Words and Weirdness: The Ecology of the Mouseferatu

 

AriOn 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 from captors who always felt the need to dress them in the scantiest outfits that could still possibly be deemed “clothing.” (Hey, he was barely a teenager at the time, remember. Cut him some slack.)

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 works primarily as both a novelist and a freelancer (mostly for Wizards of the Coast). He has several novels (both tie-in and original) on shelves, with more due for release over the course of the next two years.

No, but really. “Mouseferatu?” What the heck?

The story behind my Internet handle is absolutely chock-full of a complete lack of excitement. Back in the mists of time–that’d be about 1999 or so–I was looking for a handle for the forums belonging to White Wolf, publishers of the Vampire: the Masquerade role-playing game. I settled on “Mouseferatu” as a play on the word nosferatu. Actually, the full handle was “Mouseferatu, Rodent of the Dark.”

From there, I wound up using the same name across other internet forums, and it basically just stuck. And since that’s how I was known by the RPG fanbase even before I began working in RPGs, I kept it as my professional “branding” even after I started writing.

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