Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Marion Deeds Interview - Comeuppance Served Cold

Photo Content from Marion Deeds

Marion Deeds was born in Santa Barbara, California and moved to northern California when she was five. She loves the redwoods, the ocean, dogs and crows.

She’s fascinated by the unexplained, and curious about power: who has it, who gets it, what is the best way to wield it. These questions inform her stories.

Deeds has published Aluminum Leaves and Copper Road from Falstaff Books, with short works in Podcastle and several anthologies. She reviews fiction and writes a column for the review site Fantasy Literature.


ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0927CQSSN
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tordotcom (March 22, 2022)
Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 22, 2022
Language ‏ : ‎ English


A Most Anticipated Pick for The Nerd Daily | Autostraddle

"I love a good heist, and this is a beautifully constructed magical heist in turn-of-the-century Seattle." ―Mary Robinette Kowal

"This fierce magical heist tale is as smooth as gin and jazz." ―Beth Cato

"Catnip for those who like watching con artists walk the tightrope of trickery and lies." ―Marie Brennan

"[A] captivating noir fantasy. . .Deeds presents all this intrigue in reverse chronological order, spinning out mysteries that will keep readers guessing till the end. The result is a well-crafted puzzle; readers’ only complaint will be that they want more." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A fun, fast-moving heist story that will immediately hook readers who love 1920s-era worlds and soft-fantasy world building." ―Booklist, starred review

"Readers who love heist and caper stories will be thrilled with Dolly and her quest to deliver much-deserved comeuppance to those who believed they are above the law. The gas-lamp setting gives just the right touch of magic and creeping dread to Deeds’s novel." ―Library Journal

"A deliciously fun novella set in 1929 Seattle is just what is needed for your bookshelves. . . .Beginning at the ending and following the path backwards through a magical heist, this story brings comeuppance to all." ―Buzzfeed

"Deeds tells her story with nuance and subtly, luring you into a false sense of pleasantry. From the first page to the very last word, I was enthralled with this tale of thievery and lies." ―Grimdark Magazine

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
What’s been rewarding about Comeuppance Served Cold is that it was well-reviewed! I really like my book, but I spent the past few months thinking things like, “Well, I know some friends will buy it… so there’s six copies I’m sure will sell,” and that sort of thing. It’s great to see that people who don’t know me are enjoying it, too.

The most gratifying thing about this book is that Tordotcom Books accepted it and championed it through everything, even a two-year global pandemic. It took this book a long time to get into print, but I never felt that I had been forgotten or pushed into a corner.

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember that there was. The first story I remember writing was when I was six, but I know I made up stories in my head before then. My mother read to me a lot before I learned to read, and like many moms she read to me when I went to bed. After she stopped, I would extend the story in my mind until I fell asleep. It seems like storytelling, or a need to tell stories, has been with me as long as I can remember.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
It sounds paradoxical, but read a lot, read widely, and look at how the writers you admire do things. I know that seems like strange advice for “developing your own voice,” but your technical flexibility expands your ability to tell the story you want in the way you want.

Be willing to play. Try stuff. Set it aside if it’s not working. Writing prompts are a great way to experiment with something, with no expectation of it ever leaving the pages of a journal or traveling off a hard drive. Sometimes the prompt doesn’t go anywhere, it’s just a practice of a technique or a different narrative voice—and sometimes they take off into something unexpected and wonderful. Let that happen for you.

When you’re looking for first readers, look for people with a good eye for strengths and weaknesses, who can help you find the deficits in the story and build them up—and also make sure you’ve got a reader who understands what you’re trying to do. If you’re telling a different kind of a story, using a different POV or an unconventional structure, make sure you’ve got at least one person who is going to give you notes based on how well that works, rather than just saying, “This is nonlinear and I don’t like nonlinear, so it doesn’t work for me.”

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
The third book in my Copper Road trilogy, Golden Rifts, comes out from Falstaff Books on May 19. The first two are available on Amazon now and the third one will be too. The trilogy is a portal fantasy with metal magic, bandits, horses, mind-controlling parasites and hot chocolate.

I’ve working on an indirect sequel to Comeuppance Served Cold, and I’m making notes for a third story about those characters.

At the moment I’m writing a just-for-me project that has spies, magic and self-aware fungus. It’s sort of “Agents of Shield meets Magic Mushrooms.” Okay, not those magic mushrooms.

In your newest book; COMEUPPANCE SERVED COLD, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
It's a noir fantasy with a caper at its core. I consider it “a Dashiell Hammett story but with magic,” and a female protagonist (Hammett didn’t have many of those.) Set in Seattle in 1929, it’s got a speakeasy, street drugs, magic, fancy houses, shape-shifters, protection gangs and lots of hypocrisy. Dolly White comes into the home of wealthy and powerful man, hired to guard-dog his rebellious daughter on the brink of her arranged marriage. There are people behind the scenes, though, who have a reason to demand payback from the man, and Dolly may be just the person to help them get it.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I’m being completely serious when I say I want them thinking, “What is going on?” In the beginning, I hope it feels like things don’t quite add up. The story follows a nonlinear structure, and a lot of what seems to be happening in the beginning isn’t what’s really happening (or, more accurately, isn’t all that’s happening).

