Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.
Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading. Find them at www.JakeDesmet.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads, and Wattpad.
I’ve written epic fantasy and urban fantasy as a solo author. But Iron and Blood, the new Steampunk novel from Solaris Books set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898 marks my first official co-authoring with my husband, Larry N. Martin. So what’s it like to go from solo author to part of a team? How is it different? Better? Harder?
The truth is, Larry has held a growing role with the behind-the-scenes work on the books for quite a while. Back when he was still working full time in Corporate America, he would often only have time to read over a nearly final draft for typos. When he left the corporate world at the end of 2010, we knew we had the opportunity to work more closely together that we had always discussed.
Larry started to review the manuscripts much earlier in their development, when it was still possible to brainstorm plot elements and revise storyline. Initially, he would point out awkward phrasing or plot holes. Then he began to suggest ways to fix problems, and gradually worked into writing in fixes. We spent more time early in the process (and when I hit a creative wall) brainstorming. Iron and Blood is the first book where Larry and I sat down together at the beginning to create the characters, setting and plot.
We’ve been working together now for nearly five years. I’ll admit that I don’t always feel like making another round of edits sometimes, and he doesn’t always feel like reading another draft of the same manuscript again. But it’s necessary, so we do it. We have to be careful about our restaurant discussions, because speaking openly about killing people and blowing things up is a recipe for finding the police waiting for you when you get your check. Car trips become extended brainstorming sessions. Even our adult children get pulled into the ‘family business’ for fresh eyes on a problem section (they’re all genre readers, gamers, cosplayers and convention goers), so they’re well acquainted with the territory.
Now that we’re writing three full novels a year, plus a short story every month direct to ebook plus stories for a dozen or so anthologies a year, plus blog posts and a vigorous convention schedule, it would be impossible for me to do it all myself. Larry also does the covers for the ebook short stories in the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. He keeps the web site events and excerpts updated and does the e-newsletter layout. He also handles all the graphic work needed to order bookmarks, posters, banners and other swag. I do most of the social media and blogging.
For now, I also make most of the convention appearances because we have a son in high school and two dogs, so someone has to be home to take care of them. But as the kids have gotten older, Larry has been able to attend more conventions with me as a panelist and vendor, and I suspect that will increase as time goes on. Larry also tracks all the ebook sales, no small endeavor across multiple platforms!
Probably the biggest negative to collaboration, at least with a husband and wife team, is that you’re never really away from the work. If you’re not writing or editing, you’re thinking about it. We have to make an point to have conversations that aren’t book-related. It can get a bit all-consuming. And while there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing, it’s still good to step away and take a break.
I know a lot of couples who own small businesses, and I wouldn’t say that our experience is really all that different in scope, although the particulars vary. When you’re partners in a small business, the work often intrudes on personal time. You think about and talk about the business and its customers all the time. One person travels while the other holds down the fort. We’re just lucky enough to do it with books!
Check out my new Steampunk novel Iron and Blood, co-written with Larry N. Martin, set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898. In stores July 7!
The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 28 awesome partner sites around the globe. For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.