The Qwillery | category: Tim Marquitz


The Qwillery

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The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers

Please welcome Jeff Somers to The Qwillery!

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers

The Answer is Always Giant Robots
by Jeff Somers

Like most people, as a youth I ignored the advice to go into a field that might be of practical use and lucrative earning potential, preferring to play video games and write novels. This means I’m more or less entirely dependent on the folks who can actually do math for just about everything I need in life, leaving me free to be one of the least useful things on the planet: A futurist.

All sci-fi writers are in some sense futurists, of course; we’re paid (sort of) to imagine what the next five minutes, five years, or five centuries will be like. Which means that when I was approached by Ragnarok Publications to contribute a story to their Mech: Age of Steel anthology it was the perfect partnership, because Mech: Age of Steel is all about giant robots, and according to my research when it comes to questions about what the future will be like, the answer is always giant robots.

Problem-Solving with Giant Robots

Question: Is there anything that can’t be solved with giant robots? Answer: No. There is nothing that cannot be solved by the generous application of giant robots. Let’s examine some of the problems facing humanity now and in the future.

Death. This, in my opinion, isn’t getting nearly enough attention. As shocking as it is to discover that, say, Britney Spears is going to die someday, it is almost twice as alarming to discover that I might die someday. Luckily, the solution is pretty simple (at least according to all the comic books and cheap paperbacks I read as a kid): Pop our brains into giant robots, preferably robots with missiles mounted on the shoulders and jet engines in the feet. Or butt. I’m flexible on the placement of the jet engines.

War. Needless to say, if everyone was either given, assigned, or placed inside a giant robot that could fly and had missiles on its shoulders, war would quickly be a thing of the past, if only because so many people would be dead from vendettas, grudges, and drunken brawls within months of the robot bodies being handed out.

Dancing. I think all reasonable people can agree that watching other people dance is an affliction to the soul. This applies equally to your inebriated relatives at a wedding and the endless procession of “crews” on televised variety shows; every pop and lock just erodes our will to live. Luckily, however, dancing in enormous armored robot bodies is almost impossible. In an alternative future where not everyone gets a giant robot body, the rest of us can apply our shoulder missiles to eradicating dance crews everywhere.

Disease. Having your brain housed in a huge robot body means you eliminate the main vector for disease: Your disgusting biological body (and man, it is disgusting). If science can simply upload your brain to the robot, even better! Though the possibility then exists of a computer virus getting into your source code and assimilating you into a hive mind, but at least we will never have to deal with a runny nose ever again.

Parking. Every year the average adult spends about two years looking fruitlessly for parking spots in major urban areas. If we’re all just flying around as robots, we won’t need cars any more, or parking spots. Although there will be an increased risk of drunkenly crashing into buildings, plus all the associated destruction when we collide with each other in the air and riots break out, destroying entire downtowns in mecha-brawls. Well worth it, if you ask me, a man who once aged ten years seeking a parking spot after 6PM in Hoboken, New Jersey.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point: Very soon all of our problems will be solved via the liberal application of giant robots. Which makes Mech: Age of Steel a useful primer on what life will be like when this glorious future comes. Buy one copy for your crapulent current physical existence so you can read it in the bathroom, and buy a digital copy for easy uploading when you wake up to discover you’ve been upgraded overnight.

Mech: Age of Steel
Tim Marquitz and Melanie R. Meadors, Editors
Ragnarok Publications, June 20, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 658 pages

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers
MECH: Age of Steel is a collection of 24 mecha-inspired short stories in the spirit of Pacific Rim, Macross, Transformers, Robotech, Gundam, Evangelion, and more.

The MECH: Age of Steel anthology features a vast array of tales showcasing giant human-piloted, robot war machines wreaking havoc in blasted cities, or on dystopian landscapes, or around space stations and asteroids against a cosmic backdrop, and more!

MECH is anchored by authors such as:
  • Kevin J. Anderson
  • Scott Sigler
  • Ramez Naam
  • Jason M. Hough
  • Jeremy Robinson
  • Jody Lynn Nye
  • Peter Clines
  • Martha Wells
  • Graham McNeill
  • Jennifer Brozek
  • James Swallow and more!
This anthology also features illustrations for every story and is the perfect companion to its sister title, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. So strap in. Activate your interface array. And let's rock!

About Jeff

Jeff Somers ( was first sighted in Jersey City, New Jersey after the destruction of a classified government installation in the early 1970s; the area in question is still too radioactive to go near. When asked about this, he will only say that he regrets nothing. He is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books (, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People (

Jeff’s published over thirty short stories as well; his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris and his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006. He survives on the nickels and quarters he regularly finds behind his ears, his guitar playing is a plague upon his household, and his lovely wife The Duchess is convinced he would wither and die if left to his own devices, but this is only half true.

Today, he makes beer money by writing amazing things for various people. Favorite whiskey: Glenmorangie 10 Year. Yes, it is acceptable to pay me in it.

Facebook  ~  Twitter @jeffreysomers  ~  Google+

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.

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

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

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

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

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff SomersInterview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014

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