[Guest Post] Gail Z. Martin On What She Learned From Writing Fantasy

Gail Z. Martin, author of The Fallen Kings Cycle series (The Sworn and The Dread), unveils her sneak peek of Ice Forged, Book One in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, coming from Orbit Books in 2013.

Gail is giving everyone a first look at the cover art for Ice Forged, as well as book excerpts, author Q&A and more as part of her Hawthorn Moon Online Sneak Peek Event.  She’s got exclusive goodies spread out across more than a dozen partner sites, and you can find out about it all on Gail’s site.

Here’s what we asked Gail:

Q:  What are some things you learned from writing fantasy?

A:  One thing I’ve learned is a definite respect for the hardships which our ancestors endured—plague, famine, lack of clean water, lack of indoor plumbing and central heat, high mortality rates from curable conditions, etc.  At the same time, I’m intrigued by how much joy they were still able to take from life through family and friends, small comforts and conveniences, celebrations and holidays, and good food when there was food to be had.

I’m in awe of what they were able to do with the technology that they had to work with, whether it’s the invention of war machines such as those DaVinci designed, or the creation of complex water and sewer systems, or the sheer temerity to sail across an ocean without modern communication and navigation tools.  And then there’s the cooking.  I’m amazed at the complicated recipes they created to be cooked over open flames or in “ovens” without any reliable temperature control!

I’ve learned a lot about medieval weapons and society, not in a bookish sort of way, but by needing to apply what I learned from history and then live with it in the skin of my characters.  It’s one thing to read about something.  It’s another to put yourself into the moment and have to live with it.

I’ve also learned how much contemporary stories rely on instantaneous communication and modern travel speeds, neither of which were available in the medieval world of epic fantasy.  This has major plot ramifications.  If something happens on one battlefield, there is no way to get word to someone hundreds of miles away faster than a horse and rider can travel, unless you use magic (but magic must be unreliable to avoid being a cheat).  We don’t think about those kinds of delays today, but they were very real throughout most of history.  If a character needs to go to a distant place, they’re constrained by how fast a man can walk or how fast a horse can sustain a gallop.  Especially in battle scenes, these two issues are crucial, because there is no good way to communicate among far-flung  battlefields, no way to know real-time information, no fast way to move an army from here to there.  These kinds of things make a big impact on how you can tell the story, what can be known by your characters, and what options are open to them.

I’ve also learned fun things, like word origins.  For example, people have been retching since 1540,  puking and heaving since the 1600s, but only barfing since the 1960s.  They’ve been pissing since the 1300s and leaking since the 1500s, but they didn’t start to pee until 1788.  If your character needs to do one or the other, you’ve got to get the historically correct term. These things are important for a writer to know!

Q: What is the Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event?

A:  It’s an online event I started doing it back in 2008, and it’s become something my readers have come to expect.  The solstice (aka the Hawthorn Moon) was an important event in my first book, The Summoner, and the name and timing just stuck.  It’s my online unveiling of the cover art for the new book, along with excerpts, interviews, all-new guest blog posts and lots of fun stuff spread out over a dozen or so sites.  To find out all the goodies and all the partner sites, please visit my website.

Q: Can you give us a hint about what to expect in Ice Forged?

A:  Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

Ice Forged, Book One in Gail’s brand new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, will be available in stores and online world-wide in January 2013. 

In addition to Ice Forged: Book One of the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, Gail Z. Martin is the author of The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen ) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle from Orbit Books (Book One: The Sworn and Book Two: The Dread).  For book updates, tour information and contact details, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com
Gail is the host of the Ghost in the Machine Fantasy Podcast , and you can find her on Facebook, GoodReads, BookMarketing.ning, Shelfari and Twitter @GailZMartin. She blogs at www.DisquietingVisions.com.  Gail’s short fiction has been featured in four anthologies: Rum and Runestones and Spells and Swashbucklers from Dragon Moon Press, The Bitten Word from New Con Press (UK) and the upcoming Women’s Mammoth Book of Ghost Stores (UK).

You can find Gail’s books in bookstores worldwide, as well as on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Indigo.ca, Waterstones.com and everywhere books are sold.

About Ice Forged:

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

Ice Forged, Book One in Gail’s brand new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, will be available in stores and online world-wide in January 2013.

 

One thought on “[Guest Post] Gail Z. Martin On What She Learned From Writing Fantasy”

  1. I’ve also learned fun things, like word origins.

    Yeah, I was listening to a story about even shows like Mad Men getting it wrong in terms of expressions and usage, and that’s for a show set only 50 years ago, much less 500…

Comments are closed.