Please welcome Gail Z. Martin to The Qwillery as part of the Days of the Dead Blog Tour!
When Writing Takes You Home
By Gail Z. Martin
What happens when your muse takes you back to places you’ve lived, or grown up in, as the setting for stories?
I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. The epic fantasy is set in imagined medieval worlds, similar in technology and overall physical appearance to our own, but different in history, gods, magic, and supernatural creatures. My first urban fantasy series, Deadly Curiosities, is set in modern-day Charleston, SC. I love Charleston, but I’ve never lived there.
The first series that took me home was Iron & Blood, which is co-written with my husband and writing partner, Larry N. Martin. Iron & Blood is set in an alternate history 1898 Pittsburgh, with plenty of airships and clockworks and explosions. We lived in Pittsburgh for ten years, and it’s an awesome city, but it’s also the logical epicenter of American steampunk, with all the steam-driven factories at that time. The Storm and Fury Adventures, which are ‘extra episodes’ in the Iron & Blood world, also take place in and around Pittsburgh.
One of those Storm and Fury stories, Rogue, heads north and the action takes place in Butler, Meadville and Cambridge Springs, PA. I’m from Meadville, so it was fun setting the story there (including a battle with werewolves in the cemetery where my parents are buried). I learned a lot about local history, and gained a new appreciation of my hometown’s somewhat forgotten Victorian architecture and importance. (That section of PA was more important back in 1898 than it’s been since WWII.)
Our new Spells, Salt, and Steel comedic horror series (also co-written with Larry), is set in Northwestern PA, that corner of Pennsylvania up by Lake Erie. Mark Wojcik, our monster hunter/mechanic is based just outside of Conneaut Lake, and in the first novella, he hunts a Japanese fish-eating monster in Linesville, the ghost of a Nazi sniper at an abandoned TNT plant in Geneva, a Mafia warlock in Meadville, and a weresquonk near Kane. (First line of the novella: “When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.”)
I’ve got a dark urban fantasy series also planned for modern-day Pittsburgh and environs, as well as a horror novel set in central Pennsylvania, near where I went to grad school at Penn State. A couple other new series will have incidents that take the characters into the wilds of PA (and if you’ve driven across I-80, there’s a lot of PA that is definitely wild).
It’s fun incorporating familiar landmarks in my stories, and weaving in some tidbits of overlooked history. Writing books in a setting is also a great excuse for road trips to that area, or extending visits to the family to incorporate scouting locations. While I grew up there, I’ve been gone a long time, and it’s nice to go and see something that is half-remembered from long ago, to make sure I get the details right.
Of course many of the locations that we use in the steampunk stories aren’t there anymore, or aren’t in their original condition. In that case, internet archives and historical associations become a fascinating resource (and time-sink). I’m often amazed at what I find, since just because you grew up in a place doesn’t mean you know everything about it. For example, I had forgotten Meadville’s role in the Underground Railroad, or that John Brown (of Harper’s Ferry fame) lived near there for many years. That got rolled into Rogue, albeit in an alternate history kind of way!
It’s also fun to have the chance to introduce readers to one of my favorite areas of the country and bring them in on the places, foods, expressions, history and landscape that means so much to me. If you’re from that area or familiar with it, I hope you’ll sense the authenticity. And if you’re new to the area, my hope is that the setting becomes an intrinsic part of the story, because I try to write the location as a character, a tale that couldn’t happen the same way anyplace else.
My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/2017/10/25/its-my-days-of-the-dead-blog-a-palooza/
Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight 2017, back for more with new authors and fantastic new posts! 130+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com
Book Swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! All of my guest blog posts have links to free excerpts—grab them all!
Iron & Blood
A Jake Desmet Adventure 1
Solaris, July 7, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
Adventure in New Pittsburgh...
New Pittsburgh, 1898 – a crucible of invention and intrigue. Born from the ashes of devastating fire, flood and earthquake, the city is ruled by the shadow government of The Oligarchy. In the swarming streets, people of a hundred nations drudge to feed the engines of progress, while in the abandoned tunnels beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging only to feed.
Jake Desmet and Rick Brand travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake’s cousin, Veronique LeClerque. But when their latest commission leads to Jake’s father’s murder, the three friends are drawn into a conspiracy where dark magic, industrial sabotage and the monsters that prey on the night will ultimately threaten not just New Pittsburgh, but the whole world.
