Battle Hymns: Let’s start with a softball: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Tim Marquitz: Certainly. I’m a dark fantasy and horror author who hopes to one day write for a living. I live in Texas with my wife and daughter and way more cats than any sane person should be forced to cohabitate with. I’m also a big fan of heavy metal and mixed martial arts, both obvious influences upon my writing and my bad attitude.
BH: You have a number of published works, of which I’m only familiar with the Demon Squad books, would you mind talking a bit about the stuff you’ve written?
TM: I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to ideas, writing whatever hops into my head rather than worrying about brand and sticking to a single genre. Where the Demon Squad books are urban fantasy, I often write novella length horror stories in between to cleanse the palette, so to speak. My horror books tend to be darker and more graphic than the DS stuff, and certainly more serious.
I’ve also written some dark epic fantasy, though it’s more dark than epic, as well as some sword and sorcery. I like exploring new worlds and chasing different ideas, which drives me to jump around the genres a bit.
BH: You’ve created one of the most memorable characters of all-time in Frank Trigg. What was the genesis for that character?
TM: Thank you. Frank is a mutt of ideas. He started out as Bob the minion of Death and evolved from there. I wanted a character that wasn’t just flawed, but was real. A lot of the concept came from the Die Hard movies, the Bruce Willis character getting his ass kicked but soldiering through to handle business.
Frank also evolved through my influences, heavy metal and fighting. While it’s nice to have good guys in the world, it’s less realistic than what’s really out there. People are selfish; it’s ingrained in our DNA. Our drive is to survive and breed and take pleasure where we find it. Frank takes that concept a couple steps further, and I think the foundation of human desire is what makes him interesting to people. He’s fun in small doses and you don’t have to take him seriously.
BH: How much of Tim Marquitz is there in Frank Trigg?
TM: Way too much. Frank is me without the censors of polite society and the manners my mother beat into me growing up.
BH: The Demon Squad series is shaping up nicely, with a major plot thread that’s been simmering in the background about to come to the forefront and it appears things may be building towards a finale. Do you see the series as a finite thing, with an ultimate ending in mind? If so, do you have the entirety of the series mapped out?
TM: I’m really not sure how far I’ll go with the series. I’ll write it until it’s no longer fun for me or the readers. The world is so wide open I can see myself writing ten or fifteen books without any issues, though, but I haven’t plotted beyond the books already written.
I’m very bad about contemplating the big picture. The pieces fit together as I go and give me ideas for future plots, but I don’t tie my hands by having a predetermined direction in mind. I like the idea of the end of the series being a surprise to both me and the readers.
BH: Can you tell us about your process that goes into writing a novel?
TM: For me, it’s pretty simple. An idea comes to mind and I think about what I’d like to get out of it. From there, I write a list of vague plot points, characters, concepts, cool scenes, or whatever else comes to mind. As I’m going through all that, the idea tends to sharpen and I begin to see it more clearly. If I feel It’s exciting and fleshed out enough to commit to, I sit down to outline the book, with nothing more than simple plot direction in mind.
Once I get into the writing, I know where I’m going and have spent enough time with the concept that I have a good idea of the voice I want to use for the characters. The story feeds off the writing from there.
BH: Are you able to write full time or do you have a day job?
TM: No, I definitely have a job. While things have picked up for my writing in recent months, I’m still dependent upon my job for money and health care. As much as I would love to write full time, I’d need to feel extremely comfortable before I left my job. I have a family to take care of, and I would hate to see them be hurt because something happened to screw the writing gig up after I quit working for a steady paycheck.
BH: Who are the biggest influences on your craft?
TM: Clive Barker is easily the first on the list, though I’d have to say that Jim Butcher is more of a direct influence when it comes to the Demon Squad books. Brian Keene is another, as is Stephen King of course. There are also a whole crop of newer writers that are inspiring me to step up my game. With the desire to get better, every book I read has an impact upon how I approach the next piece I work on.
BH: What inspired you to become a writer?
TM: Fame, fortune, and all the hot women waiting around to have sex with famous authors. Oh, and the lack of dress code. That’s a biggie.
BH: What goals do you have for yourself as a writer?
