Sunday, March 23, 2014

Interview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014

Please welcome Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward to The Qwillery. They are the co-authors of the Dead West series published Ragnarok Publications.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery, Tim, J.M. and Kenny. Please tell us when you started writing and the most challenging thing about writing for you.

TIM:  Howdy. Just ignore Kenny.

I’ve always liked writing, but it wasn’t until around ’95 or so that I seriously contemplated doing more than the occasional scribble. A buddy brought his novel into work and it kind of lit a fire under me. I started processing and thinking of writing my own novel but life got in the way, and I didn’t get much done. Then somewhere around 2008 I stumbled across a writing group that reignited my interest, and I’ve been doing it consistently since then.

The most challenging thing these days is finding time to write amidst all the other commitments that come with publishing.

JOE (J.M.):  Thanks, TQ, and I wanna make it clear that contrary to popular belief, I was not the buddy in ’95 who brought his novel in and flaunted it in Tim’s face. But, damn, I wish I was. I would have said “nyah-nyah,” too. And maybe, like, rubbed my novel all over his face. That would have been fantastic.

Sigh. Oh, well. Let’s see…what was the question again? Ah, when did I start writing? Let’s see, I suppose it was when I figured out it was more fun for me than drawing. I started out wanting to be a comic book artist, and I drew a LOT growing up, but it would take me hours and hours to draw just one page, and then you turn your pencils in to an inker and the organic feel and fluid tones of graphite on bristol gets lost. It was very disappointing. So I realized writing was a lot more gratifying, plus I could control the end result.

The most challenging thing about writing is the same as Tim said: finding the time. I work from home and have three kids all under eight years old, so co-publishing Ragnarok’s titles and playing Mr. Mom definitely eats up my energy and, hence, any free time I have to write.

KENNY:  Do I have to sit next to these two? Ugh. Well, I guess if it’s only for a little while I can stomach it. I started writing in sixth grade when my teacher encouraged the class to start keeping a journal.

The most challenging thing about writing to me has always been maintaining focus and keeping the flow going on a regular basis. I still write a lot, but it has taken me years to learn to clear my schedule and make writing a priority, especially with all the marketing that authors have to do these days.

TQ:  You co-write the new Dead West series, which includes 2 books (so far): Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things. Describe each book in 140 words or less:

TIM:  The first book, Those Poor, Poor Bastards, is kind of the storm before the storm. Lots of spirited introductions made in the middle of an undead uprising. Total chaos.

JOE:  TPPB is kind of like the classic standoff at the Alamo. That’s how I sort of pictured it in the plotting stages, with our characters holed up in a broken-down fort, wondering what the hell is going on, and what are they going to do to get out of this mess alive!

TIM:  And then The Ten Thousand Things opens up the world of weird western and zombie. We get them outside of the fort and into the wilderness, all while delving a lot more into the mystical and spiritual elements, all with guts and guns galore.

KENNY:  Since the dead rose in TPPB, the group’s been hard pressed and on their heels for a few days by the time we’re deep into TTTT. And Tim’s right, we definitely open up the mystical and spiritual aspects, especially pertaining to the main character, Nina, and her connection to the Land and the People.

JOE:  Was that 140 words or less for each of us or in total?

TQ:  How does the collaboration work? Who does what?

KENNY: We start with an online chat thread called “Dead West Deaduns,” where we discuss book ideas and share inspiration, talk about the characters, and anything major we want to address in the plot. Tim and Joe do most of the initial brainstorming, and once they have their notes together, Tim creates the outline.

TIM: Joe is so anal, too. He does tons of research, so his notes are great to have. There’s no way we’re able to fit in all the work he does, though.

KENNY: Yeah, what the hell. Remember when he came up with all the characters? I was like, how are we going to fit this many characters into a fifty-thousand word book?

JOE: Hey, according to Gini Koch I’m not anal, I’m detail-oriented. So up yours.

TIM:  Up my what?

JOE:  Shut up.

KENNY:  So I take the outline and compose a draft. Then Tim and Joe tweak and revise while copyediting. They ensure a smooth flow and consistent tone. Tim looks mainly for gaps in logic and areas that require clarification, that might cause reader confusion, and Anal Joe does all the fact checking and addresses issues of style and timing and inserts his own scenes.

TIM:  In the meantime, we keep collaborating and tossing ideas back and forth. We’re pretty much permanently connected on Facebook.

JOE:  Don’t reveal the truth of our connection. It’s telepathy. We have this Borg mind thing going where we—

KENNY:  —are able to finish one another’s—

TIM:  —sandwiches.

JOE:  Close enough.

TQ:  Why did you combine the Wild West and Zombies?

JOE:  Because they are two of the f**king coolest subgenres in my mind. I was very deliberate in the whole ‘The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels Collide’ tagline. Months before we started, I was chatting online with a friend named Mike Wheeler and he wrote, “I always wanted to see Clint Eastwood take down some zombies with a Bowie knife.” So that vision instantly resonated. I then stole his idea and ran away with it, laughing maniacally all the while. Honestly, though, Mike is one of our biggest supporters and I think he’s proud to have planted that seed and watched me turn it into a Western zombie series with my two main compadres.

KENNY:  I love you, man.

JOE:  Thank you, Kenny. You know I feel the same.


TQ:  Tell us something about the novels not in the book descriptions.

KENNY:  Each character has a rich history; for example, the Daggett brothers fought at Shiloh during the Civil War and they still carry that burden through the Dead West books. All the characters, in fact, have a unique history that we’re anxious to unveil as we go.

JOE:  There’s also Father Thomas Mathias, a Jesuit missionary priest known as a Black Robe, and he’s a mysterious cat with weird abilities that makes our main character be all like, “Say wha—?” She’s not sure what to make of this white dude with all his D&D-style clerical magic (for all you gamers out there).

TIM:  You are so weird.

JOE:  What did I say?

KENNY:  Although Dead West is billed as a ‘zombie’ series, there’s much more to it, too. We’re taking it into a Weird West direction at times with what some folks have referred to as Lovecraftian influences.

JOE:  That makes me think of Keith West’s review at Amazing Stories, where he said it’s more like Night of the Living Dead meets H.P. Lovecraft and Dr. Fu Manchu,” which I think is a great description.

KENNY:  I agree with you. And I also agree with Tim that you are weird.

TQ: What's next?

TIM:  The third installment of Dead West is called The Devils in Reno, and we’ve had our characters on the run for two books now, so this is the point where those who are still alive formulate a plan to take the fight to the bad guys.

JOE:  Then the plan for book four is to give our wordmonkey a break. Kenny will need to hop away like a cuddly little bunny so he can work on the third book in his GnomeSaga trilogy, so we’ve tapped author Ed Erdelac to come in and play in the sandbox with us for an issue. He’s all about the wuxia genre, and there will be a fair amount of that going on in Dead West #4.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

Those Poor, Poor Bastards
Dead West 1
Ragnarok Publications, February 19, 2014


Sierra Nevada, 1868, during the expansion of the Central Pacific Railroad, Nina Weaver and her pa, Lincoln, trundle into Coburn Station with a wagonful of goods they're looking to barter. Of all the rotten luck, their world—and the future of the Old West—is forever changed when a swarm of zombies invades town on the hunt for some human-sized vittles.

From the deranged minds of Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin, and Kenny Soward, Those Poor, Poor Bastards is the first volume in an all-new Old Western Supernatural Horror series.

The Ten Thousand Things
Dead West 2
Ragnarok Publications, upcoming

Stalked across the Great Basin by an evil they hardly understand, Nina Weaver and her hard-bitten bunch o’ ragtag death-dealers have learned one crucial lesson: the only sure thing in life—and death—is a loaded gun.

‘Deaduns’ and other horrors have come a’callin’, and Nina struggles to uphold unlikely alliances as the stale waft of rot threatens to overrun the West. Can Nina and company stand against...The Ten Thousand Things?

Something To Look Forward To

Dead West Facebook Release Party on March 25, 8-11 EDT. Find it here.

About the Authors

Tim Marquitz

Raised on a diet of Heavy Metal and bad intentions, Tim Marquitz writes a mix of the dark perverse, the horrific, and the tragic, tinged with sarcasm and biting humor. A former grave digger, bouncer, and dedicated metalhead, he is a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts, and fighting in general. His urban fantasy series called Demon Squad is a fan favorite and he is also the Editor-In-Chief of Ragnarok Publications. He lives in El Paso, Texas, with his beautiful wife and daughter. His website is

J.M. Martin

J.M. Martin has been a teacher, an occupational therapist, a managing editor, and a graphic designer. He has written comic books and role-playing games, as well as several short stories for Fantasist Enterprises, Rogue Blades Entertainment, Pill Hill Press, and Angelic Knight Press. He recently co-founded Ragnarok Publications with Tim Marquitz and is the company’s Creative Director. J.M. (Joe) lives in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, with his kick-ass, red-headed, black belt wife and three spirited wee folk he swears are pixies. He wants you to bookmark and come to it often.

Kenny Soward

Kenny Soward grew up in Crescent Park, Kentucky, a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to AC/DC, Quiet Riot, and Iron Maiden. In those quiet 1970's streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar. At the age of sixteen, he learned to play drums and bashed skins for many groups over the next twenty years. By day, Kenny works as a Unix professional, and at night he writes and sips bourbon. His fantasy series GnomeSaga is published by Ragnarok Publications. He lives in Independence, Kentucky, with two cats and a gal who thinks she's a cat. Visit him online at


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