A Storm and Fury Adventure
DreamSpinner Communications, March 30, 2016
eBook, 107 pages
A Steampunk novella set in the world of Iron & Blood: A Jake Desmet Adventure. Werewolves and a dark witch are leaving a wake of chaos, and Department of Supernatural Investigation agents Mitch Storm, Jacob Drangosavich, and Anna Corbett are sent to investigate. When the trail leads to a dangerous lost artifact, Mitch, Jacob and Anna know that the witch and his werewolf minions have a much bigger plan in mind, one which endangers New Pittsburgh and the world.
Spells, Salt, & Steel
A New Templars Novells
Falstaff Books, October 3, 2017
eBook, 116 pages
When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.
No, that didn't come from the lips of Bubba the Monster Hunter, but it sure could have! That sentence right there kinda encapsulates the life of Mark Wojcik, Monster Hunter. A blue-collar mechanic from the wilds of PA, Mark likes his beer cold, his poker games private, and his monsters…well, he doesn’t like them at all. So when he finds himself dueling a Japanese mythical monster in the Linesville Spillway in the wee hours of the night, he has to use every available weapon to survive and vanquish the ningen.
Even if it means beating the damn thing to death with a carp.
If interloping Japanese fish-monsters weren’t bad enough, there’s a Nazi ghost terrorizing the community. Somebody needs to gank the ghostie, and Mark is the man for the job.
They are the first line of defense against the things that go bump in the night.
They are the keepers of a centuries-old legacy of The Church defending the world against the forces of darkness.
They are a bunch of highly armed rednecks, internet video celebrities, soccer moms, and assorted broken nutjobs.
They are the new Templars, and things are about to get weird.
The New Templars novella series is a new series of short novels, similar to BookShots. Spells, Salt, & Steel is the first in the series by popular steampunk, epic, and urban fantasy duo Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin.
A Haven Harbor Halloween
Jeanne P Adams/Golden Gryphon Press, September 26, 2017
eBook, 538 pages
Welcome to Haven Harbor, Massachusetts where the real witches live! Founded witches who escaped the Salem Trials, Haven Harbor's modern facade still shields modern day witches. Sometimes Halloween ends up being scarier than Trick or Treat! Join us for a Haven Harbor Halloween! Four Stories of the Spookiest Season in Haven Harbor!
NYTimes Bestselling author Tawny Weber’s West Coast Karma Café meets East Coast’s Haven Harbor in Decadent Desires…
Bedtime bliss is on the menu when a guy used to fighting dragons has to awaken a beauty to the magic of sensual delights before the Halloween Ball. But can she accept the repercussions of magic and her duty to family? Or would it be easier to return to the sweet bliss of sleepy obliviousness where life is simple, love is a myth and magic is reserved for fairy tales?
USA Today Bestselling author Barbara Devlin returns to Haven Harbor with A Taste of Magick…
A starry-eyed girl, a cocky football jock, and peer pressure converge on one fateful night, leaving behind two broken hearts. Three years later, Russell Lee McBride returns to Haven Harbor, intent on righting the wrongs of his youth and winning pretty Cindy Parker. Can the two young sweethearts overcome the pain of the past to find true love?
Award winning author Gail Z. Martin presents Keepsakes, a fabulous new story in her Deadly Curiosities series…
When a surge in thefts of heirlooms with magical properties accompanies a sudden outbreak of violent attacks, Cassidy, Teag and Sorren race a dodgy stranger to discover the truth and tracethe missing keepsakes to a killer.
Jeanne Adams’ Haven Harbor series continues with After Midnight…
Too many tricks, not enough treats! Someone’s tracking Keira Danby and her deadly secrets have come to roost in Haven Harbor at Halloween. They’ve tampered with her car, tried to steal her briefcase and nearly ruined her business relationships in Haven Harbor. Now, sexy Jim Stansfield tells her she’s got water magic, and it’s dangerous. She doesn’t dare ask what else could go wrong…
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. Vengeance: A Darkhurst novel, is the second in a new epic fantasy series for Solaris (coming April, 2018). Her Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC has a new novel, Vendetta, and a new collection, Trifles and Folly. Spells, Salt, and Steel is the first in another new urban fantasy series set in upstate Pennsylvania.
Other work includes the Chronicles Of The Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms series, the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, and Iron & Blood (co-authored with Larry N. Martin)