Writing short stories, even mini-fiction, can’t always be worked into a writing schedule; so for those authors who may not be able to let their characters play in the sand, I’ve invited them to a nighttime beach bonfire to have a drink, listen to the crashing waves, and answer a few questions of my own.
Joining me in the sand is Gail Z. Martin, author of the Devil’s Assistant and Good Bad Guys series!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, something readers may not have heard before?
As Gail Z. Martin, I’ve been published for ten years, writing epic fantasy, urban fantasy, comedic horror and steampunk. Now, with the launch of Witchbane and my new pen name Morgan Brice, I’m also writing urban fantasy M/M paranormal romance. That’s really new!
Official Bio: Gail Z. Martin discovered her passion for science fiction, fantasy and ghost stories in elementary school. The first story she wroteat age fivewas about a vampire. Her favorite TV show as a preschooler was Dark Shadows. At age 14, she decided to become a writer. She enjoys attending science fiction/fantasy conventions, Renaissance fairs and living history sites. She is married and has three children, a Himalayan cat, a Maltese and a golden retriever.
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Can you introduce us to the world(s) that you have created?
I try to make the worldbuilding different in each series, so that the place becomes a character and the story couldn’t happen the same way anywhere else. So I vary how the magic works, what kinds of magic are used, what sort of monsters or other supernatural threats exist, etc. With my epic fantasy series (Chronicles of the Necromancer, Ascendant Kingdoms, Darkhurst, Assassins of Landria) I also get to make up new religions! For the urban fantasy/comedic horror (Witchbane, Deadly Curiosities, Spells Salt & Steel), the modern-day real locations become a part of the story. The Witchbane books will each take place in a different city, so that switches things up a lot! The Deadly Curiosities books are focused on Charleston, SC. And the Spells Salt & Steel series takes place in Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Will this be your first Coastal Magic or are you a veteran? What was it about Coastal Magic that drew you to it? Why have you continued to return?
This is my second CMC, and I’m so glad to be back. Everyone is so wonderful, and the events are so much fun. Romance readers rock! And Jennifer does a fantastic job putting together such an amazing event!
If you’ve been before, what is your favorite CMC memory? If you’ve never been, what are you looking forward to?
I enjoyed everything! Last year’s party night was so much fun, and so was the big signing event. I had a blast!
What was your inspiration when you created your characters and the worlds they live in?
I’m going to stick to Witchbane on this, since it’s debuting at CMC. I love books about monster hunters and/or people battling supernatural threats. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Dresden books, Simon R. Green’s Nightside series, John Hartness’s Bubba the Monster Hunter and Quincy Harker Demon Hunter series. And of course, I love TV shows like Supernatural and X Files and anything like that! When I came up with the Witchbane series, I wanted to have the story take place in a variety of locations, and have Seth and Evan’s relationship unfold over the course of several books. It’s contemporary, but with magic that’s very real and dangerous.
I wanted Seth to have a reason he’s so driven for vengeance (destroying the men who caused his brother Jesse’s death). But then when he meets Evan, he’s thrown for a loop because he hadn’t really been expecting to survive his quest, and he certainly didn’t expect to fall in love with the man he’s supposed to be protecting. And Evan didn’t believe in the supernatural stuff that he’s suddenly plunged into, and can’t decide whether or not Seth is right or just crazy.
Is there any character that didn’t make as big of an impact on the story that you thought they would? Is there a character who stayed on the page longer than you thought they would?
Not so much in the Witchbane books, but in some of my other series, absolutely. In the Chronicles of the Necromancer books, I had a character, Rhistiart, who I really thought was only going to be in one or two scenes, but he turned into such a great character that he was around for the next four books!
Is there any part of your series, any of your series, world(s) that you would like to expand on in the future?
We’ve done ‘extra episode’ short stories and novellas that extend four of our series, telling additional adventures that didn’t make it into the novels or weren’t quite long enough to be their own books. That’s fun, and it lets readers get to know some of the secondary characters better. I fully expect that Witchbane—and the other new M/M romance series I’ll be launching later this year, Badlands—will have some extra short stories and novellas too!
