Tag Archives: epic fantasy

Turning Back to Epic Fantasy

by David B. Coe

Like Gail, I have written in several fantasy subgenres over the course of my career, most recently taking on contemporary urban fantasy (with my Case Files of Justis Fearsson trilogy) and historical urban fantasy (with the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson). I started out, though, writing alternate world, epic (or high) fantasy. Multi-book story arcs, set in created worlds, with lots of magic and castle intrigue, and with larger-than-life villains who threatened All That We Hold Dear. Fun stuff.

coejacksonpubpic1000I’ve recently returned to these early works. The rights to my first several series have reverted to me, leaving me free to do with them as I please. And I have chosen to reissue what I am calling the “Author’s Edits” (think Director’s Cut) of the books. For obvious reasons, I’ve started with my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle, which I published back in the late 1990s. These books established me commercially and critically, and won me the Crawford Fantasy Award as the best new author in fantasy. They’re as close to my heart as any books I’ve written. But they were also my first efforts and they suffered from many of the flaws one finds in first novels. Hence the Author’s Edit. I haven’t changed any of the plotting, world building, or character work. But I’ve tightened the prose and eliminated unnecessary dialog tags, adverbs, and expository passages. The books now read better than they ever have.

In reading through and editing this first series, I realized that I miss writing epic fantasy. It’s not that I’ve come to dislike urban fantasy. Far from it. I believe the Fearsson and Thieftaker books represent the best writing I’ve ever done. But I had forgotten how much fun it can be to write those huge, sprawling epics on which I cut my teeth as a writing professional.

To my mind, the biggest differences between writing urban fantasy and writing epic boil down to the related issues of point of view and plotting. Urban fantasy, as I’ve approached it in my career and experienced it as a reader, tends to be more streamlined. The cast of point of view characters is usually limited to a single protagonist, or perhaps two or three narrating characters. The plotting can be twisty and intricate, but it’s also focused. Much of urban fantasy pays homage not only to its fantasy roots, but also to noir mystery. It’s not surprising then, that some of the best books in the subgenre are lean, fast-paced, and tightly constructed. As I say, I love urban for just these reasons.dcoe1

But for me, the allure of epic fantasy, both as an author and as a fan, lies in its embrace of very different attributes. My favorite epic fantasies, and all the high fantasies I’ve written, braid together many seemingly disparate storylines that coalesce as the novel and/or series progresses. By necessity, these plot threads are presented through a pantheon of point of view characters, who give the reader dfferent perspectives on the story, and bits of information that form a sort of narrative mosaic.

In some respects it’s less efficient story telling. On the other hand, when done well, epic fantasy can take on a richness and texture that make it unique among all forms of speculative fiction. I enjoy writing it because I can lead my reader through a labyrinth of plot points, hinting at key moments to come, feinting at possible paths my story might take, and telling the tale through a collection of voices, each one unique and, I hope, engaging. I can give my readers more information than any one of my characters has at his or her disposal, thus ratcheting up the tension by, for example, sending my protagonist into a trap of which my readers are aware, even though she is not.

We writers can be a fickle bunch. When I shifted from epic fantasy to urban, I did it, in part, because I was tired of writing the multi-POV, multi-plot-thread, multi-volume stories that I’d written throughout the early years of my career. I longed for that leaner voice of urban fantasy. I wanted to write stand-alone novels that more closely resembled whodunits, but with a magical twist. The Thieftaker and Fearsson books were exactly what I was after.

dcoe2Now, I find that I’m ready to turn back. Reading and editing Children of Amarid, my very first novel, as I prepared for its re-release, I found myself transported back to those days when I was writing the book without a contract, dreaming of one day becoming a published author. I had read many of the great epic fantasists of my youth: Tolkien and Donaldson, Kurtz and Kerr, McCaffrey (yes, I know — she considered herself an author of Science Fiction; I thought of it as fantasy), LeGuin, Brooks, and Eddings. Those were the authors who attracted me to this career, and when I wrote the LonTobyn Chronicle, I tried to draw upon what I saw as the finest qualities of their work. I’m not so full of myself as to claim that I succeeded with this first effort. But they were my inspirations, and fantasy, as they defined the field, was my first love.

So, now I’m back to it. I have more of my backlist to release in coming years: my five-book Winds of the Forelands series, my Blood of the Southlands trilogy. And I’m eager to try my hand at writing new epic fantasy, blending my lifelong passion for the genre with the knowledge of craft I’ve accrued during my twenty years in the business. I don’t yet know exactly what this new project will look like. But those elements of the genre that I love — magic, of course, the more wondrous the better, as well as intrigue, action, and maybe a sprinkling of romance — will all be there, along with the rich complexity that makes reading and writing high fantasy such a joy. Stay tuned!

About the Author

David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of nineteen fantasy novels. As David B. Coe, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first two books, Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes came out in 2015. The third volume, Shadow’s Blade, has recently been released. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach.

