Back in July I reviewed The Summoner, by Gail Martin. And just recently I was able to interview her and discuss her debut novel as well as the upcoming sequel.

And come back tomorrow to sign up for a giveaway for The Summoner!

Angela/SciFiChick: For those who haven’t read The Summoner yet, can you give us a brief synopsis?

Gail Martin: In The Summoner, Tris Drayke discovers his rare magical talent as he flees for his life after the murder of his family. He is a Summoner, a mage who can mediate among the living, the dead and undead. In a world where ghosts are real, the undead respect an uneasy truce with the living and an ancient evil is about to reawaken, Tris is the Winter Kingdoms’ last best hope—if he can keep his new-found magic from destroying him.

Angela: Where do you get your ideas for your unique characters?

GM: Sometimes there’s a hint of a historical person in a character; that’s true with one of the minor characters in book 3 that I’m working on now. But most of the time, strange as this sounds, the characters kind of walk on stage in my mind and demand to be written into the story. When I need to know more about them, I picture them in my mind and ask them and they “tell” me. They have very distinct personalities, and I can’t force them to do something that isn’t right for their personality; it wouldn’t work.

Angela: Did you have to do any research, or did you come up with most of your magic lore on your own?

GM: My undergraduate degree was in history; and I took as much medieval and early European history as I could. That’s continued afterwards in self-study with reading books on medieval and Renaissance life, politics, weaponry, etc. I spent a year researching death customs and beliefs when I was working on an early draft of The Summoner. And I read pretty widely on reportedly true ghost stories, vampire lore, magick, goddess lore, mythology; anything that fits what I’m working on.

Angela: Which actors would you choose to play the main characters in a The Summoner movie, if they gave you free reign?

GM: That’s a tough one. I don’t watch nearly as much TV or as many movies as my teenage daughters do, so I probably don’t know the full spectrum of who’s out there! I’ve never really had anyone in mind who was perfect for Tris. For Jared, I always pictured him as a Jim Morrison type of guy; and I think Stuart Townsend could do a great job on the sexy-but-deadly side. Out of the current crop of A-list action guys, Viggo Mortenson or Hugh Jackman would probably be the best fits for Jonmarc Vahanian, mostly because they could get the depth and the painful past right, plus they’re close on the physical build. I’ve never really seen actors who just struck me as “That’s Carroway” or “That’s Kiara.”

Angela: How long did it take you to write The Summoner?

GM: I did it in bits and pieces while life was doing other things, so condensed, probably about 2 years.

Angela: According to Solaris, the sequel, The Blood King, will be releasing in January. What can you tell us about it?

GM: In The Blood King, sequel to The Summoner, Tris Drayke races against time to gain the skills he needs to challenge his half-brother Jared for the throne of Margolan and defeat the dark mage Arontala before the Obsidian King can be loosed from the abyss. Pursued by assassins and caught in a dangerous web of intrigue, Tris’ greatest danger is his own magic. The fate of his kingdom, his lady and his soul hang in the balance. As Margolan plunges into darkness under the yoke of a tyrant, Tris leads an unlikely insurrection, knowing that if he fails, death will be the least of his worries.

Angela: How many books are planned for the Chronicles of the Necromancer?

GM: I don’t have a set number in mind. I’m working on books 3 and 4 now, and I’ve given Solaris about 8 or 9 plot arcs, each of which would take 2 or 3 books, so I hope to be playing in this sandbox for a long time.

Angela: What’s next for you, after the Chronicles? Any other stories on the horizon?

GM: Well, I have quite a few stories in mind for the Chronicles, and at one or two books a year, that could take a while! I’ve got a couple of modern-day non-magical books in draft, although I’m not sure when I’ll get back to them. And you never know when a good character or idea will pop up and demand its own space. For now, I’m really focused on taking the Chronicles as far as possible.

Angela: Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

GM: I’ve loved to write since I was little. My first story really was about a vampire; and since I couldn’t spell yet (I was 5) I had to dictate it to my grandmother. I started out writing fan fiction for the amusement of friends back in high school; actually did a couple of novel-length fan fiction projects just for the fun of it. I wrote about five other book-length stories before I wrote The Summoner, but they fall in the “practice” category. I have an MBA in marketing and for over 20 years, my “day job” has been as a senior marketing consultant, so I do a lot of non-fiction writing on a pretty wide variety of topics. I also write nonfiction magazine articles. I’m pretty happy as long as I’m writing something!

Angela: What inspires you?

GM: I enjoy spending time with my family. I love going to the beach and to DisneyWorld; they are both very relaxing places for me. I like to sit by a pool or pond or beach and think; a lot of things open up for me when I do that. I also get energized reading up on topics that I’m researching, see something that happened in the past and get an idea of how it could be twisted to fit something coming up in the books. Sometimes I’ll also do meditation or hypnosis to get past a difficult plot element.

Angela: Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

GM: There are so many! Tolkien and Rowling and Eddings and Lackey, and David Drake, Steven Brust, Spider Robinson, Joel Rosenberg, Anne Rice, Neil Gaimon, A.J. Hartley and so many more; plus new authors I’m getting to know like James Maxey, Emily Gee, Jeffrey Thomas and Chris Roberson from Solaris. Favorite books would have to include the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, compilations of reportedly true ghost stories, Lackey’s Valdemar series, Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, Carpe Demon and California Demon, Neverworld and American Gods; I could go on for a while.

Angela: What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?

GM: Spare time? I own my own marketing firm, DreamSpinner Communications, which is my “day job” so I write marketing materials and give marketing webinars for companies all over the U.S. and Canada. I also teach PR and public speaking for the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, and I write nonfiction articles for several regional/national magazines. I work out at the gym, and I value spending time with my husband and three kids. Favorite things to do include going to amusement parks, Renaissance Festivals and SF/F conventions, hanging out by the pool and scrap booking the family adventures.

Angela: Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

GM: I hope folks will stop by my web site at http://www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com to stay updated on what’s new with the books, what events and appearances are coming up and more. And I love to hear from readers either on the web site or my MySpace page or via email. Thank you so much!