29 October 2013

Guest Blog: Through a Glass Darkly

Today we're thrilled to welcome Gail Z. Martin, bestselling author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, as a guest blogger at Beyond the Veil. As you might guess, somebody who writes about necromancers has a lot to say about the ghosts that haunt a writer's work.

Through a Glass Darkly

By Gail Z. Martin

The idea of writing as therapy isn’t new, nor is the idea of writing as exorcism.  Writing is generally cheaper than hiring a therapist, easier than hiring a priest and doesn’t fill the house with the smell of incense (usually).  It’s all fun and games until someone’s head swivels around backwards.

My writing has helped to quiet the ghosts of the past in several ways.  After my mom had a devastating stroke, I wrote an as-yet unpublished novel about the experience, based on an off-handed comment a family member made that suggested an ideal—if illegal—solution to the quality of care issues she was encountering. I didn’t act on the suggestion, which was made tongue-in-cheek, but I did write about it, envisioning how things might have turned out differently.  I’m still debating what to do with that book, but I remember how quickly the book wrote, and how unusual it was to be typing as I cried (fortunately I’m a touch typist). That book may or may not make it to print, but it was cathartic for me to write it.  The novel didn’t have a happy ending, and neither did real life, but having written a version of what could have happened in advance; I was somewhat better prepared for what did happen. So it served its purpose.

My relationship with my dad was, shall we say, complicated.  It did not occur to me until this year that in all four of my series, the main character also has a complicated paternal relationship.  I swear I didn’t do that on purpose.  I wasn’t even aware that I had done it until I suddenly saw the pattern.  I am now working to consciously create different patterns for future characters.  I guess I have issues.

My dad was a hoarder, and my husband and I had to deal with his collections when dad went into a nursing home.  Some stuff was valuable and some was not; sorting through the mountain of stuff to determine what to keep and what to pitch took over a year.  Not surprisingly, a fair number of the more unusual pieces and some of the settings made their way into my Deadly Curiosities series of short stories (and the upcoming novel).  My husband is my first editor and beta reader.  He read the drafts and shook his head and said, “I see you’re still working through it.”

When my dad passed away, I was the executor, so handling his estate and the remaining collections fell to me, on top of publishing deadlines and other work.  Writing the books and short stories became my little port of sanity in a stormy ocean of legalities and paperwork. It’s taken most of a year to resolve everything, during which writing has become my rabbit hole where I can escape.

There are probably other ghosts that either haunt my writing unacknowledged or that have been exorcised, but if so, they’ve agreed not to break the dishes and I’ve agreed not to call the exorcist (or Ghostbusters).  I suspect that most writers’ brains could keep a good paranormal investigation team busy for a long time. Coincidentally, I’ve never met a successful writer, artist, comedian or musician who had an idyllic childhood, and I suspect the two are inversely related.  Dysfunctional families are the gift that keeps on giving.

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 www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

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 www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com.


A. Catherine Noon said...

Thank you for visiting today, Gail! I'm sorry for the loss of your parents. I agree; the writing can present different options and scenarios that can help us process what's going on in the present.

I laughed a bit with you about the themes in your four novels. It's startling to see patterns emerge from our writing that we didn't put there intentionally. I think readers can do that as well, read into things that aren't there, (I once had someone say a story I wrote had a whole totalitarian government aspect to it that wasn't my vision at all), but when we recognize it as the writer as something we ourselves did, I think that's a healthy sign that our writing is working at a deeper level.

I look forward to reading more of your material and wish you every success!

Gail Z Martin said...

Hi Catherine

Thanks for commenting. I do think readers project what they're working through into our work, and that's part of how they work through their own issues. It's a little scary to re-read some of your own work and see things that you were working through yourself at the time and didn't realize you'd written about. Ah well...

Jean Marie Ward said...

Can't wait to read about your new worlds! Don't worry, I promise not to tease you about any real life parallels.
Thanks for joining us today, Gail. It's been great having you.