t fret!