David is also the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he is the process of reissuing, as well as the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.










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Join the Shadow Alliance (and Other Cool Stuff)


Join the Shadow Alliance–it’s the most fun you can have without a secret decoder ring!

The Shadow Alliance is my street team. Plenty of contests, prizes, exclusive sneak peek excerpts and updates on what I’m working on next, and other secret members-only cool stuff you have to join to discover! And, oh yeah, Alliance members help to spread the word about my books. Did I mention members-only get-togethers at select cons and cookies? Join now, have fun, help get the word out! Sign up here

Next up–Holiday giveaway!  Win books and gift cards! Authors include me, Faith Hunter, David B. Coe, John Hartness, Stuart Jaffe, Laura Anne Gilman, Darynda Jones, Christina Henry, Jennifer Estep and Mindy Mymudes. Easy to enter, and the more you enter, the more chances to win! Happy Holidays giveaway

You can find the book giveaway links here where you can enter

To win the gift card, go to one of these participating blogs and comment!

Slippery Words  November 24th, 2015 I Smell Sheep  November 25th, 2015 Literal Addiction  November 27th, 2015 Cherry Mischievous November 29th, 2015 Drey’s Library November 30th, 2015 Tome Tender December 1st, 2015 London’s Scribbles December 2nd, 2015 Fantasy Fun Reads  December 3rd, 2015 Rabid Reads December 10, 2015

Shopping for the holidays? Books are the best presents! Vendetta, the new Deadly Curiosities novel, is available for pre-order now and comes out in stores December 29! Other new books this year include War of Shadows in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series and Iron & Blood, for the Steampunk lover on your list!


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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: https://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/books/the-ascendant-kingdoms-saga/war-of-shadows/

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 Ice Forged author Gail Z. Martin

Q:  You write epic fantasy.  What got you interested in sword-and-sorcery stuff?

A:  As a kid, I loved anything about King Arthur, and I read every book I could find about Arthur, Merlin, Morgan LaFey, and the Round Table.  I know all the words to every song from Camelot! That got me interested in real history, and I read a lot about kings, castles, wars and then of course, magic.  Then I got into reading mythology and folklore, and when you put it all together, I started thinking up stories of my own!

Q:  Please tell us about your other books and where to find them.

A:  The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen make up my Chronicles of the Necromancer series.  The Sworn and The Dread are books one and two of my Fallen Kings Cycle, which continues the characters and setting from the first four books.  Ice Forged, and in 2014, Reign of Ash, are the first two books in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series, which is an entirely different fantasy world from my first books.  All of these titles are available wherever books are sold as paperbacks, ebook and audiobook.

Every month I bring out a new short story on Kindle, Kobo and Nook for just .99.  It’s a cheap thrill, and a good way to get to know my writing if you haven’t read one of my books.  In the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, so far we’ve got Raiders’ Curse, Caves of the Dead, Storm Surge, and Bounty Hunter.  In my Deadly Curiosities Adventures, so far the titles include Vanities, Wild Hunt, Steer a Pale Course.  You can find these online wherever ebooks for Kindle, Kobo and Nook are sold.

Q:  Ice Forged started a new series for you, with a different world and all-new characters from what you’ve written before.  What made you decide to write a different series instead of continuing with your other characters?

A:  I still have plans to write more stories in the Chronicles world, but I had reached a good place to take a break and do something different for a while.  There’s a natural break in the plot line after The Dread that makes a logical resting point.  So while my characters are taking a much-deserved vacation, I had the opportunity to write some new stories that had been banging around in my head.

Q:  You’ve also begun to bring out short stories on ebook.  How did that happen?

A:  I started doing short stories for anthologies, and discovered that it was fun.  Since my Chronicles world is on hiatus for now, I decided to bring out some of Jonmarc Vahanian’s back-story, since he’s a character everyone wants to know more about.  I created my Deadly Curiosities world for my anthology stories, and enjoyed writing about that world so much I decided to create more stories on my own.  I’ve found that switching up which world I’m writing about keeps me sharp and it’s like a mini-vacation.  I’m having a lot of fun!

Q: What’s the best part about being a writer?

A:  For me, there are two “best” parts—getting to tell the stories and getting to meet readers.  Writing is a lot of fun for me, even though it is a lot of work.  It doesn’t feel like work!  It’s so exciting to share the stories that bounce around in my head and make them real to other people.  Then meeting other people who love to read is also wonderful.  Book people have so much in common, even if we don’t always agree on our favorites, we do agree that books are fantastic!

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn  and The Dread).  She is also the author of two series on ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Series. Find her online at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.


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What’s New with Chronicles of the Necromancer author Gail Z. Martin

Solaris author Gail Z. Martin (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) stops by to catch us up on what she’s been doing lately.

Q:  Last year, you had a short story in our “Magic” anthology.  Folks who were expecting an epic fantasy tale may have been surprised by your contribution!

