Category Archives: Gail Z. Martin

The Intersection between Fantasy and Reality

By Gail Z. Martin

Most of us read fiction to escape reality, at least for a little while. If you want to immerse yourself in the real world, you generally read non-fiction. But any time there are two groups, there is a boundary line between them, and often that boundary is fuzzy, porous, and perhaps more an imaginary demarcation than a wall. That’s the way I think the separation is between fantasy and reality.

Reality focuses on truth and fact, or at least believes it does. Of course, unless we’re good at vetting our information and choose our sources wisely, what we believe to be real may, in actuality, be nothing more than tin-foil hat conspiracies and magical thinking. The truth is out there, and it can often be empirically proven. But because it is uncomfortable, threatening to the status quo or results in cognitive dissonance requiring us to divest ourselves of comfortable ideas proven untrue, we resist looking for the truth, and often turn away from it when we find it.

On the reality side of the line, the gray area is the home of pseudo-science like anti-vaxers and climate change deniers, of life-long smokers who resist the idea that tobacco kills, of moon shot unbelievers and grapefruit dieters, alien abductees and Bigfoot sightings. It’s where the last believers of debunked science find refuge, the shadowed wilderness where the devotees of magical thinking go to escape those who blinded them with science. This is the arid no-man’s land for those who either lack the capacity to understand the concepts or—much more likely—find it so threatening to change their minds that they dare not leave their self-imposed exile.

And it is scary to move away from the borderline. If you have embraced a junk science concept all your life, it’s probably because an authority figure, someone you trusted like a parent, teacher, member of the clergy, or political leader told you that concept and rewarded you for believing. The fear that keeps people locked in the DMZ is that removing one faulty belief may lead to finding other, equally incorrect assumptions, until the whole house of cards collapses. There may be social pressure to stay in the wilderness with your tribe of true believers. And if you leave the tribe, where would you go?

Then there’s the line as viewed from the fantasy side of the divide. This is the place where good storytelling, the power of myth and wishful thinking create fantasy so close to being real that it seems to actually be real. This is the realm of urban legends, stories of one-armed carjackers and ghostly hitchhikers that have been repeated so often, we swear we heard that it happened to a friend of a cousin’s friend. It’s the apocryphal story that would be so perfect if it actually happened, but it didn’t. The promises we believed of inventions (like flying cars or faster-than-light travel) that were supposed to come true, but didn’t, and we feel cheated.

This is also the space of the half-awakened dream, the place where archetypes rule. It’s a liminal space where there is truth in something not quite real—which is the essence of myth and archetype. It is not the truth, but it is a truth, and a powerful truth at that, which lasts down through the ages, staying alive by the power of its mythic truthfulness.

It’s the transcendent nature of the myth that keep sojourners in the fantasy border wilderness. The near-real dreams are so seductive, the promise of the future so fulfilling, the siren song so loud that it feels like failure to move into the mere fantastic.

Borders are dangerous places. They question your identity and allegiance, and they’re often hotly contested. Most of the time, they’re imaginary lines that we draw and defend as if they were real. Sometimes, the line shifts and suddenly there is a new reality. Efforts to eliminate ambiguity with total certainty lead people to build a wall instead of a line. But walls never last.

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here:



Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!


Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities!

Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood!

Treats not Tricks! Read an excerpt from War Of Shadows

Halloween goodies! Excerpt from Iron & Blood

Bonus Treats! An excerpt from Everyday Haunts by JeanMarie Ward and from Real Weird

Scary good loot! Free sample chapter from Charles Gannon’s Raising Caine

Check out Broad Universe’s Full Moon Blog Tour now through Nov. 7 with 25 awesome authors (including me!) and spooktacular book giveaways!


A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

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Days of the Dead 2015: Tricks, Treats and Stuff that’s Scary-Good!

DaysofDead Banner V1 copy

Welcome to the 2015 Days of the Dead blog tour!

We are going to celebrate in style this year with excerpts, interviews, book giveaways, sneak peeks at new covers, and more!

