On March 22, 1974, Ari Marmell was hatched out of an egg laid by a rooster on the night of the full moon. Due a mix-up, he wound up in the infant ward at a hospital in New York, where he was claimed as a (relatively) normal human and taken home. He and his family fled New York barely a year later, either because his father received a job offer in Houston, or because they were chased by angry mobs with pitchforks; reports are unclear.
For the next 27 years, Ari lived in Houston. His father told him bedtime stories when he was in preschool and kindergarten, stories without which he might never have become a writer. He received his first roleplaying game--the red Dungeons & Dragons boxed set--at age 9, and the AD&D Players Handbook followed less than a year later. He spent very little time on class work or studies for the next, oh, 13 years, instead spending his efforts on far more important things like fighting orcs, riding dragons, and rescuing extremely beautiful princesses.
Ari went to college at the University of Houston. He began in the Psychology program, but quickly changed his major to Creative Writing. It was in the first week of class that he met his wife-to-be, who goes by the name of George. (No, it's not short for Georgia, Georgette, Georgiana, or anything else that could possibly make sense.) It was also in college that he wrote his first novel, one that he is now determined will never see the light of day, and charitably calls a "learning experience."
In short, Ari graduated in late '96, married George in March of 1997, honeymooned in New Orleans, worked several jobs he hated for the next several years, and quit the last of them in 2000 due to ongoing health issues. During this time, he wrote four more novels, two of which are actually pretty decent. It was also during this time that he managed to break into the roleplaying industry, having attracted the attention of Justin Achilli (developer of Vampire: The Masquerade) with a project submission inspired by his trip to New Orleans.
He and George moved to Austin in mid-2001 so George could attend graduate school while Ari continued to work as a freelance writer. They live there today, along with a large orange cat named Leloo and a smaller gray cat named Pippin who seems unable to grasp the notion that strings, ribbons, and plastic bags do not make up a viable part of the food chain. His first published novel, Gehenna: The Final Night, appeared on shelves in January of 2004.
Today, Ari is shifting his focus from freelancing to more fiction and novel-writing. His second novel, Agents of Artifice, was released by Wizards of the Coast in February of '09. His third novel, The Conqueror's Shadow, was released by Spectra in February 2010. (This was his first published non-tie-in novel.)
Ari's forthcoming novels include The Warlord's Legacy (Spectra, early 2011), the Goblin Corps (Pyr Books mid- to late 2011), and Household Gods (Pyr Books, 2012). You can learn more about him, and keep up with his news and release schedule, at www.mouseferatu.com.
Shock Totem Publications (commonly referred to as Shock Totem) is an American small-press publisher specializing in dark fantasy and horror.
Shock Totem Magazine
The debut issue of Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted, a digest-sized magazine of fiction and nonfiction, was first published in July 2009. To date, ten issues have been released, as well as three special holiday issues (Christmas 2011, Valentine's Day 2014, and Halloween 2014). Notable authors to appear in Shock Totem are Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Kevin J. Anderson, William F. Nolan, Don D'Ammassa, David Niall Wilson, Kurt Newton, Rennie Sparks (of The Handsome Family), Darrell Schweitzer, Cody Goodfellow, Brian Hodge, Jeremy Wagner (of Broken Hope), John Dixon, Tim Waggoner, Violet LeVoit, Weston Ochse, Ari Marmell, Lee Thomas, John Langan, and Stephen Graham Jones.
On January 1, 2015, it was announced that Shock Totem magazine would be going on hiatus until at least 2016.
Novels, Collections, etc.
In addition to its namesake magazine, Shock Totem entered into book publishing in 2012 and published the following books:
- The Wicked, by James Newman (2012)
- Beautiful Sorrows, by Mercedes M. Yardley (2012)
- Ugly As Sin, by James Newman (2013)
- Dominoes, by John Boden (2013)
- Zero Lives Remaining, by Adam Cesare (2015)
- Shine Your Light on Me, Lee Thompson (2016)
- Greener Pastures, by Michael Wehunt (2016)
In early 2017, citing personal reasons (kids, exhaustion, and a type-2 diabetes diagnosis), publisher K. Allen Wood dissolved the Shock Totem book line, transferring all current and in-progress books to Jason Sizemore and Apex Publications, save for Zero Lives Remaining, by Adam Cesare, who decided to self-publish it under his own Black T-shirt Books.
- K. Allen Wood, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
- John Boden, Contributing Editor
- Sarah Wood, Copy Editor
- Michelle Howarth, Contributing Editor
- Chris Vrysen, Contributing Editor
- Nick Contor, Contributing Editor
- Tom Bordonaro, Contributing Editor
- Mercedes M. Yardley, Contributing Editor
- Zachary C. Parker, Contributing Editor
- Catherine Grant, Contributing Editor
- Barry Dejasu, Contributing Editor
Shock Totem Publications, LLC was founded in 2008 by K. Allen Wood. Originally meant to be a monthly e-zine, the decision was made to publish a bi-annual print digest in early 2009. In late 2011, Shock Totem came full circle and entered the digital realm by making available each issue as e-books. In 2012, they published their first novel and single-author collection.
Notes and references
1. Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted #1Bookgasm, September 2009
2. Shock Totem #1Horrorworld, September 2009
3. Shock Totem - ReviewHellnotes, August 2009
4. Hellfire Right Out of the Gate: Shock Totem’s First IssueBrain Tremors, August 2009
5. Shock Totem 1: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted - Summer 2009The Future Fire, July 2009
6. Interview with Editor/PublisherK. Allen WoodD.L. Snell’s Market Scoops, October 2009
7. Interview with Editor/PublisherK. Allen WoodDuotrope's Digest Editor Interview, June 2010
8. Review: Shock Totem #2The Journal of Always, August 2010
9. Magazine Review: Shock Totem Issue #3Fatally Yours, March 2011
10. Reviewed: Shock Totem Issue 3The Crow's Caw, March 2011
11. Creating a Monster: Interview with Shock Totem Editor/CreatorK. Allen WoodToasted Cheese Interview, May 2011
12. Shock Totem 6 (Book Review)Fangoria, April 2013
13. Storyville: Editor Interviews—Shock Totem, Shimmer, and The DarkLitReactor: Storyville, December 2013
14. KnippKnopp Interviews...Shock Totem PublicationsKnippKnopp, February 2014
15. Dominoes - Book ReviewHellnotes, March 2014
16. Dominoes Wins a DRAWAWritten Backwards, April 2014
17. Trailer for Zero Lives RemainingReel Splatter Productions, November 2015
18. The Year in Horror, 2015: 13 Frighteningly Good ReadsFangoria, January 2016