Oct 26, 2009

Gail Z. Martin - Interview and Contest

[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 Summoner
The Blood King
Dark Haven
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

If your email is not associated with your ID, please put the address in your response.

Contest ends November 2nd at 11:59 PM Hawaii Time


Virginia C said...

Hello, Gail! Great concept for Dark Haven: A mortal chosen to battle the evil undead while protecting humans and law-abiding vamps. I love it! In your creative process, once you form the basic story line, does it flow or come in spurts? Do the characters and their conflicts usually propel themselves to completion, or do they sometimes need a little nudge?

follower & subscriber
gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

Hi Gail,

When writing does the story come to you in order or do you start somewhere else & fill in the beginning after?

The series looks great, I had not seen it before so thanks for the interview Particia!

I'm a follower by email & am folling Gail on Twitter nos (@hefollowedme)

hefollowedme AT gmail DOT com

Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the great interview with Gail Z. Martin & thanks to Gail for sharing.
Congratulations on your new 4 book deal with Orbit Gail!
Do you get better at the editing process with each new book?
All the best,
PS - Gail's on Twitter! She's @GailZMartin

cfisher1504 said...

Thank you for a great interview.
Gail, which comes first, story idea or characters?

Follower and subscriber
cfisher1504 at gmail dot com

jellybelly82158 said...

If you had your choice which would you like to meet in person: a vampire or a necomancer?

Julie S.

jellybelly82158 said...

Hi Gail.
Thanks for the great interview.

Julie S.

tetewa said...

I'm always looking for new authors and series to read, with vampires being my favorites. These sound like my kind of reads. Do you have any authors that are auto-buys for you?

Unknown said...

Hi Gail,

If you could trade places with someone, who would it be and why?


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, ladies. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book.

Gail, if we can help you promote anything further, drop us a line. This is what we're here for!

Kris said...

Necomancers...very interesting subject matter there...I'm always looking for new authors to read...I'll have to check these out!

Kris said...

forgot my email in cas I get lucky and win :)


Pamela K. Kinney said...

Super interview, Gail. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, great comments!

Let's see....The basic story line tends to come in spurts, it's the between sections that aren't clear until I need to write them. I usually know the beginning, key dramatic points and end, but not the middle pieces when I start out.

As for the characters, if I'm unsure of something about them, I picture them in my mind and ask. They tell me more than I ever wanted to know! :)

Thanks Virginia!

Gail Z Martin said...

All right, now let's see if I can log in with my name.

Mel's question--does the story come to me in order? Not always. Sometimes I get the climax first, and have to work forwards and backwards to get the rest.

I start writing at the beginning and press forward through to the end, and some parts go faster than others. I try to spend the time that I'm not writing thinking about the next section to make it go more quickly, but that doesn't always work. Hope that answers the question! Thank you.

Gail Z Martin said...

Now for RK's questions...

Do I get better with editing? Yes, in some ways. Once I learned what the line editor was going to tighten up, I made those changes myself prior to turning in the next manuscript, so it was cleaner and tighter from the beginning. I've learned to write leaner. It still takes a lot of time and help to catch continuity errors and typos. Seems like no matter how hard you try and how many people proof it, something slips through. I'll admit that comma placement isn't my natural strong point.

Gail Z. Martin said...

On to CFisher's question...

The character came first, especially for Tris and Jonmarc. Along with Tris's character came the idea of someone with magic that could intercede between the living and the dead. From there came the setting, and then the plot.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Now for JellyBelly's question...

I'm not really sure I'd want to meet either a vampire or a necromancer in real life!

After all, I'm in control of what happens in my books, but real life doesn't work that way!

Gail Z. Martin said...

To Tetewa--

I follow a number of authors and series. Mercedes Lackey, David Drake, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurel K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, David B. Coe, JF Lewis, Jeri Smith-Ready, and a bunch of other folks. So I know what it's like waiting for the next book to come out!

Gail Z. Martin said...

To Bridget

It's taken a while, but I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, so I think I'm pretty happy just being me. But if I could borrow someone's body for just a few hours, I think it would be fun to see what it feels like to be an acrobat or a really good piano player. Those aren't my gifts, but they look like they'd be fun.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Hi to Pam Kinney and thanks to Susan--I'll check out your site!

kalynnick said...

Hi Gail! I never read any of your books but after this interview I'm definitely going give one a try:)

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

Judi S said...

Ohhh these books sound awesome! For some reason Chronicles Of Riddick came to mind for me, probably because of the necromancy. I loved that movie! So now I am double crossing my fingers to win these books. :)

Gail, I'm wondering what do you do to keep yourself motivated to keep writing everyday? I mean I know that the finished novels are a huge motivation, but during the daily writing/slogging, how do you push yourself to keep going?

