Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guest Author - Gail Z. Martin

I've been a fan of the fantasy writing of Gail Z. Martin since I first read The Summoner (2007) followed by The Blood King (2008) and most recently Dark Haven (Apr. 2009). The books are part of a series called The Chronicles of the Necromancer.When Gail approached me to be part of her 2009 Days of the Dead Tour to celebrate the forthcoming release of the next book in the series, Dark Lady's Chosen (Dec. 29, 2009 from Solaris books), I was anxious to participate.

In addition to answering my interview questions, Gail has also contributed  a special guest post titled "2009 Days of the Dead Cons,Tribes and Fantasy". I hope you enjoy Gail's stop on the tour and take the time to leave a comment or ask a question. Gail will be dropping by from time to time to respond.

Of course that is not all. We are also having a contest. Gail has generously contributed a signed ARC of The Blood King and a signed copy of Dark Haven to be won by one lucky winner. Contest Guidelines are at the end of the post.

If you would like to read my review of Dark Haven you can check it out here or if you would like to read an excerpt from the forthcoming Dark Lady's Chosen, you can read Chapter 1 here.

SFG: For those unfamiliar with the Chronicles of the Necromancer, can you give us a brief overview of the series and where Dark Lady’s Chosen fits in the scheme of things?

GAIL: The Chronicles of the Necromancer series includes four books so far: The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen. The story begins when a young man’s family is murdered, and he discovers that he is heir to a very rare type of magic, the ability to intercede between the living and the dead. He needs to learn to control that magic before it destroys him in order to avenge his family. I’ve really written two two-book sets. The Summoner and The Blood King are one story arc, where the focus is on unseating Jared the Usurper and taking back the throne. Just because you solve one set of problems doesn’t mean that there aren’t bigger problems looming just over the horizon. Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen are a new story arc continuing on with the characters right after The Blood King and they carry the story forward with the aftermath.

SFG: The series includes the vayash moru (vampires) and vyrkin (shapeshifters). Can you tell us something about the origin of the names and how they are the same/different from other vampires and shapeshifters?

GAIL: I came up with the names because I wanted people to give a fresh look at vampires and shapeshifters without locking into the old expectations, and I think that’s easier to do when we call them something else. The names just sounded good to me. I liked the feeling they gave me. My vayash moru become vampires in the usual way. However, in the Winter Kingdoms, vayash moru are openly acknowledged as real, although they’re not always welcome. That sets up an interesting dynamic in that if vayash moru remain part of the extended family and part of the community, how does that change society? The same is true of the vyrkin. Now my vyrkin don’t have to change at the full moon. However, because mortals have heard the tales about the full moon, vyrkin have often been persecuted by the full moon, and for those who have experienced trauma at that time, a full moon can bring on an involuntary shift, sort of like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. With my vyrkin, you’re either born one or your not—you don’t become one by being bitten. Both the vayash moru and the vyrkin have a choice as to how they used their enhanced ability, so they’re not automatically monsters. They have the choice, just like mortals, whether to behave monstrously or not.

SFG: You feature strong relationships in the series with King Martris and Kiara, Jonmarc and Carina and others. How important is romance to your writing and what is your view on its application in fantasy?

GAIL: I think of my characters as real people, and real people fall in love. So I’m at a loss as to why romance wouldn’t be a natural part of a fantasy world when appropriate to the lives of the characters. One of my big complaints about some traditional fantasy and sci fi is how one-dimensional the characters can be (fight, fight, fight. Drink, drink. Fight some more. Yawn.) I wouldn’t find real people like that to be interesting, so I don’t want to read about them, either. For my books, I think it is entirely natural for Tris and Kiara, Jonmarc and Carina to fall in love and for that to complicate the story the way it tends to complicate real life. So if you’re going to write about “real” people, then they need to experience all the dimensions of real life.

SFG: What are your plans for the Chronicles beyond Dark Lady’s Chosen?

