Interview Transcripts

Gail Z Martin: Fantasy Writer 8/2/07

Event start time:

Thu Aug 02 19:00:21 2007

Event end time:

Thu Aug 02 20:55:10 2007



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello all.

 

Welcome to our Professional Connection Live Interview.

 

Tonight my guest is Gail Z. Martin.

 

Gail Z. Martin is the author of The Summoner: Book One in The Chronicles of The Necromancer. Book Two: The Blood King, is scheduled for release in February 2008 from Solaris Books. Her nonfiction articles are frequently published in national and regional magazines. She owns DreamSpinner Communications, and is an adjunct professor at University of North Carolina--Charlotte. For book updates, tour information and contact details, visit www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com . She is a member of SFWA and SCA

 

Gail discovered her passion for science fiction, fantasy and ghost stories in elementary school. The first story she wrote-at age five-was about a vampire. Her favorite TV show as a preschooler was Dark Shadows. At age 14, she decided to become a writer. She enjoys attending science fiction/fantasy conventions, Renaissance fairs and living history sites. She is married and has three children, a Himalayan cat and a golden retriever.

Gail Martin

Hi Mary and everyone! Thanks for having me

Mary Rosenblum

Gail it's a pleasure to have you here.

 

Okay, I gotta ask. What does the Z stand for?

Gail Martin

The Z. stands for my maiden name, which is Zehner

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, mystery solved.

Gail Martin

I actually asked Solaris to use the Z because there are other Gail Martins who are writers.

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, there are. Good idea to use that Z. It's not quite Jane Smith but close!

Gail Martin

It helps. I can't believe how many Gail Martins are out there!

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding! So let's start from the start here. J When did you start writing? And did you start with SF and fantasy?

Gail Martin

I really did write my first story when I was 5, and it was about a vampire. I couldn't spell yet, so I had to tell the story to my grandmother, who wrote it down

 

So I guess you can say I started with fantasy, given that it was about vampires.  After that, I wrote a lot of fan fiction when I was in school--Star Trek, Star Wars, that kind of thing. I think a lot of folks get started on fan fiction because you can work with familiar characters and just come up with the plot.

Mary Rosenblum

Fan fiction can be a good way to learn if you don't get sidetracked forever. Which you clearly did not. So did you start with short stories or jump straight into novels?

Gail Martin

Well, most of the 'short' stories I've ever written ended up as 400 page manuscripts, even the fan fiction. My first book length project was my idea of how the original Star Wars trilogy should end.

 

Needless to say, it didn't quite match George Lucas' vision! LOL. The great thing was I was writing for a small group of friends who enjoyed it, and they gave me a lot of good feedback.

Mary Rosenblum

I’m laughing at the 400 page short stories. I wrote a few of those before I figured out that novels were different. :-) And  don't we all start by rewriting the ending to suit us? I did.

Gail Martin

Sure. And in the process, we learn about plotting and character and all that stuff.

Mary Rosenblum

So is The Summoner the first novel you wrote on your own, or the first that sold?

Gail Martin

The first that sold. There were 4 or 5 others that don't deserve to see the light of day--good practice.

 

Remember, I started out on a manual typewriter, so in those days, a revision meant literally retyping 400 pages.

 

So I also got to be a very good typist!

 

I came up with the character of Tris Drayke--at least in terms of appearance--in about 1981. But it took a while to find the right story for him.

 

The first story really is so different I can't call it a draft of the same book.

 

Along the way, I went to grad school, got married, changed jobs, moved, had kids, etc. and in between..

 

I would drag out the manuscript and it would change into something completely different.

 

Around 1997 I ended up with something fairly close to this story, but it got shelved when we moved again

 

Finally in 2002 I was laid off in a major downsizing from a very large company. And during the year when I was thinking about what to do next

 

I worked on the book. It changed quite a bit, not only from my own perspective

 

but also from some near misses with agents and editors who made valid suggestions (and then still didn't buy it).

 

And at the same time that I was fixing up the manuscript, I was looking for an agent. Eventually, I found an agent who believed in the manuscript, made some more good suggestions, and once i incorporated those, connected me with my publisher.