How do you separate your imaginary world with real life? Do you often take something you see during your daily life and twist it a little to make it work elsewhere? Have you ever wondered what would happen if any part of your world were, in actually, a part of our reality?
Separate? Since my husband and I write full time, separation of fantasy and real life went out the window a long time ago! I’m always taking something I see in real life and twisting it, or finding a really cool tidbit and working it into a book. The contemporary books use a lot of real history and urban legend, which to me grounds them and makes them feel more real. Even the epic fantasy and steampunk are based on a lot of real history, archeology, and inventions, plus plenty of folklore. And if any part of my worlds were part of our reality, I’d probably hide inside a circle of salt and never come out!
How do you take our world and build something fantastical from it? How do you turn our reality into fantasy?
Since all my books have a supernatural element to them, I often start with myths, urban legends, folklore, or creepy oddities, and then weave them into the story. Witchbane takes place in Brazil, Indiana and then in Richmond, Virginia. I’ve used local legends for both locations to make the story authentically tied to those cities. The same is true with our Iron & Blood/Storm & Fury steampunk series (set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898) and the Spells Salt and Steel series (set in Northwestern PA). I really enjoy digging out the weird historical pieces that make it work.
Which do you find is more central in your writing: the characters or world creation? Why?
Both, because one without the other doesn’t really work. The characters need to be a product of their world, and the world has to provide the setting that not just enables the story, but makes it inevitable.
Does your mood ever affect the direction that your stories take? Has any of your stories began one way, but by the time you wrote The End, had the mood drastically changed and how did it affect the story?
I’ve never changed an ending to a book because of my mood, because the outlines are done before I ever start writing. But I’ve had stories go darker or lighter because of what’s going on in my life and where my head is. And sometimes I can see where I’ve written things in as I work through them that I didn’t realize I was incorporating. Writing is therapy!
When you’re not writing, what are you reading? Have you found an author that’s new to you and/or one that the rest of the world really needs to find? Is there a certain niche genre that you prefer to escape to? If so, why?
I’ve been reading a lot of M/M romance for the last couple of years, and before that, cozy mystery. They are a great mental break! Some of my favorite authors for M/M are Jordan L. Hawk, Jordan Castillo Price, Charlie Cochet, Rhys Ford, Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles, CS Poe, Mary Calmes. I’m so excited I get to be at Coastal Magic with so many of them!
What drew you to writing in the genres you do as opposed to other genres?
If I read enough of something, it’s kind of inevitable that I start coming up with my own stories. (Yes, I’m going to do a cozy mystery series at some point.) I’ve read a lot of epic and urban fantasy, and a lot of history, so it all just comes together. So when I really got into reading M/M romance, I knew I’d start to find a way to tell my own tales!
If you could be one urban fantasy creature/person/magical thing, what would you be and why?
I’ve always wanted to have magic like Samantha Stevens in the old TV show, Bewitched because I want to be able to wiggle my nose and have all my housecleaning done!
If you could be one of the characters in your book for one day, who would it be and why?
Kestel Fawke, from my Ascendant Kingdoms series. Because she’s a courtesan/spy/assassin and she gives no %^*#s!
Design your own apocalypse – What constitutes an effective apocalypse and what mechanism would work best?
Funny you should mention this…my husband Larry N. Martin and I are doing a new post-apocalyptic series for Falstaff Books that will come out later this year, Wasteland Marshals, that combines supernatural threats run amok in a devastated modern-day North America. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll say that the apocalypse in our book is more of a clusterf%^* than a single extinction-level event.
Don’t miss your chance to meet over 50 fabulous urban fantasy, paranormal, and romance authors at Coastal Magic next February! This super casual book-lover weekend happens on Daytona Beach, and gives everyone the chance to hang out with fellow readers and amazing storytellers.
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