GAIL: I’ve just sold a new series, the Fallen Kings Cycle, to Orbit Books, and it will be set in the world of the Winter Kingdoms. Book One: The Sworn, picks up not long after Dark Lady’s Chosen with a whole new set of adventures. In the Fallen Kings, there’s a whole new focus as the world changes around the characters. So just as in real life, once you overcome one hurdle, there are several new ones to jump. The events in the first four books shape the future for my characters, but the Fallen Kings Cycle will take those characters forward into dealing with brand new threats as the whole fabric of society in the Winter Kingdoms begins to change.

I’m very excited about the idea of carrying the world and the characters forward into new stories. I think readers will see the characters change and mature, and they’ll also experience more of the Winter Kingdoms than they’ve seen before. And new readers can pick up the story with The Sworn and not feel left out.

SFG: Do you have other projects you’d like to tackle after the Chronicles concludes?

GAIL: Well, I’ve given my publisher about 20 new story arcs set in the Chronicles universe, so I don’t have any plans for it concluding any time soon. However, I am working on several totally new series that aren’t quite ready for prime time yet. And I have a new non-fiction series for writers with the first book coming out in January, 2010. The Thrifty Author’s Guide to Launching Your Book Without Losing Your Mind is the first in a series of books on book marketing that I’m writing for Comfort Publishing.

SFG: What genres/authors do you like to read when you have time? What are you reading now?

GAIL: I have a lot of favourite authors and a lot of friends in the business whose books I enjoy reading. I can tell you that this year, I have done a lot more escapist reading. Early in the year we lost both my mother and my mother-in-law (I was very close to both of them) and the entire family seemed to crawl into books to cope with it. So I’ve been plowing through Laurel K Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Charlaine Harris (the entire series for each of them), plus recently Revamped by JF Lewis, Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready, and others. I’ve actually made time to read more this year because of the whole stress thing. However, I’m still far behind the books-per-week read by everyone else in the family due to the commitments involved in writing.

SFG: If you could be a supernatural creature, which one would you be?

GAIL: Well, after three kids, I could say that I’m already a “mummy.” However, I’d probably say a ghost, preferably a poltergeist, just so I could keep everyone on their toes.

2009 Days of the Dead Cons,
Tribes and Fantasy

I really love going to sci fi conventions. That’s a good thing, because as an author, I attend 12 or more conventions each year. Some of the authors I know attend 30 or more. And I can’t help noticing that not only do I run into many of the same authors from con to con, but I also see a lot of the same readers/fans as well, even at cons separated by several hundred miles and multiple states.

There are few places where I feel as at home as at a convention—any convention. I was a Guest of Honour at this Fall, and I have to say it’s the first con in a while where I didn’t know a lot of people on sight. (I knew quite a few people from email, but that doesn’t help the first time you walk into the bar.) But it only took an hour or so to feel right at home.

Long ago, people defined themselves by their tribe or their village. Now, we move around too much for that. But we’ve developed other ways to find our tribal identity.

I was at DragonCon, which is a huge sci fi convention in Atlanta that draws over 40,000 people. It’s a big costuming con, so most of the people were in the most unbelievable costumes, many of which looked like they’d walked right off the movie set. But the same weekend as DragonCon, there was also a football game between University of Georgia and Virginia Tech and, you guessed it, some of the football people were also staying in the Marriott Marquis along with the DragonCon folks.

I watched a family that was all decked out in their Hokie colors as they moved through the lobby. They huddled together, glancing nervously at the “strange” people all around them who were wearing unusual clothing. Little did they know, we thought they were the ones who dressed funny!

I’m sure when they got to their game, they’d think nothing of people with painted faces or body paint in team colors, wild wigs, big foam #1 hands, and funny hats. It would make them feel at home and remind them that they were with their tribe.

It was funny to see our two “tribes” run into each other. But it also got me thinking about how our interests define who we are, and how that, in turn, defines who we know. Now I’m sure there were some football fans among the DragonCon folks, and maybe even some sci fi fans who turned out for the big game. Our modern tribes often let us have multiple memberships.

