Jeffrey Mariotte Day 4

Jeffrey J. Mariotte/Empty Rooms Interview

First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Jeffrey J. Mariotte, though I also write as Jeff Mariotte. I’m the bestselling, award-
winning author of fifty novels, including supernatural thrillers Season of the Wolf,
Missing White Girl, River Runs Red, and Cold Black Hearts, horror epic The Slab, thriller
The Devil's Bait, and the Dark Vengeance teen horror quartet. I also write occasional
nonfiction, short fiction (some of which is collected in Nine Frights), and comic books,
including the long-running horror/Western comic book series Desperadoes and graphic
novels Fade to Black and Zombie Cop. With writing partner Marsheila (Marcy)
Rockwell, I’ve recently published several short stories and am working on more short
fiction as well as novels. I’ve worked in virtually every aspect of the book business, as a
writer, editor,

Newest release?
My newest book is the dark thriller Empty Rooms, published by WordFire Press.

What can we expect from your stories, action, drama, romance, sex, blood and guts?
Yes to all of the above. I try to put the whole range of human existence into my books,
and all of those things are part of the human condition. In addition to those, I’d probably
add courage, humanity, honor, integrity—and of course, the opposites of those things:
cowardice, inhumanity, and worse.
From a different perspective, I guess the main things a reader can expect to find in all my
books are suspense and a fast pace. I like to write books that are hard to put down. I like
to create engaging characters and then put them into difficult situations, so the reader
cares what’s going to happen next.

Do you have a favorite character in your stories? Who? and Why?
My current favorites are the two main characters from Empty Rooms: Frank Robey is a
Detroit cop, experienced and worldly wise, a love of comic books and classic soul music.
Richie Krebbs—who Frank calls Maynard, after Bob Denver’s beatnik character,
Maynard G. Krebs, in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis—was fired from the police
department. He’s not good with bureaucracy but he’s a walking encyclopedia of crime
and criminals. They’re very different guys, but together they work really well—on
solving crimes, and in a fictional sense.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
I worked in the comic book publishing business for years, and have written close to 150
comic books and graphic novels, but have never before written about comic books in my
fiction (although I have written fiction about comic book characters, including Superman
and Spider-Man—but that’s different). I mentioned that Frank Robey in Empty Rooms is
a comic book fan. One of the ways he maintains his humanity and his sanity is by reading
comics, particularly Superman comics. When Richie Krebbs is on the road by himself,
investigating the case, and Frank is kept in Detroit by his job, he reads Superman comics
to Richie over the phone to help him stay grounded. Frank is also a collector of original
comic book art.

Have there been any other authors who have inspired your work or helped you out with
your stories?
Over the years, many, many authors have inspired me. I’ve been a writer and bookseller
and worked in just about every position in publishing. For a couple of years after
graduating from college, I had a job that didn’t involve writing and words and books, but
since then I’ve always made my living that way. During the years I’ve read widely and
met almost every living author who’s important to me, and become friends with many of
them. A few who I find particularly inspirational for various reasons include James Lee
Burke, Wallace Stegner, William Goldman, Stephen King, and Ross Macdonald. The one
who is most helpful on a day-to-day basis is my partner Marcy, who is a fantastic writer
and who is good at fixing plot issues and finding ways to improve the work.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
 Readers who enjoy my work have already done the most important thing, which is to
read. Hopefully they bought it, too, but even if they borrow a book from a friend or check
it out from a library, I’m honored that they’re devoting their precious time to reading
something that I wrote. Beyond that, they can tell friends that they like the book, post
about it on Facebook or Tweet about it, and especially, write reviews on the online
bookstore sites. Reviews only take a few minutes but they’re a huge help in attracting
attention to a book.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
The only real advice for writers trying to get published is to write. There’s no substitute.
They have to put their butts in the chair and put their fingers on the keyboard and do the
work. Eventually they’ll finish something. If they do it enough, they’ll get better and
better, and eventually, if they have the talent and the drive and the discipline to keep at it,
they’ll write something that somebody will want to publish. Being published once is
great, but it doesn’t mean you’ve got it made. For most of us, each book is a brand-new
thing, and we have to try to sell them, one at a time, to publishers, and most of them will
be rejected most of the time. So the discipline to keep working even in the face of
rejection is key, and the drive to keep trying, keep sending it out, no matter how many
times it comes back. If it’s good enough, eventually it’ll land in front of the right editor
on the right day.

Do you have a favorite author? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
I don’t have any single “favorite.” As I mentioned above, there are many, many authors I
read and like and learn from.

Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it memorable?
I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, writing little mystery stories inspired by reading
Hardy Boys adventures. During my high school years I wrote a lot of sword & sorcery
and fantasy stories, and eventually got to write three novels set in the world of Conan the
Barbarian, which was a dream come true. The first short story I ever entered in a literary
awards competition, back in my college days, won third place, which was a great bit of
encouragement that I was capable of achieving my goal of being a “real” writer.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?
Inspiration is everywhere in the world. A story on the news, an event from life, a stray
thought, something in a book—anything can inspire a story idea, or part of one. The best
stories come from putting together two (or more) different ideas, inspired by different
things, in ways that they’ve never been put together before.

Favorite places to travel or visit?
I love travel, and always have. I’ve lived in Illinois, France, Virginia, Germany,
California, and Arizona, and love to visit places I haven’t been before, or special
places—the Grand Canyon, for instance--

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue
and tantalize us:( Include links to where we can find your work).

From Empty Rooms, chapter 1:

“Ever hear of Angela Morton?”
Richie knew the name. He studied crime like some people did baseball stats, and this one
had been big news. “That little girl who was abducted, what, ten years ago or so?”
“Little more, I think.”
Richie remembered the broad strokes, if not the fine details. A young girl had been
snatched, apparently from her front yard. No ransom demand had ever materialized.
Neither had a body. It had been front-page news for a few weeks, the lead story on the
evening news, and then it had tapered off. There had never been an arrest. “Was that her
“Northwest corner, right? Big ol’ tree in the front?”
“That’s right.”
“My momma was obsessed with that case. She cut out newspaper clippings, watched
everything on the TV. She used to drive me and my sister by that house and shake her
head and tell us never to talk to strangers.”
“Thirteen years,” Richie said.
“Say what?”
“It was thirteen years ago. I can’t remember her parents’ names, but I do remember that.”
“Crime’s kind of a hobby of mine. Learning about it, not doing it.”
“Good thing.”
“Wow.” Richie shook his head. “That was the Angela Morton house. I never put that
together before. Trippy.”
“Was a long time ago,” Kevin said.
“Thirteen years.”
“Poor kid.” “You think she’s dead?”
“Of course she is. People who take kids like that, without asking for ransom, almost
invariably do it for sex. Most of their victims are dead in twenty-four hours. Less than.
Just …”
“Just what?”
“Well, Wendy and I are trying to have kids. Makes you wonder. What if the bastard who
took Angela Morton still lives in the neighborhood?” Kevin made a right turn, driving
slowly past the big, expensive homes. “Then,” he said, “you better figure out who it is.
And right quick.”

Empty Rooms online:
Barnes & Noble

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