Aisha Anwar: Who encouraged you to read?
Gail Z. Martin: My mom was a kindergarten and first grade teacher, and she read to me from the time I came home from the hospital as a newborn! She read to me until I had many of the stories memorized. As I grew up, requests to buy books or go to the library were never turned down (I can’t say the same for other items I wanted to purchase!). Both of my parents and my grandmother, who lived with us, were readers, and I always saw books in their hands. Many of my friends growing up were also readers. One friend and I had to climb a tree to get away from the neighborhood bully, but we took our books up with us and were pretty happy up in the branches. Another friend used to come over and we’d each find a comfy chair and a good book and read in companionable silence!
AA: What are your childhood favorites?
GZM: When I was little, it was the Dr. Seuss books and the Winnie the Pooh original books by A.A. Milne. The original Winnie the Pooh stories were well written and not just the super-simplified little books they are today. A.A. Milne wrote paragraphs that could go on for half a page! When I got older, I loved Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, the Meg stories and any of the “girl detective” books. We didn’t have “YA” books back then, so I read anything with a ghost or a vampire in it, including Dracula, Macbeth and Edger Allen Poe. I also read books of ghost stories, and anything I could find about King Arthur.
AA: What or what drove you to become a writer?
GZM: There were stories that I wanted to read that I couldn’t find in the bookstore, so I decided to write them myself! I started out writing what today you’d call “fan fiction”—stories based on the characters from TV shows and movies, creating new adventures within the framework of someone else’s world. My friends enjoyed reading them and wanted me to write more, which taught me that I could entertain people. Eventually, I started writing my own worlds and characters and just kept on going!
AA: What’s the title of your newest book? Where can readers find it?
GZM: The newest book is the first in a brand new series. Ice Forged is Book One in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. It’s available in bookstores internationally, on Amazon, and on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—and soon, it will be available as an audio book, too! The second book, Reign of Ash, will be in stores in April, 2014.
AA: How do your ideas take form? What do you find inspirational?
GZM: Ideas come from everywhere. I might watch a TV show on The History Channel or on The Discovery Channel or somewhere like that and see something about an old object, a long-ago war, a biography, etc., and I get thinking, “What if…” The same thing happens if I am reading something historical, or visiting a historic site. All kinds of little things create ideas, and I build off those ideas for bigger things. I find historic sites and learning about history, myth and legend to be very inspirational!
AA: Are you working on anything new?
GZM: I just signed a contract with Orbit Books for two more books in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series, so I’m working on the next book, War of Shadows, for 2015. And every month, I bring out a new short story on Kindle, Kobo and Nook in two other series, my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures series and my Deadly Curiosities series. I’ve got some ideas I’m also working on for an urban fantasy book and some steam punk stories, so we’ll see what happens!
AA: What do you enjoy most about writing?
GZM: I enjoy sharing the characters and stories in my imagination with other people and having those creations come to life for readers. That is so much fun!
AA: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
GZM: Never give up. I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 14, but my first book wasn’t published until I was 45! Sometimes, life gets in the way for a while. It’s a business with a lot of rejection, but if you believe in your stories, you’ve got to keep trying until you break through.
AA: Your daughter’s coming to UNC in the fall. Does this mean you’ll be in the area for any projects or book signings?
GZM: I hope so!