Mary Rosenblum

Wow, so this has ended up being what? A twenty year project! Wow!

Gail Martin

So there you have it--20 years of preparation to make an overnight success!

Mary Rosenblum

You know, this is one of the reasons I invite guests here....because those 'overnight successes'

 

rarely are, and it really helps when you're starting out to realize others didn't do it with

 

one book and instant stardom!

Gail Martin

Well, you know what they say..."What do you call a persistent writer? Published!"

 

That's where it helps to have a core group of people who believe in you.

 

In my case, it's a combination of friends who have been reading my stuff for 30 years

 

plus my husband, who is a wonderful editor (although that's not his real job)

 

and new friends who provided valuable perspective along the way.

 

I kept going with Tris because I just couldn't let go of the character. it really was very real to me.

 

I was just on book tour and I went back to Penn State, where I did my MBA. One of my old friends from grad school

 

...and remember, I did my MBA 20 years ago...came to the signing. And she said she remembered how I would say back then

 

that I was only getting my MBA to afford typing paper because I was really going to be a fantasy writer.

 

Now realize, in the mid-80s, everyone else wanted to be an investment banker. Those were the Gordon Gekko years!

Gail Martin

I'm sure they thought I was nuts.

 

But....it was a wonderful thing to be back there with my own book carried in the PSU campus bookstore!

Mary Rosenblum

So I have a question...

 

since you've been working on a single project over such a long time frame, has the WAY in which you write changed? And in what way?

Gail Martin

Oh heavens yes!

 

I hope that my writing is always evolving. I guess that's why many writers don't like to go back and re-read their early stuff...

 

because years later, they can see how to do it better. But we learn as we go.

Mary Rosenblum

So what do you think changed the most, craft wise, for you?

Gail Martin

I think I've gotten better with dialogue. And with pacing a story. It's one thing to have it in your head

 

and another to share it with other people so that they see the same thing in their minds.

Mary Rosenblum

Very good point, Gail.

Gail Martin

For me, writing is very much like transcribing the movie I see behind my eyes. So it's very dynamic

Mary Rosenblum

So tell us a bit about getting published. Did you get an agent before you submitted

 

Or did you try it over the transom first?

Gail Martin

Yes. I tried a little bit to go directly, and it was just too time-consuming.

 

The publishing process remains very 19th century

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding!

Gail Martin

The whole idea of submit a manuscript exclusively, wait 3 - 6 - 9 months

 

and then maybe we'll tell you we don't want it, maybe we won't…

Mary Rosenblum

(try two years at some houses)

Gail Martin

Yeah. Nothing else in business works that way.

Mary Rosenblum

Solaris is a British publisher, right?

Gail Martin

So I found it very frustrating to try the over the transom myself, and it was just too much to keep trying to do on top of my "day job".

Mary Rosenblum

Not to mention discouraging.

Gail Martin

Yes, Solaris is British. And without my agent, i never would have heard of them. That's one of the great things a good agent does.

Mary Rosenblum

So how did you acquire your agent? At a conference or by query?

Gail Martin

I was very lucky. My agent connected me with Solaris just as they were ramping up, and fortunately didn't tell me how big their pile of applicants were!

 

I found out later...I really beat the odds!

 

Anyhow, they were just getting started, and I ended up becoming their launch title. So it has been a really great partnership.

 

As for how I found my agent....I started with the Literary Guide and looked at the agents who handled fantasy. I also wanted someone who was AAR

Mary Rosenblum

Smart move!

Gail Martin

I think that AAR is very important--membership includes a code of ethics that keeps agents from taking advantage of writers

Mary Rosenblum

AAR Association of Authors Representatives

 

http://www.aar-online.org/index.html  

 

It is indeed!

 

Especially for novice writers.

Gail Martin

I've heard horror stories from folks who went with non-AAR agents. Some "agents" try to charge reading fees and editing fees.

 

What that means is that they can drain a writer dry and the mss is never saleable.

 

An AAR agent isn't permitted to charge fees like that. Strictly commission.

 

What that means is that the agent doesn't make any money unless the writer makes money.

Mary Rosenblum

Yep. So I'm curious. How many agents did you have to query before you got a 'yes, send' from someone? I think Kat Richardson is

 

our record holder with something like 20 queries before she landed an agent.

Gail Martin

I don't remember. I have a pretty thick rejection file. I found it better not to count!

 

Actually, 20 sounds pretty easy. Even job hunters get rejected more than that!

Mary Rosenblum

Yeah...that persistence = published thing!

Gail Martin

I think you have to not look at it as rejection. You look at it as guidance that it was not the right opportunity.

Mary Rosenblum

So you also belong to SCA. When did you join that?

Gail Martin

I joined last year. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. However, I have yet to make it to a meeting!

Mary Rosenblum

Do you think it will help with the fantasy writing -- adding some verisimilitude?

Gail Martin

Remember, I was a medieval history major undergraduate. (See, the MBA was important to eat regularly!)

 

I enjoy any opportunity to get insight into the real life details of the middle ages and Renaissance.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, what a marvelous degree for a fantasy writer -- even if relatively useless otherwise!

Gail Martin

I love to go to Renaissance Fairs, even though they aren't totally accurate, because I still learn from people. And I have a pretty large collection of books on medieval life, warfare, medicine, etc.

Mary Rosenblum

I see you also have another book coming out from Solaris. Is this a sequel?

Gail Martin

Yes. The Blood King is the sequel to The Summoner.

Mary Rosenblum

So, is it finished?

Gail Martin

It picks up the day after The Summoner ends. The two books together complete the story that begins in The Summoner.

 

Yes, The Blood King is finished. It comes out in February.

 

I'm under contract for books 3 and 4, with an eye toward more after that.

 

I'm already working on Book 3

Mary Rosenblum

Did you write it as part of the first, twenty-year project? Or after that first book was done. Oh, a series, how cool!

Gail Martin

I have always looked at it as a setting in which I have a lot of stories to tell. So I envision a number of stories in the setting of the Winter Kingdoms. Some will be before or after the time of the Summoner, some later.

charie'

Did you have the follow up book(s) written when your agent accepted you?

Gail Martin

I had the book written when my agent accepted me. Then he made some very good suggestions, and I made them, which I think strengthened the book.

 

I think that's important...being able to listen to input on a project that is your 'baby' and make changes.

Mary Rosenblum

So is it different now, writing books with a very set and definite deadline?

Gail Martin

It's wonderful. And it gives me a great excuse to set aside time religiously to work on the books. After all, they're not a hobby anymore--they're part of my job! Deadlines don't scare me.

Mary Rosenblum

That paycheck does make a nice difference, doesn't it?

charie'

Is it better to have several manuscripts to show a potential agent?

Gail Martin

I personally think it's better to shop one manuscript at a time, or at least one manuscript per agent.

 

Otherwise, I think it seems less focused, less clear on goals. Maybe that's just me.

Mary Rosenblum

Do you find it difficult to keep the books fresh since you're using the same universe and at least some of the same characters?

Gail Martin

Is it hard to come up with stories and plots based on the real world?

 

Realize that I've been "living" in the Winter Kingdoms for a long time. I hang out there mentally whenever I get bored. So that's home turf now. And even in a 600 page novel, there is so much that there isn't room to say so much that I know goes on beyond what there's room to tell about, what people did, said, thought. So all of that is in my mind. Characters have to be real to me or I can't write about them.

 

 

 

I think that is a wonderful thing about a series. There is time to see characters unfold rather than trying to dump everything all at once.

charie'

Do you have any tips for including information to clue in new readers while not boring the return readers to the Winter Kingdoms?

Gail Martin

That's a sticky thing.

 

In The Blood King, we include a short prologue, which you can skip or read depending on whether or not you read The Summoner

 

and how long ago you read it.

 

I'm leaning toward another prologue in book 3, just a page or 2, that reminds you what happened and who everyone is.  Aside from the prologues, I try to sprinkle in reminders as I go in ways that aren't heavy handed.

Mary Rosenblum

So each of these books really requires you to know something about what happened previously? Like Lord of the Rings?

Gail Martin

Well, The Blood King finishes the story that begins in The Summoner. And book 3 picks up a few months later, with the aftermath.  This particular story thread is linear with the characters and time period from The Summoner. I expect to see other story arcs that happen in other time periods with totally different characters.

charie'

You don't want to sum up too much. You want the new readers to go in search of the first book.

