Thursday, February 14, 2019

Backlist love for The Maradaine Constabulary Series

With A PARLIAMENT OF BODIEScoming out in just a few weeks, I think it's appropriate to look a bit at the backlist and what's led up to this book. Primarily, the first two books of the Maradaine Constabularyseries. Blending high fantasy, murder mystery and gritty urban magic, this series features Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, two detectives in the city constabulary who protect Maradaine from crime, both magical and mundane.

"A Murder of Mageswas another hit for me, a fantastic read from a new talent whose star continues to be on the rise."  - Bibliosanctum

Satrine Rainey: Former street rat. Ex-spy. Wife and mother who needs to make twenty crowns a week to support her daughters and infirm husband.  To earn that, she forges credentials and fakes her way into a posting as a constabulary Inspector.

Minox Welling: Brilliant Inspector. Uncircled Mage. Outcast of the stationhouse.  Partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with “the jinx".

Their first case together—the ritualized murder of a Circled mage—brings Satrine back to the streets she grew up on, and forces Minox to confront the politics of mage circles he’s avoided.  As more mages are found dead, Satrine must solve the crime before her secrets catch up with her, and before her partner ends up a target.

READ AN EXCERPTGoodreads Pagefor A MURDER OF MAGESAvailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

Maresca - An Import of Intrique
"Maresca offers something beyond the usual high fantasy fare, with a wealth of unique and well-rounded characters, a vivid setting, and complicatedly intertwined social issues that feel especially timely."  - Publishers Weekly

The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling.

With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

But it would be remiss to leave out novels in the other series that lead up to this one as well! The Imposters of Aventil features Satrine and Minox as they investigate the murder of a constable and the Thorn's involvement, and the events of that book echo into Parliament. Also, as the inspectors team up with Dayne Heldrin of the Tarian Order, it wouldn't hurt to check out The Way Of The Shieldas well. And there may be threads to Streets of Maradaine.

It wouldn't hurt to read them all. I mean, just to be safe.

Monday, February 11, 2019

PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, Boskone and other appearances

Hello, friends,

We're just six weeks away from the release of A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, which I'm so excited to get into your hands.  I know people have been anxious for more of Satrine and Minox, PLUS you get more of Dayne and Jerinne.  (You have checked out WAY OF THE SHIELD already, yes?)  Well, even if you haven't, PARLIAMENT gives you a great introduction to them.   Publishers' Weekly says, of PARLIAMENT, "Maresca’s detailed worldbuilding and tightly plotted intrigue will entertain fans of suspenseful fantasy."

Also, this weekend I will be appearing at Boskone, which is one of my favorite conferences.  If you are in the Boston area this weekend, come check it out, come say hello.  Here's my schedule:

Kaffeeklatsch: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Kaffeeklatsch
15 Feb 2019, Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Galleria - Kaffeeklatsch 2 (Westin)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
Booting the Reboot
Format: Panel
15 Feb 2019, Friday 20:00 - 20:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Do we really need all of these reboots? Does the current reboot formula work for everything? And do all these retellings steal energies (and audiences) from new creations? Our participants discuss the good and bad of the reboots we love to hate.
Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), S L Huang, Robert Howard, Jennifer Pelland, Julia Rios (Fireside Magazine)
Hugo Award Recommendations (Dramatic)
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
What's the greatest stuff you saw last year? Let’s (quickly) review and recommend 2018's best movies, TV shows, theatrical productions, and more in the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you're eligible to vote, feel free to take notes — your Hugo Awards nominations ballot is due in Dublin, Ireland soon.
Marshall Ryan Maresca , Bob Devney (M), Daniel M. Kimmel, Garen Daly (44th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and Marathon), Deirdre Crimmins
Reading by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Reading
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 15:00 - 15:25, Independence (Westin)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
If Only It Were Real
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 20:00 - 20:50, Griffin (Westin)
What science fiction concept, other than space travel, would you most like to see realized? Flying cars? Matter replicators? Time travel? Why? What would be the impact on civilization of this wish fulfillment? Flying cars crashing into buildings, replicators putting manufacturers out of business, time travelers running wild, oh my!
Alan Brown (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Mary Anne Mohanraj (Speculative Literature Foundation), Karl Schroeder
How to Survive a Horror Story
Format: Panel
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
Who knows better than a horror writer how to survive a horror story? Join he fun and "lively" conversation as our panelists discuss scenarios from horror novels and films as if they themselves were characters within the scenes. Will their special authorial insights keep them safe? Will they split up to look for the cat? What are they willing to do to survive (relatively) intact? Who dies first? Who lives to tell the tale?
Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), Barry Lee Dejasu (New England Horror Writers), Nicholas Kaufmann, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert , Clarence Young (Zig Zag Claybourne)
Autographing: Bruce Coville, Craig Shaw Gardner, Mur Lafferty, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Autographing
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Galleria - Autographing (Westin)
Bruce Coville, Mur Lafferty, Craig Shaw Gardner, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Also, I will be at the Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble on TUESDAY, MARCH 26th (Release day!) at 7pm for a reading and signing event.  If you're in the greater Austin area, please come on out!