But from the beginning, even if people have questions, I want them to have fun and enjoy themselves. I don’t gloss over the corruption, misogyny and racism of the time, or the hypocrisy exposed by the Volstead Act and Prohibition, but I’m not sure I have anything new to say about those things, whether in 1929 or 2022. Mostly I hope folks come away with the idea that people banding together can sometimes topple the power structure, or at least bash a hole in it. At the end of the day, though, I want them to have a good time.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoyed writing Dolly because there were so many layers to her early dialogue and action. I wanted to have Fiona appear as a stereotype at first, then reveal the real person, the wounded one, behind the booze, the glitter and the slang. She was a rewarding character to write.

I had a great time with a “set-piece” in the book, when Dolly visits the society dressmaker, Marguerite. Marguerite was fun.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing COMEUPPANCE SERVED COLD?
Without spoilers… okay, with mild spoilers, Dolly goes to the waterfront at night to meet with a magical shopkeeper. She needs his help, and he makes an extraordinary demand of her before he'll provide it. Dolly is pretty sure she shouldn’t, and in fact maybe can’t, accept his terms. He takes her to his warehouse and… there’s something inside the warehouse.

I wanted to write a scene where the action suddenly slowed down to the speed of each heartbeat, where I created a visual that was like nothing else in the book, strange and vivid, but still in keeping with the time-period and the tone. I usually write rough drafts quickly, but from the beginning that was a slow scene to write. I hesitated over it, word by word. In retrospect, I think there must have been a lot of me-staring-out-the-window moments. The unforgettable part is that, finally, I think I achieved it. It does what I want. It’s one of my favorite passages in the book.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’ve got two I’d love to have Dolly to meet. I can’t imagine how their worlds would merge, but Chrisjen Avasarala from The Expanse series would make good use of Dolly. Avasarala recognizes talent and she’s not finicky about which side of the law someone walks. And Dolly would have to bring her A game because Avasarala isn’t easy to con.

Of course the ideal would be Dolly going toe to toe with Dashiell Hammett’s jaded San Francisco P.I. Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon.

(In ascending order) This is the only list I did from “least” to “most.”
  • 10. It takes place in Seattle, which is a cool city.
  • 09. The Prohibition era was interesting.
  • 08. 1920s fashions!
  • 07. It punctures pomposity and patriarchy.
  • 06. Magic, street drugs, speakeasies!
  • 05. There’s a man who shape-shifts into a cougar.
  • 04. Gay people who love each other.
  • 03. It’s a caper.
  • 02. Tough women who team up to fight power.
  • 01. It’s fun and it’s short.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
After thinking about this, I’ve decided the craziest thing is something I do nearly every day. Sitting down in front of a blank screen or page and thinking I can create a story as vivid, complete and layered as the one in my head is pretty crazy if you think about it. Anyone who makes art is engaging in wild behavior. And should continue!

That’s the philosophical answer.

For second-craziest thing I ever did was taste hakarl when I visited Iceland. It’s cured Greenland shark, an historic Icelandic food.

One of my travel-mates had “tasting hakarl” on his to-do list. The story is, when the Scandinavians first came to Iceland, they realized there was hardly any protein available (no large or medium sized animals). Greenland sharks were plentiful and their hunting pattern brought them in close to shore where they could be caught. The skin and tissue of a Greenland shark is filled with uric acid and other chemicals that function as anti-freeze for the shark… and poison anything that eats one. The colonists buried the shark carcass in the sand and piled rocks on it to squeeze out as much of the toxin as they could. Then they smoked the fish and ate it.

Our Icelander landlord told us where we could find some, following up immediately with, “Please don’t bring any back to the apartment! The smell!” This was a clue. The hakarl was served in individual plastic sample cups with a toothpick. My first nibble assaulted my taste buds and sinuses with pure ammonia. Then, for about a second, there was rush of savory, smoky deliciousness… followed by rot. I took a second taste, chasing the dream of that savory goodness, and repeated the first experience exactly. Our third travel-mate, “the smart one,” as I call her, lamented that she hadn’t gotten her camera out soon enough to capture our expressions.

How far do you live from the place you were born?
I live 376.9 miles from Santa Barbara, CA, where I was born (I Googled it). We moved when I was four. My strongest memories of Santa Barbara are of the orange tree in our back yard, our dog Mac, who went everywhere with us, it seemed, and the ocean. So much blue! And at that age I saw, or thought I saw, far out in the water, towers or castles. Now I think they were oil derricks. I like my false memory better!

Northern California is where I’ve lived the rest of my life, and it truly feels like home. I’m rooted here.

Seattle, 1929—a bitterly divided city overflowing with wealth, violence, and magic.

A respected magus and city leader intent on criminalizing Seattle’s most vulnerable magickers hires a young woman as a lady’s companion to curb his rebellious daughter’s outrageous behavior.

The widowed owner of a speakeasy encounters an opportunity to make her husband’s murderer pay while she tries to keep her shapeshifter brother safe.

A notorious thief slips into the city to complete a delicate and dangerous job that will leave chaos in its wake.

One thing is for certain—comeuppance, eventually, waits for everyone.

You can purchase Comeuppance Served Cold at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARION DEEDS for making this giveaway possible.
3 Winners will receive a Copy of COMEUPPANCE SERVED COLD by Marion Deeds.
1 Winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card
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