Author Interview: Gail Z. Martin

Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing, and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Newest titles include Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, and Assassin’s Honor. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, Badlands, and Lucky Town.

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What’s new and exciting in your life as an author? 

I’m really excited about adding new series, expanding existing series, and trying some different approaches. The Splintered Crown (by Larry N. Martin) is a portal fantasy quest adventure, in the heroic tradition of books like the Forgotten Realms, Guardians of the Flame, and Dragonlance. I’ve wrapped up the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series with Convicts & Exiles, a prequel that ties up the six-year gap that happens in Ice Forged. It’s also exciting to see nearly everything out in audiobook, which is great for so many readers who prefer to listen to their fiction. We’ve also got some exciting conventions coming up, including ConGregate, Raleigh GalaxyCon, DragonCon and AtomaCon. Plenty of chances to connect with readers and make new friends!

What is your connection to the American South? 

We moved South 22 years ago, first to Richmond, Virginia, where we lived for barely two years, then to Charlotte, where we’ve been for twenty years. We’ve raised our kids here, and it has certainly become our home.

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer? 

The South is the setting for a lot of our series and novels. The Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series is set in Charleston, SC and it’s all about getting cursed and haunted objects out of the wrong hands and saving the world from supernatural threat. Charleston is very much a character in the book, and I pull a lot from local history and lore.

I also write urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance as Morgan Brice. My Badlands series is set in Myrtle Beach, a place we think of as a second home because we’ve vacationed there so often. It’s all about a psychic and a cop hunting down supernatural killers. My Witchbane series also has several novels that are or will be set in the South. Seth Tanner means to avenge his brother’s murder by hunting down the dark warlock who’ll killed him—he doesn’t expect to fall in love with the warlock’s next intended victim. The first book is set in Richmond, Virginia, and it was fun revisiting favorite places and learning new ghost stories to write that book. Upcoming books are set in Boone, NC, Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC, and New Orleans, all places I’ve come to love.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? 

We have a couple of new series debuting soon from Falstaff Books. Wasteland Marshals is a near-future post-apocalyptic series about the last two US Marshals trying to hold back chaos and supernatural threats after a series of catastrophes end life as we know it. The Joe Mack series is set in the Roaring Twenties, with former steel worker Joe ‘Mack’ Magarac becoming the immortal servant of Krukis, the Slavic god of blacksmiths, with a charge to walk the earth stopping monsters and battling the powers of darkness. The Joe Mack books are a tie-in to John Hartness’s Secret Council (Quincy Harker) series. We’ll also begin a new Spells Salt and Steel cycle, so I’m looking forward to more adventures from Mark Wojcik.

Watch for new books in the Deadly Curiosities and Night Vigil series, as well as more Salvage Rat and a new Jake Desmet adventure in the world of Iron & Blood!

Visit Gail Z. Martin online at ascendantkingdoms.com or on Twitter @GailZMartin

Author Interview: Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand is the four-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of over forty books, most of them humorous horror but with various other genres (thriller, fantasy, a romantic comedy and a smut comedy) sprinkled into the mix.

Jeff Strand Author Photo for Blog

What’s new and exciting in your life as an author? 

My latest novel, MY PRETTIES, just came out. I’m known as a “horror/comedy” guy, but though this book has a lot of humor, at least in the early chapters, it’s definitely one of my darkest books. My previous novel, FEROCIOUS, which didn’t come out all that long ago, is a fun-filled action-packed creature feature with all the chainsaw mayhem you could want. Maybe even more than you’d want.

What is your connection to the American South?

I lived in Tampa, Florida for over twenty years, and I’ve lived in Atlanta, Georgia for two. So I’ve got the street cred, even though before that I spent fifteen years in Alaska and eight years in Ohio. After I graduated from college, my #1 priority for a place to live was warm weather. I’m completely thin-blooded now and even the Atlanta “winters” are too cold for me.

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?

It varies by book. I have to admit that I’ll usually default to setting a book in whatever state I happen to live in at the time, unless there’s a reason the story won’t work there. I lived in Florida when I wrote PRESSURE, but I had an idea for a great scene that took place amidst a field of cacti, and that’s really the sole reason the book took place in Arizona. The closest I have to a true “southern” book is probably WOLF HUNT, which is very specifically set in Florida because our heroes are from New York and are miserable in the hot sweaty weather.

Cabin 12 Roan Mtn

Jeff Strand, finishing his novel MY PRETTIES at a haunted cabin in Roan Mountain, TN
(look closely and you can see him on the front porch)

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Look for at least two more novels in 2019. Plus I’m working on a very cool project that I’m not allowed to talk about that definitely will NOT be out in 2019, so there was no compelling reason to share it in this interview. Those crazy enough to want more information about my books can find it all at www.JeffStrand.com.

Author Interview: Christopher Martin

Chris Martin Paradise Garden

What’s new and exciting in your life as an author? 

My debut book, This Gladdening Light: An Ecology of Fatherhood and Faith, came out this past summer with Mercer University Press. It’s kind of a memoir/essay collection/spiritual journal hybrid. It won the Will D. Campbell Award in Creative Nonfiction and has been featured in ArtsATL and the AJC, and is the subject of a recent Literary Atlanta podcast. I was just nominated for a 2018 Georgia Author of the Year award in the essay/creative nonfiction category for this book.

As for individual pieces, I have some fairly recent essays published at New Southerner.

I’ve got plenty of other irons in the fire. My full-length poetry collection is done and I’m just trying to find a publisher for it. I might be self-publishing a chapbook soon. I’m working on a book about R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction. And I’ve always got individual poems or essays or satire pieces floating around.

And while this isn’t publication news, I’m excited to share I’ve been invited to lead a monthly writing workshop at Reformation Brewery in Woodstock, Georgia. The first one, which will focus on creative journaling, is set for February 11 at 3:00. It’s free but space is limited to 30 participants, so anyone interested can reserve a spot here, and the FB invitation is here.

What is your connection to the American South?

I’ve lived in Georgia all my life. I’m originally from Gwinnett County, spent a short but significant time in Newton and Jasper Counties, and ended up in northwest Cobb. Both sides of my family have been in this general Georgia piedmont area for a while. My wife is from Washington County so we also have a deep connection to rural east Georgia. My sisters now live in Atlanta, which has become a meaningful place for me, as well.

In her essay “Home,” the late Melissa Walker writes, “To most Southerners, home is the place where they were born and grew up. Like many people my age in the South, I lived in one place until I left to go to college, and that place is the center of a larger geographical area extending from the Georgia Sea Islands and the Okefenokee Swamp in the south to the Appalachian Mountains in the north.” She goes on to call her house in the Atlanta area “only one of many linked elements that all together comprise home.” While I didn’t live in one place growing up and don’t feel rooted to any one particular location—even for the relatively small range of places I’ve lived, we moved around a lot between parents and grandparents within that range—I get what she means and more or less feel the same. The northwest Georgia piedmont is about as close to home as it gets for me—places like Kennesaw Mountain and the Etowah Mounds make up my spiritual terrain. But places like Jekyll Island and Blood Mountain inform my sense of home and my connection to this region, too.

It’s hard to think of any one place as home but I’m always haunted by the idea of home (which is a somewhat redundant thing to say given the etymology of haunted). The suburbs, often soulless, probably have something to do with that, as well. I guess the title of your blog got me thinking along these lines. But I’ve always been here in Georgia, and my family has been here for a long time, and this is the American South, so…

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer? 

I like thinking about open-ended questions but I’m not that good at answering them. I start to ramble. Though I am a Southern, place-based writer, “Southern” isn’t a label I’m particularly interested in claiming or reclaiming, though I don’t disown it, either. I just let it be what it is. It has too many associations—positive and negative, romanticized and demonized, documented and caricatured, and everything in between—that vary far too widely to meaningfully talk about in a general sense in a short space. I guess the best answer to this question is the work itself. I could say, for example, that the Confederate flags flying in downtown Kennesaw inform my work as a writer, in the sense of making me angry, and I wouldn’t have that basis anywhere but here. But I could also say the diamorpha on Arabia Mountain informs my work as a writer, in the sense of giving me peace, and I likewise wouldn’t have that basis anywhere but here.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? 

I mentioned the poetry book and the book on R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction. I have tons of poems in progress; I’m particularly proud of two unpublished drafts called “My Daughter Refuses to Smile” and “Crawling Out of Christian Psychology.” Maybe they’ll be out soon. I’ve got some notes for children’s books. I try to get a piece of satire into McSweeney’s once a year (I guess my time’s run out on 2017, though it happened in 2015 and 2016). I’d like to write some kind of manifesto on Christianity and unicorns. That sort of thing.

My book is available at all the big online outlets, though I encourage folks to order directly through the publisher, Mercer University Press, or to ask your favorite local indie bookstore to get a few copies for its shelves (and maybe hit me up for a reading or signing while they’re at it).

My website is christopher-martin.net. Anyone interested can find most of what I’m up to through links at the site, which I try to keep updated as much as humanly possible.

Author photo (above) by Cannon Martin (7), taken at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden 

This Gladdening Light

Author Interview: Nicole Givens Kurtz

Nicole Kurtz profile pic

Nicole Givens Kurtz is the author of the cyberpunk/SF Mystery, CYBIL LEWIS Series. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science Fiction, EPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in Crossed Genres, Tales of the Talisman, and numerous anthologies such as Baen’s Straight Outta Tombstone, and Onyx Path’s V20: Vampire the Masquerade Anthology.

What’s new and exciting in your life as an author? 

My latest fantasy novel, DEVOURER: A MINISTER KNIGHT NOVEL, was recently released.

What is your connection to the American South?

I’m a born and raised Tennessee Volunteer! I graduated from the University of Tennessee, and I prefer driving while barefoot and eating fried deliciousness. All of my childhood friends have nicknames and I put salt in my grits. I love being a southerner.

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?

In my horror work, the parts of the south that are deeply horrific — racism, radicalized violence, and the ramifications of slavery and Jim Crow linger in the veins of most southern African-Americans. That horror is in our genes, in our veins, and blood so when I sit down to write horror, it pumps out onto the page, anchoring me to the present by way of the past.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? 

My latest review is available in the latest issue of Skelos. I have an upcoming release from Falstaff in the Spring.

You can find my books online at http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.com or via online bookstores.

Author Interview: Valjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers author pic

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, and the author of ten books, including her Immortal and Mona Livelong series. Her novella, The Switch II: Clockwork (Books I and II combined) was also nominated as the best eBook novella of 2013, by the eFestival of words.

Her writing has been published in numerous anthologies including: 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction; Steamfunk!; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; and most recently, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures; Sycorax’s Daughters; and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler. Her stories (Awakening and The Sickness) have been published as podcasts by Far Fetched Fables. Valjeanne is also one of the screen writers for the horror anthology film, 7Magpies (in production). 

What’s new and exciting in your life as an author? 

Late last year, I released the second novel of my newest series: Mona Livelong: The Case of the Powerless Witch. It’s a steamfunk/horror series and it’s become quite popular, which makes me happy. I love it when my readers dig my offerings. I had three stories and an essay published in 2016-2017. Also, Quinton Veal, my fellow author and cover artist, and I published Scierogenous: An Erotic Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2016). This is an anthology which brings together both new and seasoned authors’ unique take on erotica and science fiction, and we’re very excited about it.

What is your connection to the American South?  

My parents, Lance and Trellie Jeffers, were both English professors and writers. My father (now deceased), was from San Francisco. My mother grew up in a little town in Georgia, Eatonton, about a hundred miles from Atlanta. I grew up listening to her stories: she is a most certainly a griot. My whole family enjoyed her stories; I guess now they would be called folklore. My father, wrote over a dozen poems to her and her Southern roots. Most of my mother’s family still lives in Georgia, and as a child, I often spent my summers in Eatonton. This is where I had some of most memorable experiences—both good and bad. And all of this has found its way into my writing.

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?

When I wrote my Immortal series, I drew heavily from my experiences as child of the Civil Rights era, and of the beautiful “Make Love not War” zeigeist of this movement. This 1960s-1970s flavor is part of the mosaic of my Immortal series; in fact I think it binds together the synergy of Afrofuturism, sorcery and shapeshifting of these novels. But when I wrote my third novel, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, I embraced both this era and my roots. “Annabelle” the newest main character, is definitely a Southern. She is a powerful, conflicted, dangerous meta-human. She brings both the beauty and the terror of her (my) Southern heritage to the series.

When I began writing Mona Livelong, I dusted off some of the memories of the gritty urban novels I read as a child to create something new. Again I returned to my roots. I returned to my mother’s stories, to that little town in Georgia, to some of my experiences that blur the lines between reality and fantasy. They are the stuff of dreams and of nightmares. The beginning of Mona Livelong III was actually inspired by an experience I had while visiting relatives in Eatonton.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? 

I just released an audio book of Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. I read and produced it myself, and it was a lot of work. But I had fun working on it. Readers can purchase the MP3s (listen online or download) at www.gumroad.com/valjeannejeffers. The CDs are available at www.vjeffersandqveal.com. I’m going release Immortal IV: Collison of Worlds, which I also plan to read myself, in the near future. I’m writing Mona Livelong III: The Case of the Vanishing Child as we speak, and I plan to release it in 2018. Quinton and I are also planning to release a sequel to Scierogenous in 2018.

Readers can purchase the novels of Valjeanne Jeffers at www.vjeffersandqveal.com or at Amazon (click here for her Amazon Author Page) or at Barnes & Noble. You can purchase her ebooks at www. Smashwords.com.  Free stories are available at Smashwords:  Grandmere’s Secret and Outcasts.

Immortal I and Immortal II: The Time of Legend are also available at Audible.com.

Author Interview: Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells author pic

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf. 

What’s new and exciting in your life as an author?

This summer has been all about re-releases. Apex Publications released a new edition of my zombie novella ASYLUM, featuring an original short story “Lunatics Running the Asylum” set in the universe of the novella. E-topia also re-released my time travel gay romance THE EXCHANGE STUDENT.

What is your connection to the American South?

I was born and raised here in South Carolina, and being southern is such an integral part of who I am that I don’t even think about it. As a gay man, the south is not always the most welcoming, but even in the conservative south, there are great pockets of openness and acceptance. I am very proud to be southern.

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?

Almost everything I write is set in the south, particularly small town south because that’s were I grew up and continue to live. Small southern towns are interesting because everyone seems to know everyone’s business, and yet these communities know how to keep secrets like no one else. This is very conducive to horror.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m working on a haunted house novella called 432 ABERCORN. This October Hydra, Random House’s digital line, is releasing a series of anthologies called HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL, and the first volume will contain my novella #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain along with stories from Lisa Morton, John R. Little, Kevin Lucia, and Robert McCammon. Next year Crystal Lake Publishing will release a new collection from me, BOOK HAVEN AND OTHER CURIOSITIES.

Click here to visit Mark’s Amazon page, and click here to visit his author blog.