Gail Z. Martin Interview

Uploaded by buzzymultimedia on 07.01.2013

Hello, this is Jean Marie Ward for With me today is
Gail Z. Martin, the bestselling author of "The Chronicles of the
Necromancer" series. I understand you're starting a new epic fantasy
series, "The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga." Can you tell us a little bit about
Gail Z. Martin: Sure. I'm really excited about it. It's the story of Lord Blaine
McFadden. He's a young man who is sent away to exile after he murders the
man who dishonored his sister. He's sent away to the Velant Prison Colony
at the far northern end of the world, and while he's there, six years
later, there's a devastating war that destroys his homeland as well as the
aggressor nation that attacked them. And in that war, the magic that
sustains their society is destroyed, and Blaine discovers he may be the
only one who can bring that magic back.
So it has really been a lot of fun. It's epic fantasy, but it's a complete
departure from the world of the Winter Kingdoms that I wrote about in
"Chronicles of the Necromancer" and "The Fallen Kings Cycle." So I'm just
really having a great time exploring this new world and getting to know
these new characters.
JMW: What are some of the differences of the two worlds, between the
Chronicles of the Necromancer series and the world of the Ascendant
Gail Z. Martin: Well, Blaine McFadden has very little magic of his own. He has a
slight edge in fighting that the magic gives him, but it's nothing at all
like the power that [Martris Drayke] came into as the Summoner-King. So
that alone is a major difference.
Magic works differently in the world of the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. It's a
much more diffused magic. There are some really powerful mages, but not as
many as we met in the Chronicles series, but there's a lot more minor
magic. A lot more people who have small bits of magic that help them with
their vocations. And so when the magic dies, this is a tremendous blow to
the society because they've used that magic carelessly, the way we take
technology for granted.
And when that's knocked out, it's the equivalent to us losing our power
grid. How do you... Who remembers how to do things the non-magic way? What
is the cost in the short term as the society struggles to get back on its
feet after losing that magic? And can they get the magic back again? And if
they do, will it work the same?
So a lot of other differences. Yes, there's still that paranormal aspect
with some ghosts and vampires and supernatural elements just because I love
writing about that and it's just going to be there. But very different
world. It is an ensemble cast again; I love to do that. The main characters
are really different personalities coming from completely different places.
And since it starts in a penal colony and the main characters are all
convicts, it definitely comes from a different place than Tris and the gang
in the Chronicles series.
JMW: "The Ascendant Kingdoms" you mentioned is an ensemble cast. It deals
with kingdoms. "The Chronicles of the Necromancer" dealt with kingdoms, big
issues, epic issues. You specialize in epic fantasy. Why? Why epic fantasy?
I know you read widely in science-fiction and fantasy. Why did you choose
to specialize in epic fantasy?
Gail Z. Martin: Well, I was a Medieval History Major undergraduate. I've always loved
the medieval time period. I've been fascinated with kings and kingdoms and
swordplay and medieval battles. And so it's just kind of a natural
outgrowth for me. I especially try to set my books in a setting pre-
gunpowder because, to me, gunpowder takes all the fun out of it. Yes, it
makes for wonderful explosions, and my son, the video gamer, really loves
blowing things up in video games.
But from a plot perspective, it takes away the intimacy of a hand-to-hand
combat with swords, catapults, trebuchets. I like that scale of combat much
better than what you get into with those grand explosions once you have
gunpowder. So that pretty much constrains me of working before a certain
period in time, at least if I'm going to take a western European approach
to it. For me it's just fun. And it's such a large canvass to work with and
so intrinsically grand. And I think that's just why it's larger than life
and it's a lot of fun.
JMW: I seem to recall reading something that you are very involved or
enjoy a lot role-playing games. Is that the case? And how does it factor
into your fiction, or does it?
Gail Z. Martin: Well, I played role-playing games, especially good old table top
Dungeons and Dragons back when I was in high school and early college, back
when I had something called "free time."
JMW: Oh, that's...What is that?
Gail Z. Martin: Yeah.
JMW: I've heard of it some time.
Gail Z. Martin: And my friends all played. My husband played. And so that was a lot
of fun, and I loved the sense of being immersed in the campaign. Now, I'm
dating myself here, but that was before we had online role-playing games
and before we had massively multi-player. So that was it, eight people
sitting around a table rolling dice, but I loved the fact that it took
place in your head. And when you had a good campaign going, you could look
up four hours later and the time had flown past, but in your head you had
really been there and experienced it.
So I think I always carried that with me, although I haven't had,
unfortunately, the time to play for years. But I love the sense of what a
well-coordinated, well-balanced team of adventurers could accomplish.
JMW: Ensemble cast.
Gail Z. Martin: Ensemble cast. And how much more you could accomplish with the help
of your friends than one cowboy going it alone. And I love the grand quest
aspect of it. Now, on my bucket list, when I'm in a nursing home some day,
I expect to be sitting around this table with a bunch of octogenarians
rolling 20-sided die, but it may take me that long to have the time again.
JMW: Yeah, but you know, it's something to look forward to. But epic
fantasy and role-playing games are not the only arrows in your quiver, as
it were. A couple of years ago, you participated in an anthology called
"Rum and Runestones," writing your first short story and your first pirate
story. Could that be the start of another series?
Gail Z. Martin: Absolutely. That was the first story in my Trifles and Follies
series, and I've now done about six short stories in that world for US and
UK anthologies. This year, I'm in two UK anthologies as well as a US
anthology. I'm in the sequel to "Rum and Runestones," which is "Swords and
Swashbucklers," also from Dragon Moon Press. And then I'm in "The Mammoth
Book of Women's Ghost Stories," which is a UK anthology. And I'm in
"Solaris Books: Magic Anthology." And those are all short stories set in
this Trifles and Follies world. I was also "The Bitten Word Anthology,"
which is from NewCon Press in the UK.
And it's a lot of fun. It is a world that, so far, the stories stand from
about 1500 to the present day, and it's centers on the idea that there is a
conspiracy among immortals to carefully watch dangerous magical items that
are out there. And one group would like to get them back, and one group
would like to get them out of circulation for the safety of everybody
And one character carries all of these stories. He's a constant presence,
although his mortal helpers obviously change over the centuries, and that's
Soren, who is a vampire. So I'm really having a lot of fun with it because
the stories go from Antwerp in the 1500s to modern day Charleston, and the
idea of having this wonderful curio-antique pawn shop in Charleston that's
really on the lookout for dark magic items and the troubled [inaudible
00:08:52]. So it's really a lot of fun.
JMW: And run by a vampire.
Gail Z. Martin: Run by a vampire with mortals fronting for him. But I am planning to
do a lot more stories in that universe, and right now, you can get the
first two of those stories on my website:,
and I'll be releasing more of those as we go, but the first two are
available out there.
JMW: Where did the name Trifles and Follies come from?
Gail Z. Martin: That's the name of the curio-antique shop.
Jean: Oh, very, very cool. And I suppose it's open during the day, hence
the need for human fronts?
Gail Z. Martin: Yes, well, there are just things that have to be done during the day
that vampires can't take care of.
JMW: Speaking of day jobs, when you are not writing, you are teaching
people how to market their business. How has being a professional marketing
person contributed to your career as a writer, and how has your career as a
writer of epic fantasy of Trifles and Follies contributed to your career as
a marketing professional?
Gail Z. Martin: Well, I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 14, and that's
really when I started to realize books came from somewhere and somebody had
to write them, and the people who were writing them at that point weren't
going to live forever, so they were going to have to get replacements, and
well, why couldn't I be one of those replacements?
Then I kind of confronted the fact that it was nice to eat on regular
basis, and so I did an MBA in marketing to literally pay for my typing
paper and regular meals. And marketing was writing related. So it really
wasn't that far-fetched and it was marketing, so there's a certain element
of fiction that goes with that, texting annual reports.
JMW: Yeah.
Gail Z. Martin: So I own DreamSpinner Communications, and if you're really
interested, you can find that side of my life at
But it really became very intertwined, more so than I ever expected,
because when the Chronicles series came out -- "Summoner" -- those books
came out through Solaris Books in Nottingham, England. I'm here in the
States; the books were going to go everywhere internationally. And I really
wanted to make a connection with readers all over the world, but I
certainly couldn't be in everybody's local bookstore.
And social media was pretty new at the time, this was 2007, but it was free
and it was global and that was good enough for me. So I really got very
involved with blogging and podcasting and online review sites and,
originally, MySpace, and then as the new sites came on, Facebook and
YouTube and Twitter and all the rest, and I really credit that with the
rapid success of "The Summoner," "The Blood King," and the other books in
the Chronicles series.
And it worked so well that I brought it back to my marketing clients and
said, "You know, I've done a proof of concept on this social media thing,
and I think we can adapt it to your business." But then I found that it was
just too big for them. They were having a lot of trouble getting their arms
around it and making sense of it, and I ended up writing two new non-
fiction series based on, what I learned the hard way so that other people
could learn it the easy way, I actually had a couple of publishers approach
me and say, "I don't know what you're doing but it's working. Can you teach
our folks how to do that?"
So one of those series is the 30 Day Guide series with Career Press, and
the newest book, which just came out in August of this year, is 30 Days to
Virtual Productivity Success, which is all about mobile apps and cloud
computing and getting more done on the road, which I've learned the hard
way living in airports for the last several years and trying to write 600
page books while I'm living in airports.
JMW: While living in airports, yes.
Gail Z. Martin: And the first book in that series is "30 Days to Social Media
Success." The other series is the "Thrifty Author's Guide" series. The new
one that just came out in August of this year is the "Thrifty Author's...
JMW: Congratulations.
Gail Z. Martin: Thank you. "The Thrifty Author's Guide to Social Media and Virtual
Apps for Authors," which is drilling down further from what I covered in
that other book specifically to: what are the apps that are going to help
you as an author get more done, get past writer's block, get connected with
the people who want to read your book. So it's really funny. I come some
place like DragonCon and half my panels end up being on podcasting and
social media and marketing, and the other half are on epic fantasy and...
JMW: Pirates.
Gail Z. Martin: Pirates. Well, pirates and vampires, yeah. But I might as well throw
in there that I also do two podcasts and have for about the last five
years. The Ghost in the Machine podcast is the fantasy related one, and the
Shared Dreams podcast is the more marketing related one. So I'm hip-deep in
social media. I'm living it and I found it to be probably one of the best
investments a writer can make if you want to get that intimate connection
to your readers and to the influencers, like book reviewers and early
adopters, to get the word out there.
JMW: Well, I think that's probably a pretty good closing point. Thank you
so much, Gail. And thank you from Buzzy Magazine.