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA2Three new books are coming up—and that’s just the beginning! On December 29, Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel (Solaris Books) launches—and it’s got an awesome Chris McGuire cover. Then in March, Shadow and Flame (Orbit Books) comes out—the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms series. In June, we return to the world of The Summoner with Shadowed Path, a print (and ebook) anthology of the first ten Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures PLUS an exclusive eleventh story that is only in the anthology!

But wait, there’s more! The Weird Wild West anthology is out, with a Storm and Fury Adventure story from Larry N. Martin and me, and The Side of Good/The Side of Evil anthology/flipbook is also new—and it’s got another Storm and Fury Adventure story as well. Speaking of the Iron & Blood-related Storm and Fury Adventures, check out the FREE full novella Grave Voices on Wattpad as well as short stories Resurrection Day and Airship Down on Kindle/Kobo and Nook.WWW cover

There’s a brand new Deadly Curiosities Adventure short story, Spook House, which will be out right in time for Halloween, and earlier this year we wrapped up Season 2 of the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures—Season 3 will start in 2016. Coming soon are the all-new Blaine McFadden novellas in the King’s Convicts series, that happens before the main action in Ice Forged (available on Kindle/Kobo and Nook). And in December, a Blaine McFadden short story, No Reprieve, debuts on Orbit Short Fiction.

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

In fact, there is so much awesome cool stuff going on that it takes TWO different blog tours to contain it all! That’s where the Full Moon Blog Tour comes in—with even MORE great blogs from 25+ different authors (including me) so just click here or on the graphic to get started!

So what ELSE is going on with the Days of the Dead tour? Here’s the deal—different blogs will post my guest articles on different days. Make the rounds, enter the contests, be entertained and grab some fun freebies! Where? Watch for links for Beauty in Ruins, ESpecBooks, The Qwillery, SF Signal, The Book Plank, Magical Words, I Smell Sheep, Bookloons, Romance Bandits, SFNow, Fantasy Book Critic, SF World, We Geek Girls, SF Bokhandlein, Fantasy Faction, SFX, No More Grumpy Booksellers, Solaris Books and more!

What kind of freebies? First off, there’s The Swaggiest Swag giveaway. If you like bookmarks, swagpostcards and cool free stuff from bestselling authors, this is for you. I’m one of 11 authors who are giving away neat stuff for just the cost of a self-addressed/stamped envelope. Find out more here:

I’ll have three different Goodreads giveaways, one for Iron & Blood, one for Deadly Curiosities and one for The Weird Wild West. There are also giveaways on Reddit, Bookloons, The Full Moon Blog Tour, No More Grumpy Bookseller and Romance Bandits. Sprinkled along with the guest blog posts are links to excerpts for all my books and short stories, plus DOZENS of links to books and short stories by author friends of mine. Enough to keep you reading for quite a while!

Good-EvilWhat are you waiting for? You can get in on all the Days of the Dead fun on a treasure hunt/Trick-or-Treat just by visiting these sites. Check back at and here to find all the links! And please, “like” my TheWinterKingdoms page on Facebook and follow me @GailZMartin on Twitter! And if you join my Chronicles newsletter, you’ll never miss out on something because Facebook didn’t show everyone the update!

With so much good stuff going on, it’s going to take a week just to get through it all! What are you waiting for? Dive in and help me celebrate the Days of the Dead!

And because Halloween wouldn’t be complete without some Trick or Treating, here are some excerpt links to my stuff and stories by some of my author friends!

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities!

Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood!

Halloween treat! Read two of our complete haunted novellas FREE on Wattpad The Final Death & GraveVoices

Halloween Loot! Double-Dragon Publishing sampler #1

Good Stuff!  Double-Dragon Publishing sampler #2

Win some WeirdWildWest awesomeness!

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Demons, Werewolves, and Zombies, Oh My

by Kelly Swails

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I took on the challenge of editing the Monsters! anthology. I knew I’d get some solid stories by talented authors, but the depth and breadth of those stories impressed me. The stories that play with familiar tropes like zombies and demons do so in unique ways. Several stories touch on the idea that the real monsters in the world reside within us. Some make you laugh, some make you think, and they’re all worth your time. It was an honor to edit these stories, and it makes me happy to see it out in the world. Be sure to back the kickstarter ( so you can be one of the first to discover how this group of authors tackle the monster theme.


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War of Shadows Is Now In Stores!

Blaine McFadden is back, and the bad guys are badder than ever! Broken magic. Power-hungry vampires. Evil mages. Battling warlords. War of Shadows is now in stores and online in trade paper and ebook—my darkest and grittiest adventure ever!

War of Shadows

War of Shadows

War of Shadows is Book 3 in Blaine McFadden’s Ascendant Kingdom’s Saga. Here’s the recap: Blaine “Mick” McFaden has scored a victory and restored the magic, but new threats rise from the wreckage of the kingdom of Donderath. While the magic remains brittle and undependable, warlords both mortal and undead vie for power, fighting for control of the ruined Continent. McFadden and his unlikely band of convict heroes must choose their allies wisely as renegade talishte take long- awaited vengeance and powerful mages seek to control Donderath’s next king. Blaine McFadden must protect those loyal to him against the coming storm, and find a way to bind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him, because time is running out …

And since a picture says a thousand words, this is the book video

There are a few days left on the Goodreads giveaway

You can find an excerpt plus links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Chapter/Indigo, Waterstones and Kobo here:

What Reviewers are saying about War of Shadows

If you are an epic fantasy lover, then this is a series you should try!—Exploding Spaceship Reviews

Packed with action, politics, magic, and monsters, this is epic fantasy writ large—Barnes & Noble

“War of Shadows is a rousing adventure full of action, intrigue, danger, and suspense. It’s epic fantasy at its best, filled with vivid magic but grounded by real human emotion.”
—Aaron Rosenberg, author of the bestselling Adventures of DuckBob Spinowitz series

“This book kept me reading long past my bed time. As always, Gail Z. Martin delivers Epic Fantasy as it was meant to be read: gripping, action packed, and larger than life. A delight for any fan of the genre!”—Rachel Aaron, author of The Spirit Thief

“A vivid, engrossing tapestry woven from epic heroism, post apocalypse struggles, perilous magic and darkest fantasy. A distinct and distinctive achievement”.
–Juliet McKenna, author of The Tales of Einarinn

“Which of these things are on your epic fantasy checklist: Intense action in the first few pages which then carries right through to the last? Vivid battle scenes? Characters that combine the best of classic archetypes with fresh new twists? Snappy dialogue? Exciting world building? If you’ve checked even half of these items, then you owe it to yourself to check out Gail Z. Martin’s War of Shadows. It’s heroic adventure at it’s rollicking finest.”
–Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire

“With a large cast of satisfying characters, Gail Z. Martin masterfully presents an epic struggle between the forces of life and the forces of death in a world of broken magic.”
—James Maxey, author of Greatshadow on War of Shadows

“High mage magic, thrilling battles and heart-thudding adventure – yet another superb fantasy tale from Gail Z. Martin!”
– Andy Remic, author of The Iron Wolves on War of Shadows

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Q&A with Megan O’Russell – Part Three

1. What is the title of your newest book or short story? What’s it about? Where can readers find it?

The Siren’s Realm. It’s book two in The Tethering Series. The Siren’s Realm in a Young Adult Urban Fantasy about magic, danger, and the consequences of love.

Jacob loves Emilia Gray, but things aren’t always that simple in the world of Magickind…

The war has begun.

The Dragons are gaining power, and the Gray Clan stands alone. Desperate to find a way to stop the Pendragon, Emilia is forced to seek answers from someone who hasn’t been seen in seventeen years . . . Her mother. Embarking on a magical journey filled with witches, wizards, centaurs and a dangerous and powerful Siren, Jacob and Emilia must take a leap of faith to a land neither could have ever imagined . . . and hope they can then find their way home.

2. What’s your favorite part of writing a new book or story? What do you like the least?

The Siren’s Realm is my first sequel. My favorite part was getting to see my characters again. It was like visiting old friends. Delving deeper into their stories was amazing. I especially loved pushing the relationship between Jacob and Emilia even further.

My least favorite part was trying to find ways to reintroduce information from book one that is necessary for book two. I’m not a fan of info dumps, so trying to find creative ways to slip in the rules of the magical world was a challenge. In the end, it was fun. But it took a lot of tea to get there.

3. How do you research your stories?

For The Siren’s Realm I spent a lot of time researching different locations. What mountain something happens on. How to access it. How long a particular road is. I really wanted to make sure that, even though The Siren’s Realm is a fantasy novel, the bits that are based in the real world are believable. I put quite a bit of time into researching old legends and myths. I like to know what the purest form of a centaur is before I decide how I want to build mine. I also spent a lot of time on the spell language with the help of my lovely husband and chief linguist Christopher Russell.

4. Where can readers find you on social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library T hing, Redd It, etc.)

Add The Tethering to your Goodreads list at
Add The Siren’s Realm to your Goodreads list at
Follow Megan O’Russell on Facebook at
Twitter @MeganORussell
Visit the Silence in the Library website:
Megan’s blog and website can be found at

5. What do you read for fun?

Just about anything. Right now I’m reading a beach themed book to try and remind myself that summer will come again. I’m also on a big geography and cartography binge. One of my new projects involves cartography, and it’s become a bit of an obsession. If it’s about making maps, I want to read it.

Click here to listen to a reading of The Siren’s Realm on our sister site.

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Deadly Inspiration

by Gail Z. Martin

After eight epic fantasy novels, why write an urban fantasy?

To paraphrase famed bank robber Willie Sutton, “Because that’s where the story is.”

I’m not planning to quit writing epic fantasy. For one thing, I’ve got more novels under contract and even more clamoring for attention in my head. But an idea led to a short story which turned into a novel that became a whole new fictional universe, and now there are more stories that just won’t be satisfied until I tell them.

Maybe that only makes sense if you’re a writer, but having stories in your head that want out is a miserable thing unless you go along with the urge and write them, bringing them to life. Which brings me back to Deadly Curiosities.

It all started when I got my first invitation to write a short story about pirates and magic for an anthology. I came with “Steer a Pale Course”, and introduced an antique shop whose mortal owner and vampire partner worked together to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands. The time period for that story was the late 1700s. Other anthology stories were set in that time, or in the 1500s, when my vampire character Sorren was newly turned, the best jewel thief in Antwerp. Then Jon Oliver at Solaris asked me to do a short story for his Magic: Esoteric and Arcane anthology, and wanted something more modern-day. He liked my story “Buttons” so much that he asked for a novel with an eye toward a series.

I’ve grown up visiting antique shops, because my dad loved to prowl the aisles, looking for a good bargain. With time to kill, I went looking for unusual, archaic items and amused myself by making up stories about them. I’ve also always loved visiting museums and living history sites, experiencing how people lived in other time periods. And always, there were the personal items that they surrounded themselves with, things that might not be monetarily valuable but were precious to them. Mingle that with a life-long love of ghost stories, and I started to think about items that might be haunted, or whose owners had invested with magical power.

Then I got invited to speak at a conference in Charleston, SC. It was somewhere I’d always wanted to visit, and I fell in love with how beautiful it was, and also with the blood-stained history just beneath the genteel facade. Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the US, and it hadn’t been overused as a fantasy setting. I made up my mind I was going to figure out how to set some stories there. So a lot of different streams all seemed to come together to create the Deadly Curiosities universe that culminates in the upcoming novel.

A modern-day setting in an existing city meant urban fantasy, but I had been reading for pleasure in that genre for quite some time, taking a “busman’s holiday” from epic stories just to clear my mind. Familiarity with the structure and tropes of urban fantasy–and conversations I’d had with urban fantasy authors over the years–all helped the story fall into place. When you’re a writer, nothing is ever wasted. You might not know exactly when or where you’ll use an experience, but sooner or later, it shows up in your books!

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The Story Behind Reign of Ash

By Gail Z. Martin

Reign of Ash is the second book in my Ascendant Kingdoms series. In the first novel, Ice Forged, a war destroys the ability to harness and use magic, devastating the kingdom of Donderath and its neighboring lands. Blaine McFadden just might be the only man who can put things right, but he was sentenced to life imprisonment in an arctic prison colony before the war began.

It’s probably not a big spoiler to say that Blaine does finally agree to try to restore the magic. But doing so is harder and more dangerous than he imagined. So when Reign of Ash opens, the consequences of Donderath’s cataclysmic war are still unfolding. Not only is magic still wild and lethal, but without a king or the nobility, the kingdom has devolved into chaos. Warlords vie for land, resources and dominance. Old hatreds and secrets create new dangers. Not only are the mortals fighting among themselves, but the immortal talishte are riven by internal jealousies and vendettas. And everything Blaine does to try to straighten things out seems to make it worse.

The ideas for Reign of Ash and Ice Forged were floating around in my head for a while before I got the go-ahead to write the series. For me, it always starts with “what if?”

What if….magic was a natural force that could be harnessed, but the bond between people and magic was artificial, a magical construct itself?

And what if… something broke that bond. Could it be restored? If so, would it be the same? If it came back, how would it be different? Would people get back power if they had lost it, or get new powers they didn’t have before? Would people gain or lose power? Would the rules be the same?

And what if…there were powerful forces who liked a world without controlled magic, who thrived on the chaos and had plans of their own, taking advantage of the new imbalance of power? We all think that after a devastating event, everyone wants to get back to normal, but what if some powerful people saw new advantages in the rubble?

When Blaine returns to find a way to restore magic, he’s not only up against the deadly forces of untamed magic. He also discovers that he’s gained powerful enemies who have a vested interest in making sure he fails–and dies. The longer it goes without controlled magic, the more out of kilter things become, and the more danger Blaine faces. Will the alliances he’s built hold? And will his special connection to the magic, something in his very blood, be enough to tame it again? And most importantly, will doing so require his death?

Those were the questions I grappled with as I created Ice Forged and Reign of Ash. I’ve turned in the manuscript for book 3, War of Shadows, which comes out in 2015. I’ll start the fourth book this summer. Which means that some of the questions will be answered in Reign of Ash, but many of the answers will be questioned again and again, because Blaine has a long way to go before he’s safe…if that day ever comes.

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The Story Behind the Story: Deadly Curiosities

by Gail Z. Martin

My dad was into antiques, old stuff, and collectibles that reminded him of the Old West, his childhood in the 1920s and anything else that caught his eye. He was also a hoarder. When he went into a nursing home for Alzheimer’s and we had to clean out his house, it was packed to the gills. Some of the stuff was trash, some went to Goodwill.

And then there was the weird stuff. Halberd axes. Old-fashioned bear traps six feet long with huge teeth. Hundreds of Baby Ben alarm clocks. Dozens of antique sewing machines, manual typewriters, huge coffee grinders, and a really strange black box that didn’t seem to have a way to open it. We all agreed felt evil so we got rid of it without trying too hard. He had sold the cannon off years ago, so at least we didn’t have to deal with that.

There were books–thousands of them. And old mother-of-pearl pair of opera glasses. Native American artifacts. Mirrors and glassware, old textiles and two player pianos. And more. When he passed away at age 90, it was my job to get rid of everything.

I had grown up getting dragged around as a kid to antique shops, used book stores (the musty kind that look like something out of Diagon Alley), swap meets, flea markets and steam engine shows. (He used to have several hundred steam engines, but thankfully those were sold off by the time I had to deal with things.) Point being, I spent a lot of formidable years around old stuff, odd things and items that might once have been useful or precious but where now reduced to cast-offs.

So maybe it was fate that I was going to write about a centuries-old antiques and curio shop with a hidden mission to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands. Even as a kid, I knew that all those old things had stories. They had belonged to someone, mattered to someone, and were now being passed along–and they took their stories with them, silent, mysterious histories. Sometimes there were clues to their past life–a monogram, a name plate, an engraved set of initials, an inscription in a book. Most of the time, it was just the object, cast adrift, and I used to make up stories about them to amuse myself.

I like ghosts and accounts of ghostly phenomena. I like vampires–ever since I was a pre-schooler watching the old Dark Shadows TV show. And I liked Charleston, SC when I visited and toured it. Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the US, with a complex history that is both genteel and scandalous, and it’s one of the most haunted cities in the country. It was ripe for urban fantasy, and wasn’t overly familiar to readers. And it’s only a few hours away from where I live, so research trips wouldn’t be too difficult. So it just made sense for me to put all those elements together, shake it around and see what happened.

What emerged was the Deadly Curiosities novel, plus the short stories and novella that I’ve done in that universe that span a 500 year period of time. I’ve woven in a number of the objects we encountered in my dad’s collection, and given them a supernatural twist. It’s been fun to play with all the different strands and weave them into something new. The idea that the most mundane object might harbor secret magical power or a deadly curse is intriguing, especially if something unexpected might trigger that power, or raise its long-dormant mojo. Once you read Deadly Curiosities, you might be eying those heirlooms from grandma a little bit differently!



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Things you didn’t know about Gail Z. Martin

An Interview with Gail Z. Martin

Q: Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

A: Fantasy and science fiction hold up a mirror for us to try on different futures and pasts. Sci Fi often serves as a cautionary tale of where we might end up if we aren’t careful. Fantasy lets us play in the past or present that isn’t but should have been. And sometimes, when we experience something in fantasy, we start wondering why we can’t alter reality. That’s why sci fi and fantasy have always had a bit of a subversive edge, questioning the status quo and wondering what else might be possible. Sometimes it’s easier to approach a controversial topic from a fresh perspective outside of the real world. Star Trek did this all the time. I think that’s also something that happens with today’s dystopian fiction. Once you start people asking why something has to be the way it is, you’re opening the door to change.

Q: What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays? Is there a fictional holiday that you would like to take part in?

A: For the holidays? Hogwarts! I’d love to be part of that awesome Yule feast and the Yule Ball.

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer books, I talk about a mid-winter holiday called Winterstide on the Solstice, which I think would be a nice, quiet alternative to the Christmas chaos to try some year.

Q: Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

A: I don’t think you have to mention every time someone stops to use the bathroom, but throwing things like that in occasionally makes the world feel more real. (In one of my books, a character overhears an important bit of news taking a pee back behind the tavern.) It goes right along with throwing up, food poisoning, and lice.

Cussing depends very much on the individual character. Some will used “minced oaths” (the equivalent of ‘darn’ instead of ‘damn’), some will be vulgar, and everyone else will be in between. Cussing is actually an interesting way to explore what a society finds sacred and profane, what they consider vulgar and acceptable, and what behavior is tolerated of different social classes and in different social occasions. Try coming up with a suitably vulgar/blasphemous outburst for a religion that doesn’t exist! It’s harder than it looks to make it believable and not funny. Likewise, if you have a person from a rough background, they’re going to cuss. You don’t always have to repeat what they say, but not having someone like that swear is inauthentic.

My characters complain a lot about lengthy travel, especially when it rains and the taverns have bedbugs. Talking about the hardship of travel in a fantasy setting reminds readers that this was before you could hop on a plane and be across the country in a few hours.

For me, these kinds of details make a world feel more lived-in and real. It’s the difference between a movie set and actually being there. And it can make you very thankful for central heating and indoor plumbing!

Q: Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

A: I love doing conventions as a pro, because it’s even more fun than it was when I wasn’t a pro. I get to talk to readers and be on panels and hash out cool topics like “Writing real magic” or “Are werewolves the new vampires?” with some of my favorite authors. Conventions are like family reunions, only with better relatives.

Blogging is fun, although sometimes I feel like I’ve said everything and it’s hard to come up with a new topic. I really enjoy conversations on Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads. Book signings are fun when the store has good traffic and there are lots of people. When you’re in a strip mall bookstore on a very rainy day, all you can do is make the best of it by getting to know the bookstore staff—which can be a lot of fun.

Probably the least favorite part is that you really don’t ever get to take a break from reminding people that you and your books are out there. It’s so easy for readers to go on to the next big thing and not remember that they were looking forward to the new book in your series—especially when they have to wait a year. So there really isn’t any time off from being out in the public.

Q: With the modern popularity of ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

A: On the plus side, readers may stumble upon books they wouldn’t have found wandering through a bookstore. On the minus side, it can be harder to discover books in a specific genre because they’re not helpfully shelved together, and the covers are smaller online and therefore not always as tempting.

I think readers find ways to cope, and overall they will find what they’re interested in, either by browsing, using the Amazon suggestions (which can be funny sometimes if you’re searched for some odd things), and tapping into word of mouth sites like Goodreads.

Ebook categories can also be humorously off-base. My epic fantasy The Blood King once accidentally got categorized on Amazon under “erotica”. I guess that’s the next category down from “epic” on the menu and someone picked the wrong one! I suspect there were a few very confused readers until we got it straightened out!

Q: From your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay?

A: I might be tempted to do something from the upcoming steampunk book….

Q: As a young reader, unspoiled by the realities of this world, what stories and authors drove you to delusions of grandeur, expecting to be swept up into a magical tale or a laser battle?

A: As a kid, I loved Nancy Drew, Meg, Trixie Belden and the Hardy Boys, along with Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. I read a lot of ghost stories, including Macbeth and Hamlet. Of course there was Dracula, Frankenstein and anything about King Arthur, ranging from the Mary Stewart books to the more scholarly texts. Anything with ghosts, castles, and monsters was big on my list!

Q: If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

A: Mary Shelley, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Agatha Christie, Jules Verne, and probably William Shakespeare.

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Have Vampires Lost Their Mojo?

by Gail Z. Martin

Vampire stories have been around a long time, especially if you count folklore in addition to stories like Dracula. Recently, we’ve had a vampire-palooza in fiction, movies and TV, where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a bloodsucker. If a crowd of vampires is a scourge (personally, I like “murder” as in crows), then have vampires become the scourge of fiction, and have they worn out their welcome?

Personally, I don’t think the undead are going to ride off into the sunrise any time soon. The vampire mythos is just too compelling, too primal, too tragically human. But I do think that how we portray vampires will continue to shift, and we’ll cycle through various popular depictions with new twists.

I’ve loved vampires since I was a kid, watching the old Dark Shadows TV show before I was old enough to go to school. The very first story I made up, when I was five years old, was about a vampire. Vampires, witches and ghosts were my preferred story elements in anything I read all the time I was growing up–and if I could get all three in one, that was a happy day.

Vampires appear in all of my fiction, but I’ve tried to put my own mark on them, reinterpreting them for the setting and culture of the story. In my Chronicles of the Necromancer books, the vayash moru are not hidden–everyone knows they exist, although they are welcome in some places and persecuted in others. Most want to stay on with their families after they are turned, so that gramp the vamp keeps working on the family farm, just doing his chores at night, watching over generations of descendants. When a few ambitious vampires try to change the balance of power, it adds another destabilizing element to kingdoms already on the brink of descending into dynastic war.

For my Ascendant Kingdoms books, including Ice Forged and Reign of Ash, the talishte are content to be silent partners in the power structure, kept in line by an oligarchy of their elders, working behind the thrones under long-established rules. For them, reading the blood of a human servant imparts that person’s memories, and creates a two-way bond, the kruvgaldur, between the talishte and either the mortal servant or the fledgling. When war destroys the ability to control magic and plunges the kingdoms into anarchy, the talishte must decide whether they can afford to remain behind the scenes any longer.

Modern-day Charleston, SC is the setting for Deadly Curiosities, my new urban fantasy series, and Sorren is a nearly 600 year-old vampire who works with his mortal partners to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands. Once again, I’ve drawn on the idea of vampires as oligarchs, many of whom have amassed power and wealth over their long lifetimes, choosing to act from the shadows to direct the fate of history.

I’m much more interested in the tragedy of the vampire myth than the romance. I’ve heard that the vampire-as-dark-lover may be a trope that’s due for a rest, but I suspect that good examples will continue to be written, since the shadow lover appeal is long established. But I do think we are seeing more of the vampire-as-monster story, and more stories that focus more on vampire’s supernatural abilities than their come-hither seductive power.

The storytelling pendulum had to swing back toward the monster side of things eventually. I won’t say that vampires had lost credibility, per se, but there have been so many undead Lotharios of late that to my thinking, vampires had begun to lose their edginess, their danger, their predator status–their otherness. It’s fun to be reminded, even shocked, into seeing that vampires aren’t just the bad boys your mother warned you about. And for humans used to believing themselves to be the top of the food chain and the apex predator, vampires are and should be a good reason to worry about things that go bump in the night.

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