Friday, February 05, 2016

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos

Please welcome Marshall Ryan Maresca to The Qwillery. The Alchemy of Chaos was published on February 2nd by DAW.

The QwilleryWelcome back to The Qwillery! Since the publication of The Thorn of Dentonhill, A Murder of Mages and now The Alchemy of Chaos have been published. How has your writing process changed since The Thorn of Dentonhill was written?

Marshall Ryan Maresca:  The big thing is that I’ve grown far more disciplined in my day-to-day process. Partly because it’s an easier thing to justify (to yourself and others) when writing moves from being a thing you do purely out of hope and faith to having a concrete goal and expectation. I wrote The Thorn of Dentonhill still learning what a novel is and how to structure it, let alone having no idea what its fate might be. I was able to write Alchemy knowing what its destiny was going to be, which made a lot of those “why am I even doing this?” doubts evaporate.

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Thorn of Dentonhill came out that you know now?

MRM:  That’s a tough one. If anything, it’s to not worry about what I perceive the is going on, not to worry about how other writers or other books are doing. “The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

TQYou are writing two series set in Maradaine: Novels of Maradaine and Novels of the Maradaine Constabulary. How are the two series related and how are they different?

MRM:  Both series are set in the same city, but in different parts. They’re both fantasy-crime books, but looking at it from very different angles. In Thorn and Alchemy the focus is on street gangs and living in or near these neighborhoods, with Veranix having a foot each in and out of that world. The Constabulary books takes the point of view of the city infrastructure, primarily the police force— but keeping that street-level perspective. Plus there’s some character overlap: a minor character in Thorn appeared in Murder, and a couple minor characters from Murder show up in Alchemy.

TQTell us something about The Alchemy of Chaos (A Novel of the Maradaine 2) that is not found in the book description.

MRM:  Veranix is going to have to deal with several new challenges, including having his secret discovered, facing flamboyant assassins and having to navigate a formal collegiate dinner.

TQWhich character in the Novels of Maradaine (so far) has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

MRM:  Surprised me the most? I’m going to have say Jutie, one of the Rose Street Princes. He started as a character that mostly exists for Colin’s sake— to give us someone Colin would have a stake in— but he expanded into being a lot more than that. Hardest to write? Probably Lieutenant Benvin, the constable in Aventil. He’s got to be a adversary for both Veranix and Colin, in different ways, while at the same time I can’t just make him bad. He’s a decent cop trying to do the best job he can in an environment that doesn’t give a damn about that.

TQWhich question about the Novels of Maradaine or the Novels of the Maradaine Constabulary do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

MRM:  “With two separate series running in the same setting, do you have a grander Maradaine plan in the works?”

Yes. Yes I do.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite quotes from The Alchemy of Chaos.

“Veranix,” she said coolly. “Come with me to my workshop. Right now. Or I’ll have to let everyone know what you were doing last night.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Veranix said.
“Then let me talk you through it.” Arm still around him, she led him off the walkway so they could face the south lawn. Veranix craned his neck to see Delmin standing petrified in between the two buildings. She pointed to the wall in the distance. “I know you’re the Thorn, I know when you returned to campus right over there from doing Thorn things, and I have proof. Proof that my roommate will deliver to the captain of the cadets if I don’t explicitly tell her not to in two hours. So be a good boy and come with me.”

TQWhat's next?

MRM:  Next up for readers is the second Constabulary book, An Import of Intrigue. Inspectors Rainey and Welling must solve a murder deep in The Little East, the foreign enclaves of Maradaine. After that, there will be third books in both series, as well as launching a third Maradaine-based series.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

MRM:  Thank you for having me!

The Alchemy of Chaos
Series:  A Novel of Maradaine 2
Publisher:  DAW, February 2, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780756411695 (print); 9780756411701 (eBook)

Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante-turned-legend—and a danger to Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of Dentonhill. Veranix is determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang in his neighborhood. But Veranix is also a magic student at the University of Maradaine, and it’s exam week. With his academic career riding on his performance, there’s no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits. But when a series of pranks on campus grow deadly, it’s clear that someone has a vendetta against the university, and Veranix may be the only one who can stop them…

Doreen’s Thoughts

Marshall Ryan Maresca’s third novel, The Alchemy of Chaos, returns to the University of Maradaine and the surrounding neighborhoods. The focus is again on Veranix, the University student learning magic who also is a vigilante against the drug dealer, Fenmere. Veranix is trying to prepare for his finals while dealing with a Prankster at school and rumors of a new drug that may be more threatening than effitte. In addition to Veranix, we also see the perspectives of his cousin Colin, a self-righteous constabulary Benvin, and one of Fenmere’s goons, Bell. The story circulates among the four of them, and readers are able to learn what is happening in multiple parts of the city.

The story assumes that the reader has read the previous novel about Veranix and jumps right into the action again. Since the last story, Fenmere has stopped trying to cross the river into the Thorn’s chosen territory, and Veranix’s life has quieted down somewhat. However, with finals coming, his professor chooses him and his roommate, Delmin, to assist another student to prepare for his Letters presentation. Delmin must calibrate machinery while Veranix pushes numina (magic) at specific levels. This leaves very little time between preparing and taking the tests for scouting the neighborhood. In addition, someone begins playing pranks on the University students, pranks that become increasingly dangerous. These pranks are not entirely magical in nature, but Delmin senses that they have some relationship to magic.

Veranix struggles with whether he should be responsible for solving the prankster danger. He already has his vendetta against Fenmere and has taken responsibility for keeping his part of the City clean of effitte. He questions whether he is capable, let along responsible, for taking on more burden.

There is some cute interplay with his friend, Kaiana, and it is obvious to the reader than Veranix feels more than just friendship for her. His unrecognized jealousy is fun to watch. The story continues Veranix’s friendship with both her and Delmin and introduces Phadre, the student needing practical help for his exams, and Jiarna, a female student who has difficulty being taken seriously in her studies. Colin himself is struggling with his place in the Princes gang, and some of the gang leaders are starting to question exactly who the Thorn might be and where Colin’s allegiance lies. In addition, the overall action scenes are tightly written and fast-paced. The Alchemy of Chaos is another stirring story of magic and mayhem.

Also by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The Thorn of Dentonhill
A Novel of Maradaine 1
DAW, February 3, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

See Doreen's review here.

A Murder of Mages
A Novel of the Maradaine Constabulary 1
DAW, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.

Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.

See Doreen's review here.

About Marshall

Photo by 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 the 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

Website  ~  Twitter @marshallmaresca


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