Monthly Archives: December 2012

Characters of Questionable Virtue

by Gail Z. Martin

(Reposted from an interview with Double-Dragon Publishing)

Q:  What’s so attractive about characters of questionable virtue?

A:  If you want to be truthful, I think everyone has questionable virtue depending on the circumstances.  It’s said that integrity is what you do when you think no one is looking, or no one will find out.  That being said, few people would qualify for sainthood.  Case in point—lonely stretches of highway with no police cars in sight.  How many drivers faithfully keep to the speed limit?

So some of my characters are basically honest people who are thrown into extraordinary circumstances who do what they have to do to survive.  Others are characters who make it a habit to walk on the wild side.  Maybe they were thrust into those situations, or maybe they had a choice, or maybe it’s been so long that they don’t remember.  They follow their own rules, and maybe their own code of honor, but they definitely color outside the lines.  And they’re really fun to write about!

Q:  Your books have a variety of smugglers, thieves, vagabonds, whores, con men, assassins and murderers—and those are the good guys.  How did a nice girl like you end up in a rough fictional neighborhood like this?

A:  If everyone plays by the rules, you might have a cut-throat chess game, but it’s going to be short on action and adventure.  Dangerous times call for people who can think outside the box—and play outside the rules, especially when the society that enforced the rules no longer exists.  Maybe I’m a product of the modern zeitgeist, but I keep being drawn back to stories set during a kingdom’s or civilization’s collapse.  In that kind of a setting, the people who can adapt quickly and think on their feet will be the ones who survive.  They’re going to bend some rules along the way.

Q:  In Ice Forged, the fate of the kingdom rests on a small group of convicts and a disgraced lord.  How did you decide to write their story?

A:  Society believes it knows how to pick a winner, but history shows that conventional wisdom is often wrong, especially when the rules change and the chips are down.  I thought it would be fun to get to know a group of people who have been exiled and imprisoned, only to find out that when the kingdom is brought to its knees, they may be the only ones who can save the day.  I love it when the arbiters of society are wrong and the ones who don’t fit in end up the winners.  I guess I’m a fan of the underdog.

You can download an excerpt from Ice Forged here:


Leave a Comment

Filed under Gail Z. Martin

“On the Edge”

by Gail Z. Martin

Ice Forged, which debuts in January, is my seventh epic fantasy novel, and it’s definitely the darkest and edgiest so far.

In Ice Forged, my main character Blaine McFadden is exiled to a prison colony at the northernmost edge of his world, a place where the weather itself is a remorseless enemy.  Ice, snow, bitter cold and darkness pose as deadly a threat as the wild magic, assassins, and sadistic prison guards.  Extreme conditions tend to show what someone is really made of, because life or death hinge on luck and choices.

I suspect that Ice Forged feels edgier than some of my other books for a variety of reasons.  To some extent, that edginess is probably a product of our times, which have been tumultuous—to say the least.  I imagine it also reflects the changes I’ve experienced in the almost 10 years since I wrote my first novel—perhaps some of that “youthful enthusiasm” has worn thin on the edges.  Mostly, I feel that I’m bringing a different perspective to these books, one that’s a little grittier than before.  It’s a fitting feel for the book, which hinges on a few questions my characters have to answer—and ones that I hope my readers will also try on for size:

Who would you be, if everything you were and everything you had was stripped from you?

When there’s nothing left to lose, what would you do to survive?

How much would you give for a chance to put things right?

Blaine McFadden gets to find out.

I think the edginess in the book is something to which readers can relate.  With the volatility in the global economy, most people have felt “on edge.”  Nothing feels secure, and even if people haven’t been personally affected by the downturn, the sense that everything is wobbly seems to permeate every facet of life.  But I don’t believe that edginess needs to mean hopeless.  Anyone can face adversity; the people who fascinate me—in real life and as characters—are the ones who find a way to rise above.  Blaine experiences desperate circumstances, and while illusions are shattered and innocence is long lost, that grittiness hones a fine edge to his personality, something that will serve him well in the dangerous days ahead.

Today’s reader may prefer edginess and grit because they know that life isn’t easy or fair, and because they have been failed by many of the institutions in which they have put their trust.  That edginess makes a book more believable, but I don’t think it precludes a new breed of heroes, ones who show us how to chart a new course even after we’ve lost our way.

