Gail Z. Martin was an author whose works have been on my radar for years, but I’d never actually read any of her work until I read and reviewed Jonathan Oliver’s anthology Magic two years ago. Her story Buttons in that anthology charmed me beyond measure and I even speculated about the chances of Martin writing a novel set in this universe. Thus I was rather pleased when Solaris announced they’d be publishing Deadly Curiosities, the first novel set in the world of Buttons. I’ll be reviewing the novel later in the week, but today Gail Z. Martin drops by the blog for an Author Query.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Gail Z. Martin?
I’ve worn a lot of hats! My undergraduate degree was in history, but I also hold an MBA in Marketing and Management Information Systems. I spent 17 years as a VP of Corporate Communications and various other marketing roles before I started my own firm, DreamSpinner Communications 11 years ago. Writing fantasy fiction was a life-long dream, and I’m thrilled to have 12 fantasy books out, soon to be out, or under contract. I’m also the author of six non-fiction marketing books. I’ve been married to Larry N. Martin for 27 years, and over time he has played an increasingly important role in bringing the books to life. In fact, he and I will be co-authoring the new Steampunk series next year. I have three children, all teens and twenties, two in college and one in high school. And two dogs plus a cat.
Your novels thus far have always been epic fantasy. What drew you to writing an urban fantasy novel (and short fiction in the same setting before that)?
Short fiction has always scared the hell out of me. After you get used to having 175K words to tell a story, 6K – 10K seems impossibly short! But friends started asking me to contribute to anthologies, so I said yes, and then had to cough up the stories. I found that writing the stories within a universe made it a bit more like episodes/instalments/chapters, so that was more familiar. The Deadly Curiosities universe actually spans 500 years, since Sorren is the character who glues it all together. So there are some stories set in the 1500s, some in the 1700s and then those in modern times.
I read a lot of urban fantasy and have really enjoyed it, and so it was fun to try my hand with it in the Buttons story for the Magic anthology. I love doing epic fantasy, but urban is so different that it’s almost like a vacation. It’s fun to switch back and forth most of the time. Although we were just editing an upcoming epic novel at the same time we were editing Deadly Curiosities and it got a little mind-bending!
How would you introduce readers to Cassidy and Sorren? Will Teag be making an appearance?
Sorren is really the main character of the overall series in a sense, because he carries through from the 1500s to today. However, Cassidy is the point of view character, Sorren’s mortal business partner, and from the novel’s standpoint, she’s the book’s main character.
Cassidy is a psychometric, which means she can read impressions and sometimes memories from objects. It’s a talent that runs in her family. She inherits the Trifles and Folly antiques and curio store from her Uncle Evanston, and with it comes a role with the Alliance, a collaboration of immortals and mortals who work together to take dangerous magical objects off the market.
Sorren is a nearly 600 year-old vampire who has inherited leadership in the Alliance after his maker was destroyed. He has worked with Trifles and Folly and with someone in Cassidy’s family since the 1670s when Charleston was first founded. Sorren wants to make sure that dangerous magical items don’t fall into the wrong hands. Needless to say, there are many people/creatures with supernatural power who don’t feel the same way. Sorren and the Alliance are the bulwark against those forces.
Yes, Teag is back! Teag is the assistant manager with Trifles and Folly. He was working on his doctorate in history before he was recruited to the store and the Alliance. Teag is also a martial arts expert. He’s also got Weaver magic, the ability to weave spells into fabric, rope and data, which makes him one hell of a hacker.
I was really excited to learn about Deadly Curiosities, as I fell in love with Cassidy, Sorren and the setting when I read Buttons in Jonathan Oliver’s Magic anthology. Is Deadly Curiosities a one-off or will there be more books in the series?
Time will tell! I certainly hope we get the chance to explore additional adventures in more books. And there are a growing number of ebook short stories set in all three time periods available on Kindle, Kobo and Nook in the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. I also have written new short stories for several upcoming anthologies set in the same world, and there’s a new novella I’ve posted on Wattpad. Plenty of new stuff in the pipeline!
I felt that there was a true affection for the American South (and perhaps even Southern Gothic) that suffused the story of Buttons. Was that feeling correct and if so, what has endeared the South to you?
Although I’m originally from northern Pennsylvania, I’ve lived in the South now for 18 years. There’s a very strong sense of place and history in the South, and it’s been a very interesting journey finding my way to settle in here. It’s a complex and fascinating region, and there’s a lot to grow to love. Charleston is a really beautiful city with some very interesting history and I fell in love with the city when I visited a few years back and started thinking about how I could set a series there. It’s got a very long history for a city in the U.S. (Not much here goes back more than 370 years in terms of European settlement.) And it’s got a flavour all its own.
What is next for you? Do you have any other books or stories out this year?
Plenty! Reign of Ash, my latest epic fantasy, just came out in April. I’m in at least eight anthologies that come out in 2014—urban fantasy, steampunk, superhero, horror. I bring out a new short story every month on ebook, either in my Deadly Curiosities Adventures or in my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures series. And in early 2015, my husband and I are co-writing a new Steampunk novel, Iron and Blood, for Solaris. So lots going on!
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
There’s not a lot of time for more! But yes, I love spending time with my husband and teenage kids and my dogs. I like to read when I can steal the time, and I really love to travel.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I’m a fan of Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, which has a new book out, Dawn’s Early Light. I’ve also been catching up on the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher and the Secret Histories series by Simon R. Green. I follow about 30 different series, but that’s what I’ve been reading lately.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
*Cough* Ahh….I hate to admit this, but I largely shelve my books wherever there’s room on the bookshelf! Maybe someday I’ll have a system. Right now, I have piles!
Bio: Gail Z. Martin writes epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and short stories. She is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle series and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series of epic fantasy books, as well as the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world and coming in 2015, Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Gail is a frequently contributor to US and UK anthologies. She also writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.
Find her at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com. She leads monthly conversations on Goodreads and posts free excerpts of her work on Wattpad.