Thursday, December 31, 2020

To The End of 2020

 Friends, this year has been quite the Chaos Dragon that we've all struggled to hang onto.  Right now we're ending the year with a lot of "congratulation, you made it, nothing will change" energy.  But nonetheless, I'm going into 2021 with the same Ambition Energy I came into it with.  And even though I felt like I could have done better in the past year, I did accomplish quite a bit.

  • I put out two novels, ending Phase I of the Maradaine Saga!  With The Fenmere Job and People of the City I like to think I landed that first step of the patently absurd triple jump I'm attempting.  And most of the reaction to People has been one of "I was worried he wouldn't pull it off, but he did", which makes me deliriously happy.
  • I wrote & edited The Velocity of Revolution,  you will be able to get into your hands on February 9th!
  • I wrote the novel that you'll be getting in October of 2021!  I first promoted it as A Constabulary of One, but the process of writing it made that title feel more and more incorrect.  So the title is in flux, but for now let's call in Untitled Corrie Welling NovelYes!  This is Corrie's novel, where we follow what happens to her after the events of A Parliament of Bodies.  I'll be telling you more about it soon, but I'm thrilled to show you a lot more of the larger world outside of Maradaine through Corrie's eyes.
  • I wrote a novella!  It stars Phadre and Jiarna from the Thorn books, and it's a lot of fun. How to best describe the vibe?  Mystical romantic light noir?  I have no idea what its destiny is going to be yet, so we'll see how it's going to get into your hands.
  • I, with my astounding co-hosts Rowenna Miller and Cass Morris, produced 25ish episodes of Worldbuilding for Masochists.  This has been a fabulous and fun project and, especially in this very isolating year, gave me a good excuse to chat with all sorts of people, at least over video calls.
  • I continued to build out the plan for Phase II of Maradaine, which I hope to tell you all more about soon.

So: I did all right, at least in terms of meeting goals.  But there's always room to improve, and I hope to do even better for 2021.  Hope the new year brings blessings to all of you as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


 So we're only a few weeks from PEOPLE OF THE CITY coming into the world, which ends the first phase of the Maradaine Saga and brings together the heroes from all four Maradaine series.  I am SO EXCITED this is coming and you all get to read it.

How excited?  Excited enough that I've dove in deep with playing around on Photoshop to make character images for so many major characters in Maradaine.

But I've been thrilled with the early reactions to PEOPLE OF THE CITY.  Over at SF&F Reviews, they said:

This is a story which will take you into the world of Maradaine, and when you come out on he last page, leave you wanting more, wanting to know what happens next. So go now, and pick a copy up - it’s a genuine delight.

And my dear podcast cohost, Cass Morris, said:

Maresca has achieved something truly magnificent here. Tying together disparate threads of a multi-POV story is a challenge even in a single novel. To pull together the threads of four series, spanning twelve novels, is an absolutely masterful act.

So, yes, I'm quite happy, and very excited for you all to get your hands on it.  So, yes: Go Get Your Hands On It.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


So, last week I finished the draft of THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION, cleaned it up and delivered it to my wonderful editor. Now we’ll wait for her thoughts, and in the meantime, I want to unpack a bit about this process.  This was one of the hardest experiences writing a book I’ve had, and that was for a number of reasons.  First off, let’s talk about on a Worldbuilding level.

THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION is set in a completely different world from the Maradaine novels. Not just “this is a different world”, but a radically different setting on many levels, worldbuilt from scratch. I had been playing with worldbuilding new settings, less for “This is for a new book” and more for the exercise in and of itself, teaching myself HOW to worldbuild better. A mindset that also led to the Worldbuilding for Masochists podcast.  (More on that in a bit.)

This book was a random idea that just HIT me, and even though I was finishing SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE, still had FENMERE JOB and PEOPLE OF THE CITY to write, the idea just clawed its way in and didn’t let go. So I wrote some notes, and then those notes became an outline and a proposal, which I sent to my agent, and all of a sudden I had a contract and a due date. All without yet doing the level of worldbuild that I “usually” do.

By which I mean, the world of Maradaine had been fermenting and mellowing for YEARS before I started writing THORN, including two trunk novels in that setting. Here I had less than a year between selling the idea and needing to start drafting.  If you’ve listened to me on WFM, you know I like having a good sense of the whole sandbox as a way to find the story.  Here, I had to take a completely different approach. And thankfully I had the podcast to help.

There’s a thing we talk about on WFM, about Choosing Vs. Presuming. Which is roughly: choose what you want for your world, but make it a choice. Don’t just presume “this is how things are” without interrogating it.  So much of the worldbuilding in this book is putting that philosophy into practice. Why does the culture do this? How do I show that? How do I make it clear to the readers what I’m doing without it feeling like an infodump?

And that Choice vs. Presumption came right from the very concept. Why not a secondary world fantasy with motorcycles and raw denim and radios and tacos? Why not a fantasy culture that draws inspiration from Mexico and Latin America?

And you may ask yourself, should a white boy from upstate New York be writing a secondary world fantasy that draws inspiration from Mexico and Latin America? And, yeah, maybe not. Maybe I have deeply screwed up in trying this.  I’d rather try and fail and learn. Writing this book has been a learning process, and working with Alex Rowland and Rowenna Miller on the podcast has been a critical aspect in furthering my learning process.

Though, also: as a food in fantasy person? I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen. Namely: tacos. Maybe that was a little thing, but it felt huge to me.

(Also, for the record, I’ve had insight and advise from latinx alpha/beta readers from the beginning, and if you have specific concerns or thoughts: my email is open and I welcome the conversation.)

Also this was a hard book to write because my outline really failed me this time. I’ve always said that A. I love my outlines (and outline process), but B. No outline fully survives contact with the writing process.  This book?  The outline REALLY did not survive the writing process.  The writing was a constant cycle of stopping, reassessing and finding new directions. I regularly felt like the plot was slipping out of my hands. That meant it was always a process of challenging my presumptions. Questioning why I was doing things a certain way. Trying to find my own blindspots. Writing this was putting myself through a crucible.

There’s been a lot of talk of late of “everything is on fire, so write whatever you want”. And: hell yes. I certainly didn’t write a secondary-world dieselpunk latinx pansexual fantasy filled with tacos, motorcycles and psychic mushrooms because I thought it would be a bestseller. But I did write it, and the wonderful folks at DAW Books had enough faith in me to say, “Yeah, do that”. So I did. Maybe you all will love it. Maybe I’ll faceplant horribly.  Either way, I’ll get back on my feet, wipe the blood from my nose, and get back to work.  Try something else new. Challenge my presumptions. Learn to fail again tomorrow. 
But the proof is in the pudding, and said pudding comes out February 9th, 2021, and you can pre-order today.  If this sounds like it could be your jam the way it was mine, go check it out.
From the author of the Maradaine saga comes a new steampunk fantasy novel that explores a chaotic city on the verge of revolution.

Ziaparr: a city being rebuilt after years of mechanized and magical warfare, the capital of a ravaged nation on the verge of renewal and self-rule. But unrest foments as undercaste cycle gangs raid supply trucks, agitate the populace and vandalize the city. A revolution is brewing in the slums and shantytowns against the occupying government, led by a voice on the radio, connected through forbidden magic.

Wenthi Tungét, a talented cycle rider and a loyal officer in the city patrol, is assigned to infiltrate the cycle gangs. For his mission against the insurgents, Wenthi must use their magic, connecting his mind to Nália, a recently captured rebel, using her knowledge to find his way into the heart of the rebellion.

Wenthi's skill on a cycle makes him valuable to the resistance cell he joins, but he discovers that the magic enhances with speed. Every ride intensifies his connection, drawing him closer to the gang he must betray, and strengthens Nália's presence as she haunts his mind.

Wenthi is torn between justice and duty, and the wrong choice will light a spark in a city on the verge of combustion.
Goodreads Page for The Velocity of Revolution
Pre-order at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound and more!


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Maradaine Reading Order

I've been asked about this a lot, and I've been dragging my heels on giving a definitive answer here, but with People of the City just a few months away (pre-order!) it's high time for me to put out the answer.

There's three basic ways you could read Maradaine:
  • Release Order
  • Chronological Order
  • By Series
First off: none of those are bad ways to read it.  Release Order, of course, was your only choice if you've been with me from the beginning (and if you have: hey, you're awesome, I love you).  (But also, if you're just jumping on now: you're awesome, I love you.)  And, of course, I had to make certain creative choices based on the fact that Release Order wasn't going to be Chronological Order, and therefore to some degree, release order is perfect in terms of how revelations unfold.

So that would be:
Thorn of Dentonhill
Murder of Mages
The Alchemy of Chaos
An Import of Intrigue
Holver Alley Crew
The Imposters of Aventil
Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe
Way of the Shield
A Parliament of Bodies
Shield of the People
The Fenmere Job
People of the City

However, I think the strongest method-- and grain of salt in that it's literally impossible for me to gauge how a new reader would react to the events of the books unfolding-- would be in-world chronological.  There is a very specific chronology at play, and there's a foreword in People that spells that out (and gives you a handy recap of the previous eleven books), but here's how that goes.
Thorn of Dentonhill
Murder of Mages
Holver Alley Crew
Way of the Shield
The Alchemy of Chaos
An Import of Intrigue
Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe
Shield of the People
The Imposters of Aventil
A Parliament of Bodies
The Fenmere Job
People of the City

Now, I can see how if you read one of the first books, you'd want to stick with those characters instead of transitioning to other people.  That makes a lot of sense.  So I did think of this method where you read a whole trilogy, and then step back in time to another trilogy.  Now, there's a bunch of ways you can do this, but here's the way I like most:
Holver Alley Crew
Lady Henterman's Wardrobe
The Fenmere Job
Thorn of Dentonhill
Alchemy of Chaos
Imposters of Aventil
A Murder of Mages
An Import of Intrigue
A Parliament of Bodies
Way of the Shield
Shield of the People
People of the City

What I like about this is you read three books with one cast, which ends with their crossover with a major character from the next series.  So, you follow Asti & Verci and the rest of the crew up until they interact with the Thorn, and then go, "So let's find out more about the Thorn" and do his adventures, and so on.  Is that the best way to do it?  I'm not sure-- see the above caveat-- but I think it's interesting, and it might suit how some readers engage best with stories.

So there's my definitive non-answer about reading order: I would nudge you toward Chronological, but that might not be right for you. 

Regardless, I hope you get a chance to read them all and love them your way, and that you're safe and well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hugo Eligibility

You know, if you had told me thirty years ago that in 2020 I would be able to write up a list of multiple things of mine that were Hugo eligible, it would have blown my mind. Probably even more mind-blowing would have been the idea that what gets nominated will be a bunch of people I'm friends and acquaintance with.   That remains wild to me, even to this day.
But, hey, if you are nominating, let me steer you to some of my things that are, in fact eligible.

BEST NOVEL: Both  A Parliament of Bodies and Shield of the People were novels that came out in 2019, so they are both eligible for Best Novel.  Though, if we're being honest, I'm very much not expecting that.  Both books, very well received, but there's been no such buzz on them.  But if you think they deserve to be nominated, I would be deeply honored.

BEST SERIES: From my understanding, by the wording of the award rules and how the various sub-series interact, that all of the Maradaine Saga is eligible as a whole, and that would be the best way to nominate the series, if that was your interest.  Again, I would be deeply honored if you think the interweaving of four series into one setting has been an endeavor worthy of your vote.   Maybe you want to wait until People of the City comes out to see if I stick the landing there?  If so, I respect that.  I would love to be honored here, but I understand I need to earn it.

BEST RELATED WORK: I did put up the ArmadilloCon 41 Toastmaster Speech for everyone to read after Martha Wells asked me to, and it is a speech I'm very proud of.  I was asked to say a bunch of kind things about the community of SFF and the people in it-- especially and specifically the guests of honor like Martha-- and I spoke from my heart, and if that reached you, I'm glad.

BEST FANCAST: Ok, friends, this is probably the big hat shake on my part.  Last year I launched Worldbuilding for Masochists with Alexandra Rowland and Rowenna Miller and it has been a delight to do, and I think we've done really good work making a podcast that is fun to listen to and gives a lot of insight into the worldbuilding process.  I really think this is work that is worthy of your nomination.  Please, if you've not yet checked it out, head on over and give it serious consideration. 
Also, if we get nominated, Alex and Rowenna have carte blanche on my Hugo Ceremony outfit.  Tell me you don't want to see that.

That's all I've got!  If you can nominate, go forth and nominate with your whole heart.  And, if you can't, consider the value of getting a supporting membership for 2021 so you can nominate next year. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


So, five years ago, I launched the Maradaine Saga with THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, in which magic-student-by-day, vigilante-by-night, full-time beautiful idiot Veranix Calbert fought his war against the Fenmere drug cartel.  Next came A MURDER OF MAGES, the first of the Maradaine Constabulary, where ex-spy working mother Satrine Rainey teams up with untrained mage Minox Welling as Inspectors Third Class to investigate a string of ritualized murders of circles mages.

The next year, we put out THE ALCHEMY OF CHAOS, where Veranix's double life was pushed to the edge and he juggled stopping drug sales, keeping the Aventil gangs in check, fending off assassins all while taking exams. Then AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE, where Satrine and Minox investigate the extremely complicated murder of a Fuergan dignitary, facing ghosts of Satrine's past and the danger of Minox's future.  We followed this up switching gears with THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW, the first of the Streets of Maradaine, where Asti and Verci Rynax have to return to their heist-pulling ways when their home and shop are burned down.  Then the first crossover book, THE IMPOSTERS OF AVENTIL, where the actions of Thorn imposters get the attention of the Constabulary, so Veranix has to both confront the imposters and Minox and Satrine.

We return to the Streets of Maradiane with LADY HENTERMAN'S WARDROBE, where Asti & Verci and their crew follow their path of revenge against the people who started the fire, leading them to a nobelman's home and a dangerous enemy from Asti's past.  Next came the beginning of the Maradaine Elite, with THE WAY OF THE SHIELD, where pacifist warrior Dayne Heldrin meets Tarian initiate Jerinne Fendall, and they work together to stop a revolutionary uprising against the Parliament. 
Then the third Maradaine Constabulary, A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, where Satrine and Minox investigate a horrific, sadistic killer who created an exhibit of death on the Parliament floor, and Dayne and Jerinne work with them to stop the killer.   In SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE, Dayne and Jerinne discover a plot against the free election of the Parliament, and work to protect the voice of the people of Maradaine.
NOW, there is THE FENMERE JOB-- which comes out TOMORROW-- in which Asti & Verci strive to stop a drug shipment from hitting their neighborhood, but The Thorn shows up with his own agenda. Now the stage is fully set...