You can read an excerpt from Ice Forged here:

Leave a Comment

Filed under Gail Z. Martin

The Next Big Thing

Last week Gail Z. Martin ( tagged me on her blog, as part of a chain of authors (or creative people) recommendations called THE NEXT BIG THING. Today it’s my turn to reciprocate. I’m going to answer questions about my new project Awakening the Wolf .

What is the working title of your next book?

The working title of my newest book is called Awakening the Wolf: A Two-Natured Novel and currently I’m writing the sequel to it called Awakening the Lion.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the book came from a dream where the shape shifter characters were able to turn into two different animals instead of just one.

What genre does your book fall under?

My book falls under the Romance genre with a little bit of erotic and shape shifters.

If you found yourself in an elevator with a movie director you admire and had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?

I would tell the movie director that  no movie has ever been done about characters that can turn into two different animals. And there is a great love story to boot? It’s a cross between Twilight and Underworld except without the vampires.

Every writer dreams of their book being turned in a movie or a TV show like Game of Thrones. If this happened to your work, which actors would you choose to play your characters?

If Awakening the Wolf was turned into a movie, I would see Illiana, the heroine, being played by Scarlett Johansson. Belik, the main raven shifter, would be played by Orlando Bloom, and Christopher, main wolf shifter, would be played by Alex Pettyfer.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Once the characters started talking to me, they were the one to inspired me to write the book. I loved the story line and could not stop it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took me a month to write the first draft of the manuscript.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm…I can’t think of any specific books that I can compare it too.

When will your book be available?

This book will be available some time in the spring of 2013.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, if the readers enjoy a good love story with plenty of character development and a moving storyline, then this book is for them.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Crymsyn Hart, Uncategorized

The Fun of Short Fiction

by Gail Z. Martin

Q:  Other than word count, what’s the biggest difference between writing “big fat fantasy” novels and short stories.

A:  In a novel that runs 500 or more pages, there’s a lot of room for setting the stage, introducing readers to characters, and building the world.  It’s a very immersive experience for the reader.  Even when everything is action-packed, you can create more of a wrap-around feeling for the reader, where they really feel like they’re in your world.  With a short story that might only run 30 pages, you’ve got the equivalent of two book chapters to tell a self-contained story.  You’ve got to use a different style of writing to make your characters real and give your readers enough of a sense of the world that they care about the story.  It’s the difference between going on vacation for a month and just getting away for the weekend.

Q:  How do the differences between epic novels and short stories affect how to build characters or develop a fictional world?

A:  With short stories, because you have smaller word count, you’ve got to be very precise.  You have to decide which details are essential to help the reader paint a mental picture, and which details you can skip and still have the reader see the same story that you’ve envisioned.  You have a much bigger canvas with a full novel, especially an epic novel, which gives that type of story a richness and a total immersion feeling.  Even if you’re sharing a completely alien civilization or a totally different time period, in a short story you have to be very selective with every description, every verb choice, every conversation.  It’s a different type of writing discipline.

Q:  Is it difficult to switch between epic novels and short stories?

A:  I started writing short stories because I enjoyed the challenge, and because writing something that’s around eight to ten thousand words when I’m used to writing a story in 150 thousand words scared me to death.  Now that I’ve done it a few times, it’s becoming more comfortable, and I’ve had enough chances to play in the world I’ve created for my short stories that I’m familiar with the territory.  It definitely is a different writing style.  One of the other differences for me is that while I write my epic fantasy in third-person, my short stories have all been first-person.  That also makes a big difference in what you as an author can share with readers because the third-person books with an ensemble cast can share multiple viewpoints and more information, but a first-person point of view is limited to what just one character knows or sees.  So it’s a challenge!

Q:  Is there more short fiction to come?

A: Absolutely!  I’d like to do some short story series set in my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle world, maybe some between-the-scenes adventures that weren’t in the books, or some stories that happen earlier before the series began.  I’m also really enjoying my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world I’ve created in the stories I’ve done for anthologies, and I plan to write more of those—for anthologies and for direct release on my web site and through Amazon.

