Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Marshall Ryan Maresca Interview - The People of the City

Photo Credit: © Kimberley Mead

Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at www.mrmaresca.com.


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I mean, there have been dozens, but probably the one that stands out the most? Shortly after Thorn of Dentonhill came out, I got a note from my second-grade teacher telling me how proud she was of me. It’s a little thing, but she was that teacher for me as a kid.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
So, next up is The Velocity of Revolution, a standalone dieselpunk fantasy of motorcycles, magical mushrooms, rebellions and occupations. It’s radically different from everything Maradaine, and possibly the hardest thing I’ve written. It’s the strangest, surely. I’m very proud of it, and we’ll see if everyone else joins in on the wild ride. After that, I’ve got a book that’s set in the same world as Maradaine, with a main character from the Constabulary series, but it’s set in a city on the other side of the world. Plus, speaking of things in a fantasy world, I’ve got a podcast, Worldbuilding for Masochists, with Rowenna Miller and Cass Morris, where we talk about worldbuilding to painful levels of detail. It’s so much fun.

In your newest book, PEOPLE OF THE CITY; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel?
So, over the past five years, I’ve been putting out books in four different series all set in the city of Maradaine, where the story threads have been slowly braiding together. We’ve had the stories about Veranix Calbert starting with The Thorn of Dentonhill, the magic student by day, vigilante by night, working to stop a drug cartel; Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, starting with A Murder of Mages, the inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary investigating the corruption in the system; Asti and Verci Rynax, in The Holver Alley Crew, reformed thieves fighting to protect their neighborhood; and Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall, starting with The Way of the Shield, members of the Tarian Order standing up for justice and fighting a dark conspiracy against the government and the crown.

Now, in People of the City, those stories weave into each other as all these champions find themselves drawn together against a common enemy, and stand together to protect their friends, neighbors and city. It’s the point of this saga that I’ve been working toward, that I was so excited to write, and I’m thrilled to get to share it with all the readers out there.

For real: I had so much fun writing this book.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
Oh, that’s almost not fair, because so many of them have. I would lean toward Mila in the Streets of Maradaine books, because her life is in a radically different place by her appearance in People than where she starts in Holver Alley. I don’t want to delve too much into, you know, spoilers, but at the start of Holver Alley she is homeless, begging and grieving the loss of the only family she had left, and she wouldn’t have even dared to imagine she could be where she is in People. It wouldn’t even be conceivable.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing Maradaine Elite?
Hands down, it’s Jerinne. It’s kind of funny, because when I was first drafting Way of the Shield, and had put together the outlines for what would become Shield of the People and People of the City, Jerinne wasn’t a huge factor. The initial idea was far more focused on Dayne, and Jerinne was just to give him someone to be a mentor toward in that first book. She didn’t even exist in those first outlines. When she grew into being a far more important character in Way than I had first conceived her, I knew I had to rework those outlines completely to incorporate her into the series as a co-lead. And she’s such a delight because Dayne—I love Dayne, but he can be a bit much in all his, you know, Dayne-ness—is a great foil for him. The two of them approach everything in such different ways, but with the same heart and goal, so it becomes a real harmony.

People of the City is the culmination of several threads from four different series set in Maradaine, with the main characters of all four series coming together as their different story threads lead them against the same threat. So, who are these heroes?

First, from The Thorn of Dentonhill, The Alchemy of Chaos and The Imposters of Aventil, we have Veranix Calbert, aka The Thorn. He’s a magic student at the University of Maradaine, but he is also a vigilante who is fighting his personal war against the drug cartel led by Willem Fenmere, who is responsible for the death of his father and the catatonic hospitalization of his mother. He has two critical allies in his fight: Kaiana Nell, the school groundskeeper whose father also overdosed on Fenmere’s drug, and Delmin Sarren, a fellow magic student with a gift for tracking magical energy.

Next, joining us from A Murder of Mages, An Import of Intrigue and A Parliament of Bodies, there are Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling. Satrine is a former street-rat, former spy and a working mother, who found her way into the constabulary after her husband was attacked and left for dead. Minox is an untrained, uncircled mage from a large constabulary family, who insists on using his knowledge and skills to serve as an inspector, even though it means being hated and ostracized by circled mages.

