An interview with Gail Z. Martin about the steampunk novel Iron & Blood

Written by / Interviews

Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Gail Z. Martin about her forthcoming steampunk novel Iron & Blood (co-written by Larry N. Martin). This novel will be published by Solaris Books in July 2015.

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;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) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.

Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.

Find them at, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on, at blog and, on Goodreads free excerpts, Wattpad


- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?

A:  I've wanted to write books since I was a child. Being an author was a life-long goal, and I am so thrilled and grateful to be a full-time writer in a genre I love, sharing that business now with my husband. I spent close to twenty years running public relations/marketing departments for corporations before I started my own business, in part to have the flexibility to really focus on the writing. When I'm not writing I enjoy cooking and Yoga and reading.

- Your steampunk novel, Iron & Blood (co-written by Larry N. Martin), will be published by Solaris Books in July 2015. Could you tell us something about it? What kind of a novel is it?

A: Iron & Blood is set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898. We've made some minor but important to Pittsburgh's history that lend themselves to a steampunk era, and which change the balance of power. We've also introduced supernatural and magical elements, so there's tension between the scientific and the supernatural. There's plenty of action--I set out to make sure we either blew something up or shot something in every chapter. Setting a steampunk novel in Pittsburgh just seemed like a natural thing to do--it was the epicenter of coal and steam-based American manufacturing power at that period in time.

- What can readers expect from Iron & Blood?

A:  Plenty of action and intrigue, a very colorful cast of characters, lots of explosions and fights, genius inventors, clockwork zombies, resurrectionists, magic, monsters and an intriguing look at a Pittsburgh that never was but should have been.

- Is Iron & Blood a standalone novel or part of a bigger series?

A: Iron and Blood wraps up its storyline in that book, but it was envisioned as the first in a series of adventures with a common setting and recurring characters. In fact, we've done several short stories in steampunk anthologies set in the world of Iron and Blood, including a story in Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens and the forthcoming Weird Wild West and Dreams of Steel 5.

- You've previously written epic fantasy and urban fantasy. What inspired you write a steampunk novel?

A: We're originally from Pittsburgh, and the city has so much of its grand old Gilded Age architecture remaining that the Victorian era lives on in its edifices. The idea for a series based there seemed to be literally staring me in the face. So Larry and I brainstormed the world and the characters as well as the conflict, and the book came together pretty quickly.

As for why steampunk when I'm also writing epic fantasy and urban fantasy series, it's because of the love of the story. I just fell in love with the vision of New Pittsburgh that we created as well as the characters. It's so much fun to write in multiple genres because the approaches and voice of the writing needs to be so different. And it's fun to slip into the viewpoints for each era--it keeps us on our toes and keeps the writing fresh!

- Was it difficult or challenging to write a steampunk novel? Did you have to do any research during the writing process?

A: There's actually quite a bit of research involved, because while Iron and Blood is alternative history, there's a lot of real history involved, and we aim to get the details right that we don't intentionally change to fit the story. So we did some trips to the city and toured some areas to get the details right, plus a whole lot of culling through old maps, online archives and documents, visits to the city's wonderful museums, read plenty of books on the history of the city, and dove in head first!  I wouldn't say that it was any more difficult or challenging than any of the other books because they all require research, though of different types. For epic fantasy, even though the stories are set in worlds of my own creation, there's a whole lot of research on weapons and battle tactics and other elements of medieval life. Research is part of the process!

- How would you advertise this novel to your readers with a few words?

Non-stop action, supernatural thrills, steampunk ingenuity and rip-roaring adventure!

- Is there anything you'd like to add?

From June 21-July 8 I'll be doing my annual Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event blog tour, and I hope readers will stop over to my page, find out what all is going on and where to find the posts, giveaways, contests and fun events. And of course, please look for Iron and Blood at your favorite bookseller!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 28 awesome partner sites around the globe.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit