Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Tim Marquitz!

    Tim Marquitz is one of my favorite authors for writing such works as Demon Squad (reviewed here, here, here, and here), Dirge (reviewed here), and The Blood War Trilogy (reviewed here here, here, and here). He's also written contributions to both the Blackguards (reviewed here) and At Hell's Gate anthologies.Tim is also the co-founder of Ragnarok Publications, which naturally inclines me to like him but I'll try and keep the focus on his latest work, which is Influx (reviewed here), the sequel to the first Clandestine Daze entry, Eyes Deep (reviewed here). As the number of reviews attest, I have a long and devoted following to Tim's works.

    The Clandestine Daze series takes place in an urban fantasy world where fairy-like race called the Aellisar (called "Aels") live alongside humanity. They have their own nations, politics, and spies. Z is one of those spies, working for an unnamed intelligence service nicknamed A.I. He is a doppleganger, possessed of the ability to assume the identity and memories of anyone.

    As long as he eats their eyes.

    Forced to assume the identity of an innocent man he's murdered, Z struggles with what little remains of his conscience as he attempts to unravel a complicated series of plots designed to push the Human and Aellisar worlds to war. It may be too late to save his humanity but can he keep himself from becoming a monster? Influx picks up a few months after the events of Eyes Deep and gives us an answer to that question.

    Now let's go talk with Tim about his books!

1. So, what can you tell us about the Clandestine Daze series? What's the premise?

    Clandestine Daze is essentially a world within a world. Technology has advanced to the point that humanity is now able to see beyond its borders and that’s a bad thing for the beings that have spent their lives hiding from the humans; the weres and vampires and elementals, and more. The main character, Z, is part of an intelligence agency (jokingly referred to as AI) in this other world, and he’s tasked with maintaining the status quo between Earth and Aellisar. His job is essentially spy work mixed with wetwork, keeping humanity ignorant of the Aels no matter the cost.

2. What separates Clandestine Daze from other urban fantasy series?

    There are a lot of bad boy/girl urban fantasy series out there where the characters are hyped as being these horrible people yet you never really see that. You end up seeing the stock attitude of snark and gunplay/magic/whatever while those same characters dance around what really needs to be done. The characters in Clandestine Daze don’t do that. While there is some measure of restraint, some idealistic reserve, Z does exactly what he has to. He’s more than just a bad boy playing a role, he truly is bad. It’s where he chooses to draw the line that makes him so interesting, to me at least. 

3. My roguish anti-heroes will try not to be offended. Where does Influx pick up?

    Influx picks up a short time after the Eyes Deep introductory novella. Z is in place as Theodor Crane and is doing his best to truly become Theo, taking his place. As Influx begins there’s a crackdown in Aellisar that has AI on the defensive and cut off from their usual resources. There’s a lot of pressure on Z’s shoulders as his life truly depends on him figuring out who is twisting the screws and gunning for his master in Aellisar.

4. Can you describe your protagonist, Z, for us? What makes him interesting? What are his good and bad points?

    Certainly. Z is a killer, plain and simple. He’s also a doppelganger. He takes on the shape and thoughts (largely) and emotions of the people he kills and consumes, completely becoming that person. So much so that he’s lost track of who and what he really is. His emotions and thoughts are often clouded by the dozens of lives he’s inherited. Each existence truly takes over and chips away at the original being he was. This adds up to make him this strange Frankenstein monster amalgam that is never 100% a single entity and all of his changes slowly eat away at him.
As for the good part, he’s only murdered one child. 

5. Jace is a very interesting character and one of your better femme fatales (and you have a lot of them). What is her appeal, you think?

    Thank you. I think her appeal is the uncertainty of her character. You never know when she’s lying or telling the truth. She’s fun to be around, attractive, exciting, but yet she’s an enigma. You just don’t know who she really is or whose side she’s on.

6. While the Aelisar have some superficial similarity to fairies, they also seem to be about as advanced as humanity. What can you tell us about humanity's rival race in the world?

    The Aels are the boogeymen and monsters of the world. They’d adopted a human form in defense against the humans but it proved to be a failure as humanity grew more powerful and more aware. The Aels found it best to retreat from the world then, to find a place where they could live unmolested by humanity and without fear of reprisal for their differences. They, using magic, created a veil between Earth and a pocket of existence that would become Aellisar.

    Diminished in number at the time of their retreat, the creatures of Aellisar began their own evolution, which largely mimicked humanity’s. Their magic became suffused with technology and their numbers grew, replenishing their losses and growing stronger. And now, more than ever, many of the Aels want revenge for being pushed aside. They believe Earth should be their home and that’s where we stand in Clandestine Daze, these factions and feelings coming to a head.

7. How did you decide to write an urban fantasy spy series? I only know of two other authors who write in the genre (Charles Stross and some guy named C.T. Phipps)?

    I think it was just a byproduct of the urban fantasy feel. The Demon Squad has a lot of noir in it but the power levels often override that feeling. When I sat down to create Clandestine Daze I wanted a more limited playing field. While there are mysterious and magical things going on in the world there aren’t a hierarchy of angels and demons and aliens and gods and whatnot like there are in the DS books. Lowering the power levels brought the noir aspect out more. And, of course, the main character being a doppelganger lead to a more furtive type book, a stealthier one by the character’s very nature.

8. One of the more complicated relationships in the series is Z's relationship to his (unknowing) wife? How do you see Z's relationship to her and how did you come up with the idea for it?

    I felt it was good for the character to have a line drawn in the sand for him. Since he has no issues killing people and consuming their eyes to steal their lives, he needed a foil of sorts. The feelings he inherited from Theo work against him in the series. He’s never had someone love him so unconditionally (even though she doesn’t know who he really is) that her very presence confuses him. While she currently plays a small role on screen, the wife plays a huge role in his head. Z finds himself yearning for what Theo had (before Z took it away) and it affects how he interacts with the world. He’s getting a taste of real life for once.

9. Do you see this as a long-term series reflecting Z's adventures or is this something which has a set beginning, middle, and end?

    I see the series as having a long tail. His current incarnation might not last more than 3-4 books before it implodes, but with the ability to shift into anyone and assume a new life, Z will continue on. There are a ton of opportunities for me to plug him into a new life, a new role, and keep moving forward. Or I can jump into the past and place him there. We’ll have to see where the story takes us.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

    I plan to write more in the Clandestine Daze series as well as the Demon Squad, not to mention all my other projects. I have way more ideas than I have time, unfortunately, so we’ll see what I manage to accomplish. Regardless, there will be plenty more stories.

Thanks for answering our questions!

    Thanks for having me.

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