The Hardest Part: Gail Z. Martin on writing multiple series

Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin is now really no stranger to Bull Spec’s ongoing guest column series The Hardest Part, as she wrote about launching a new epic fantasy universe with Ice Forged in January 2013, and then a year ago about making the jump to urban fantasy with Deadly Curiosities. Now she’s back in this column as part of her annual #DaysOfTheDead blog tour and I couldn’t be happier to be sending along her thoughts on maintaining muliple series in multiple genres as she picks up a new Steampunk series next year. Head on over to her website to check out the cool interviews, extras, and giveaways happening all week long, which included the cover reveal for War of Shadows, the third book in her Ascendant Kingdoms series which began with Ice Forged.

the-sworn1 Book One in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga urban fantasy Gail Z Martin

The Hardest Part of Writing Multiple Series

By Gail Z. Martin

Epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. What do they all have in common?

I’m sure the genres share many common traits but here’s the one that matters to me: I’m writing series in each genre, at the same time.

In my Ascendant Kingdoms epic fantasy series, War of Shadows is the new title for 2015, the third book in Blaine McFadden’s rise from disgraced convict to warlord. The series has a post-apocalyptic medieval setting, ranging across the devastated kingdom of Donderath as warring factions fight for control of scarce resources and brittle magic, and follows a sizeable cast of characters. War of Shadows is my ninth epic fantasy, and the large scale and complex world building is something I really enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

The Exploding Spaceship New Release Edition: Reviews of Deadly Curiosities and The Blasted Lands


Review of Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin (Solaris Books, June 24, 2014, mass market)

This is a new urban fantasy series set in Charleston, South Carolina. The center of the adventures is an antique shop called Trifles and Folly, which is currently owned by Cassidy Kincaide and her vampire silent partner Sorren. She has a former history graduate student/martial artist named Teag Logan who helps run the place. His boyfriend Anthony is a lawyer from an old Charleston family, who is occasionally enlisted to help find information. Read the rest of this entry »

The Exploding Spaceship Reviews The Moon King, Reign of Ash and Broken Homes


Review of The Moon King by Neil Williamson (hardcover and trade, NewCon Press April 22, 2014)

This is Neil Williamson’s first novel, and after starting and not finishing several other first fantasy novels this year, Neil must be congratulated that I not only finished his novel but read it in two days. I didn’t find any of the usual first novel writing craft issues which can jar me out of the story.

As a reviewer I get presented with many fantasy novels to review, but I never get past the first chapter in some of them either due to content (I read six similar ones last year), craft (the writing and editing can make you want to cry) or it is so heavy on setting that I lose track of the characters or can’t find a plot. However, I found this novel to not only have more balance between character, plot, and setting, but I also thought all those parts were interesting.


Glassholm and its captured moon are a very unique fantasy setting, with a feel reminiscent of a child’s fairy tale land mixed with a bit of steampunk. The poor confused characters that have lost their memories are quite endearing, particularly when you figure out how they got that way. The poor confused ones have a plot centered on getting their memories back, of course, but it soon becomes clear that this plot coincides with that of other characters in the narrative. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Gail Z. Martin on Deadly Curiosities

Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin is no stranger to Bull Spec’s ongoing guest column series The Hardest Part, as she wrote about launching a new epic fantasy universe with Ice Forged in January after six books in her Chronicles of the Necromancer oeuvre. Here, she writes about an interesting difficulty encountered when jumping between epic fantasy and urban fantasy for her forthcoming 2013 novel, Deadly Curiosities as part of her ongoing Days of the Dead blog tour. Read on past the end for more info on her tour and for info on a one-day Kindle Daily Deal tomorrow (Oct 31) on Ice Forged.

Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane Ice Forged

By Gail Z. Martin:

With my new novel Deadly Curiosities (Solaris Books, summer 2014), I make the jump to urban fantasy. I’ve been writing epic fantasy for seven years, and will be continuing my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga books for Orbit with Reign of Ash in April, so I’ll really have a foot in both camps. That’s like trying to ride two horses at once, which are each running at different paces.

I’ve read a lot from both epic and urban fantasy, but it was a bit of a switch shifting from third-person narrative for the epic books into first-person for the urban stories. But I would say that the hardest part has been convincing myself that it’s ok to use modern phrases in the urban book since I worked so hard to become aware of them and avoid them in the epic books.