Gail Martin

Yes, you're right about summing up. But a page isn't going to take the place of a whole book.

 

After all, I could say "From 1940-1945 the US joined the Allied Forces in the fight against Nazi Germany. We won."  That would give you a recap, but it certainly doesn't tell you everything about WWII?

Mary Rosenblum

What is your writing process like? Do you finish and entire draft and then revise? Or do you revise chapter by chapter?

Gail Martin

It's a mix. I always re-read what I did the day prior and tweak. Then I go forward, and work on new stuff.

 

It's pretty frequent to have to go back and change something earlier,

 

maybe add in some foreshadowing (after I figure out what's going to happen), go back and re-order things for suspense, that kind of thing.

 

And then, I get my core readers to read through it, listen to their suggestions, read through and see things I also think need to be fixed, and go make the changes.

Mary Rosenblum

How many full revisions do you usually do?

Gail Martin

After about 6-8 passes, it usually works out.

 

Writing is not for the faint of heart!

Mary Rosenblum

Are you still teaching at University of North Carolina?

Gail Martin

I'm part-time, so yes, I teach one class in PR writing and one class on Public Speaking each semester.

 

I also teach teleseminars, on my own and through several organizations.

Mary Rosenblum

And you write nonfiction, too, right?

Gail Martin

I write nonfiction articles for a variety of publications...some local/regional and some national.

 

That's as close as I get to short stories!

charie'

That's why you were so comfortable meeting customers at your book signing.

Gail Martin

I'm apparently a rare extrovert in an introverted field!  Meeting people doesn't usually intimidate me.

Mary Rosenblum

So how much self promotion do you do? And what sort?

Gail Martin

Remember, I show up at bookstores in shopping malls in Renaissance garb for many of my signings. So I'm a bit of a ham.

 

I promised myself that I would really throw myself into doing everything I could to make the first book a success.

 

I had worked so hard to get to this point, I wanted to always know that I had given it my best shot.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, cool about the costume! There's a nice hook for customer attention.

Gail Martin

So the promotion piece is part of that. Solaris has been great about promotion--much better than the majority of publishers would be, I think.

 

Part of that is because they are new also and they're simultaneously promoting the imprint and their books--and I was their first.

 

But even so, it's my book and my dream.

 

So I've been pretty aggressive, promotion-wise. I do online and traditional PR.

 

I did the live book tour, I'll do virtual tour appearances like this one, or through instant messaging or conference calls

Mary Rosenblum

Are you buying print and ezine ads?

Gail Martin

I do local signings, and I just did a big virtual online event in June that spanned 3 continents.

quixote

And you have an excellent web page

Gail Martin

No, I don't buy ads. Solaris buys some ads in the publishing trade magazines. Anything except a small convention ad is way more than I want to spend.

 

Thank you for the comment on my site. I built and maintain that myself, using Citymax.com. Since my profession for 20 years was marketing and PR, I put a lot of sweat equity into my promotion.

Mary Rosenblum

Do you think your promotion efforts are paying off in sales?

Gail Martin

Yes, I do think that promotion pays off, and so does Solaris.

 

You can write the best book in the world, and if no one knows about it, no one will buy it.

Mary Rosenblum

Nice background for your profession actually....medieval history and PR work.

race

How do you create a really good character?

Gail Martin

Actually, my MBA was in both marketing and management information systems, and ungrad I was majoring in history with a minor in computer systems. So that really mixes things up!

 

Uh, this is going to sound a little strange, but I wait until the character comes to me and then I ask/him her about himself/herself.

 

In other words, I will get an image of a character, and if I want to know something, I mentally ask that image.

 

So from my perspective, it's less creating than accurately describing. The characters define themselves.

 

For example, I couldn't change a character's race, gender, orientation, personality, opinions unilaterally.

 

If the character doesn't have certain characteristics, I can't force them. It wouldn't work.

race

Does your character ever not want to do what he's supposed to do and what do you do then?

Gail Martin

Yes, that happens! And saying "well I'm the writer so I win" doesn't work! LOL

 

If that happens, then it's a sign that what I was thinking of doing wouldn't be inherent to the character or the story. So I change my plans.

 

After all, the character is part of the world I've created...he/she would have the best sense of what's going to work.

 

I know that sounds strange. Really, I do have a solid grasp on reality!

Mary Rosenblum

So you do change the plot to suit the character?

Gail Martin

If necessary. That does happen.

charie'

Have you ever written your characters into a dead end (plot-wise)?

Gail Martin

I think everyone does that sooner or later!

Mary Rosenblum

What do you do then?

Gail Martin

Well, someone once said that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

 

I back up and re-think my understanding of the plot. Real people don't come to dead ends, unless they die. So either I've missed something, some opportunity in the story line

 

or the character needs to die!

 

That doesn't happen very often.

Mary Rosenblum

How much...if at all...

 

do you outline or plan ahead and how much do you

 

just write.

Gail Martin

Well, I have to turn in a pretty detailed outline for a book proposal to get a contract.

 

After that, I just write. Hopefully, the end results bears some resemblance to the outline!

 

What I find is that the outline is very simplistic compared to the events you run into when you actually write the book.

charie'

I like that idea: opportunity in the story line!

Gail Martin

So things come up that you didn't anticipate...characters show up and demand to go on stage....the plot takes twists that you didn't think of!

 

If I really stuck to the outline, the book wouldn't be as good.

race

How often do characters 'just show up'?

Gail Martin

All the time.

 

Sometimes they are minor characters, sometimes they steal the show.

Mary Rosenblum

Have you had a central character just 'show up' and make himself/herself a central character?

Gail Martin

Yes.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! Which book was that?

Gail Martin

Maynard Linton, the caravan master in The Summoner, is a character like that. He will be seen again. He won't leave.

speckledorf

I've noticed most fantasy sales were series. Do you think a stand alone has the same chance for publication or would it be better as a series?

Gail Martin

There are certainly stand alone fantasy books that have done very well. Neil Gaimon's books are like that, and they're excellent.

Mary Rosenblum

So do you have any plans for another universe? Or are you going to stick to this world indefinitely?

Gail Martin

Well, I've given Solaris about 8 - 10 story arcs, which would each probably need 2-3 books for each arc....so at a book a year, I might be busy for a while if they take me up on all of them!

Mary Rosenblum

Wow, that should keep you busy. Are these all separate universes, the 8 - 10?

Gail Martin

Actually, I have two non-fantasy novels in draft and have worked on a nonfiction draft. But they're not ready to go anywhere. And I'm working on an e-book for my business.

 

No, the 8-10 are within the Winter Kingdoms, although in different time periods and often with different characters.

Mary Rosenblum

What genre are the non-fantasy novels in?

Gail Martin

Modern day.

 

probably easiest to classify as women's fiction...otherwise known as 'hen lit' (As opposed to 'chick lit.')

Mary Rosenblum

Oh yeah, that's a growing genre.

Gail Martin

It's because all those baby boomers finally have time to read!

Mary Rosenblum

Quite a switch from fantasy. Are you finding it more difficult than fantasy or easier to write?

Gail Martin

Not all that different. Once again, I know the characters and the setting very well.

sss1208

What's wrong with chick lit?

Gail Martin

Nothing...but after a certain age, you're more of a hen than a chick!

Mary Rosenblum

Maybe you should define chick lit and hen lit for anyone who doesn't know that term, Gail.

Gail Martin

Hmm..not sure I'll do it justice...my understanding of the term is that 'chick lit' applies to books that are primarily appealing to women under 35 with stories that are relationship driven but not falling neatly into the usual genres --

 

not romance, more real-life settings, but very targeted toward women. 'Hen lit' are books that are similar but dealing with themes and characters that appeal more to women over 35. Does that help?

Mary Rosenblum

I think that's as good a definition as any. The usual 'rules of romance' don't apply.

forest elf

Solaris is a UK publisher. Does that make getting your books into American bookstores harder? Or to find an audience on this side of the lake?

Gail Martin

Solaris is distributed in the US and Canada by Simon & Schuster, through Ingrams and other major distributors. So no, it's not really different at all from what I have seen. And since the book and the imprint were a pretty major

 

rollout, there wasn't an issue of finding an audience. They found us. Solaris is owned by Games Workshop, a role playing games company with very well-established industry ties.

charie'

Do you go to England for book PR?

Gail Martin

Not yet, but someday!

 

I had hoped to tag along on one of my husband's business trips, but it didn't work out. For one thing, passport applications in the US are horribly backed up, and mine expired years ago.

Mary Rosenblum

So tell us a bit about Summoner and the forthcoming Blood King. Here's your chance to whet some appetites.

Gail Martin

In The Summoner, Tris Drayke's family is murdered when his half-brother seizes the throne. Tris discovers that what he always took for granted, his ability to see ghosts and talk with them

 

is really a rare form of magic, making him a Summoner, a wizard who can communicate with the dead. He has to learn to control his magic before it destroys him in order to avenge his family.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! So how does the story continue on in Blood King?

Gail Martin

In The Blood King, Tris makes his return to challenge Jared for the throne and keep an ancient evil from escaping the abyss.

Mary Rosenblum

You're doing good with the blurbs, girl!

Gail Martin

Thanks!

charie'

How long did it take to perfect your "blurb"?

Gail Martin

A while. It gets better with practice. I have different versions depending on the use and who I'm talking with.

 

Also different lengths. I created a whole media kit for each book, and one page is a variety of 'book handles (blurbs)' of varying lengths. It comes in handy.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, tell us about your media kit! This is your area of expertise after all!

charie'

These blurbs sound tantalizing. Good job.

Mary Rosenblum

They do.

Gail Martin

I learned a lot reading the books designed for people who self-publish, like Dan Poynter's books and Tom & Marilyn Ross' books. Even though I didn't self-publish, a lot of the tips for promotion were very good

 

and I found a lot of resources.

 

Thanks!

Mary Rosenblum

So what is actually in your kit?

Gail Martin

As for the media kit....I try to anticipate what the media or bookstores want to know.

 

So there are the book handles, there's a fact sheet with the ISBN number, the publication date, a blurb, and other essential details.

 

There are copies of recent press releases and reviewer quotes, plus a key points flyer for bookstore staff.

 

I also have reviews and an entire interview, plus possible questions.

 

I try to make it very easy for people to write about me or the book. Some articles have taken my press kit info verbatim.

forest elf

Of those books on self publishing, is there one that stands out as the best for media kit and promotion?

Gail Martin

I joke that I never make a major life move without reading at least 10 books on the subject....so I read at least 10 on book promo as well!

 

I think the 2 I mentioned are very good. There are many other books as well, and they all offer nuggets or resources that can be valuable.

 

Even though I've been in the promo business for 20 years, I learned a lot.

Mary Rosenblum

Lissa Warren's 'The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity' is good and has been well recommended by other pros.

charie'

What's a book handle?

Gail Martin

A book handle is just another name for a book blurb.

vanilla

Can you recommend a good resources for writing ghost stories?

Gail Martin

I love to read folklore stories from all around the world. I've always liked books of 'real' ghost stories, stories that were collected as oral history. They're just fascinating!

Mary Rosenblum

So how do you put a new novel together, Gail? Where do you start? Plot idea? Character? How do you get it off the ground?

Gail Martin

Sometimes when I have a very clear idea of a character, the plot falls in to place because it's a natural outgrowth of where that character would be and what he/she would be doing.

 

Sometimes, I get the setting really clearly and have to figure out what characters it would take to make that setting into a story, and then I wait for the characters to show up and introduce themselves.

 

Then I do some outlining, just to help me get the sequence straight and look for major holes or gaps.

 

Usually I have a very clear image of some key scenes, and so putting the book together is really just getting from major scene to major scene.

Mary Rosenblum

Do you feel that you depend more on external or internal conflicts to drive your story?

Gail Martin

I think both are really important. Often, our internal conflicts put us in the path of external conflicts. And without the internal conflicts, you're just watching cardboard cutouts move around.

Mary Rosenblum

As you're plotting a new book, which seems to come to you first? The external plot or the character conflict? Or does it vary from story to story?

Gail Martin

In the 3rd book, I had a very clear internal conflict with a character, and developed the external conflicts around that. I would say that was also true with The Summoner--Tris really has to completely redefine his whole sense

 

of self after his family is killed, he becomes an outlaw, he discovers his magic and that it can kill him if he can't control it.

 

So while he's at the center of an external storm, there's a parallel internal storm going on at the same time.

Mary Rosenblum

Nice. That suggests a powerful dramatic arc.

charie'

Do you see your characters as they start out or as they've evolved (plot-wise) when you start writing?

Gail Martin

Oh yes. There's a lot of 'growing up' that happens in The Blood King. In The Summoner, it's pretty much survival driven. In The Blood King, the characters start to recognize and deal with the consequences of their

 

choices, and of their pasts. A couple of the characters have some very difficult decisions to make. It's risky on an internal level just as much as on a physical level.

speckledorf

Do you follow the "hero's journey" outline/method when plotting your stories? For example, the normal world, inciting incident and such.

Gail Martin

Not sure I'm following you on the second part of that--please elaborate!

Mary Rosenblum

I think she's probably referring to Joseph Campbell?

Gail Martin

I'm familiar with Campbell, and I think his work is very good on the whole hero's journey. Sorry, it's been a while since I've read him, so some of the nomenclature escapes me.

speckledorf

Maybe method is the wrong word. But the book starts with the normal world, gets us settled in..then somthing happens that sets things in motion. There is a bunch of other things...turning point, last straw. Glad you figured it out...I was going blank.

Mary Rosenblum

Thanks, Speckledorf.

Gail Martin

I don't think I'm using anyone's format for outline...I have to admit, I always shied away from a lot of writing classes...so few do SF/F. So I'm probably more business trained and self-trained.  I think that the formal writing classes can sometimes be helpful...I just had bad luck with a couple I took.

 

Yes, I guess those terms would apply in The Summoner. It all starts out with three 19 year old guys having a good time at a festival when things go suddenly wrong, and by midnight, they're outlaws, running for their lives. 

Mary Rosenblum

Wow, nice hook start. Is this all in Chapter One?

Gail Martin

Let me check...

 

more like chapter 2.

 

By the end of Chapter 1, they know trouble is coming. By the end of Chapter 2, trouble has found them.

Mary Rosenblum

But you're pulling your readers into the story pretty quickly.

Mary Rosenblum

How did you handle chaptering? Did you try for a set length?

Gail Martin

I have been told that I've kept several people up late, made some late for work and caused one guy to blow off a date with his girlfriend to finish the book!

 

I try to shoot for about 15 - 20 pages per chapter to keep the pace up.

 

As for length, my agent gave me a guideline of no more than 135000 words for a first novel. I turned in the original book at that length, and the publisher asked me to add detail. So it's closer to around 143000 words.  My contracts for books 3 and 4 specify 150000 words...so it's grown!

Mary Rosenblum

Are these coming out as trade paperback or hardcover?

Gail Martin

These came out as mass market paperback.

speckledorf

Do you chart out your story arc for each chapter in advance or just let it happen as it happens?

Gail Martin

I generally know where I'm going plot-wise--remember, I have to stitch together the very clear major scenes in my head!

Mary Rosenblum

Well, we're about at the end of our time together, Gail. Any advice for our aspiring writers in the audience?

Gail Martin

I think the only advice that really matters is to stick with it! Don't ever give up.

 

Thank you so much for having me.

Mary Rosenblum

I like your opening definition of a persistent writer, Gail....published!

Gail Martin

Absolutely!

Mary Rosenblum

I think that's very important advice!

 

Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Gail Martin

Thank you.

Mary Rosenblum

It's hard to sit in front of the screen on a lovely summer evening.

charie'

Thanks, Gail.

race

Thanks a lot!

Gail Martin

Thank you. Please drop by www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com  to see the cover art and excerpts for both The Summoner and The Blood King.

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, thank you very much and good luck on the rest of your books!

Gail Martin

Best of luck to everyone on the chat tonight!

Mary Rosenblum

Thank you all for coming!

 

Gail, thank you and write well!

 

I'll keep an eye out for your books!

Gail Martin

Thanks!

 

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