Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by Ari Marmell, a fantasy and horror writer with novels and short stories published through Spectra, Pyr, Wizards of the Coast, and others. He is the author of role-playing game materials for Dungeons & Dragons and the World of Darkness line, as well as the tie-in novel to the hit video game Darksiders. His latest novel, Hot Lead, Cold Iron, is the first installment in a brand-new fantasy detective series and is available from Titan now in the U.S., and on May 23rd in the U.K.!
Join us as we cover subjects ranging from cheesecake to EMP weaponry, and more!
Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.
I don’t like cheesecake. Whether it’s plain or it’s been mixed with other flavors, I’ve just never even remotely been a fan. Everyone raves about how amazing cheesecake is, and all I can do is nod and change the subject, lest I be shunned by society at large.
Describe your favorite place to write.
A beach house, on the coast of Oregon. I was there for a writer’s retreat in early 2013, and I would sacrifice kittens to be able to go there regularly. To stare out over the crashing waves and the lowering sky while writing or curled up with a good book... Yeah.
Well, okay, maybe not kittens. Shrimp. I’ll sacrifice shrimp.
That’s actually tricky. Hot Lead, Cold Iron is set in the 1930s, and to be brutally honest, I’m not much of a fan of any of the music of the era. I’d need to find someone who could evoke the feeling of the 30s while not actually sounding like them. I’m going to go with Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones, Iron Man, Pacific Rim).
What’s your favorite method of procrastination?
I’ll answer this question later.
Do you have a favorite underrated/unknown/under-read author?
Paul Kidd. He wrote some tie-in novels years back that I thought were a lot of fun, and he’s had a lot of material (both traditionally and self-published) in the last few years, but he’s never been recognized as much as I’d have expected.
I’m going to cheat and add a second: Barry Hughart, author of the Master Li novels. I’m STILL devastated that he’s moved on to other things.
Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?
Just how frighteningly easy it would be to build a non-nuclear, short-range electromagnetic pulse weapon.
Two roads diverge in a yellow wood: one leads toward a mysterious laboratory in which a mad scientist is currently ensconced. The other winds its way toward a tower inhabited by a powerful wizard. You could really use a snack, and it would be nice to have somewhere to crash for the night—which road do you choose?
Wizard’s tower. If I’m going to get turned into something unnatural, I’d rather it be by fantasy, not science-fiction.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
They weren’t the very first SF/F novels I read, but the first novels that I feel really hooked me into wanting to read more of the genre were Raymond Feist’s Riftwar series.
What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?
You know in the movie Serenity, there’s this chemical in the air that causes people to just stop doing anything? Lie down and go to sleep, never wake up? That’s about the only sort of apocalypse I’m equipped for. (“Sleep! That’s where I’m a Viking!” to quote Ralph Wiggum.)
Let’s avoid going the zombie apocalypse route, if we can. I’d be eaten while standing around trying to identify all the tropes.
If you could find one previously undiscovered book by a non-living author, who would it be? Why?
You know, there are so many I could choose from, but if I could really only pick one?
Jim Henson. Because the world will always, always need more Jim Henson.