Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.
Q: When someone has a middle name starting with Z I have to ask. What does it stand for? (Blame my obsession with words). Is it Zillah? Oh no, I just found your full name on wikipedia. It’s Zehner. OK, where does Zehner come from? Is it Dutch and an old family name?
Zehner is actually my maiden name. It’s German. I found that there are a million Gail Martins, so the Z makes it a little more identifiable.
Q: I see you are an SF fan from way back. I discovered fandom when I was 18. (Yay, people who don’t think I’m crazy). When did you discover Fandom and was it a great relief?
I discovered SF/Fantasywhen I was about 12, and got involved with fandom when I was about 17. Yes, it was a great relief. I enjoyed getting together with other people who liked the same kinds of movies and books, and it was so great to be able to talk about the things I liked without being “weird.”
Q: I see you are an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina. (I’m an Associate Lecturer in Narrative, Storyboards and Animatics). What is an Adjunct Professor?
Actually, the Adjunct Professor gig went away with budget cuts in 2008, but I guess the Internet hasn’t caught up! It’s probably very similar to your “associate lecturer” role in that as an adjunct, I wasn’t tenured faculty. I was tapped for my expertise in a particular subject, but I only taught a couple of classes and didn’t have any advisory responsibilities.
Q: With a background in marketing (25 years in fact) you run Dreamspinner Communications. You’ve written two books on the topic 30 Days to Social Media Success and Launching your Book Without Losing your Mind. I guess with your passion for fantasy, reaching out to readers was the next natural step. Do you have any tips for writers who are just starting out?
Being present on the Internet and on social media is really crucial for connecting with readers. It’s a great way for new writers to spread the word about their books and to begin to build a loyal readership.
Q: In amongst all the other things you do, you’ve had a book out every year (2 in 2009 and none in 2010 so it averages to a book a year) since 2007. You must have a strong work ethic. How do you juggle all your other commitments and your writing?
Actually, the second book in 2009 came out on Dec. 31, so it might as well have been 2010! I’ll have three new books out this year—one fantasy and two non-fiction. I just love writing, so it doesn’t feel like work. I own my own business, so making time for the writing is a lot easier than when I worked in corporate. And I make a lot of “to-do” lists!
Q: Your Chronicles of the Necromancer had some gorgeous covers. How much input do you get with our covers?
I’ve been very fortunate to have had some amazing cover artists. A good cover really goes a long way toward selling a book! From The Blood King onward, I had the opportunity to supply a paragraph or two of description for the character on the cover. I love all my covers, but I think Dark Haven is especially spot on!
Q: In Chronicles of Necromancer your main character has the power over the dead (not surprising since he’s necromancer). You don’t often see the exploration of ghosts and vampires in the traditional fantasy books. Was this something that you’d been wanting to write for a long time and it just bubbled up out of you?
I love ghosts and vampires, so if I was going to write a series, those had to be in there somewhere! Historically, ghosts and vampires were very much a part of medieval folklore, so to me it doesn’t seem strange. And I just wasn’t in to writing about elves and dwarves!
Q: You set four books in the Necromancer Chronicles, The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and The Dark Lady’s Chosen. By Book four Tris has become king. Does The Fallen Kings Cycle pick up right after the end of book four with The Sworn The Sworn and then The Dread which is due out next year?
Yes. There’s about six months of elapsed time in the book universe between the end of Dark Lady’s Chosen and the beginning of The Sworn. Then The Dread picks up immediately after the end of The Sworn. All six books cover just a little less than three years in the characters’ lives.
Q: You interviewed me for a podcast. (See here). When did you first start doing podcasts and what attracted you to this form of communication?
I’ve been doing podcasts now for almost four years. I stumbled upon other people doing podcasts through the conventions I attended and thought it would be a lot of fun, plus a great way to introduce my readers to the interesting people I meet. I really do have a wonderful time doing the interviews, and it’s been a terrific way to continue the conversation with many of the fabulous folks I’ve met at conventions.
Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there seems to be a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?
I see less of a difference in fantasy than with other genres. In general (and it is a very broad generalization with no doubt many exceptions), male writers often focus more on the action, weapons and military tactics and give short shrift to the relationships and character growth. I’m as interested in what’s going on inside of the characters and to their interactions with the people around them as I am in the action. That’s what I like to read, so that’s what I write.
Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?
It’s usually the story synopsis on the back of a book that makes me pick it up, especially if it’s from a writer I’m not familiar with. For male writers, I probably gravitate toward books by those writers who are the exceptions to the generalization I stated and who do include character growth and invest some time exploring their friendships, romances and other interpersonal relationships.
Q: And here’s the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?
While there are a lot of time periods I think might be fun to visit as a tourist, I’m too fond of air conditioning and modern sanitation to want to live in any other time except our own!
Give-away Question: If you could go out to dinner with two fictional characters, who would they be?
Follow Gail on Twitter: @GailZMartin
See Gail’s Blog.
Follow Gail on Myspace.
Follow Gail on Facebook at The Winter Kingdoms
Follow Gail on GoodReads and Shelfari.