Thursday, February 7, 2019


I'm very excited that I finallyget to share the cover of the second Maradaine Elite novel, SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE. It's a gorgeous cover that highlights both Dayne and everyone's favorite Tarian Initiate, Jerinne Fendall.
Not only do we have a cover, but description and pre-order links! Go now so you can have it in your hands when it comes out on October 29th.

The second novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue, where Dayne and his compatriots get embroiled in a plot of dissident groups threatening to disrupt Parliamentary elections and throw Maradaine into chaos.

After stopping Tharek Pell and saving the Druth Parliament, Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall find themselves on the margins of the Tarian Order: lauded as heroes in public but scorned and ignored in private, their future in the Order hazy. Dayne is given an assignment that isolates him from the Order, and Jerinne is hazed and bullied at the bottom of the initiate rankings. 

But it’s a grand holiday week in the city of Maradaine, celebrating over two centuries of freedom and the foundation of the reunified modern nation, and with that comes parades, revelry… and protests and demonstrations. A dissident group called The Open Hand–and their mysterious, charismatic leader, Bishop Ret Issendel–seeks to disrupt the Parliament elections with their message of secession and dissolution.

Despite orders to stay out of the public eye, Dayne and Jerinne are drawn into the intrigue of the Open Hand and kept apart by dark powerful conspiracies that brew around them. Dayne and Jerinne must fight for their own principles, and protect the will of the people as the election is thrown into chaos.

"The Way of the Shield is at its best when they’re running around in the streets getting themselves beaten up by political subversives and the constabulary, and dealing with the consequences of their decisions. Maresca writes solid action scenes and has an eye for the believably absurd." —Locus

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Who are your influences?

So, whenever that question pops up, I can't help but think of Jimmy Rabbit, trying vainly to hold auditions for the Hardest Working Soul Band in Dublin.
It's funny, because when I think about the books that influenced me, I'm kind of at a loss.  I mean, nothing that I read in my youth really matches what I write.  I cite Zilpha Keatly Snyder and David Eddings as influences, and it's true.  They both opened my idea of what fantasy could be, and more specifically what it didn't have to be.

That was important, because on some level I was always dissatisfied with the trappings of 'traditional' fantasy.  Even though Eddings fits in that category, it did it in a way that defied my earlier expectations.  Both Green-Sky and The Belgariad showed me that Fantasy didn't have to fit neatly into the genre boxes.

And of course, there's Watership Down, which is more myfantasy epic than any others. That book showed me a thousand different ways to make a different culture, different world, feel both comfortable and familiar while being alien and strange. It's just a gorgeous work.

Then there's the stuff outside of the genre boxes, which shaped how I looked at storytelling and world building. Something like, say, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel was a huge influence on the way I looked at how societies grow and advance, and thus how world building works. 

I'm thrilled that nowadays there is such a wealth of fantasy nowadays that doesn't fit neatly into the boxes.  The stuff that's proliferating today is exactly the sort of thing I craved back in the day.  And I'm glad to be a part of that.  Because the stuff I'm writing is, to a large degree, the sort of thing I wanted to read back then.

Hopefully that will influence some writer of tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Favorite characters to write

So, about two-and-a-half years ago, the question came up of "Who is your favorite character to write?" And, at the time, with An Import of Intrigue on the horizon, I answered Corrie Welling, because Corrie is so much fun to write.

And she still is.

Of course, so many characters are fun to write, and over the course of writing The Way of the Shield and now Shield of the People, I've really come to enjoy writing Jerinne Fendall, the young Initiate that Dayne takes under his wing. If things had taken a different path with my writing, I could see a YA-series centered around Jerinne. As is, she gets a lot of plot focus in both the Maradaine Elite books so far.

