Gail Z. Martin, author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer, kicks off her annual Days of the Dead International Blog Tour during the week leading up to Halloween.
Today on the tour, she stops in at the Solaris blog to tell us all about her newest novel, Dark Lady’s Chosen, which we will release on December 29, 2009.
Q: You’ve taken your readers progressively deeper into the world of the Winter Kingdoms in your Chronicles of the Necromancer series. Do you have a particular process for writing?
A: I have a good idea of the beginning and ending for each story before I start to write, and a pretty good idea of the key turning points. Obviously, I have to also turn in a fairly detailed outline beforehand, but even with all of that, there are surprises along the way. I’ll start writing a scene knowing where it begins and where it has to end, but the details in the middle may not be clear to me until I see the words appearing on the page. It’s nice at the end of the day to read over what I’ve written and be pleasantly surprised.
Q: Can you talk about the world building that goes into a series like your Chronicles of the Necromancer?
A: I spend a lot of mental time in the world of my books, thinking about how they would think about certain things or celebrate a holiday or life event, or how the society would work around specific issues given the reality of magic and the presence of the undead. Often, that kind of random musing will get me started on a whole new plot twist, or something that I write into the book.
I was a history major, so I was taught to look for all the different elements that affect society: culture, geography, history, religion, economics, etc. I try to write those same elements into my world of the Winter Kingdoms so that it feels realistic and textured.
By the way, for the not-yet-published writers out there, I am actually teaching a four-part teleclass on World Building for WriteWellU.com this spring and we’ll go into the how-tos in detail.
Q: You have a way of talking about your characters as if they’re real, and you’ve even interviewed some of your characters. How do you develop your characters?
A: This may sound kind of weird, but I don’t really “develop” the characters as much as they present themselves and demand to be written into the story. They usually show up fully formed, and if I don’t know something about them, it’s more a question of picturing them in my mind and asking them questions than it is making stuff up about them. And if I try to take them in a direction they don’t want to go, they let me know and it just doesn’t work out.
Q: What’s behind your Days of the Dead Blog Tour?
A: I love Halloween. Next to Christmas, it’s my favorite holiday and always has been. And the week leading up to Halloween is special. You’ve got Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). So it’s a time of year that has evoked a feeling in people across time and cultures—the feeling that the threshold between the world of the living and the place of the dead is a little thinner than usual. So it made perfect sense to me to do a blog tour during such a great week when my books, after all, are about ghosts, necromancers, restless spirits, the undead—you get the picture.
The Tour premise is simple: I partner with a number of sites and provide unique content to each one during the week of the tour. We all have a lot of fun. New readers get introduced to my books, and existing readers get some tasty tidbits as we count down to the release of Dark Lady’s Chosen on Dec. 29. And my readers may also find some great web sites they hadn’t seen before. Everyone wins.
Of course, I’ll also be in stores and at conventions for the new book, so there will be a “live” tour also!
Q: You’ve got audio and excerpts from Dark Lady’s Chosen online, plus there are other sites participating in your Days of the Dead blog tour. Where can we find all the goodies?
A: Check out my site at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, for all the downloads and more Days of the Dead stuff. Also, please find me on Twitter.com as @GailZMartin and on Facebook and MySpace as well.