5 Questions with E. M. Markoff

EMMarkoff_authorpicI’m not sure when Eileen and I first met in person.  Was it at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley last summer? I know for certain she came to the SFinSF reading I did with Dana Fredsti and Erica Mailman and I remember being highly impressed by the skull hanging from Eileen’s throat. Some people you just know are kindred spirits.

E.M. Markoff is a Latinx writer who was raised on a steady diet of Mexican folklore, anime, Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films, and unrestricted access to comics and books. Growing up, she spent many days exploring her hometown cemetery, where her love of all things dark began.

Upon coming of age, she decided to pursue a career as a microbiologist, where she spent a few years channeling her inner mad scientist. Her debut novel, The Deadbringer, is the first book in The Ellderet Series and won a Finalist medal in the Fantasy category in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

I got to hear Eileen read for the first time this weekend at the Horror Writers Association event at FogCon.  She read a taste of The Deadbringer and its prequel, To Nurture and Kill. I can’t wait to have her tell you about them.


The ashes of the Purging lie cold, and the next dance is about to begin in the Land of Moenda. Kira Vidal, a Deadbringer boy of fifteen, has escaped the fate of the rest of his kind, living peacefully with his uncle in the northern city of Opulancae. But then a strange man knocks on their door and a band of the Ascendancy’s fearsome Sanctifiers appears, hunting for Kira, and nothing will ever be the same.

The Deadbringer, the first book in The Ellderet Series, is a story of damaged heroes and imperfect villains, of a land scarred by ancient wounds that never truly healed. As Kira and the Sanctifiers approach their final confrontation, hunter and hunted alike must confront dark forces that threaten to overwhelm them all . . .

E.M. Markoff weaves together epic fantasy, surrealism, and elements of horror to spin an intricate web of darkness.

The Deadbringer won a Finalist Medal in Fantasy from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in 2017.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00005]Did something in the real world inspire The Deadbringer?

Life, mostly, though I have always enjoyed writing short stories. (I have X-Men fanfic that will never see the light of day!) There was a lot going on in my life when I started writing The Deadbringer, but the biggest influence came toward the end of my mom’s life—the decisions that you have to make are painful. There’s a sense of loss that certain characters experience and their loss became my loss, their words my words.

Another factor that inspired me was that feeling of not knowing whether you belong, not being able to be close to people. E’sinea, one of the Sanctifiers in in The Deadbringer, suffers from this. But there is also hope in the real world, through friends or a partner. I wanted to show that as well.

And to not end this question on a doom-and-gloom note: my mom was a huge fan of older horror movies and shared that love with me. She also had the most amazing Mexican folktales to tell, which to her bordered on real. That most definitely had a positive influence in my life by showing me that the dark can be beautiful. It can have much to show and offer.

What is your favorite scene in the book—and why?

My favorite scene is toward the end, when things start to fall apart. Bad decisions come back to haunt certain characters, and it’s interesting to see how everyone reacts. The repercussions have carried over into the sequel to The Deadbringer, so I’m looking forward to further exploring them.

What was your writing process like as you wrote The Deadbringer?

There are two things I need to write: coffee and music. Music is such an inspiration for me. As long as I have those two things, I can write pretty much anywhere.

What was the best thing that happened during the promotion of the book?

The best thing that happened was when I got a few emails from readers asking what life was like for Eutau when he had to care for the infant Kira. How did he manage to care for an infant whose touch rots and who could recall souls? It blew my mind that people cared enough about my characters to email me. I remember getting crazy excited. Even now, the memory makes me smile. Those readers made To Nurture & Kill happen.

The other amazing thing that happened—and I attribute this specifically to the book—is that I made friends with a few of the book bloggers who read and enjoyed it. Having them in my life has made it fuller.

Oh, and there was that favorable Booklist review that picked up and pointed out the Mexican influence I injected into The Deadbringer. I think that was the first time I saw a review that explicitly stated that. That means a lot to me because, yes, The Deadbringer is fictional, but it was and is important to me to include my culture in the narrative.

What do you have planned next?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Deadbringer, with expected publication later this year. After that’s published, I want to switch gears to another Ellderet Tale—this one focusing on Lyse and Daemeon. I also have a fairy tale in mind. As certain characters in my book are fond of saying, “Only Fortune knows what the future holds.”

You can buy a copy of The Deadbringer from Amazon.

Follow E. M. Markoff:


About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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