There are so many words and phrases that we use every day that do a great job of conveying exactly what we mean. In normal conversation, we don’t worry about the origin. In writing, it matters a lot. There are a couple of etymology web sites that have become bookmarks on my computer because I am frequently checking to see when a word or phrase was first used, and how it was used. For example, people have been puking since the Middle Ages, but they didn’t barf until recently. And while they have been pissing for hundreds of years, it’s only in the last few decades that anyone has been pissed off.

It matters because the wrong word choice is an anachronism and it ruins the suspension of disbelief for the reader. The right words take the reader deeper into the atmosphere of the book. The wrong word yanks them out with a hook.

Since I’m a word junkie, I find this fun. I collect cool words like other people collect shiny rocks. So I’m overjoyed when I find a great period-authentic word that is exactly what I need. The trick is to sprinkle those less familiar, but authentic, words so that they are enjoyable little bonuses instead of annoying readers by sending them to their thesaurus on every page.

With Deadly Curiosities, it’s also fun because the book is set in modern-day Charleston, SC, so there are some wonderful concepts and phrases unique to that area that help to set the mood. And while visiting the Middle Ages to check out locations isn’t entirely possible (although it’s amazing how instructive it is to visit what’s left), scouting local spots in Charleston is easy and always a pleasure.

So there you have it–the hardest part is remembering to have characters speak in modern English. Strange, but true!

Come check out all the free excerpts, book giveaways and other goodies that are part of my Days of the Dead blog tour! Trick-or-Treat you way through more than 30 partner sites where you’ll find brand new interviews, freebies and more–details at

Ice Forged will be a Kindle Daily Deal with a special one-day price of just $1.99 only on October 31! Get it here:

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books. My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

About the author: Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and the upcoming Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, 2014), plus 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 and The Dread) from Orbit Books. In 2014, Gail launches a new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, from Solaris Books. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Find her at, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on, at blog and

The Hardest Part: Gail Z. Martin on Ice Forged

After six books across two publishers in the world of her Chronicles of the Necromancer series, Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin‘s new book, Ice Forged (Orbit, January 2013) remains firmly in epic fantasy territory but otherwise starts an entirely new world. While earlier this week The Exploding Spaceship reviewed the book, here Martin writes that yes, indeed, while starting from scratch can be a refreshing change of pace, it was also the hardest part of creating her newest book.

Ice Forged

By Gail Z. Martin:

For me, the hardest part of writing Ice Forged was getting the world clear in my own mind after spending so long in my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kingdoms universe.  Ice Forged is a completely different series with all-new characters and an all-new world.  I had to step out of my comfort zone, built over several years, and re-imagine how magic works in this new place, what the political issues are, and how the characters fit into all this.

It’s a lot like moving into a new city—you’ve got to get the lay of the land straight in your head, figure out the best grocery stores, find the gas station, etc. Once you’ve lived there awhile, you navigate by landmarks and you know the regulars.  You create a “history” with people and places that make you feel at home.  Before a reader can move into a fictional “neighborhood”  and make it home, the author has to create that neighborhood—or world—and it has to become real to the author.  In my experience, it takes a bit of knocking around in that world to feel like a native, but once you’ve reached that point, you want to show visitors all around this great new place and convince them to vacation there.


Gail Z. Martin’s newest book, Ice Forged: Book One in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), launched in January 2013.  Gail is also the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris Books) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit Books).  For more about Gail’s books and short stories, visit Be sure to “like” Gail’s Winter Kingdoms Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @GailZMartin, and join her for frequent discussions on Goodreads.

Read an excerpt from Ice Forged here:

Day one of illogiCon is here! Also: Gail Z. Martin starts a new fantasy series with Ice Forged

With registration opening at noon, and opening ceremonies and programming (and the dealer’s room) getting started at 3, illogiCon ii: Schrodington’s Revenge is finally here:

There are readings, panels (I’m moderating one on “The Local Scene” at 5 pm) and then later this evening, a dance, more panels (Liars’ Panel, SF as Covert Commentary on the Real World, etc.) and filk gets going as well. There are day passes available, as well as (of course!) weekend-long registrations, so come on by the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd in Cary (just off of I-40 at the Harrison exit). Meet: Writer Guest of Honor Tim Powers! Webcomic Guest of Honor Garth Graham! Toastmaster Mark L. Van Name! And a long, long line of guests including legendary Analog editor Stanley Schmidt.

Also, I want to take the time to highlight a regional author book release this week:

Ice Forged

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin (Orbit) starts a new fantasy series, Ascendant Kingdoms, for the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series: “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.”

So! Head to your local bookstore and support your local authors! Also, you can read an interview in which Martin describes how the series came about.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers