Oct 27, 2008

Gail Martin - Interview

Patricia's Vampire Notes is proud to be a part of author Gail Z. Martin's Halloween Days of the Dead Blog Tour. Gail is the author of the complex and engrossing series The Chronicles of the Necromancer.

Dark Haven, book 3 in the The Chronicles of the Necromancer, will be on shelves in early 2009

The Blood King (Solaris, 2008) is Book Two in the series. It is the sequel to The Summoner, and picks up the action one day after The Summoner ends.

Gail, thanks so much for giving this interview. It's great to have you here!

What are the characteristics of your vampires? And what is behind the name vayash moru?

GM So far, what we know about my vampires is that they have the potential to exist for hundreds of years unless they are destroyed by fire, beheading, complete obliteration or a stake through the heart (for younger vampires). Vampires who are several hundred years old can withstand some sun exposure although it does burn them. New vampires are easily destroyed by exposure to the sun. Newly brought across fledglings share a close bond to their makers. This bond can include being privy to each others thoughts. A new fledgling is dependent upon its maker. Within the first few lifetimes after being brought across, if the maker is destroyed, so is the new fledgling. After that bond weakens, many fledglings escape the enslavement of their makers, and may do so violently.

In the Winter Kingdoms, tolerance for the vayash moru differs by kingdom. Nargi is highly intolerant and has a history of organized persecution. Trevath does not actively hunt vayash moru, but it is intolerant and an unfriendly place for Those who Walk the Night. Dhasson, Margolan, Isencroft and Eastmark do not persecute vayash moru, but they do not completely welcome vayash moru among mortals. In these kingdoms, vayash moru are sometimes unwelcome at social occasions, infrequently hold positions of authority and do not intermarry with mortals. Dark Haven is a holding in Principality. It is the traditional sanctuary for vayash moru. In Dark Haven, vayash moru openly live among mortals and may intermarry or remain with a spouse after they are brought across. They hold high positions and do not need to hide the Dark Gift.

For hundreds of years, peace between mortals and the vayash moru has been managed by the Truce, an agreement that mortals will not hunt vayash moru in exchange for a promise that vayash moru will be selective in their kills. As a result, criminals are often provided to vayash moru as a form of execution, and vayash moru select mortals for kills who are wrongdoers.

As for the name, I was looking for something that could create its own meaning. “Vampire” comes with a lot of baggage—good books, bad movies, and plenty of clichés. I wanted a name that would let the reader evolve their own impression of the beings without a lot of preconceptions. “Vayash moru” sounded right. (Sorry, it’s not more scientific that that. When I need a word I sit down and play around with sounds until the right thing happens.)

PVN Tell us about the ghosts in your novels. How did they come to be? What role do they play?

GM I’ve loved ghosts and “real” ghost stories since I was a kid. So it only makes sense that when I get to build my own world it would have haunted houses and ghosts.

As for how the ghosts in the Winter Kingdoms came to be, it’s in the usual way—they died. But in the Winter Kingdoms, ghosts—like magic and the vayash moru—are an accepted fact. It’s just that most people can only see ghosts that are strong enough to show themselves. The other spirits, the ones who aren’t strong enough to make themselves be seen at other times, can be seen at Haunts, the fall equinox.

Ghosts in my world are just part of the extended family. You’re only as dead as you think you are, and death is just another phase of life. There’s old age, and “after age.” So ghosts continue to be part of their families—if they were a positive influence in life, they remain so after death. If they were meddlesome and trouble in life—well, things don’t change.

That’s where a Summoner comes in. A Summoner has the ability to intercede between the living, the undead and the dead. He or she can help restless spirits find their rest, help lost spirits make the passage to the Lady, and resolve disputes. If you think about all the people who wish they could ask a recently dead relative where the key is to the safety deposit box or who wish they could say a final good-bye, you can see the importance of a Summoner in the society. A good Summoner stores balance.

PVN The Chronicles have a wide variety of characters, do you have a favorite? why? or why not?

GM I’m partial to a number of my characters, but I think that Tris and Jonmarc are my favorites. I identify most with them—Tris has to come to terms with having a gift that is often misunderstood and that makes him different, and Jonmarc has to deal with some significant loss and disappointment in his life ands decide who he wants to be.

PVN Bava K'aa, sorceress and summoner fascinates me. How would you describe her?

GM I hope to get the chance to write her story someday, the story of how a love triangle almost destroyed the Winter Kingdoms. She was from a common family without noble birth, but her powerful gift made her the equals of kings and her daughter, Serae, married Margolan’s King Bricen. At the time of the Mage Wars, she is a young woman, just in her early twenties, and she is forced to imprison the soul of the man she loves because he has become the Obsidian King. So she’s a woman who is able to make hard choices, and she has a strong will. Tris remembers her as an indulgent grandmother, but she was also able to be crafty and navigate court politics. She’s a remarkable woman, and I hope to be able to tell you all the details someday.