A:  I created my Deadly Curiosities world for the anthologies in which I was asked to participate.  So far, the stories have spanned about 500 years, from the 1500s to present day.  So when Solaris asked me to write a story for the “Magic” anthology and I wrote a modern-day Deadly Curiosities short piece of fiction.

Q:  What’s the concept behind your Deadly Curiosities world?

A:  In a nutshell: Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems.  Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Q:  Until now, you’ve focused on epic fantasy.  Why the change?

A:  It’s not really a change, it’s an addition.  I love the world I created for my world of the Winter Kingdom like The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen.  But it’s fun to do something different, and writing something new adds some creative juice.  I’m having a blast!

Q:  What’s going on with your Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Online Event?

A:  The Hawthorn Moon was a festival in The Summoner that was a very important event, on the summer solstice.  When The Blood King was about to come out, I did the preview on June 21, and it has become a tradition ever since that on and around June 21 I offer a first look at the cover of my new book, plus excerpts, guest blog posts, Q&A, character interviews, book giveaways, readings, podcasts and more!  You can find all the details for this year’s big event at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com.

Q:  You’ve got something going on Twitter during the event that is rather unique, don’t you?

A:  I love talking to readers on Twitter!  So on June 21, I’ll be picking 7 people at random to receive a free signed copy of some of my books.  Then tell your friends, because from 6/22-28, for every new 200 people who follow me @GailZMartin, I’ll do another drawing for a book, up to 20 books.

Q:  You’re also really active on Goodreads.  What do you like about that site?

A:  Goodreads lets me hang out with readers who might not be in places where I’m going to do a signing or a convention and have a conversation.  I host a different topic every month on something writing or fantasy related, and we have a good time talking about it.  I also enjoy posting the books I’ve recently read. During my Hawthorn Moon event, I’ll be giving away copies of one of my books, so find me at Goodreads.com/GailZMartin!

Q:  You’ve got some short stories on ebook set in the Deadly Curiosities world in time periods before the “Magic” story.  What can readers expect?

A:  I’ve been bringing out new direct-to-ebook short stories, one every month, to Kindle, Kobo and Nook.  Some tell the story of Jonmarc Vahanian (from my Chronicles of the Necromancer series) before his role in The Summoner.  The others are set at different time periods in my Deadly Curiosities world, where Sorren, the immortal behind the Alliance, works with a variety of mortal partners to keep the world safe from dangerous magical items.  It’s a lot of fun, and for the equivalent of 0.99 USD, it’s a cheap thrill, so please check it out!

Q:  Where else can readers find you?

A:  I love social media, because it gives me the chance to get to know readers all around the world.  So in addition to Twitter and Goodreads, I’m on Facebook as WinterKingdoms, on Shelfari, and on Pinterest, where I post photos from some of the sci-fi conventions I attend, plus other things that catch my fancy, like abandoned amusement parks. I blog at DisquietingVisions.com, and host the GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com with fun author readings and interviews.  All the details are at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 21 awesome partner sites around the globe.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn  and The Dread).  She is also the author of two series on ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Series. Find her online at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.


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Caught Between Zones

by Gail Z. Martin

When I’m actively working on a book, I’ve found that I don’t like to read epic fantasy.  Part of it is not wanting to be subconsciously influenced by anything I’m reading.  Part of it is probably a desire for something different from what I’ve spent all day working on.  The difficulty is, now that I’m writing two fantasy books a year, it either means I have to figure out a new way to approach the problem or I won’t get to read any epics at all!

Lately, I’ve been enjoying urban fantasy, paranormal mysteries and cross-genre stuff like the Undead and Unwed series (a little of both with some paranormal romance thrown in, though with an emphasis on action/humor).  Since I often spend my time mentally living in the middle ages, it’s fun to spend my free time reading books that are so thoroughly modern.  Although, as I’ve mentioned to a couple of my friends who write paranormal mysteries, what is it with the Internet?  How come people don’t just Google what they need to know, like in real life, as opposed to saying, “Gee, we can’t catch the bad guy because we need to know something and the library is closed until Monday!”  I often will check the copyright date if characters in a book are stuck with only the library as a research tool or if they don’t use a cell phone.  I’ve also chuckled at some of the ways authors have managed to avoid a slam-dunk rescue by putting the hero out of cell phone range or making a point that the cell phone is dead.

On the other hand, over on the epic side of things, I often have to face the reality of how slowly information could get from one place to another in the pre-telephone/telegraph/email days.  Throughout history, battles were often fought weeks after the treaty had been signed because no one could get the word out to the troops in time!  As someone living in the modern world, I have to constantly remind myself that it would take weeks or months to send the fastest messenger, meaning that there’s no way characters separated by distance can know what’s going on with each other (unless there’s a magical alternative).

Writing books set in a time period other than the one I live in does make for an interesting feeling of being caught between zones.  Don’t even get me started on word origins

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