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Haven on Earth 

Gail Z. Martin is one busy woman. From teaching courses in communications and public relations writing at UNC-Charlotte, to working at her own marketing and consulting firm, DreamSpinner Communications, as well as delivering speeches on marketing topics for small business audiences, you'd think she wouldn't have time for much else. Wrong. She is also the author of the series of fantasy books, Chronicles of the Necromancer, which currently consists of three books: The Summoner, The Blood King, and her most recent, Dark Haven (released Feb. 2, 2009).

Martin will be at Park Road Books on Saturday, March 28, signing copies of Dark Haven. For details, call 704-525-9239 or go to www.parkroadbooks.com. You can also visit Martin's site at www.chroniclesofthenecromancer.com.

Creative Loafing: What inspired you to start writing Chronicles of the Necromancer?

Gail Z. Martin: Well, I've read fantasy all my life, and I decided when I was 14 years old that I wanted to write books. I've worked toward that as a goal ever since. I wanted to write what I loved to read, and there were stories out there, but what I wanted to read, no one was writing. So I decided that I needed to write, and I did.

How do you describe your book series to someone unfamiliar with it?

Vampires, magic, ghosts, action, a little bit of romance and a necromancer, who is a good guy. It's dark epic fantasy.

Can you tell me more about the creatures called "vayash moru" in your novels?

They are my vampires, but I wanted to make the concept fresh. The term vampire has a lot of baggage from Dracula and everything in between. Everybody thinks they know what a vampire is, and lots of authors have their own take on that. So by changing the word, I was hoping to get the breathing space to find my own vampires who have their own culture within the society and who are not just a bunch of bloodsucking murderers. Basically, I don't believe that just being dead makes you a bad person. What you are after death is going to be very similar to who and what you were before you died. So, just by virtue of being dead, being a ghost, being a vampire doesn't necessarily rob you of all moral principles, if you weren't that kind of person before death. Now, if you didn't have any principles before you died, you're probably not going to have any after. So there's a real tension and that tension grows to the breaking point in Dark Haven between the vayash moru, who honor the truce with mortals, and those who want to take some of their superior capabilities and rule. What's fun with the setting is I wanted to create a place where the reality of magic was not in question, it wasn't hidden, it wasn't rumored, it was an everyday fact: Magic is real, and the ghosts were real. Not everybody has the same ability to see them, but nobody doubts that they're there. But how society treats them, whether or not they're persecuted or accepted, and how they relate with the mortals matters.

What kind of research did you do for the books, before you began writing?

It was a combination. I was a history major undergraduate, so I've always loved history and that certainly helps with the medieval parts of the book and getting the setting. It's not Earth in a medieval history sense, so I don't have to hold exactly true to some things, but it is supposed to evoke a late 1400s period, so technology and culture were definitely pieces that I wanted to get right. I've also always been interested in myths and legends and magic, and so I have a pretty eclectic bookshelf of books I've read over the years, with everything from mythology and a wide range of religious elements to elements of magic. And since I do write about a necromancer, death rituals and customs, it's a pretty broad spectrum of reading.

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