TM: My short terms goal is to better my writing/publishing situation at least once a year. I shoot to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way on my ultimate goal of writing for a living. I work to get better every time I sit down at the keyboard, and I push myself to keep moving forward in terms of new works and new ways to expose myself (sans a trench coat).
BH: You’ve been a grave digger, a bouncer, and have worked in public schools. Which job was the toughest?
TM: Of all my jobs, I’d say working the graveyard shift at a convenience store was the toughest. While the work isn’t back breaking or mentally challenging, dealing with the late night customers was a chore I’m not emotionally equipped to handle. Between the drunks, the regular beer runs, and watching hookers exchange microwaved burritos for the promise of sex acts with other customers, a person just has to have more patience than I do to survive.
It also takes so much more willpower than you’d imagine. I mean, come on, can you picture how difficult it is to turn down a blow job just to sell a woman a six pack after hours?
BH: Name three things you couldn’t live without.
TM: This is a tough question. I’m not very materialistic or sentimental. While it might not make anyone in my life happy, I can probably live without everything. I might not be the happiest man on earth afterwards, but I’d survive.
BH: Own up to a guilty pleasure
TM: Hmmm. I’m a big fan of the Duran Duran ballads the Chauffer and Save a Prayer, and I love listening to Faith No More’s covers of Lionel Ritchie’s Easy and the Bee Gee’s I Started a Joke. [Editor's note: Both are great songs!]
BH: You are a self-proclaimed metal head, and it shows in your writing. Do you listen to music while you write?
TM: I don’t actually. I find myself writing to the rhythm of the music if something is on rather than to the rhythm of the story. My mood is affected by what I’m listening to so it’s almost impossible to separate the two processes. If I’m listening to something sad, that’s what I’ll write, and so on, so I prefer silence when I write.
BH: What bands are you listening to these days? Do you have an all-time favorite album/record/CD?
TM: I listen to a ton of different bands, but I always find my way back to the bands I grew up on: Metallica, King Diamond, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Candlemass, Venom, Slayer, Bolt Thrower, Cradle of Filth, etc.
As for all-time favorite, that’s tough. While I can listen to Metallica’s Master of Puppets over and over, I think Acid Bath’s When the Kite String Pops is the album I think of anytime someone mentions a favorite album. There’s just so much of what I love squeezed into the songs on this album.
BH: Is there a band or a song you wish could be erased from the canon of rock/metal?
TM: I’m not much of a rock fan, and never have been. There are tons of songs I would happily sacrifice, and I’m sure it’d piss a bunch of folks off. Anything AC-DC, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and the vast majority of those bands could disappear and I’ve never even notice. [Editor's note: But then what would I sing at Karaoke?]
BH: What was the last concert you went to?
TM: It was Judas Priest, Testament, and Motorhead. The sound was shit, and it was a sour realization of just how old I’ve become, but it brought back good memories regardless.
BH: Have you read any books lately that you thought were especially good?
TM: Way too many. Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire books, Michael J Sullivan’s Ryria Revelations, Jeff Salyards Scourge of the Betrayer, Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds, Theresa Frohock’s Miserere and a butt-load more I know I’m forgetting.
BH: What would you like to see change or see more of in the Fantasy genre?
TM: I wouldn’t change anything. There’s such a wealth of great new talent out there and amazing stories that I’m damn happy with how things are. With all the new opportunities presented by smaller publishers and self-publishing, the market is righting itself on the measure of quality. It’s a wonderful time to be a reader.
BH: What does the future hold for you? Any new projects you can spill some beans on?
TM: I’m going to release my sword and sorcery novel, Witch Bane, in late December. I’ve been sitting on this book for nearly two years because of various opportunities, but I’m tired of waiting. The cover is being worked on as I type this, and I can’t wait to get it out there.
BH: Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
TM: Just that I appreciate each and every one of them. It’s so humbling to see the reviews and comments across the net, people digging what I’m doing. Not ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to picture doing what I do now, and it’s all thanks to the readers supporting me and telling their friends that allows me to do it. I’m beyond grateful.
And Thank You Tim! Thanks for taking the time to be part of Battle Hymns. I greatly appreciate it. I hope everyone enjoyed that one as much as I did. If you haven't given Tim's Demon Squad books a chance yet, (or any of his other published works) I strongly urge you to check 'em out. They are a ton of fun.