Fantasy author Gail Z. Martin told Tor.com that her latest novel, Dark Haven, is book three in the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, in which Martin wanted to explore what it would be like to live in a society where the existence of ghosts and immortal beings was an accepted fact.
“The central idea that fascinated me originally with the series was thinking about how it would change our society if: one, ghosts were an accepted fact; two, magic was taken for granted; and three, vampires and other supernatural beings were real and recognized,” