FBR favourite Tim Marquitz is back, only this time it's to promote the anthology he edited called Fading Light. Tim was able to attract a number of high profile authors to anthology, and fantasy readers are likely to be familiar with names like Mark Lawrence, David Dalglish, and Gene O'Neill. Tim has also included a number of smaller unknown authors, and a story from FBR reviewer Ryan Lawler called Light Save Us.
In the lead up to the release of Fading Light by Angelic Knight Press, Ryan has talked to Tim about all the effort that goes on behind the scenes when putting together an anthology.
Ryan Lawler: Hi Tim, welcome back to Fantasy Book Review. Last time we chatted it was all about you us an author. This time it's all about you as the editor of an anthology. Can you tell us all about Fading Light and the stories we can expect to find in there?
Tim Marquitz: Thanks for having me.
Certainly. I really wanted to create something different, and I think the broad range of dark fiction in the anthology made that happen. While all of the stories fit under the umbrella of the overall premise, I didn't restrict people to a genre or direction. The stories I received were all over the place with regards to how they interpreted the anthology prompt, and that was great. There's aliens and monsters and atmospheric anomalies and all sorts of darkness abound, but there aren't any real typical stories to be found.
Ryan: So where did the inspiration for Fading Light come from? Was something you had been thinking about for a while or was it more of a light bulb moment?
TM: There were a couple trains of thought behind Fading Light. The first was going back and forth with Lincoln Crisler as he arranged and coordinated his anthology, Corrupts Absolutely? I saw what he was doing and it sounded interesting. I liked the idea of masterminding an anthology, being the guy to direct the final outcome without actually writing it.
As for the imagery, I love what the movie The Mist accomplished, and wanted to create a book that fed off that. Being able to orchestrate that from a position where I could see other peoples' perspective was what drove me to actually do it.
Ryan: You got a number of big names on board like Mark Lawrence and Gene O'Neill. How did you go about securing these guys for the anthology?
TM: I'm not sure, to be honest. I got lucky.
In most cases, I've interacted with the authors in one way or another, either at conventions or online, and I simply decided to take the chance and ask them. It worked out, much to my surprise.
Ryan: The anthology was open to submission from anyone for a few months. How many submissions did you get? Did you have to read them all?
TM: You're seriously going to make me do math? Anyway, I received hundreds. And yeah, I read them all. While some were obviously not at the same level as some of the others, I wanted to be sure to give each and every one the opportunity to impress me.
Ryan: How quickly did you know whether or not a story had a chance at being included? Did you have a process for sorting out the wheat from the chaff?
TM: You know pretty quickly when a story isn't going to hold up to your expectations. Read a few lines and you can just tell if there's something there. I did, however, read all the way through the ones that didn't draw me in immediately to see if there could be some editorial adjustment that corrected the problem I had with it.
In the end, I rejected the stories that didn't resonate with me and my vision of the anthology. There wasn't any special process but given how many great stories I received, it was easier to reject than accept, in a lot of cases.
Ryan: What was the worst submission you received?
TM: I obviously won't name names, but I did receive some rather interesting poetry. Not only was it outside my vision of the book, it was just too far outside of what I wanted connected to the book. I really don't know how to describe it without being rude. Picture hillbilly BBQ.
On the other hand, I received a lot of great stories that just didn't fit. I got a Kafka homage that was terrific, but I just couldn't bring myself to accept it because it was too close to Kafka stylistically.
Ryan: So what else does the editor of an anthology actually do?
TM: An editor's first job in an anthology is to determine the focus of a book. They set up the concept and orchestrate the submission guidelines and organize the whole process. They select the stories and make whatever changes needed to make the stories part of a cohesive whole. Ultimately, the editor oversees the whole project from start to finish, like placing pieces of a puzzle together.
Ryan: Aside from Light Save Us which I know is your favourite short story of all time, are there any stand out short stories in this anthology that you would like to mention?
TM: Is that one of the stories in there? Doesn't sound familiar.
Anyway, all of the stories in the anthology resonated with me or they wouldn't be there. I won't play favorites for a number of reasons, but I was able to be picky because of how many submissions I received. The quality of the submissions allowed me to hold the anthology to the standard of my vision.
Ryan: Thanks for taking the time out to chat with us Tim. It's great to get some insight into all the effort that goes on behind the scenes.
Escaped from prison and back in his own body, life has taken a turn toward the domestic for Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg. His days are filled with diapers, formula, and baby farts, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course it couldn’t last. A raid on Frank’s home threatens his family and throws his life into chaos. He scrambles to survive, his enemies growing more numerous at every turn. Pushed into a corner, Frank must find a way to fight back before his world is razed to the ground, taking everyone he knows with it. And it’s only Monday.
"Collateral Damage is a big step forward, one that addresses the criticism of recent books while also paving a clear path forward. The story had a tight plot from start to finish, cool enemies for Frank to fight, it made me laugh, it made me emotional, it was still a lot of fun, and it left me wanting more Demon Squad right now."
At The Gates is an entertaining read that exceeded my high expectations and is by far the best book in the series. The humour and sexualism has been slightly toned down in the face of some impossible odds, but this is still unmistakeably a Demon Squad book with more than enough Frank moments to make you laugh and cringe at the same time. These books are not for everyone and if you are not a fan of the series, At The Gates is probably not going to convert you. But those who are fans will love this book, rejoicing at getting a second helping of Frank within twelve months.
With Beyond The Veil, Marquitz is keeping the Demon Squad series up there amongst The Dresden Files, The Iron Druid Chronicles, and Sandman Slim as some of the best urban fantasy available. While the series has taken a turn away from light hearted and more towards the dark, it has not impacted on the entertainment value these books provide. Magic + Bullets + Explosions = Fun. If you like those series I mentioned above, then I think you will also like the Demon Squad series, especially Beyond The Veil.
What do you do when your life crumbles around you? If you're Frank "Triggaltheron" Trigg you climb into a bottle looking for oblivion. Of course he couldn't even get that right. Alone and adrift, Frank's five month binge is interrupted with a boom. A nuclear one and every bit of chaos and treachery he tried to leave behind comes knocking once more. Caught up in a plot to foment a supernatural revolution, Frank is made into a pawn for both sides. But what does a man with nothing have to lose? Only everything.
"Aftermath is a fantastic Demon Squad novel, one that tells a compelling self contained story while also acting as set-up for the next half dozen books in the series. While it didn't have the emotional gut punches from the first book, it still made me laugh and laugh, and that's one of the main reasons why I read Demon Squad and Tim Marquitz books - to laugh."
Actions have consequences. For Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg, those consequences involve prison. Specifically, an extraterrestrial prison where he and pretty much everyone he cares about are now trapped. Bereft of weapons, magic, or a good lawyer, Frank plots a break out but the indigenous convicts and draconian guardians stand in the way. With time running out on Earth, Scarlett battling to control the mess left behind, Frank must find a way home before he ends up serving a life sentence.
"Exit Wounds is a welcome return to form for the Demon Squad series, ranking right up there as one of my favourite in the series. Marquitz managed to take some really out there ideas and mesh them with some tight plotting and a solid resolution. We were given a tiny cliff-hanger at the end of the story, but I loved it because it presents a sign of things to come for Frank rather than cutting us off halfway through a story. I'm really happy that we got so much resolution in this book, and I'm excited to see what happens next."
This is one of the best supernatural books that I have ever read, it is set in a world that really appeals to me and has characters that are consistently able to make me laugh. Marquitz has significantly lifted his game for this book, and I think it is a safe assumption that the next book will be even better. While it may not be the best book I have read this year, it is by far the most fun I have had reading a book this year, and it thoroughly deserves this high score. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
I said that Echoes of the Past is a book of revelations, but as I write this review I am realising this is more a book of transition. There are significant shifts in plot, character, and setting, and I am very exciting in the new directions Marquitz is taking the series. But in saying that, at the very core this is very much a Demon Squad book with all the charm, humour, and sex that you come to expect from this series. This is not quite my favourite Demon Squad book, but with so many awesome revelations and a big cliff-hanger at the end, my anticipation for the next Demon Squad book could not be any higher.
I really enjoyed Those Poor, Poor Bastards. Marquitz, Martin and Soward have put something together that I think really harmonizes and enhances each of their unique qualities. The problem is - how long do I have to wait before I get my next fill of Dead West?!
The Demon Squad series has a lot in common with The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, and the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. If you have never read a Demon Squad book before, From Hell is a cheap and quick way to see if these are your types of books. If you love the Demon Squad series then this will provide a great fix while we wait for book six.
Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters is a collection of 23 stories focused around the theme of strange creatures in the vein of Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Cloverfield, and more. The anthology opens with a foreword by Jeremy Robinson, author of Project Nemesis, the highest selling Kaiju novel in the United States since the old Godzilla books—and perhaps even more than those. Then, from New York Times bestsellers to indie darlings Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters features authors that are perfectly suited for writing larger than life stories, including: Peter Clines, Larry Correia, James Lovegrove, Gini Koch (as J.C. Koch), James Maxey, Jonathan Wood, C.L. Werner, Joshua Reynolds, David Annandale, Jaym Gates, Peter Rawlik, Shane Berryhill, Natania Barron, Paul Genesse & Patrick Tracy, Nathan Black, Mike MacLean, Timothy W. Long, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Kane Gilmour, Peter Stenson, Erin Hoffman, Sean Sherman, Howard Andrew Jones (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand tie-in), Edward M. Erdelac (Dead West tie-in), James Swallow (Colossal Kaiju Combat tie-in).
"25 stories full of kaiju-driven mayhem with cities destroyed all over the world. Not every story worked for me, and the order of the stories was not always balanced, but the good and awesome stuff completely outshines anything bad I've said about this anthology. Sometimes humanity wins, sometimes humanity loses, but in the end this anthology, its cast of authors, and its editorial staff are the real winners. Highly recommended." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review
Sand is destined for greatness. Or so a pair of two-bit criminals would have him believe. After rescuing him from certain doom, Bess and Kaede embark on a scheme to game the War God Tournament. It’d be easier if Sand wasn’t an alcohol-soaked twit with a disturbing interest in mutton. Pitted against monsters, magic swords, and murderers galore, they soon realize winning the tourney is the least of their worries.
"War God Rising is a light hearted book intended to be enjoyed over a couple of reading sessions, designed to elicit a few laughs at the expense of the genre we all know and love. I know I can't speak for Marquitz himself, but I don't think he is trying to rail against the system with this book, given he writes a lot of heavy books himself, I think he's just trying to provide an alternative to all the darkness that seems to be permeating fantasy at the moment. It is good to have alternatives like this, they provide a measure of catharsis that allows us to go back into those dark worlds with renewed vigour. For that reason alone, I would recommend this book. That I happen to think the book is hilarious is just an added bonus."
Embers of an Age is vast improvement on Dawn of War. Marquitz has taken all the issues I had with Dawn of War and addressed them in creative and stylish ways. The book is fast, action packed, contains plenty of gore and grotesque monsters, and is just a blast to read. Bring on Book 3.
Power comes at a price. For Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg, that price is everything. Lost and alone, Hell closes in until Frank can’t take it any longer. He ascends to Old Town a find a new overlord has staked his claim, but Frank is having none of it. He goes to war against the usurper. Collateral damage mounts, friends turn their backs and foes unite, but it’s the ones he least suspects who make the best of enemies.
"After the all the Heavenly treasure hunts and interdimensional skirmishes, the Demon Squad series returns to its roots with a more mundane story involving our favourite characters from the previous books. The book did leave us with a juicy cliff-hanger, which I expect will get mixed reactions, but for me it was a great tease after a solid conclusion. It looks like Frank is going to be in a real jam at the start of the next book, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out."
The Blood War is a trilogy that has come a long way since Dawn of War, with Marquitz showing huge improvements in each outing. While the ending may have been a little flat, the overall journey was very enjoyable and is definitely worth your investment. Hopefully now that his epic fantasy apprenticeship is complete, we will get to see more of this genre from Marquitz.
No one trusts a doppelganger, and for good reason. Behind every stolen identity lies murder. For Theodor Crane, his latest crime comes with a new family, a new job, a new set of troubles, yet there’s no escaping his past lives. On the precipice of war between humans and supernaturals, Theo is thrust in the middle, charged with maintaining the balance while keeping his true identity a secret. Conspiracies and old hatreds lurk just below the surface, creeping to a head as the veil between the two worlds slowly crumbles. Failure means reigniting an age old conflict. Success means living a lie for the rest of his days. Either way, Theo loses.
"Eyes Deep is a solid introduction to a new world that has left me intrigued and wanting to know more. The recurring message in this review is that what we were given is not enough, and while I was left satisfied at the end, I wonder what this could have been had Marquitz gone for a full novel length story. I'm definitely invested, and I will be back to see where this story goes next." Ryan Lawler
What's a vampire to do when he's afraid of the dark and passes out at the sight of blood? These are but two of the problems that face thirteen year old Rupert Bartholomew Cooke. After growing up in England's Foster Care System, Rupert is at last adopted. Then what should be the happiest moment of his life turns into the most terrifying day imaginable. His adopter, the same man whose bite turned Rupert into a vampire, is none other than the infamous Jack the Ripper. To make matters worse, Rupert is left to watch over Jack's mansion, under which is buried a portal that leads to the Source of all magic. Untrained and coping with the stresses of his new and terrible existence, Rupert is forced to defend the Source against Jack's enemies, the necromancer Mobius and his secret accomplice. With his newfound friends, Lorelei the thrall, Alistair the diminutive werewolf, and Horatio the gruff housekeeper, Rupert must battle Mobius and preserve the fragile truce between the Vampire Nation and the Legions of the Dead; all without giving Jack a reason to kill him when he returns home.
"In a genre that is overcrowded with sparkly vampires in love with sullen human teens, Tim Marquitz takes vampires, werewolves and the undead, and returns them to their rightful place at the top of the supernatural food chain. I enjoyed this book, and I think it would make for a great holiday read." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review
Armageddon Bound is all about the charm, all about the wit, all about fighting and winning against impossible odds, and all about the sex. There are some big issues here that Marquitz needs to resolve for the next book in the series, more world building and less of an emphasis on sex would be a good start, but he needs to be careful that he doesn't make too many changes that compromises the identity established by this book. I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I expect the fun to continue in the future installments.
Life held little interest for Jacob... until he found death. Abused and neglected, Jacob's only solace comes when he is alone in the woods or in the arms of his new girlfriend. But when he stumbles across a hidden bunker filled with human skulls, he learns what true suffering is. Drawn to examine the skulls, he finds there is more than just empty blackness behind their lifeless stares. Through their eyes he watches them die. With every glance, he witnesses another murder, the memories of the dead playing out inside his mind until reality becomes a blur. A primal cruelty awakening, Jacob returns to the morbid comfort of the skulls, over and over again. But when he happens upon a fresh skull, a victim tortured and slain for his amusement alone, he knows his time has come. Face to face with death, Jacob must choose whether to resist the darkness that dwells inside or condemn himself forever, murdering his innocence on the edge of an axe.
"After reading Skulls it is becoming clearer to me why Fantasy-Horror hybrid stories are doing so well. By taking everyday people like the neighbour down the street and turning them into a monster you can create an incredibly chilling realistic scenario that can be off-putting to a lot of readers, but by adding a few supernatural elements the story becomes less realistic, making it more accessible to a wider ranger of readers while retaining that chilling essence. If you are looking to enter this genre for the first time, or if you are looking for something a bit more edgy than your regular epic fantasy, I recommend that you read Skulls and experience the piercing gaze of the skulls for yourself." Fantasy Book Review
For hundreds of years, the bestial Grol have clawed at the walls of Lathah without success. Now armed with O'hra, mystical weapons of great power, they have returned, to conquer. Witness to the Grol advance, Arrin can abide his exile no longer. He returns to Lathah, in defiance of death, with hopes to save his beloved princess and the child born of their illicit affair. He finds her unwilling to abandon her people. At her behest, Arrin searches for a sanctuary for them only to be confronted by the Sha'ree, a powerful race long thought gone from the world. Through them, he learns it is not just the Grol that threaten the land. Empowered by a magic never before seen, the savage nations spread chaos and ruin across the realm. With Lathah under siege, and the world on the brink of cataclysmic war, Arrin must strike a deal with the Sha'ree to take the fight to the Grol, or forever lose his one true love: his family.
"Dawn of War is a great start to a new series, showing a very dedicated and eager author who is willing to share his own creativeness."