I started my novel-writing career writing tie-in books, also known as licensed fiction--books based on characters and worlds created by other people, usually in other media (TV, comics, etc.). But like many tie-in writers, I also wanted to write my own works; "original novels," we say in the trade.
My first original novel was horror epic The Slab. It was published in a nice paperback edition by IDW Publishing, with cover art and interior illustrations by the great Tommy Lee Edwards. The Slab was set in a real place in the California desert called Slab City--one of the strangest places in the United States. (If you're on Facebook, check out my album of Slab City photos.) It got some nice reviews (excerpts below) and sold a few copies. Now it's available as an ebook (without the illustrations), and if you happen to be at the wonderful Tucson Festival of Books this weekend, I'll have paperback copies there at a special deep-discount festival price.
The Slab opens with a real estate developer who has bought the land that the Slab occupies from the government, and plans to kick out everybody living there. At the time, that was the purest fiction.
Now? Not so much.
"But now, the denizens of this bleak stretch of desert between the Salton Sea and a military bombing range are bitterly divided. After the notion spread that the California State Land Commission might sell the land, the Slabbers started debating what to do: Should they try to buy the place that they occupy illegally? Should they form a residents’ association to save the anarchistic soul of Slab City, or would that spawn the type of bureaucracy that people came here to escape?"
In the novel, things don't go well for the real estate interests. Hard to say what'll happen in real life--but I wouldn't want to be in the middle of it.
In other news, a couple of days ago I posted about a new audio version of my short story "Gold Shield Blues," and listed the other works I have available on audio. Today I was surprised to open the mailbox and find an audiobook version of the anthology Dark Duets, edited by Christopher Golden, which contains the short story "Amuse Bouche" by the multitalented Amber Benson and me. It's a strange, very dark story; I'm curious to hear what they've done with it.
Here's my schedule for the Tucson Festival of Books. Most of the time I'll be at Booth 106 with my brilliant writing partner Marsheila Rockwell, but I also have some panels and we have a stint in the Author Pavilion (West).
As promised, a few excerpts from reviews for The Slab:
"Mariotte does a fantastic job at conveying the atmosphere of hopelessness and stubbornness that populates the Slab. The pictures he creates in the reader's mind will match precisely those found on the website for the real inhabitants of the slab, www.slabcity.org. Overlaying all of this is the post-9/11 malaise of suspicion, aggressiveness and terror. Mariotte manages both thought-provoking juxtaposition and lizard-brain satisfaction as he plays out the large cast of characters across this hard and relentless landscape. His serial killers are just original enough to catch readers by surprise and he neatly ties together the threads of random magic, post-traumatic stress syndrome, a subtle supernatural invasion and an upper-class attack on a lower class landscape."
"The Slab is one of those books that transports back to a time when you first started to fall in love the genre. It reminds of some of the great horror novels of the '80's. That's not to say the novel feels dated, not by any means. What I'm trying to say, remember those books that had a a roller-coaster fun heart, with a huge cast of characters, that kept you turning each page under the covers long after your parents told you to go to sleep."
"This novel is so jam packed with action, morality plays, and diversity, that in lesser hands than Mariotte’s it could have easily become confusing. If you have ever read and enjoyed those epic horror novels from the 70’s and 80’s (think Dan Simmons work) where you were immersed in a sprawling world of rich characterization, smart plotting, and enough sub plotting where the horror was deliberately episodic and horrifying, The Slab will be the perfect read for you."
"If you lived through the aftermath of 9/11, you'll recognize the tense confusion of the period immediately following. If you've loved someone with Alzheimer's, you'll appreciate the full-fledged characterization of someone dealing with its limitations on a day-to-day basis. If you've ever lost a loved one and grieved deeply, and if you've ever had a change of heart about what's right and what's wrong, this book will hit you where you live--and take you on a thrill ride through space and time (and a cave filled with man-eating mushrooms), each in good time."