Which is why I had so much fun writing A Parliament of Bodies, because, as it is a Maradaine Constabulary novel, it features the fabulously foul-mouthed Corrie Welling, but since it crosses with the Maradaine Elite cast, it also has Jerinne Fendall.

Including a bit where Corrie and Jerinne work together.
If you've been following either series, I think you're going to love this book. Until it breaks your heart, which I'm told it might. Fair warning.

The city of Maradaine is vexed by the Gearbox Murders: a series of gruesome deaths orchestrated by a twisted mechanical genius. With no motive and no pattern, Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling—the retired spy and untrained mage—are at a loss to find a meaningful lead in the case. At least, until the killer makes his most audacious exhibit yet: over a dozen victims in a clockwork deathtrap on the floor of the Druth Parliament.
The crime scene is a madhouse, and political forces conspire to grind their investigation to a halt. The King’s Marshals claim jurisdiction of the case, corruption in the Constabulary thwarts their efforts, and a special Inquest threatens to end Minox’s career completely. Their only ally is Dayne Heldrin, a provisional member of the Tarian Order, elite warriors trained in the art of protection. But Dayne’s connection to the Gearbox Murders casts suspicion on his motives, as he might be obsessed with a phantom figure he believes is responsible.
While Satrine and Minox struggle to stop the Gearbox from claiming even more victims, the grinding gears of injustice might keep them from ever solving these murders, and threaten to dismantle their partnership forever.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Worldbuilding vs. Timewasting

Here's my eternal struggle: finding that balance between the worldbuilding that is necessary for me to understand the world as a whole, and thus tell the story well, and the worldbuilding that is just me wasting time or procrastinating.

Part of that ties to the fact that I ended up doing a lot of worldbuilding well before I really got started with proper writing. My worldbuilding process for Maradaine was tied to the process of Learning How To Novel. And I definitely enjoy an in-depth worldbuild process. I'm fascinated by the idea of doing a deep, wide and thorough worldbuild without, necessarily, knowing what the novel is or is supposed to be. I like using that as a process of discovery.

Now, is that necessarily useful? Is it good for me to spend too much time worldbuilding. What does "too much" mean? I'm the wrong guy to answer that question, as I do adore going deep into the "too much".

Part of that is because, when I get stuck with the writing, I like to fiddle with maps. Thats a process that I find relaxing and engaging and creative, and let's me restore my juices and get back to the real writing work.

So, for some non-Maradaine projects, I'm trying to restrain myself to the worldbuilding I need for the story. We'll see if that works. It's a different kind of process, and I'm a little nervous about it, to be honest. So, we'll see.

But that does remind me, I've got some new maps to draw...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trying to play Moneyball with Book Promotion

The publishing business is pretty strange. There's plenty of money being made, tons of books being sold, and if you scratch the surface, you'll see that no one really understands what works and what doesn't.

For real, if you go to a bunch of writers-- successful ones!-- and ask, "How does one sell more books?" you tend to get a bunch of shrugs. You will get that occasional person who talks like a marketing guru, but more often than not, their advice is not particularly useful.

This is, in part, because the ground is always shifting, tragedy-of-the-commons style. If someone comes up with a Great New Way to promote books, soon TONS OF PEOPLE are all doing that same Great New Way, and it's just so much screaming into the hurricane.

There's also the factor that book promotion just feels like ugly business. None of us know what's right, but we do know when someone's doing it wrong, and it stands out. Badly. For example: book trailers. There was a period when everyone was trying them, and most of them were terrible. Mostly because they were made by people who didn't know the language of film or the language of commercials. Too long and used that time badly.

Is there some Great New Secret, some perfect formula to get readers interested, to get books in their hands? I don't think there is, but maybe-- as how the Moneyball idea changed baseball-- there's something out there that requires a line of thinking from a different industry completely. Maybe there is, and I don't have the mindset to see it.

I've got a friend who talks about books having "stickiness", that when someone reads it, they "stay" in the book. They want to live in there, think about it all the time, tell others about it. And, he thinks, if you get enough people to "stick" into a book, they create that natural marketing machine for you.
And maybe he's right? It's an interesting idea, but right now I don't know how one might implement it. So, for now, like everyone else in this business, we're throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

(Which, for the record, is a stupid way to check if your pasta is done. Just eat it, that'll tell you. No need to throw it against the wall.)
(And maybe that's a metaphor for this whole endeavor.)

All right, back to work. Do good things, people.