Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Gail Z. Martin about her new epic Darkhurst fantasy series.

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books); The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books) and Iron and Blood a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin. The first novel in her brand new epic fantasy series, Darkhurst, will be published by Solaris Books in July 2017.

She is also author of 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); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities.  Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Find her at www.GailZMartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin and free excerpts on Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.


Click here to participate in the Scourge giveaway.

Click on the picture below to read an excerpt of Scourge, the first novel in the Darkhurst series (the excerpt is in PDF format).


Q: Could you tell us shortly something about yourself?

A: I write epic and urban fantasy, and steampunk, mostly for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. My epic series includes the new Darkhurst series with the first book, Scourge, that is just coming out in July, as well as my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle and my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. The urban fantasy includes the Deadly Curiosities novels, and the Steampunk is co-written with my husband, Larry N. Martin, and includes the novel Iron & Blood and the Storm and Fury Adventures short fiction/collections.

Q: Your new fantasy novel, Scourge, begins the epic Darkhurst series. Could you tell us something about it? What kind of a fantasy novel is it?

Here's the short answer: Three undertaker brothers in a medieval trading town battle monsters to protect their family and neighbors, only to discover that the monsters have masters and the stakes are higher than they dreamed.

Here's the book cover answer: In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations and stop the carnage. Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave. When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.

And here's the Hollywood pitch summary: Supernatural meets Game of Thrones.

Q: What kind of characters are Corran, Rigan and Kell Valmonde?

A: Corran Valmonde is the oldest of the brothers at 20 years old. He was not prepared for the responsibility of running the family undertaking business, dealing with the Guild, or taking care of his two younger brothers, but stepped up when their parents were killed. He becomes a monster hunter after his fiancée and more friends and neighbors are killed by the creatures, in a desperate attempt to protect his brothers. The penalty for those caught hunting monsters is death, so the stakes are high.

Rigan Valmonde, at 18, is the middle brother. He and Corran share the Grave Magic that is part of the hereditary trade of being undertakers, but Rigan alone inherited additional abilities through his mother's line, from the nomadic Wanderers. When this new magic manifests in dangerous ways, Rigan is forced to keep secrets to protect his brothers, because the Lord Mayor kills all witches not bound to his control.

Kell Valmonde is the youngest, at 14. He is too young to be formally apprenticed into the family business, so he tries to hold the family together by running errands, cooking, making offerings to the gods and collecting the day's dead bodies to be prepared and buried. He's not above making some shady deals if it keeps food on the table, and he's keeping secrets of his own from both his brothers.

Q: Your speculative fiction novels have taken place in various places and original fantasy worlds. Was it challenging to create a new fantasy world for this series?

A: It's always challenging, but that's part of the fun. I wanted to do something very different, so the politics, magic, religion and setting is a departure from the kind of worlds I've written in before.

The kingdom of Darkhurst is made up of 10 independent city-states of the Bakaran League, each managed for the king by its own Crown Prince. The city-states negotiate trade agreements with each other, which is a cutthroat process because the stakes are high, not only for the benefit of the merchants and tradespeople, but also for the fortunes of the Merchant Princes and Guild Masters who oversee the raw materials and the production of goods for trade. The kingdom and the League are corrupt, with assassination so common that hired killers sometimes wound or kill those who work for a powerful noble to 'send a message' or express their displeasure.

As the story opens, the city-state of Ravenwood is just about to renegotiate its trade agreement with its most powerful partner. Lord Mayor Machison will stop at nothing to get the terms he wants, and with the help of his blood witch, Thron Blackholt, they devise ways to influence the ambassadors to gain their desired terms, while keeping the Guilds and their tradespeople under their thumb.

Meanwhile, monsters harrow the city, appearing and disappearing without apparent pattern. The corrupt and brutal guards do little to stop the monsters, but when tradespeople take matters into their own hands to fight the creatures, the guards hunt the hunters.

Darkhurst isn't set in our world, but it's somewhat based on the Hanseatic League and the Italian city-states in the heyday of Venice and the Medicis.

Q: What kind of magic will readers find in Scourge?

A: Scourge features several different types of magic. The economy is set up on a Guild system that oversees all the trades. The trades are hereditary, and magic specifically helpful to that trade runs in Guild families. Corran, Rigan and Kell are undertakers, so they have grave magic which helps them banish restless spirits and send souls on to the After.

Blood magic is practiced by a powerful few, and it draws on the energy of death and blood to enhance the practitioner's power. It comes at a high cost to the witch, and is almost never used for positive purposes.

Rogue magic falls outside of sanctioned Guild trade-specific magic and the blood magic practiced by a witch with a powerful patron. The Wanderers, a mysterious nomadic clan of peddlers and tinkers, have their own old magic and guard their secrets. A minority of other people are born with magic outside of their trade. They either go into hiding, are hunted by the Lord Mayor's guards and forced into his service, or killed.

Q: What is the target audience of Scourge?

A: I've written the book for adults, anyone who enjoys a medieval world to explore, plenty of action, lots of magic, and a fair number of monsters, ghosts and scary surprises.

Q: How many parts will the Darkhurst series have?

A: Right now, I'm working on the sequel, Vengeance. I have two more books beyond that in mind, so we'll see!

Q:  Is there anything you'd like to add?

A:  I'm very excited to have the chance to create a new world for readers to explore and new characters for them to meet. I think this book goes in some different directions than my earlier books, while hopefully remaining true to the elements readers have enjoyed in my other series. I can't wait for you to meet the Valmonde brothers and get to know Darkhurst!


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