I've known author Kevin J. Anderson for so long, I can't actually remember the first time we met. He was, at the time, a successful science fiction writer, who's only become more so in the intervening years. Among other things, he helped revive Frank Herbert's celebrated Dune saga with Frank's son Brian. He also created a sweeping interstellar saga of his own, The Saga of Seven Suns. I played a small part in that, encouraging Kevin to write, then editing, an original graphic novel prequel to the saga, called Veiled Alliances. (Kevin also wrote an original Star Trek graphic novel for me when I edited the Star Trek line for WildStorm/DC Comics.)
Fast forward a few years. Kevin and his wife, author Rebecca Moesta, started a small, independent publishing company called WordFire Press, mostly to bring some of his older books back into print. As WordFire grew, they started publishing work by other writers, and even putting out brand-new, previously unpublished work by major writers. Among those published by WordFire are such luminaries as Mike Stackpole, Jody Nynn Nye, Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Mike Resnick, Allen Drury, and more.
Fast forward again. I wrote a dark thriller called Empty Rooms and, intrigued by WordFire's success and growing list--as well as my confidence in the professionalism and judgment long displayed by Kevin and Rebecca--submitted it to WordFire. They accepted it, and published it beautifully.
A brief digression to talk more about Empty Rooms. As noted, it's a dark thriller. It's about ex-cop and walking encyclopedia of crime and criminals Richie Krebs and Detroit police detective and comic book fan Frank Robey, who team up to search for a long-missing serial pedophile and killer. Dark, indeed. A lot of publishing companies might have steered away from such material, but WordFire took it on and did an outstanding job. The book's been praised by two of the authors I consider among the very best the thriller world has to offer:
"Empty Rooms is as good and moving as a thriller can be. Keenly observed and deftly written, it’s something you’ll want on your shelf as long as you have one. Mariotte’s characters come off the page at you, and through them, the author spins a tale truly of our time. I couldn’t put this one down."
--T. Jefferson Parker
Author of The Jaguar and The Border Lords
"Empty Rooms is a searing, no-holds barred journey into darkness. Jeffrey J. Mariotte knows the key is character, character, character and has delivered a story about men who relentlessly work the case at the same time the case works them. I was pulled in from the start on this one and it never let up. I highly recommend it."
Author of The Black Box and The Gods of Guilt
Post-publication, other rave reviews poured in, including these choice bits:
A reader at Amazon wrote, "Crime fiction can be a tricky genre to stand out in. A clever writer can come up with a great puzzle and send his or her readers scurrying through the pages looking to solve it before the last page is turned. A solid writer can turn in a great work of character that gives us multi-dimensional characters in an intriguing and well-defined setting but often spends so much time building said characters and scenery that the mystery at the core of the story is routine and even predictable. It is the masters - Connelly, Crais, Burke, Chandler, and others - who give us both. In Empty Rooms Mariotte gives us both - two complex, often surprising men descending into hell to catch a dangerous and sick predator. He brings alive his settings - Detroit rises from the pages in all its filth and tragedy, and the other places the detectives travel to in their search come alive as well. Even the predator is drawn in precise brushstrokes - his motives and plan are not a revelation per se, but scenes from his perspective do not suffer from 'wirling mustache syndrome' and really do bring understanding of how this pedophile's mind works. Mariotte wastes no words or time - everything in the book is important and never bores."
P.S.: 2018 will mark my 30th year as a professional writer, and leading up to 2019--my 20th year as a working novelist--there's going to be some cool stuff happening. Thanks for reading for all these years, and be sure to stay tuned for what's next!