Then again, the tribes we join often say more about who we really are than the tribes we are born into. I know a lot of people who were born into tribes of particular religions, political viewpoints, even ethnic heritages who never felt like they really belonged and later found another tribe where they fit better. In talking with other authors and readers, I get the feeling that many of us in sci fi have had to journey some to find the tribes where we belong. One of the things I love the most about sci fi conventions is how welcoming they are, and how all kinds of people find a place where they belong. (I mentioned this fact once to a friend who is a member of the clergy, with the point that he might want to take notes.)

I’ve had the chance in my books to approach the idea of tribes with the dividing line of living and undead. Most of our real-world tribes split along less fundamental differences than heartbeat vs. flatline. It’s been interesting for me to think through identity and community from the point of view of my vayash moru (vampires) and vyrkin (shapeshifters) and how immortality could change those perspectives. It’s also always fascinating for me to imagine the outcasts from those tribes, the people who are caught between, or who don’t quite fit.

I’ll admit that I’m partial to the outcast, because I find it much more interesting when someone has to think through their identity (or recreate it after breaking from expectations) than when someone just accepts where they land by accident of birth. So several of my main characters have to decide where their identity lies and to which “tribes” they give their allegiance. Not fitting into one tribe is painful and awkward, but finding your true tribe feels wonderful.

So the next time you’re at a con, look me up! (I’ll be at Philcon Nov. 20 – 22) After all, we’re from the same tribe.

Check out my site at, for all the downloads and more Days of the Dead stuff. Also, please find me on TwitterFacebook and MySpace as well.

Thank you Gail! That is exciting news about the new series and it is good to know we can expect lots more adventure in the Winter Kingdoms. And to the giveaway details to give our readers a chance to win some books and get a taste of this terrific series.

  1. Leave a comment/question for Gail or tell us which "tribe" you belong to or would like to belong to (the Cleveland Indians doesn't count).
  2. Open to everyone.
  3. Remember to leave a way to contact you.
  4. Blog, tweet, post, etc., about the guest spot and contest for an extra entry.
  5. Giveaway ends Monday, November 2 at 11:59 PM EST.


  1. Interesting interview.

    I am not sure quite how to define my "tribe".

    I would probably have to go with the same tribe as all my dogs, namely the "Heinz 57 verieties" tribe, since I read and enjoy many different genres, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime, Suspense etc. including non-fiction biographies and the like.


    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. Hello.

    A question for Gail: Why did you start writing? Inspiration, or something more?

    carianmoonlight at gmail dot com

  3. I love the cover art on this series. I'm one of those who's attracted by shiny cover art. I also like the idea of the combined fantasy with the paranormal.

    As for my tribe...Harley riding book lovers.

    Thank you for the interview.

    cheleooc at yahoo dot com

  4. Hi :)
    Thank you for sharing Gail.
    I enjoyed learning more about you & your writing. Thanks to Doug for bringing you to my attention. Your novels sound like great reads. Do you have any advice for aspiring fantasy writers?
    All the best,

  5. Silent Raven asked..why did I start writing?

    Well, the short answer is, because there were stories that I wanted to read that I couldn't find, so I figured if I wanted to read them, I had to write them.

    The longer answer is that I got these ideas for some of the main characters and the centrail issue--how would it change society if magic was an accepted fact, the undead lived among the living, and a summoner could intercede between the living and the dead? The ideas really wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote about them.

  6. RK Charron asked...any advice for aspiring writers?

    Don't give up. Whether you go the route of traditional publishing or self publishing, it's a hard business. It's difficult to get an agent, difficult to get a publisher, difficult to stand out from the ton of other new books to attract readers. That's OK. Don't give up.

    I'm a big fan of Writers' Digest Books, and I learned a lot by reading their how-to books on a lot of aspects of writing. I didn't have writers' conferences available to me, and in my limited experience, many of those conferences aren't really friendly to sci fi/fantasy anyhow. So I combined reading up on the how-to and inflicting my early stories and manuscripts on willing friends and family, who gave me very good feedback on what worked and what didn't. Everyone does it differently, but I can tell you what worked for me. I hope that helps. Just don't give up.

