Ari Marmell is one of the authors I follow on Facebook. When he had a sale on some of his ebooks last year, I snapped at the chance to buy them directly from the author. His work did not disappoint.
When Ari Marmell has free time left over between feeding cats and posting on social media, he writes a little bit. His work includes novels, short stories, role-playing games, and video games. He’s the author of the Mick Oberon series, the Widdershins YA fantasy series, The Iron Devils, and many others, with publishers such as Del Rey, Pyr, Wizards of the Coast, Titan, and Omnium Gatherum.
Ari currently resides in Austin, Texas. He lives in a clutter that has a moderate amount of apartment in it, along with George — his wife — and the aforementioned cats, who probably want something.
His most recent book is The Iron Devils.
In the ruins of the world, the last remnants of humanity find themselves caught in an impossible war between the mechanical and the mystical—between the unliving and the undead.
Did something in the real world inspire The Iron Devils?
It’s funny. I’d been playing around with another book idea that also combined two different popular tropes. I was discussing that particular idea with my wife and the conversation shifted more toward creativity and book ideas in general. I was talking about how you could often get really interesting concepts by combining tropes that didn’t usually go together, but that you could also wind up with something unworkable. In trying to illustrate that, I just spat out something that I figured could never work: vampires and robots.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized that, “unworkable” or not, I was fascinated by the idea. Obviously, it didn’t prove unworkable. And it certainly turned into something deeper and more serious, but yeah. At its birth? It was a wild example, pulled out of my hat, of something that wasn’t meant to be doable.
I still haven’t written the idea that initially sparked that conversation, though.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
Wow. That’s really, really difficult to answer. There are quite a few scenes I’m really proud of or happy with, particularly many of the action scenes where I’ve pitted vampire abilities and machine weaponry against each other in an ongoing arms race.
But I think…if I had to pick one scene, it’s when Magdalena finally acknowledges the manipulation and abuse of the guy — now undead — she’s been involved with and confronts him over it. It’s a major turning point both for her and for the plot. It finally shows, once and for all, that the vampires are true monsters, as evil and inhuman in their own way as the machines are in theirs. Most of all, it’s intense. It’s emotional, it’s frightening, and it’s the culmination of some deep and emotional writing of a sort I’d never attempted prior to this book.
And what almost happens afterward…I still shudder thinking about it.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
Pretty much same as it is for all my books. I start with a really in-depth outline. (I know lots of authors prefer to discover as they go and that’s great, but for me, I have to know where I’m going or I can’t write well.) Then, for the actual writing, I split my “work day” into two chunks, one in the afternoon and one at night. Each time, I have a set word count I have to meet. If I finish early, great. If it takes longer than usual, so be it. But I find working to a word count, rather than a set length of time, works best for me.
Except some of the emotionally abusive scenes in the middle of the book, regarding the relationship I mentioned: once or twice, I felt filthy and worn out enough after writing those that I stopped for the day. I don’t want to oversell it; it’s not the most horrific thing ever. It was just emotionally draining to get in the mental space where I could write those scenes.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
I’d say the promotional process itself. I’ve worked with some large publishers, but it’s easy to feel like you’ve gotten lost in the weeds. Omnium Gatherum may not have the reach of larger houses, but I’ve been involved, or at least kept informed, at every step. It’s a much more pleasant experience.
What do you have planned next?
Well, I just finished a really dark horror novel that I can’t talk about yet. I’ll shortly be publishing Ash and Ambition with Dragon Moon Publishing. The first chapter of a short, traditional fantasy series, it’s about a dragon trapped in the form of the human knight who supposedly slew it, trying to navigate the politics and relationships of a court on the verge of war.
Beyond that, I have a few potential projects upcoming. I’m hoping to be able to do the next book in the Mick Oberon series soon, as well.
Pick up a copy of The Iron Devils from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Gmw9i6.
Check out Ari’s website/blog at mouseferatu.com.
You can follow his Facebook author page at facebook.com/mouseferatu/.