Please give a warm welcome to Ari Marmell, whose new book, HOT LEAD, COLD IRON, is definitely on my Must Read list (seriously, I loved it.) He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it, and more!
Also, thanks to the lovely folks at Titan, I’ve got 2 copies to give away to 2 lucky winners, so be sure to check out the giveaway details (US only)!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little about HOT LEAD, COLD IRON and what inspired you to write it?
HOT LEAD, COLD IRON is Gangland Fantasy. Sam Spade meets Harry Dresden, sort of. A detective who also happens to be an exiled aes sidhe of the Seelie Court of the fey, Mick Oberon’s been keeping his head down for years, passing as human. In HLCI, he’s dragged back into the affairs of the supernatural when the wife of a mobster hires him to find her daughter–who was replaced sixteen years ago by a changeling. It’s action and investigation and deception, magic wands vs. Tommy guns. Fantasy noir, in a way.
As for inspiration… Mick was a “shower idea.” By which I mean, he popped almost fully formed into my head in the shower one day, and I knew I had to write something about the character. After that, it was just a matter of figuring out his story and reading up on the period and the mythology.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve always been a storyteller of some sort. It took the form of role-playing games and idle scribblings throughout childhood. I decided I wanted to make writing my vocation in my sophomore year of college. As college sometimes feels like it was so long ago that at least one of my professors was quite possibly a velociraptor, I suppose that qualifies as “always.”
My background is… not especially interesting, really. Born in New York, grew up in Houston, TX, now live in Austin, also TX. Spent most of my school career studying Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy novels, which may have prepared for me what I do now, but didn’t do my grades a whole lot of good. Degree in creative writing, married, have a cat, and very fortunate that I’ve had some success with the writing, because I’m utterly unequipped to do anything else.
Why do you think readers will root for Mick Oberon, and what did you enjoy most about writing his character?
I think they’ll like–or at least sympathize with–him. He’s a very human character in many ways, despite being not human at all. I think readers will understand him, his motivations, why he does what he does (even if he grumbles about doing it).
Plus, you know, bad-ass fey with a magic wand, facing down enemies you really don’t want to see win.
Were there any other characters in the book that particularly enjoyed writing as well?
I actually really liked writing most of these characters, but if I had to pick, I’d say probably Eudeagh, boss of one of the Otherworld’s largest Unseelie gang outfits.
Did you do any particular research for the book?
Enormous amounts. Reading up on the fey mythology of various cultures, the history of the mob in Chicago, and of course the city itself. I’d say the single most helpful book was A TRAVEL GUIDE TO AL CAPONE’S CHICAGO. Couldn’t have gotten by without it.
What is one of your favorite lines from the book?
I’ve got quite a few, but I think I’ll go with one right from the beginning, while Mick is getting the stuffing beaten out of him.
“And then a refrigerator all dolled up as a fist tried to offer me a backrub through my navel, and I remembered that I had more important things to worry about.”
What is your writing process like?
Beyond “Lots of procrastinating and distraction”?
I try to write six days a week when I’m working on a novel. I don’t set a specific length of time to write, but rather a minimum word count: 2,000, in my case. I sometimes do more, obviously, but that’s what it takes for me to consider it a day’s work. (That’s 2,000 USABLE words.) Doesn’t sound like a lot, and I know writers who do more every day, but it seems to be a good target for me.
Worldbuilding is important in stories like this, but what are a few of your favorite “literary” worlds?
I could name quite a few, but trying to keep the list down to a manageable level, let’s go with Barry Hughart’s Mythic China, Steven Brust’s Dragaera, the Ravenloft D&D and fiction setting, Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique, and C. Robert Cargill’s version of Austin, TX.
What’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
An attempted novelization of an elementary/middle school-era Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Of course.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
The aforementioned series by Steven Brust, some of David Eddings’s works, a lot of traditional horror such as Stoker and Lovecraft (in terms of concept, NOT in terms of style), and the various TV series of Joss Whedon and Joe Michael Straczynski.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve actually just started THE REDEMPTION ENGINE, by James Sutter.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m writing the second Mick Oberon book at the moment. After that, it depends. My agent’s currently shopping a novel unrelated to anything I’ve done before; my hope is to have somebody interested in a sequel by the time I finish the Mick Oberon. If not, I have several other ideas–traditional fantasy, contemporary fantasy, or supernatural horror–to choose from.
I’m also part of a forthcoming project called THE LOST CITADEL, which is a shared-world fantasy in the mold of the classic Thieves’ World series. In it, a number of authors explore the idea of what a post-apocalyptic society might be like in a traditional fantasy setting. What does the last bastion of humanity and other races look like, after you’ve taken a standard Tolkien-like epic setting and ravaged it until it’s more of a dark, low, brutal, Howard-esque world.
I’ll be talking a lot more about all of those in the not-too-distant future, so keep an eye out. I think most of you’ll like what’s coming.
2.) Giveaway is for 2 copies of HOT LEAD, COLD IRON by Ari Marmell
3.) Giveaway is open to all those with US mailing addresses. NO PO BOXES.
4.) You must enter on or before 5/23/14
5.) Books courtesy of Titan
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
About HOT LEAD, COLD IRON:
Hot Lead, Cold Iron is the first novel in a brand-new fantasy detective series that will appeal to fans of Rivers of London and The Dresden Files
Chicago, 1932. Mick Oberon may look like just another private detective, but beneath the fedora and the overcoat, he’s got pointy ears and he’s packing a wand.
Oberon’s used to solving supernatural crimes, but the latest one’s extra weird. A mobster’s daughter was kidnapped sixteen years ago, replaced with a changeling, and Mick’s been hired to find the real child. The trail’s gone cold, but what there is leads Sideways, to the world of the Fae, where the Seelie Court rules. And Mick’s not really welcome in the Seelie Court any more. He’ll have to wade through Fae politics and mob power struggles to find the kidnapper – and of course it’s the last person he expected.