1. Which character in Dawn of War do you most identify with?
TM: I think Arrin is the character I most identify with. He’s caught up in his head, the past tearing at him, and that’s how I was for a very long time growing up. He can’t see what he has for what he’s lost, forcing himself to go on for some imagined life that’s long turned to ash.
It’s easy for me to identify with Arrin as he’s braver than he is smart. He doesn’t want to dwell but he can’t help it. When the time for action comes, he throws himself at it without fear or rationalizing what he’s getting into. That was me for quite a few years. I wanted to hurt, to make others hurt. That’s when I was happiest, and that’s much how Arrin is. He goes to war so he can feel something.
2. How has your interest in mixed martial arts influenced your writing?
TM: It’s definitely made me more cognizant of the fight scenes. While I glitched a visual in Armageddon Bound (something you pointed out to me,) I think the mechanics of MMA are how I approach all of my melee fight scenes. The mix of styles allows me to match them up and make adjustments as I write, and that gives me a better foundation, I believe, for the movements the fighters are performing.
There’s little of the flying through the air, acrobatic or cinematic attacks because I understand the limitations of all that thanks to MMA and my experiences. Ultimately, I believe it adds a sense of realism to the fights.
3. f you could choose a current actor to play your character Arrin in Dawn of War, who would you choose?
TM: Hmm, that’s a tough question. I’m sure there are a lot of lesser known actors who could fit the bill and do justice to Arrin, but I think someone like Hugh Jackman would work. He’s got that rugged appearance and pulled off Wolverine perfectly, so I can see him playing Arrin.
4. Who would win in a fight in their prime, Bruce Lee or UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva?
TM: The problem with a question like this is the time between their respective reigns. Bruce Lee as he would be today, if he survived, would be destroyed by Silva. Age and wear and tear would put Bruce at a huge disadvantage. Anderson would put him away, sadly.
Now, if we were to even things out a bit and say both fought at their primes, I would still pick Silva to win. His reach, size, and speed advantages, the benefits of fighting history and experience (all the techniques learned and imagined in the years since Bruce Lee’s passing) all lean in Silva’s favor.
There’s just been too much of an evolution in styles for Bruce to compete in this era of MMA against someone like Anderson Silva, who has reaped the benefit of all that Bruce had to offer.
5. If you had to define yourself as the writer of a single genre, which would you choose?
TM: I would say dark fantasy. While I hop the fence over to horror on occasion, the vast majority of what I write is fantasy, just with a darker tint to it.
6. In your Blood War series, why did you choose to employ your own races of characters such as the Grol instead of more traditional fantasy races such as dwarves, elves, etc.?
TM: I went into the trilogy wanting to do something different. While it would have been easy to create a book using the standard racial stereotypes, I feel that confines a story, a race, to those stereotypes to some degree no matter how different you make them. People have expectations when they hear the words elf or dwarf. They have none when they hear the word Grol, because I made it up. It allows me more freedom to define the interactions and racial development when I’m building a race of people from the ground up, so to speak.
7. What is the strangest job you have ever worked?
TM: Some people might think my working at a cemetery would be the strangest job I’ve had, but it was pretty mundane. I think the strangest job I’ve had was a temp job I took way back when.
The job was to pull the batteries out of those little miniature vehicles people buy for their kids; the little Barbie Jeeps and whatnot. Imagine a warehouse like in Indiana Jones, literally piled to the roof with Jeeps and trucks and cars, all bright pink and green, and having to work your way through each one.
There were like five of us there, so we were all off in our little corners, tugging toy cars down from the pile. I could hear the constant thump and crash of them hitting the floor as I yanked batteries out and lugged my load to the mouth of a waiting eighteen wheeler where we stuffed the carcasses inside. It was very surreal.
8. What’s the greatest moment in your writing career?
TM: This is a question where the answer continues to evolve, especially given my relatively new status in writing. What was the best moment last month is invariably second greatest this month because something new and exciting has happened.
My first most exciting moment was being published, followed by my first review, and then landing an agent six months after Armageddon bound came out. Getting to discuss the possibility of my books ending up as movies with a couple of movie producers was next in line. Having Clive Barker follow me on Twitter before he decided to embrace social media was an amazing moment.
And then there was me striking out on my own, then landing a new publisher, and then another after that, and being able to see my hard work pay off. Ending up in a couple of anthologies with big names was another high moment amidst the whole.
In the end, I think every moment of this journey is the greatest, each one feeding into the next.
9. If you were walking through a bad neighborhood, and you could choose someone to watch your back, real or fictional, alive or dead, who would you choose?
TM: Chuck Liddell, pre-Rampage II. Man, he was a terror, walking his opponents down and standing in the pocket, wading through punches and winging his own. That’s the guy I’d want at my back.
10. What made you start writing?
TM: The fluffy answer is that I always enjoyed writing and making stories up, song lyrics, poems, etc. That said, though, it was more an ego thing. I’m not competitive, for the most part. I kind of go about my life and I don’t worry what other folks are doing. But one day at the cemetery, a buddy of mine claimed he’d written a novel. Not knowing anything about writing a novel, I called bullshit. He brought it in the next day.
While it was hardly Stephen King, it was exactly what he’d said it was: a finished novel. Something in me just snapped at seeing it. I’d spent my whole life dreaming and imagining new worlds and had never sat down to create them in any meaningful way, and here was this buddy who’d put ass in chair and done just that. It inspired and challenged me all the same. Right then, I vowed to write my own.