PVN How do you keep track of so many characters?

GM I do make notes to myself from time to time, and particularly on minor and incidental characters, I often have to go back and look up details. As far as the main characters go, it’s like keeping track of your friends. You do it because they’re real to you and they’re very clear in your mind. I spend a lot of time with these guys, so keeping track of them isn’t that hard for me!

PVN What stories or authors have most influenced the intricate fantasy world you have created?

GM Some of the other authors I’ve enjoyed who create intricate and long-running fantasy worlds include Katherine Kurtz, Mercedes Lackey, Piers Anthony, David Drake, Christopher Stasheff, Anne Rice, Joel Rosenberg, and many others. I really enjoy it when I can feel like I could just step into their worlds. And I hope to provide that kind of experience for my readers.

PVN What is your writing environment like?

GM Wow….I guess I should tell you that I write in an ancient haunted castle, but the truth is, I have a converted attic in a house in the suburbs. I do, however, have a lot of dragon paintings surrounding me and some nice feng shui elements. I have my iPod in a speaker that glows with the music, and I enjoy calming new age or Celtic music to write by, although I’m just getting into Midnight Syndicate for some creepy mood music. My screensaver is the cover from The Summoner (available for free download from Solaris Books) and I have copies of the books nearby in case I have to look something up.

PVN Without giving too much away would you tell us what can we expect in book 3 Dark Haven?

In Dark Haven, the effects of Jared the Usurper's reign of terror strike at the stability of the Winter Kingdoms. Undead forces align against Lord Jonmarc Vahanian of Dark Haven in a struggle for power between mortals and the vayash moru. Magic has become a dangerous and unpredictable force. As King Martris Drayke prepares for his wedding, he must also prepare for war against rebels still loyal to Jared. Isencroft is on the brink of civil war over the looming reality of a joint kingdom. Only one thing is certain—the Winter Kingdoms will be changed forever, and innocence is the first casualty.

GM I would like to add that if people pre-order through this page, they also get virtual bonus items from eight of my author friends, since I know my readers read a lot of books each year! Go to www.TheWinterKingdoms.com

PVN Sounds like a great offer, thanks!
You have created such an imaginative world. Thank you for sharing it with everyone through this interview!

Be sure to catch up with Gail on the rest of her blog tour this week.

Oct. 28 Boris Legradic (Bulgaria) http://borislegradic.blogspot.com
Wayne Kelly (Canada) www.onairpublicity.com/blog

Oct. 29 Shelfari.com (US)

Oct. 30 Speculative Horizons (UK) speculativehorizons.blogspot.com
AsIf DreamHosters (AU) www.asif.dreamhosters.com

Oct. 31 Chronicles of the Necromancer Blog.

Now for the contest information.

Two lucky commenters will win either a signed final copy of The Blood King or a signed advance review copy of The Blood King.

For a chance to win do one (or more) of the following:

*Comment on any subject from the interview. Each comment on a different subject counts as an entry.

*Ask Gail a question. Each question counts as an entry.

*Link to Patricia's Vampire Notes and send me the URL. Each link counts as an entry.

Be sure to include enough email information so that I will be able to contact you.

This contest ends at 11:59 pm, tonight, Oct. 27, 2008.

Winners will be announced later in the week.


Anonymous said...

I love fantasies with ghosts and vampires! But I"m wondering? will there be any unicorns?

Thanks. Loved the interview!


Ana said...

I like the explanation you give about ghosts or of being dead: "You’re only as dead as you think you are, and death is just another phase of life." And that there’s old age, and “after age.” I wonder if you do have any influence from the Eastern culture, creating your characters with Hindu names such as vayash moru, Bava K'aa, or places such as Trevath ("treva" means darkness in Portuguese). So I guess life after death would be a theme too. My question is, "Do you plan on book 4? If so, which themes will be explored?"

I had a great time reading on the interview. Thanks and namaste!

Gail Z Martin said...

Hi Ana--

Thank you! I try to read pretty broadly, and have read about Eastern cultures. I appreciate their different, more cyclical sense of time and some of the perspectives that seem more holistic than the Western outlooks. Book 4 is currently in the works, and we'll go even deeper into the rift between living, dead and undead.

Carol said...

The vayash moru sound interesting. I love that you've taken the vampire idea as a base, but created your own characters, with their own qualities. The same goes with ghosts. I will definitely have to add these to my TBR list, whether I win or not.

RowenaBCherry said...

Wow, Gail what fantastic world-building. I was absolutely riveted. I'm glad I stopped by.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Bridget said...

I've posted at Win a Book. No need to enter the contest.

Anonymous said...

Ms Martin

You say that in Dark Haven the vayash moru may intermarry. If they do mary will they be able to have children as mortals do or is their reproduction only through a ritual exchange of blood?

I find the world you have described so fascinating. I have to read your books.


RowenaBCherry said...

carmen made a great point. I too would love to know more about the intermarrying and whether they can have children.

Rowena Cherry

RowenaBCherry said...

Gosh, Gail,

This enslavement element is fascinating. How do the masters enslave those they have turned into vampires, in what way are the fledgelings dependent, and what level of violence is necessary to gain freedom.

Rowena Cherry

Anonymous said...

The Summoner obviously has a very important role. How are Summoners trained?

Astroboy said...

In the interview you said a Summoner has the ability to intercede between the living, the undead and the dead.
I guess by undead you are speaking about the vayash moru. But what exactly do you mean by undead?

darbyscloset said...

I enjoyed the part in the interview where she talks about the Ghosts in her stories. Sounds like she had an imagination like mine as a child! I also like how she writes that the Ghosts are extended family...that's cute!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Crystal Adkins said...

I like how you said you make notes to yourself to keep track of the characters. I also do that when I'm reviewing :)
Your covers are great, do you feel that the final covers reflect the inside of your book?


Daelith said...

I'm too late for the contest, but wondering if Solaris is going to put the Dark Haven cover on their free download page as a desktop?

Gail Z. Martin said...

Wow! Great questions. Let me tackle them. (Forgive the delay--I'm in the US so we've got a time difference!)

Vayash moru can't father or bear children once they have been brought across. But they can remain with their mortal partner and remain married in every other sense of the term for the duration of the mortal's life. So if they're married at the time that they are brought across, they may choose to remain with their spouse, or they may later take a mortal lover or spouse. (This is only tolerated openly in Principality, although it happens in secret in many other places in the Winter Kingdoms, and there are villages or families where it may be accepted against the larger cultural norms.)

Gail Z. Martin said...

OK, next was about the relationship between master and fledgling. When a fledgling is first brought across, he/she is dependent on the master to learn how to hunt, where to find safety, how to navigate within the vayash moru community and how to handle his/her new powers of immortality. So at first, it's a matter of survival. Later, it becomes increasingly like a controlling parent, only with the caveat that the "parent" has the ability to read the fledgling's thoughts and to exert both physical and psychic control. So as time goes on, the natural yearning for independence and the strengthening of the fledgling's powers lead to conflicts--not unlike the teenage years. At that point, some masters give their fledglings freedom, hoping that they will maintain a cordial relationship or at least move on peacefully. Others fight for domination and continued control, usually leading up to a battle that leaves one of the parties dead or badly damaged. In between, there can be periods of real nastiness when a fledgling who wants his freedom doesn't have the power to take it and the master refuses to release him.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Now on to how to train a Summoner and what I mean by undead.

In a perfect world, a Summoner would be trained like other mages, by being apprenticed to a master mage and being given increasingly more difficult tasks to master that would test and refine his/her ability to control and focus his powers. This might happen one-on-one or within a community of mages. For example, the Sisterhood in my books is a fairly secretive mage community that grudgingly helps Tris complete his training.

As any graduate student will tell you, that process doesn't always go smoothly. You can get a thesis advisor who steals your ideas, or who is jealous of your abilities. You can get someone who can't ever admit that the pupil has finally mastered the subject and always has to play one-upmanship games. And you can get a good mentor who is genuinely interested in the student's best interest. Mages are human, too, so all those scenarios and the attendent drama can also play out. I go into quite a bit of detail in the books about how Tris learns to harness his power. Because of his unusual circumstances, he does more of it by trial-and-error than is advisable, and nearly gets himself killed several times in the process. Magic is a dangerous subject to learn through experimentation, and a Summoner is especially vulnerable to the influence or possession of dark spirits in this world and in the next.

As for the undead, you've got ghosts, vayash moru, ashtenerath (blood magic zombies) and dark creatures that aren't (and never were) mortal but that are not dead. The undead are pretty common in Tris's world, and while some of them (ghosts, vayash moru and a few others) can choose between light and darkness, others exist only to feed.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Questions about covers!

I am very fortunate to have Michael Komarck as my cover illustrator. His work is magnificent! I think his art represents the story very well, and his representation of Jonmarc is perfect. Tris and Jared are probably younger in the story than they look in the artwork, but that's not a big deal.

The cover of the Summoner is available as a free downloadable screensaver from Solaris Books. They didn't do one for The Blood King, but I can ask about whether they'll do one for Dark Haven since it kicks off a new two-book set.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Thank you all for reading my post and for sharing a bit of my world. Your questions were great and I really enjoyed getting to talk with you. And I hope that you check out the books and let me know what you think! Thank you so very much!