Gail Z. Martin is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame, the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (March 2016, Orbit Books); The Shadowed Path (June 2016, Solaris Books) and Iron and Blood, a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
For a place that calls itself the ‘Holy City’ for the large number of churches, Charleston, South Carolina has a hell of a lot of supernatural activity—and that’s not counting what I invented for my Deadly Curiosities books and short stories.
Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, dating back over 350 years. It’s a beautiful city filled with mansions and graceful architecture, but its prosperity was originally built on rivers of blood. Charleston was one of the main ports for the slave trade from Africa and the Caribbean, so a large percentage of the enslaved individuals brought to the United States came through the city. Many people believe their ghosts remain, crying for justice.
Duels were popular (and legal) in Charleston during the first half of the nineteenth century and continued long after they were outlawed. Many young men died needlessly for honor and ego. Pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard, plied the waters off Charleston Harbor, by turn welcomed and reviled. Their bodies and restless spirits remain. The Old Jail housed pirates, war prisoners, and serial killers as well as the unlucky and the falsely convicted. Gallows once stood next to the jail, which itself was built on an old burying ground. It is known as one of the most haunted spots in a city where ghostly encounters are frequent and haunted houses abound.
Can you see why I fell in love with the city and wanted to set an urban fantasy series there?
In addition to the inherent hauntedness of Charleston, I’ve added a lot of magic and supernatural traditions. Most people connect Voodoo (or Voudon as some practitioners prefer) with New Orleans, but forget that slaveholding families would have moved back and forth between Charleston and New Orleans to visit relatives, or slaves would have been sold between plantations. That makes it reasonable to me that Voodoo practitioners could have been in Charleston, and that their descendants might be there today. Voudon plays a big role in the Deadly Curiosities novels and in a lot of the short stories, and the Loa—powerful spirits—are very active.
Hoodoo is another folk tradition with strong African and Caribbean roots that came with enslaved individuals.
Hoodoo is particularly well-known in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and is often referred to as ‘putting a root’ on someone. Practitioners are known as ‘root women’ or ‘root workers’. Spells, powders, rituals and potions abound for blessing, cursing, bringing good fortune or warding off evil. You’ll see more of Hoodoo in Vendetta and its companion stories.
Cassidy Kincaide, the series’ main character, is a psychometric, able to read the history and magic of objects by touch. Her abilities are central to the plot, and lead her into a lot of adventure given that she runs Trifles and Folly, an antique and curio shop with a secret mission to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands.
Teag Logan is Cassidy’s assistant store manager, and he’s also adept with Weaver magic, the ability to weave spells into fabric and disparate data elements into information, making him one hell of a hacker. Sorren is the store’s founder and silent partner—and he’s a nearly six hundred year-old vampire who was the best jewel thief in Belgium before he was turned. Sorren has worked with the Alliance for hundreds of years, so Trifles and Folly is just one of his outposts across the world. Sorren’s Dark Gift makes him stronger and faster than mortals, with the ability to heal and an immortal’s long lifespan.
Cursed objects and supernaturally tainted heirlooms play a big role in the world of Vendetta and the Deadly Curiosities novels and stories. In fact, it’s often through a magically malicious object that Cassidy and the others get pulled into dangerous territory, trying to find out who created the object or stop a cataclysm from occurring. The most mundane objects might carry a hint of haunt, or old, insidious evil. That’s one of the things I love about the series—nothing is safe!
I draw on many supernatural and magical traditions in Vendetta, Deadly Curiosities and the related stories. Voudon hougans and mambos, a Cherokee shaman, an unorthodox Episcopalian priest who kicks demon ass, witches, psychic mediums, necromancers, supernatural special-ops fighters, Norse seiors, magic-wielding gunmen and clairvoyants all are part of Cassidy’s world. I love to weave in magic from all of the traditions of the people who settled Charleston as well as elements related to the history of Sorren and the other main characters.
But don’t take my word for it—come explore for yourself! Vendetta, the newest book in the Deadly Curiosities series, debuts December 29!