Exclusive Interview: “The Quarrygate Gambit” Author Marshall Ryan Maresca


With The Quarrygate Gambit (Kindle), writer Marshall Ryan Maresca is presenting the fourth book in his epic urban fantasy series The Streets Of Maradaine…which is also the fifteenth book in The Maradaine Saga…and also the third book of phase two of The Maradaine Saga… Yeah, it’s confusing to me, too. Good thing Maresca was willing to clear it up — while discussing what inspired and influenced Quarrygate — in the following email interview.

Marshall Ryan Maresca The Quarrygate Gambit Streets Of Maradaine

For people who haven’t read any of the books in this series, what is The Maradaine Saga about, and what kind of world is it set in, what is the Streets Of Maradaine subseries about, and when and where do the Streets books take place in relation to the other Maradaine novels?

The Maradaine Saga is four intertwined series set in city of Maradaine, the spellbinding port city filled with tales of murder and magic, secrets and lies, policemen and vigilantes, misfits and criminals, scholars and sidekicks, conspiracies and deadly danger. Plus, the full saga is broken down into three phases. The first phase is complete, consisting of the first three books of the four series. We’re now in the second phase of The Maradaine Saga, where the interconnections weave tighter, and things get much harder for our heroes.

The Streets Of Maradaine is a subseries that focuses on the Rynax family, namely Asti and Verci Rynax, two brothers who were raised to a criminal life, and Verci’s wife Raych. When tragedy destroys everything they worked for, they have to go back to the life of crime they were raised in to pay off their debts. It takes place in the neighborhood of North Seleth, which is on the poorer west side of the city, and focuses on the set of characters most desperate to make ends meet day to day.

And then what is The Quarrygate Gambit about, and when does it take place in relation to the third book in the Streets Of Maradaine, The Fenmere Job? Or does it follow The Assassins Of Consequence, which is the second book of phase two? I’m a little confused.

It is, admittedly, confusing. So, Quarrygate Gambit is the fourth Streets novel, which follows Asti, Verci and Raych Rynax, who have all managed to settle into a more legitimate life after the events of The Fenmere Job. But all of that gets thrown into chaos when Asti and Verci get arrested and sent to Quarrygate Prison. Raych is desperate to do whatever she can to get them out, and the two brothers are separated from each other and each face their own challenges within the prison.

But as Phase Two is more intertwined, the events of The Assassins Of Consequence — the fourth Thorn Of Maradaine novel — have an impact as well. You can read Quarrygate purely as just the fourth Streets novel, but it’s definitely a deeper, richer experience after the rest of The Maradaine Saga ahead of it.

It seems like The Quarrygate Gambit isn’t the best place to start reading The Maradaine Saga

I would agree. I mean, I’d like to think it tells its own story well enough that one could read it on its own, but it’s definitely a better experience if reading the rest of the Streets series first.

When in the process of writing the other novels in The Maradaine Saga, and especially the Streets Of Maradaine subseries, did you come up with the idea for The Quarrygate Gambit?

So, each of the four subseries have a different genre concept at the core, and for the Streets novels, that’s heists and crime fiction. And the “prison escape” story is too delicious of a trope to ignore. So I had to put the Rynax brothers into prison and play with that. Plus, I wanted to explore what they each would do when they didn’t have each other to rely on, and then to add onto that, what would Raych do without them? Once I had that, it all fell into place.

It seems that if you’re writing novels about some thieves, they may eventually go to prison. Why did you feel like The Quarrygate Gambit was a good point in the Streets Of Maradaine series for Asti and Verci to be sent to the slammer?

The big reason was because this was when, for them, it was least expected. They’ve been pulling things for the whole series, and with that, the risk of “get caught, go to prison” has always been there. But here, they’ve been living clean for several months, not expecting any trouble at all, but trouble always comes when it’s least expected. So half the fun is doing it to them when they’re not ready for it at all.

The first three books in the Streets Of Maradaine subseries — The Holver Alley Crew, Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe, and The Fenmore Job — all mixed elements of epic fantasy and urban fantasy. Is it safe to assume that The Quarrygate Gambit does as well?

It absolutely does. At the core, this is an epic fantasy at an urban scale, and so all those elements are in play, with the heist and crime stories at the spine.

Along with the other Maradaine novels, you’ve also written a dieselpunk fantasy novel called The Velocity Of Revolution [which you can read more about here], as well as some short stories and plays. Are there any writers or specific stories that had a particularly big influence on The Quarrygate Gambit but not on anything else you’ve written?

I’m not sure how to necessarily isolate influences, and least in terms of what input is directly tied to which output. So much of my process is just filling my head with all sorts of things and putting it in a blender on high, and seeing what comes out from that.

Would you say the same about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games?

Yes, though there are certain things I can point to, if nothing else, as comparison points. For example, with Asti and Verci and the other men in the crew all arrested, Raych Rynax is first left with the other main women in the cast: crossbow sharpshooter Helene Kesser and blacksmith Jhoqull-ra. With them having to figure out what they need to do, leading to their own heist plan, one can’t avoid seeing Oceans Eight as part of the mix.

Speaking of movies, Hollywood loves turning fantasy novels into movies, TV shows, and games. Do you think The Maradaine Saga, and specifically The Quarrygate Gambit, could work as a movie, show, or game?

I’m more of a movie and TV person, so that’s the way I would have to go. Though I often find myself torn on exactly how that would best manifest? A set of movies? A TV series? One integrated TV series that weaves everything together from the beginning? There’s a lot of ways one could go with an adaptation, I think.

If someone wanted to make a Maradaine show or movie, who would you want them to cast as Asti, Verci, Raych, and the other main characters?

Tough call. On some level, I’m of the opinion that the best casting choice would be folks who aren’t well known at all, so thus this role is the thing that they become best known for.

That said, someone once suggested to me actual brothers Jesse and Tyler Posey for Asti and Verci, and I rather liked that.

So, is there anything else you think people need to know about The Quarrygate Gambit?

This is a fun fantasy crime and heist adventure, and if you’re looking for a fantasy series that gives you the epic feel of a grand saga, but with each book being its own adventure and complete story while also contributing to the grander plot, The Maradaine Saga is what you want.

Marshall Ryan Maresca The Quarrygate Gambit Streets Of Maradaine

Finally, if someone enjoys The Quarrygate Gambit, and they’ve already read the other books in The Maradaine Saga, what epic / urban fantasy novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read and why that one?

I mean, they probably don’t need me to suggest it, but Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga is just a breathtaking work of fantasy, and I will be shouting about it for decades to come. It’s really astounding, doing incredible things with its worldbuilding, and opening up whole new ideas of what epic fantasy can be. I’m just in awe of what Fonda accomplished with this series, and how damn good it is.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *