Award-winning author Jonathan Maberry thrilled with new lifestyle in Del Mar

By Joe Tash

After spending most of his life in Pennsylvania, author Jonathan Maberry absolutely loves his new digs in Del Mar.

He receives “hate mail” from his friends back home when he posts photos of himself and his wife walking on the beach, and is reveling in the Southern California lifestyle.

“On Christmas Day, I was watching whales and dolphins from my living room. I’m pretty sure I like it a whole lot,” Maberry said.

Maberry, 55, moved to Del Mar in late October from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, where he grew up in a tough, urban neighborhood. Not only did they desire a warmer climate, but the couple wanted to be close to their son, who moved to Pacific Beach after graduating from college, and to be near the movie and television industry.

Although he’s been writing full time since 2006, his resume is anything but typical for a literary type. For many years, he wrote freelance magazine articles while working at such day jobs as a bodyguard, bouncer and self-defense instructor.

His first novel, “Ghost Road Blues,” was published in 2006, and he’s now working on his 20th novel. He’s written across such genres as horror, science fiction, mysteries and thrillers, for audiences ranging from children to teenagers to adults. He’s also written comic books, and two of his novels have been optioned for movies. A comic book series he conceived, called “V Wars,” is being considered for a television series.

Along the way, he’s picked up accolades such as the Bram Stoker Award for horror writing, and his books have been sold in more than two dozen countries.

His childhood was anything but smooth — he and his siblings were physically abused by their father, and Maberry said he turned to martial arts to defend himself. He also read voraciously as a means of pulling himself out of poverty.

“I wanted to get tough enough to survive it and smart enough to get out and that’s what I did,” he said.

He credits a middle school librarian with introducing him to a writers group, where he met authors Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury, both of whom advised and encouraged him. Matheson, in particular, told him to “know more than you are taught,” which led him to hone his critical thinking skills, useful both in life and in his writing.

While Maberry did study journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia, he dropped out of college to care for his ailing father, in spite of the abuse he had received as a child.

He never went back to complete his degree, but instead continued his education on his own, haunting bookstores and “reading everything.”

“Code Zero,” the next novel in Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, comes out in March, and he is planning an event at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego to mark the occasion. He’s also attending a book signing for a short-story anthology, “Dark Duets,” on Jan. 24 at Mysterious Galaxy, and his new comic book series, “Bad Blood,” was published Jan. 1 by Dark Horse Comics.

Patrick Heffernan, operations manager at Mysterious Galaxy, said in an email that Maberry is a “great guy,” whose books are quite popular with the store’s customers.

“We are proud to now call ourselves his hometown bookstore,” Heffernan said.

Maberry’s books are available in print, e-book and audio editions at bookstores and online booksellers.

He writes every day, usually for eight hours, taking regular breaks to post on social media sites. He estimated that he writes about 3,000 words per day, which adds up to about one million words for publication each year.

“I believe writer’s block is a myth. You never meet a journalist with writer’s block,” he said.

Maberry weaves elements of his own life into his work, as well as scientific themes. To research his books, he’s been known to go on ride-alongs with law enforcement, consult with military officials, and interview scientists.

“People know my science is hard core and it’s accurate,” he said.

When he’s not typing on his computer or iPad, he enjoys walking on the beach with his wife, Sara Jo West, and the couple’s rescue dog, Rosie.

He’s also on the road a lot, speaking at writers conferences, school libraries, and conventions for fans of horror, fantasy, science fiction and mystery books. He hopes to participate in next year’s Comic-Con event in San Diego, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the U.S.

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