Saturday 31 October 2015

GUEST BLOG: The Monster Mash - Gail Z Martin

Hail Mighty Readers,
Blog friend Gail Z Martin, joined us for Halloween fun as part of her Days of the Dead tour.  Today Gail takes the time to bring you some real treats with no tricks so we'll hand you over to her safe hands to continue:

Urban fantasy didn’t invent vampires, werewolves or hauntings (sorry to disappoint you). What urban fantasy did—very successfully—was to translate elements previously considered to be ‘gothic’ or ‘horror’ into a modern setting where the emphasis was on butt-kicking action, can-do heroes and heroines, and supernatural threats in real, contemporary cities. All of a sudden, you find yourself wondering if that creepy all-night mini-mart clerk might really be a ghoul. Or whether the abandoned building everyone thought was a crack house might really be a vampire lair. It’s familiar enough to be easy to read, but it gives everything you thought you knew a hard twist and suddenly, nothing looks the same.

 At the same time, monsters, magic, supernatural threats and cursed objects have always been part of urban legends. The guy with the hook for a hand who kills young lovers parked at a deserted overlook, the stories that make the rounds on email and social media about ending up in a bathtub full of ice minus a kidney, the implied curse of chain emails—all of these tie in to modern superstitions and anxiety. Urban fantasy gives us a directed outlet for those fears and anxiety and a hero/heroine to take them on. But the monsters, dark magic and supernatural dangers were already lurking.

Epic fantasy has long used magic—with a leaning toward big, Gandalf-type pyrotechnics and complicated spells. But if you view epic fantasy as contemporary myth-making which draws on the tradition of the Hero’s Journey and the quest sagas of legend, then monsters and supernatural creatures should be right at home. Ancient myths and legends were full of journeys into the Underworld, confrontations with all kinds of monstrous beasts, vengeful ghosts, wandering ghouls, haunted places and cursed objects. If some of those monsters, like vampires (scary, powerful ones that don’t sparkle and aren’t romantic) have been absent from the genre for a while, then using them in epic fantasy tales is a homecoming more than an innovation.

Steampunk is the genre were some people are a bit surprised about supernatural elements but there, too, the use is true to history. The Victorians were huge fans of spiritualism—séances, mediums, ghost stories. They invented the Ouija board. Victorians made mourning into a life-long fashion industry, and updated the concept of death masks to include post-mortem photography. This is an era of epidemics and wars, with high levels of infant/childhood mortality. The Victorians had a lot to mourn, and they became rather obsessed with death and the afterlife. Inventors like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Guglielmo Marconi attempted to create machines that would record the voices of the dead or send messages to the Great Beyond. So to me, including similar elements in Iron & Blood and in our Storm and Fury Adventures short story/novella series spin-offs seems true to the time period.

Don’t get me wrong—I love big battles, splashy explosions, intricate gun fights and sword duels, larger-than-life derring-do and flinty-eyed heroes and heroines. But for a book to speak to my heart, it’s got to have monsters, magic and supernatural mayhem. And gauging from what I hear from readers, I suspect that’s true for a lot of people. Let’s hear it for the monsters!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here:

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world (launches Dec. 29) here

More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities!

Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood!

Treats Not Tricks! Read an excerpt from Collector, one of my Deadly Curiosities stories

More Halloween goodies! Here’s a monstrous excerpt from Resurrection Day, one of our Storm & Fury Steampunk stories set in our world of Iron & Blood

Trick Or Treat Loot! Bonus excerpt Space Horrors

Halloween Treat! An excerpt from Travellin’ Show

About the Author
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, 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, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

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