I'm a follower on here, twitter and my email is sidhevicious(at)shaw(dot)ca :)

Howell-Martin's Blog said...

While I love the sexy vampires, it is nice to have a variety. I can't wait to read these books!

jellybelly82158 said...

Do you ever base a person in your books on yourself?


jellybelly82158 said...

I haven't read any of your books but they sound great.
Thanks for the contest

jellybelly82158 said...

I'm a follower on google


Cherry said...

Just popping by to let you know that I was here *waves to Pat*. Read about halfway through this post but gotta go now. Early shift tomorrow. Will come back again when I get home from work tom *yawn*. See you tomorrow Pat and Gail!


Gail Z. Martin said...

Judi asked how I keep motivated. First of all, I don't write every day. I write one or two days a week, all day. For me, that's easier than spending a couple of hours mentally in my world and then pulling out. And the payoff (aside from a completed manuscript) is writing the last chapter of what I've written and liking it. That feels really good.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Jelly asked if I ever base any characters on myself (or on other real people). No. At least, not as a whole. I think both of my main characters have a lot of me in them, but not in a direct way. And as a writer, you kind of collect bits and pieces as you go through life that you recombine. So I'm very aware of people's gestures, mannerisms, foibles, nervous tics, and other characteristics, and if I see something interesting, I'll file it away for future use, but it won't be that person, it will be all mixed up into something new.

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Cherry

(waving back)

Get some rest! See you tomorrow.

throuthehaze said...

I love all the book covers!

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

mariska said...

Hi Gail, i'm new with your books. And it's a great interview, i enjoyed it!
- are you a plotter or a pantser?
- what's your favorite quote?
Hope to have chance to read your works :)
I'm a subscriber via email

cuniquas at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I'm new to your books, but hope to have the opportunity to read them soon. walkerd@primus.ca

Gail Z. Martin said...

Mariska asks whether I'm a plotter or a pantser (seat of the pants)--and the answer is...a little of both. I have a clear idea of the main plot points, and I have to do an outline to make the publisher happy. That said, what happens in between those points is often seat of the pants. It seems to work for me.

She also asked about my favorite quote. I don't know that I have just one, but the one that comes to mind immediately is Walt Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

buddyt said...

One thing that often annoys me with Fantasy or paranormal books such as vampire/werewolves etc., is the totally unpronounable names some authors come up with.

I don't really see the need for the use of such names if the story and writing and really good.

What do you think.


buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Darlene said...

I would love to enter giveaway. Thank you!
Darlene W

Darlene said...

I just wondered if you read any other vampire stories now. You probably don't have the time since you're writing. If you do read, who's your favorite vampire author?

Gail Z. Martin said...

Buddy T asked about hard-to-pronounce fantasy names...

I think that having names that are uncommon is part of worldbuilding for a fantasy setting, especially one not set in the here-and-now. However, I think that readers need to be able to mentally pronounce the name or at least a nickname in order to make reading easier.

If you want to create a culture with very long names, then consider a more phonetic or shortened nickname, much as people from India often shorten their names, which seem long and unfamiliar to many people. Then you can use the full name on occasion, but the rest of the time, the character goes by Jack, or whatever.

Another reason to create names that can be pronounced lies in the popularity of audiobooks. I've been working with the voice actor who is recording my series for Audible, and he mentioned that unpronouncable names are a problem with many fantasy series.

Make it easy on the reader. Give them something they can pronounce and remember.

Gail Z. Martin said...

Darlene asked about my favorite vampire books....

Well, there are a lot of them. Of course I love Anne Rice, and Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Charlaine Harris, and Laurell K. Hamilton...and I like JF Lewis and Jeri Smith-Ready. And I teethed (pardon the pun) on Dark Shadows as a kid.

I also love to read folktales and mythology involving vampires, plus real-life accounts of hauntings and paranormal phenomenon.

I don't get to read other peoples' stuff as much as I'd like to (an occupational hazard of writing), but when I do, it usually involves vampires!

Jeanette Huston (chewysmum79@yahoo.com) said...

Interesting interview. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy many vampire books and movies. I can't wait to read this one!

Jeanette Huston

Dena said...

Hello Gail, I liked the interview, it's interesting your take on the paranormal beings. Some very different than the norm.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gail,

I stumbled upon this series by accident and fell in love. I love this series and am anxiously awaiting the next book, Dark Lady.

Q: How many do you plan for this series?

I added you to my blogroll: lovesbooksandmore.blogspot.com


Cherry said...

I think I forgot to come back! Sorry about that!! I'm getting old I guess... forgetful :)

Sounds like a wonderful series... will have to add this one in my ever bursting TBR pile :)

Cherry Mischievous
mischivus101-warrior [at] yahoo [dot] com