  7. It's funny, I was just recently thinking about this myself, as I was at a convention for work, where I just didn't feel like I fit in with the other folks who were so excited about the tecnology they were seeing. And it got me to thinking about the things I do enjoy - and conventions I've been to where I felt right at home (ALA - American Library Association and various SciFi convetions such as ICON and Creation events). It's interesting how a similar event (conventions) take on a whole different tone when you're at one where you feel more like you belong.

  8. I guess I would be in a tribe of "obsessive bookaholics" since that is my love. Thanks for the contest!!

    rosie0512 @ hotmail . com

  9. Humm- Well sometimes we are a tribe of motorcycle riders, sometimes woodcutters(you should see those outfits, overalls, or blue jeans, flannel shirts, toboggans and dew-rags on our heads,and a beatup pickup loaded with chainsaws and hatchets, but mostly just a tribe of eaters of good food.

  10. I enjoyed the interview and learning about your books.
    I have always thought about going to Dragoncon, but I didn't think I would fit in. I'm not into costumes or a big scifi fan.
    I hope you come next year; I'm definitely going!

  11. Good interview. The Gathering Storm is going to be my next straight fantasy read, but after that I might grab The Summoner. Thanks

  12. I'm going to have to join Rosie's tribe of "obsessive bookaholics"

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  13. I enjoyed the interview, Gail, and especially your thoughts about conventions! (I love them too.)

    I belong to more than one "tribe," but the main ones would be the booklovers tribe, and the sci-fi/Star Trek geek tribe.

    karenwitkowski AT aol(dot)com

  14. I was wondering who your fav secondary character of all time is?


  15. Thanks for the interview, it was quite interesting. I adore the covers, they completely captivated me and after the blurbs, I can't wait to get to the bookstore. I admit, I'm a reader who first gets interested by a book by the cover (and then the blurb).

    For a tribe, I think I'll join Karen's tribe of book lovers (or more distinctly, paranormal and sci fi/fantasy booklovers).

  16. I have been thinking about starting The Chronicles of the Necromancer. Now I am really looking forward to it. Thanks Doug and Gail!

    I belong to a few tribes including Bookworms, Gymnastics Moms, SciFi/Fantasy Fans and most importantly - my family. My favorite place to be is home with my husband and two kids.


  17. My question for gail is Who was your favorite author growing up?


  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. I would say that I'm a card carrying member of Tribe Vampire.

    deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

  20. My question to Gail: Is there a book which you have read so many times you almost remember it by your heart?


  21. If Gail could not write anymore books - God forbides that! - would she be completly proud of those she already wrote?

    carlos_durao AT gmail DOT com

  22. Where do you get your inspiration for the titles?
    Do they come before or after the finished book?

    educhico AT gmail DOT com

  23. Gail, what literary character do you identify more with?

    And best wishes!


  24. Some writers say that they have the books "within themselves", or being "dictated to them".
    How do you describe your writing process?


  25. If it could have been you to write any book ever published, which one would it be and why?


  26. catarina(dot)magoito(at)gmail(dot)com

    Well, I have been trying to come up with a question that is not in the interview and I think this one is classic: How do you deal with bad reviews? Do you search for the reviews on your books?

  27. Do you already know the fate of your characters?

  28. My email: 39 DOT 5susy AT gmail DOT com

  29. Is there any moment when you feel a little tired of your characters?

    goncalo DOT mil AT gmail DOT com

  30. I have no idea what my tribe is.
    There are some well defined tribes, but I never fit into one of them.
    Can I say I am my on tribe?

    joanapatriciadias at gmail dot com

  31. Oh, thanks to Gail for this giveaway!
    What a wonderful thing!
    I did not know about this series, but I find it wonderful - the covers and the ideas I read about are amazing!

    My question to her would be if she sees the real world sometimes transforming into her fiction world?
    If some people just seem to come out of the page as you imagined them, for example?

    tanitalves AT sapo DOT pt

  32. Here's a question: How do you get around writer's block? This is something that stumps EVERY author!

    spectrum.realm AT hotmail DOT com

  33. I'm not sure if this is a tribe or not but if so I would be a charter member of the horror/sci-fi/fantasy tribe


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