Today I am interviewing Gail Z. Martin, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Scourge, first book in the Darkhurst series.
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DJ: Hey Gaill! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Gail Z. Martin: Hi DJ! Thank you for having me as a guest! I write epic and urban fantasy, and steampunk, mostly for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. My epic series include the new Darkhurst series with the first book, Scourge, that is just coming out in July, as well as my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle and my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. The urban fantasy includes the Deadly Curiosities novels, and the Steampunk is co-written with my husband, Larry N. Martin, and includes the novel Iron & Blood and the Storm and Fury Adventures short fiction/collections.
DJ: What is Scourge about?
Gail: Here’s the short answer: Three undertaker brothers in a medieval trading town battle monsters to protect their family and neighbors, only to discover that the monsters have masters and the stakes are higher than they dreamed.
Here’s the book cover answer: In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations and stop the carnage.
Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave. When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.
And here’s the Hollywood pitch summary: Supernatural meets Game of Thrones.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Scourge and the series?
Gail: I love books about monsters and monster hunters. Van Helsing was a childhood hero. I really enjoy Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, John Hartness’s Bubba the Monster Hunter series and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters, Inc. and of course, Supernatural, Buffy, and similar shows. Those are all urban fantasy/modern times. So when it was time to pitch a new epic fantasy series, I wanted to do a monster hunter book with a medieval spin without getting bogged down by the Inquisition or religion. So it is a medieval setting but not our world and not our history.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Gail: Corran Valmonde is the oldest of the brothers at 20 years old. He was not prepared for the responsibility of running the family undertaking business, dealing with the Guild, or taking care of his two younger brothers, but stepped up when their parents were killed. He becomes a monster hunter after his fiancée and more friends and neighbors are killed by the creatures, in a desperate attempt to protect his brothers. The penalty for those caught hunting monsters is death, so the stakes are high.
Rigan Valmonde, at 18, is the middle brother. He and Corran share the Grave Magic that is part of the hereditary trade of being undertakers, but Rigan alone inherited additional abilities through his mother’s line, from the nomadic Wanderers. When this new magic manifests in dangerous ways, Rigan is forced to keep secrets to protect his brothers, because the Lord Mayor kills all witches not bound to his control.
Kell Valmonde is the youngest, at 14. He is too young to be formally apprenticed into the family business, so he tries to hold the family together by running errands, cooking, making offerings to the gods and collecting the day’s dead bodies to be prepared and buried. He’s not above making some shady deals if it keeps food on the table, and he’s keeping secrets of his own from both his brothers.
DJ: What is the world setting of the Darkhurst series like?
Gail: The kingdom of Darkhurst is made up of 10 independent city-states of the Bakaran League, each managed for the king by its own Crown Princes. The city-states negotiate trade agreements with each other, which is a cutthroat process because the stakes are high, not only for the benefit of the merchants and tradespeople, but also for the fortunes of the Merchant Princes and Guild Masters who oversee the raw materials and the production of goods for trade. The kingdom and the League are corrupt, with assassination so common that hired killers sometimes wound or kill those who work for a powerful noble to ‘send a message’ or express their displeasure.
As the story opens, the city-state of Ravenwood is just about to renegotiate its trade agreement with its most powerful partner. Lord Mayor Machison will stop at nothing to get the terms he wants, and with the help of his blood witch, Thron Blackholt, they devise ways to influence the ambassadors to gain their desired terms, while keeping the Guilds and their tradespeople under their thumb.
Meanwhile, monsters harrow the city, appearing and disappearing without apparent pattern. The corrupt and brutal guards do little to stop the monsters, but when tradespeople take matters into their own hands to fight the creatures, the guards hunt the hunters.
Darkhurst isn’t set in our world, but it’s somewhat based on the Hanseatic League and the Italian city-states in the heyday of Venice and the Medicis.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Scourge?
Gail: It’s always fun to work out the world building, magical systems, religion and characters in a new series. I really love the characters–Corran, Rigan, Kell and their friends feel very real to me. And I like that the whole world is a departure from the kinds of political structures I’ve used before in other series.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Gail: I hope they’ll remember the characters and their struggles. For me, they’re the heart of the story. But the monsters and the battle scenes are cool, too!
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing the Darkhurst series? Scourge is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Gail: My only goal when I write a series is to tell a good story with characters that live on in your memory and which hopefully entertains you and takes you away from your troubles for a while. But as the book developed, I could see that there’s a lot here about having to make hard choices in a corrupt system, and what a handful of ‘powerless’ people can do when their backs are to the wall.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Scourge that you can share with us?
Gail: Nothing I can share without giving away plot points!
DJ: Now that Scourge is released, what is next for you?
Gail: I’m working on the sequel, Vengeance, which will be released in 2018. I’m also working on a media tie-in novel which I can’t say more about right now, as well as several new indie projects. So my plate is very full! The best way to stay up with all of my new releases is to subscribe to my newsletter.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Gail-Z.-Martin/e/B002BM8XSQ.
Shortened link: http://bit.ly/2e6g8iJ
Reddit: Gail Z Martin
And my pet project, #HoldOnToTheLight, 100+ sci-fi/fantasy authors blog about depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicide, self-harm, and mental health issues to stand in solidarity with fans and make fandom more inclusive. Www.HoldOnToTheLight.com
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Scourge and the Darkhurst series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Gail: The brothers have a wicked sense of humor. Despite the rather dark feel of the book, there are lighter moments. Protecting each other is the driving motivation. It’s really about how far you’ll go to save your family and friends when the deck is stacked against you.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Epic new fantasy from the bestselling author of The Summoner. In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations.
The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and advantageous trading terms. Lord Mayor Ellor Machison wields assassins, blood witches, and forbidden magic to assure that his powerful patrons get what they want, no matter the cost.
Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave.
When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and steampunk. Her newest books include Vendetta, the second book in her Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, Shadow and Flame, the fourth and final book in the epic fantasy Ascendant Kingdoms Series, and The Shadowed Path, a new Jonmarc Vahanian collection.
She is also the author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in the Ascendant Kingdoms Series, as well as Deadly Curiosities, the first novel in her urban fantasy series and Iron and Blood, a new steampunk series co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
Gail is also the author of The Chronicles of the Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn: Book One in The Fallen Kings Cycle and Book Two, The Dread.) Gail has four ongoing short story series on ebook, the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures,the Deadly Curiosities Adventures, the Blaine McFadden Adventures (King’s Convicts series and the upcoming King’s Exiles series) and together with Larry N. Martin, the Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk set in the world of Iron & Blood with more stories added monthly.
Gail’s work also appears in a growing number of anthologies. For details, please see the ‘Anthologies’ page on her website.
And Gail writes The 30 Day Results Guide series on Internet marketing: 30 Days to Social Media Success,30 Days to Online Marketing and PR and 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success.
For fiction book updates, tour information and contact details, visit www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com. Gail is also the host of the Ghost in the Machine Fantasy Podcast (www.GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com), and you can find her on Facebook as Gail Martin and as The Winter Kingdoms and on Twitter @GailZMartin. She co-hosts the Disquieting Visions blog on paranormal fiction at www.DisquietingVisions.com and on MagicalWords.net