My first professional fiction sale was in 1988–a short story sold to a prestigious science fiction anthology called Full Spectrum. My first novel–Gen13: Netherwar, written with Christopher Golden, came out in 1999. Since then I’ve written dozens of books, sometimes at a pace of 4 a year and maybe hitting 5 in some years.
But 2022 threw all my old records out the window.
Although I began an 18-month stretch of constant writing in late 2021 (after finishing the longest novel of my career, Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta), the books I was writing then didn’t start coming out until 2022.
First came the Cody Cavanaugh trilogy of traditional(ish) Western novels from Wolfpack Publishing. I say “traditional(ish)” because although they’re action-oriented shoot-em-ups, Cody and his world are like no Western hero and setting I’ve seen before. Cody spent more than a decade trying to deliver a fortune in stolen Confederate gold to Eleanor Bishop, a woman he had never met, to honor a promise to a dead friend. Having survived the Civil War, once he arrived in the mountain town of Pedregosa, Arizona Territory, he set about trying to end a war between ranching and mining interests. A prominent ranch in the region is the Empress Ranch, owned by Eleanor Bishop and run as a sanctuary for women who need a safe place. Those women, in turn, do all the ranch chores traditionally done by men. Cody eventually becomes the town’s first librarian, which leads him into yet more trouble. The books have been praised by readers with reviews like “Great action, some very emotional areas, great characters, and a beautifully written storyline;” “a rip-roaring western yarn that somehow manages to leave out the racism and misogyny;” and “We are on book three of the Cody Cavanaugh Series, and boy, have they all been rip roarers!! Cody just can’t stay away from trouble, and he can’t walk away when he finds it.”
Somewhere in there, I found time to write a novella about one of the most famous fictional characters of all time: Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan and the Forest of Stone brought the jungle lord to Arizona for the first time, while fitting neatly into the continuity established by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Reviews were wildly enthusiastic. A few examples: “It’s a fast moving adventure set in a unique location for Tarzan, early 20th Arizona. It works beautifully, drawing on the ‘lost civilization’ vibe ERB loved so much. It’s fun for anyone who likes a fast moving thriller and a special treat for a Tarzan fan;” “In Tarzan and the Forest of Stone, Mariotte proves himself to be every bit as worthy of following in Burroughs’ footsteps as such previous Greystoke scribes as Fritz Leiber, Philip José Farmer and Win Scott Eckert. Mariotte’s Tarzan is the Real Deal – the Lord of the Jungle as first imagined by his creator, as opposed to certain depictions by lesser writers that have attempted to recast the character as ‘Batman of the Apes;’ and “Suffice it to say that, with Mariotte, the jungle lord is in extremely good hands and I, for one, look forward to the possibility of future Tarzan adventures by this talented author.”
After that came the Major Crimes Squad: Phoenix procedural thriller trilogy. I described these in my pitch as “Longmire meets The Shield on the cactus-studded mean streets of Phoenix, Arizona,” and that remains my vision of these books. The squad, under the command of Detective Russ Temple, deals with the highest-profile crimes in the city (of which there are plenty), dirty cops, white supremacist terrorists, and more. Reviews for these included lines like “This is a real gem – a story that’s modern, written by an author that achieves a wonderful sense of character and setting (and it’s a nice thing to be in Phoenix, an uncommon mystery setting);” and “the story feeds on currently events and attitudes organically, giving it a “ripped from the headlines” relevance.”
So that’s six full-length novels and one novella released in one year. In the midst of that, I also managed to write some short stories, one of which, the Western story “The Strongbox,” has already been published in the anthology Over Western Trails. Another Western story, “The Coward of Coffeyville,” should be along early next year. And I started work on some comics projects, for the first time in several years, about which you’ll be hearing more about in 2023.
Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell had a busy year as well. Her Marvel novel, Sisters of Sorcery, came out and has been receiving rave reviews from all quarters. She’s working on a new one now. She had some short fiction and poetry published, and won the coveted Rhysling Award for long-form poetry from the Science Fiction Poetry Association.
We did some actual book events for the first time since 2019, including the Tucson Festival of Books and the Tucson Comic-Con. We adopted Clio. Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta came out on audio from Realm, performed by Emmy-nominated actor Richard Cabral. We read a bunch of books, took a family trip to Sedona, AZ, got our kids to and through school, and kept the house from falling down. I worked my day job, fixed our oven, and, oh, yeah, worked out details of a new publishing effort for next year. It’ll be a busy one, too–but not one in which I’ll have seven books published. I promise.
Thanks, as always, for buying and reading books! Our books in particular, but any books count. I hope you’ll have a joyful 2023.