Gail Martin is best known for her high and epic fantasy work, having garnered rave reviews since she first introduced the world to Chronicles of the Necromancer and later on the Ascendant Kingdom Saga. However recent changes have occurred, and returning to her old stomping grounds at Solaris Books, she makes her debut into the genre of Urban Fantasy with her debut novel, Deadly Curiosities:
Gail was kind enough to sit down with us and discuss her brand-new work!
Sit. Write. Bleed (S.W.B): Gail, thanks again for sitting us down for a third time! You are officially the most interviewed person at Sit.Write.Bleed! So your upcoming novel, Deadly Curiosities (Solaris), is an interesting foray into urban fantasy. Having established a very successful career in High and Epic Fantasy, how does it feel to be stepping into what many see as a different genre?
Gail Z. Martin (GZM): Thank you! I’m glad to be back! I really am not hung up on epic vs. urban as a huge shift. There are stories I want to tell, and some lend themselves better to an epic, high fantasy setting, and some belong in the modern day with magic. So to me it’s really a shift in tone, but not a huge change.
S.W.B: So let’s talk trade-offs: what did you learn that you could do in Urban Fantasy that you couldn't or maybe wouldn't do in High Fantasy? Are the genres really so different from each other in form and execution, or did you find commonalities?
GZM: Well, sword fights aren’t as common in Urban Fantasy—wait, yes they are. OK. Then arcane magical objects and ancient rituals aren’t as common—oops, yes, Urban has those too.
The truth is, except for the horses and lack of flush toilets, a lot of the same kinds of things happen in urban that happen in epic fantasy, except with a smaller scale (a city vs a kingdom) and less royalty.
One thing you can do in Urban Fantasy that you can’t do in Epic is make cultural references and include a certain modern level of snark. That’s fun, but it’s a very modern sensibility and it isn't in keeping with trying to be period-authentic for Epic. Also, in Urban Fantasy you've got a real- life city with its own history, so while you might tweak that history and make some alterations, you have to play somewhat by the rules.
S.W.B: Let’s talk about Cassidy Kincaide, the hero of Deadly Curiosities. What drew you to writing that character? I found the aspect of recovering and disposing of ancient evil artifacts quite interesting.
GZM: I first wrote Cassidy in the short story “Buttons” for Solaris Book’s award-winning Magic: The Esoteric and Arcane anthology. They wanted something with modern magic, and that’s the story that came to mind, the modern continuation of the Trifles and Folly universe I had created for other anthologies with stories set centuries ago. Cassidy is the latest in a long line of her relatives to run Trifles and Folly, going back 350 years, always with Sorren as a silent partner, always with the secret mission of getting dangerous magical items off the market.
The idea of disposing of dangerous evil artifacts came about in a couple of ways. I visited Charleston on business and went back with the family because I was so entranced. I wanted to figure out how to set an urban fantasy story there, and an antique shop seemed likely, since they are so prevalent in Charleston and there is such rich history in that city.
My dad was a big collector/hoarder and antiques buff, so I got hauled around to antiques shows, swap meets and flea markets the whole time I was growing up. To amuse myself, I used to make up stories about the stuff that was for sale, just as a way to kill time. Then when my dad passed away and we had to clean out all his myriad collections, I found myself hip deep in strange old collectibles. Most of the stuff that is featured in Deadly Curiosities, I've owned and gotten rid of. Except for the mother-of-pearl opera glasses. I still have those.
S.W.B: Vampires often appear in your High Fantasy works, but in Deadly Curiosities we see the introduction of Sorren, a 500 year-old immortal and jewel thief. Did taking on an Urban Fantasy alter your view of vampires and how you employ them?
GZM: Unlike the vayash moru in my Chronicles of the Necromancer series or my talishte in the Ascendant Kingdoms books, Sorren isn't a lord. He was never noble—he was a jewel thief before his luck turned. He looks like he’s in his late twenties, and he does his best to fit in—cell phones, email, texting. Yet there’s the weight of centuries, having lived lifetimes, having lost so many people over the years.
I would say that the vampires in Deadly Curiosities are a bit more savage than in some of my other series. They own their place as top predator. And yet, as with all my vampire characters, they have a choice in how they behave and whether they elect to use their enhanced abilities constructively or destructively.
S.W.B: Stepping away from the book for a moment, the genre itself is very popular in our current era. What other Urban Fantasy authors do you like reading?
GZM: I enjoy the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher and the Secret Histories books and Ghost Finders novels by Simon R. Green. I love Victoria Laurie’s two series, both her Ghost Hunters and her Psychic Eye. CJ Henderson’s Piers Knight books are a lot of fun, too. And Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series.
S.W.B: Last question, and as always, it is a fun one. Every genre has a trope, and Urban fantasy is chock-full of them. Which one do you HATE the most?
GZM: Love triangles. Can’t abide them, or drama for the sake of drama. Makes me want to slap someone silly.
You can find more about Gail and her work at these links. Go and support this great author!
See you all soon!