In fact, I’ve got stories in two brand new anthologies that have just come out: Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane and The Mammoth Book of Women’s Ghost Stories.  You can read excerpts here:

Please enjoy this excerpt from my short story, “Among the Shoals Forever”, excerpted from The Mammoth Book of Women’s Ghost Stores:

And this scene from “Buttons”, excerpted from Magic:


Leave a Comment

Filed under Gail Z. Martin

The Next Big Thing

Last week Rowena Cory Daniells ( tagged me on her blog, as part of a chain of author recommendations called THE NEXT BIG THING. Today it’s my turn to reciprocate and to pass on the torch. I’m going to answer questions about my new project, Ice Forged. Then I’m going to tag more wonderful authors who will tell you about their Next Big Thing on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Q:  What is the working title of your next book?

A: Ice Forged: Book One in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?

A: I started to think about what a medieval apocalypse would look like, and then got thinking about what if…a prison colony were in the far north rather than the hot south, like Australia.  What if…magic were an artificial construct, and it broke after civilization had come to depend on it? And what if…a man who was rightfully condemned for murder turned out to be the only one who could put things right?

Q: What genre does your book fall under?

A: Epic fantasy.

Q: If you found yourself in an elevator with a movie director you admire and had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?

A: I love the line from the back of the book:  “Welcome to the end of the world.  Welcome to the beginning of The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga!”

Q: Every writer dreams of their book being turned in a movie or a TV show like Game of Thrones. If this happened to your work, which actors would you choose to play your characters?

A: I’d write in a new character if it meant we could cast Hugh Jackman for something!

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A: I’m not a big fan of modern apocalyptic fiction, but I liked the thought of looking at a medieval society dealing with the after-effects of a series of disasters.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A: Six months.

Q: When will your book be available?

A: Jan. 8 in bookstores and online—trade paperback, and ebook in Kindle, Kobo and Nook!

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A: As always, I promise you a roaring-good rollercoaster ride of a book—lots of action, believable, flawed characters, hints of humor, dangerous magic, and the end of the world!

Q:  Anything else you’d like readers to know?

A: Beginning in January, I’ll also be releasing a new short story every month, so be sure to “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter @GailZMartin so you know when new stories are coming!  I’m also on Goodreads, and you can join my newsletter at—that’s where you’ll hear about contests, book and story give-aways and more!

And here are the authors I’d like to introduce, and who you can follow next Wednesday, when they answer the Next Big Thing questions…


John G. Hartness is the author of The Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books and the creator of the self-published superstar series Bubba the Monster Hunter. He blends urban fantasy with redneck humor to blow up the things that go bump in the night. Think Duck Dynasty meets Dark Shadows and you’re on the right track.

Misty Massey is the author of Mad Kestrel (Tor Books), a rollicking fantasy adventure of magic on the high seas. Misty is one of the featured writers on the blog


James Maxey writes about dragons, angels, circus freaks, superheroes, and monkeys, frequently in the same book. Learn more about Maxey and his novels at

Casey Daniels is the author of the Pepper Martin paranormal mysteries set in Cleveland, Ohio. She loves old cemeteries, ghost stories and because she loves old buttons, too, she writes the Button Box mysteries as Kylie Logan. You can find her at:

Crymsyn Hart is a prolific writer of romance and erotica. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

An Interview with Author Gail Z. Martin

by Gail Z. Martin

(reprinted from the Solaris Books site)

Q:  Your short stories are all set in a magical world that’s different from your books.  Can you give us a quick introduction?

A:  The stories I’ve written so far in my short stories range in time from the 1500s to present day, and focus on Sorren, a vampire thief, and his immortal colleagues in a small, secret organization that makes sure that cursed and malicious magical objects stay out of circulation.  Sorren works and his human partners risk everything to steal dangerous items and secure them before they can cause damage or death.

Q:  Sounds like urban fantasy.  Why the change from your usual epic adventures?

A:  It’s fun to write stories in different settings.  Epic stories are great when I’ve got 500 or 600 pages to play with, but when I’m telling a story in 30 or fewer pages, it’s difficult to set up the world, the characters and the plot and keep it on an epic scale. I’m also really intrigued by the idea that malicious magical items are out there in private collections, museum archives, warehouses (think Raiders of the Lost Ark), and curio shops.  They might find their way out of obscurity because of an estate sale, a theft, or the actions of a clueless (or magically influenced) owner, but once on the market, these items could cause serious harm in the hands of someone who understands their power.

Q:  Where did you get the idea for a series about cursed objects?

A:  I grew up going to antique shows, flea markets and estate sales with my father.  I was always drawn to items that seemed to have a story begging to be told.  I loved to find out the history—provenance—of pieces from the antique sellers and booth keepers, and if no one could tell me an object’s tale, my imagination made one up.  A lot of antique stores give you the feeling that you’re rummaging through someone’s attic.  I don’t mean the modern “shabby chic” boutique places that handle hand-picked collectibles.  I mean the kind of place you find on a side street, run by a crabby old proprietor, in a storefront that is itself over a hundred years old (or older, if you’re outside the U.S.).  These places are treasure troves for the imagination.  They’re kind of creepy because things are stacked everywhere, covered with dust, and it’s really easy to imagine some dangerous, cursed item just biding its time, waiting for the right person to take it home.

Q:  Your stories have found an audience on both sides of the Atlantic.  In addition to Magic, where can people find more about Sorren and the Deadly Curiosities series?

A:  My stories are featured in two other UK anthologies, “The Bitten Word” and “The Mammoth Book of Women’s Ghost Stories”, as well as two US anthologies, “Rum and Runestones” and “Spells and Swashbucklers.”  I’m offering excerpts of the two newest stories, “Buttons” and “Among the Shoals Forever” in my Days of the Dead blog tour, and readers can find the other complete stories for download on my site.  I’ll be bringing out more original stories set in this universe through my web site and Amazon, so stay tuned for new details!

Enjoy an excerpt from “Buttons,” my short story in the Magic anthology:


Leave a Comment

Filed under Gail Z. Martin

Keeping Fantasy Fresh: Going Different Directions

by Sue Bolich

You know, it’s hard to be different when writing fantasy sometimes, which is why I am always amazed to look around and see the sheer imagination pouring out of new releases every day. Yet to many people, “fantasy” is still all about evil overlords, quests to save the world, magic McGuffins that must be collected and used, and magicians, swords, and all forms of sorcery. As a fantasy reader I love those things; as a fantasy writer, I want to go beyond them.

Firedancer and its sequels in my Masters of the Elements series are about as big a departure as I could make from the usual S&S tropes. I really, really wanted to leave the usual villains and plots behind and focus on something different. Hopefully, I achieved it in making my antagonist completely non-human: living fire. The elementals, Wind, Water, and Fire, are the children of the Earth Mother, but have long since grown beyond her direct control. Thus, she created the talented clans to hold them in check: Firedancers, Windriders, Water Clans, and Delvers–but the elementals are challenging that ancient magic, and no one knows why. Will it hold? Will the world end in fire or flood or destruction by the mad, uncontrollable Hag blowing all to ruin before her?

It is immensely fun doing something so different, trying to invent a world with none of the usual drivers of human conflict. There is no war here except against the elements. No swords, no armies, no ambitious dukes and kings. There are people trying to save their world and their loved ones, who differ greatly in the approach they think should be taken. Isn’t that like real life when crisis strikes? Everybody thinks they know the way to take control and get things back to normal, but how many times do they trip over each other, start fights, go down dead ends that make things worse, and generally end up worse off than before? I think people are the most fascinating things on earth, and when you throw in magic to complicate their relationships…! Ai yi yi, you get all sorts of interesting twists!

Still, despite their differences, the common desire among most people is to do good. In fantasy as in real life, somehow that thread becomes a lifeline, despite the fact that each one of the clans has the power to do massive damage (even unintentionally) to the rest. Imagine if a Windrider should make a mistake calling Wind in the presence of Fire. Nasty surprise for the Firedancer trying to control it! Yet there is room for love even across clans, equally unexpected, equally surprising, and very fun to explore, from passing quarrels to midnight passion.

Writing fantasy is the art of making the impossible real. Why not a fire creature that badly wants out of its prison, and why not folk trying to assimilate the fact that this time…it just might win? Who needs a cackling evil overlord when fire can eat your whole world?? Different villain, different battle, different magic…pure fantasy. And pure fun to write!

Read the first five chapters of Firedancer free at my website, You can also buy it at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and nearly everywhere else books are sold, in ebook and print.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Guest Blogger