Third, coming from The Holver Alley Crew, Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe and The Fenmere Job, we have Asti and Verci Rynax. Asti was a spy in Druth Intelligence, but on one mission he was betrayed, captured and psychically tortured, leaving him with a shattered, damaged mind, and even though he returned home for a quiet life, the quiet life was not there for him. His brother, Verci, a former theif and trapmaster, was about to open a gadget and tinkerer shop, the two of them were going to lead a simple, straight life on the right side of the law. But then a fire destroyed everything, and when they learned that the fire was a deliberate arson, they put together a crew of other fire victims to pull off a series of heists to get to the bottom of who burned their neighborhood and have their revenge. That includes Verci’s wife Raych, and Mila Kendish, a clever young woman with fast hands and a knack of the art of the con.

Finally, from Way of the Shield and Shield of the People, and leading into this novel, there is Dayne Heldrin, the pacifist member of the Tarian Order, trained in defensive fighting arts and passionate advocate for the civics that govern the city and nation. Dayne’s closest ally is his friend and mentee, Jerinne Fendall, an initiate in the Order who makes up in energy what she lacks in training. Their quest for uncovering the truth of the conspiracies and corruption in Maradaine is aided by the writers of The Veracity Press, a small, radical newsprint: Hemmit, Maresh and Lin.

Can these champions with such different goals, ideals and methods work together to save the city? It might take a miracle, so it’s good that the enigmatic cloistress Sister Myriem seems to be praying for them…

What is the first job you have had?
The answer is weird, because it’s a job that only existed for a brief moment in time, but I spent the summer when I was fifteen installing cell phones into cars. At that point, personal cell phones existed, but they were very rare and expensive and the batteries did not last long. So you would install it into the car, connecting it to the car’s battery in a very jury-rigged sort of way, and pray you don’t shock yourself too badly in the process.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
We’ve driven out to West Texas several times, and there are few things more majestic and awe-inspiring than going to the McDonald Observatory on a perfect night. It’s an absolute wonder where you can see the night sky, high on a mountain in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no light pollution, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. If you get a good, clear night, where the moon is close to new, you can see the vast swath of the Milky Way and it’s the full glory of the universe above you.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
I’m actually going to flip this question around, just because it’s a fun story. Back in my college years, I did a lot of theatre. One summer I did a show which was set in a back alley behind a building, and the director decided the best place to rehearse was in the back alley behind his apartment. Which, to be fair, did have a great aesthetic. But also, because of the challenging schedules of all the people involved, we’d rehearse at whatever time we could make work. Like, for example, at around midnight on a Friday night.

So, here we are in a back alley at midnight, rehearsing a scene where I grab one of the other actors in a headlock and shout, “I’m going to kill you, do you hear me? You’re going to die!”

And right then, a pair of young women are walking right by the mouth of the alley. And one of them—she couldn’t have been more than five foot two, but, bless her—she just stormed into the alley shouting, “Hey! Let him go! Stop it!”

The other actor and I quickly separated and made it clear, no, we’re just actors doing a scene, it’s all good. But she did not know that. She just saw some stranger being attacked and came charging in anyway.

Bravest thing I’ve ever seen.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?

This is the dorkiest, writer-iest answer, but most of the time I’m sorting through plot points of the things I’m planning. Sort of priming my head to have my subconscious work on things while I sleep.

The third and final novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue, bringing together the threads of the interconnected Maradaine novels.

Corruption and conspiracy have infected the city of Maradaine, from the top levels of power to the very depths beneath the city. Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall, elite warriors of the Tarian Order, have no idea how close they truly are to the center of the city's dark secrets. But when they learn that children are going missing, they know they must investigate further--no matter the cost.

They are soon joined by others, each with their own reasons for seeking the children. Veranix Calbert, the vigilante known as the Thorn, thinks his enemies are responsible for the missing children. Inspectors Minox Welling and Satrine Rainey fear the disappearing children are tied to corruption in the city Constabulary. Asti and Verci Rynax hope to protect the kids from their streets, one of whom barely escaped the kidnappers. And a mysterious young cloistress seeks to lead each of them deeper down into the depths of enigmas beneath the city, to the dark, unholy cult known as the Brotherhood, and the horrors that are growing within it.

The only hope Maradaine might have against the impending darkness is if these champions can work together to protect all the people of the city....

You can purchase The People of the City at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARSHALL RYAN MARESCA for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The People of the City by Marshall Ryan Maresca.


  1. To San Diego, Calif, when my husband was shipping out for Viet Nam

  2. I don’t remember. A long time ago.

  3. "Where did you go on your first airplane ride?" To New York City!