[The contest portion has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated!]
Patricia's Vampire Notes is proud to be a part of Gail Z. Martin's Days of the Dead Halloween Blog Tour for 2009. She will answer any questions you might have about: the writing life - hers or yours; the fantasy/paranormal genre; and her Chronicles of the Necromancer series.
Two winners will each win a signed copy of a limited edition ARC for The Blood King and a signed copy of Dark Haven.
Read the interview below. Contest rules will follow
PVN: Vampires—you call them vayash moru—play a big part in your Chronicles of the Necromancer series, and especially in the Dark Haven/Dark Lady’s Chosen duology. How have your vampire characters come to the forefront? Are they stealing the show?
Gail: I’m not sure about them stealing the show, but they certainly play an increasingly important role as the series moves along. In Dark Haven, a group of rogue vayash moru break the centuries-old truce with mortals to try to achieve domination. It leads to all-out war with the vayash moru who respect the truce, and with the vyrkin (shapeshifters), led by the Lord of Dark Haven, Jonmarc Vahanian, who is mortal. And of course, as with any war, there are a long of collateral damage and unintended consequences.
In part, the vayash moru have come to the forefront because of Jonmarc’s role as Lord of Dark Haven. He is a mortal, chosen for the role of lord over an area that has been a traditional sanctuary for Those Who Walk the Night. He’s supposed to be a guardian of both the mortal and undead residents, and now he finds himself protecting mortals from rogue vayash moru, and protecting law-abiding vayash moru from vengeful mortals.
Along the way, we get a lot more insight into vayash moru history and culture, as well as some of the characters who have been around since the first two books in supporting roles.
PVN: Would you say your vampires are more like traditional vamps or more like the urban fantasy vamps?
Gail: I write in a quasi-medieval setting, so some of the modern twists just don’t apply. On the other hand, in my world, vampires are an acknowledged fact, and they live within society with varying degrees of tolerance from mortals depending on the location. Under the best circumstances, they stay on the family farm or in the family business for generations, helping out. In the worst circumstances, they are hunted and persecuted.
I think something that differs from “traditional” vampires is that my vayash moru aren’t automatically monsters because they are vampires. They retain moral choice. Unlike urban fantasy, they’re not automatically sexy and beautiful, although their regenerative powers are a big plus when it comes to not looking their age. I’m very interested in how living for centuries would affect your self image, your identity, and your definition of community as the world around you changes and you don’t.
PVN: What’s your vision of vampires and why do you like writing about them?
Gail: I’ve loved vampire stories (and ghosts and haunted houses and cemeteries) since I was a kid. But as an adult, I guess I love the way vampires struggle to retain or rethink what it means to be human after they have lost everything. They’re technically dead. They outlive their loved ones, their friends and their time period. The longer they exist, the less meaning they attach to the politics and upheaval that grips us when we’re mortal. So who are you, after 400 years? What drives you to exist? Why strive to live according to any set of values or morality? What makes you human even if you are no longer mortal? I love delving into that.
For me, vampires are an archetype of people who have experienced great loss or trauma. The language is much the same. When we grieve, we talk about “feeling dead,” feeling cold, feeling as if all the light has gone out of the world. We stop eating. We have insomnia. We withdraw. People who experience great pain or loss have a choice: they can inflict pain on others to equal what they have felt, or they can rise above their pain to re-gain a different kind of humanity than what they had before. That perspective gives me insight into the way I write my vayash moru.
PVN: You’ve just signed a deal with Orbit for four more books. Will the Chronicles of the Necromancer series continue?
Gail: My first four books have been published by Solaris Books, which was just bought by Rebellion, Ltd. It will be Solaris/Rebellion bringing out Dark Lady’s Chosen on Dec. 29. I am very excited about the deal with Orbit because we will be bringing the characters and setting of my world of the Winter Kingdoms into a new story arc with a new series, The Fallen Kings Cycle. I’m already working on Book One: The Sworn, which should come out in 2011. It will feature the characters and world from the first four books, but it opens up a new set of adventures, making it a perfect gateway for someone who is new to the series. Readers who have been along since the beginning will just keep on rolling along, but new readers won’t have to go back and read the first four to enjoy The Fallen Kings Cycle, although I’m hoping that they’ll want to!
PVN: How are your ghosts different and what role do they play in your books?
Gail: Ghosts play a big role in my books. The whole idea of a Summoner is someone who can intercede between the living and the dead (or undead) so my main character, Tris Drayke, spends a lot of time talking with ghosts. In my newest book, Dark Lady’s Chosen, ghosts play a very active role. They are spies during a war, they comfort and protect the living, they attend festivals and special occasions, and they share knowledge. In the next book, The Sworn, we’ll see ghosts interacting with mortals in even more ways. I have always been fascinated with the idea of ghosts and the concept of the departed as being just another level of extended family. The series lets me play with that in whole new ways.
PVN: What do you make of the current zombie phenomenon?
Gail: Well, I have a special place in my heart for zombies, since I once worked at the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh, where all zombie-lovers know George Romero shot Dawn of the Dead, and my boss had been cast as an extra zombie in the film. So I’ve worked for the living dead! In my books, the zombies are Ashtenerath. The word literally means “awakened dead” and they are a little different from the traditional zombie.
First, they don’t eat flesh, although they are highly aggressive. They are made more like the “real” Voodoo zombies, by a combination of drugs and physical abuse, and they are wielded as weapons of war, often made from the prisoners taken during combat and then used against their own side for additional shock value.
There is another kind of zombie in my world, one created by a dark summoner, where a soul is forced back into a rotting corpse. Obviously, that’s a no-no, but we’ll see some of that in the new duology I’m working on for Orbit, The Fallen Kings Cycle.
Then there’s a third kind of zombie, which is more of a gollum. It is possible for a mage who isn’t a summoner to animate a corpse, not my forcing a soul into the body but by essentially being a puppeteer. It’s very creepy, but the corpse in this case wouldn’t have any ability to move or speak or make decisions because it really is a dead body being manipulated by magic. You get to see some of that in Dark Lady’s Chosen, which is the new book coming out Dec. 29.
As for why zombies are hot right now, I’ve seen a number of articles attempting a psychological interpretation, what with the recession and all. I do think that under times of stress people turn more to horror movies as a way to release anxiety. But I also think monsters tend to come and go as fads, and we’ve been on a vampire/werewolf fad for a while now, so people want something new, and zombies don’t come with the psychological baggage and angst that vamps and weres do. No brain, no angst. A simple monster for a complex time.
PVN: You’ve got audio and excerpts from Dark Lady's Chosen (Chronicles of the Necromancer) online, plus there are other sites participating in your Days of the Dead blog tour. Where can we find all the goodies?
Gail: Check out my site at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, for all the downloads and more Days of the Dead stuff. Also, please find me on Twitter.com as GailZMartin and on Facebook and MySpace as well.
The first four Chronicles of the Necromancer books
The Blood King
Dark Lady's Chosen
The titles above are available on ebook through Double Dragon. These four books will also be available on audiobook from Audible.com in December, 2009. Dark Lady's Chosen debuts in paperback from Solaris Books on December 29, 2009.
[The contest portion has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated!]
For the contest Gail is offering signed copy of a limited edition ARC for The Blood King and a signed copy of Dark Haven for 2 winners
For a chance to win do one or more of the following
* Ask Gail a question
* Post a comment
* Link this interview to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL
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Contest ends November 2nd at 11:59 PM Hawaii Time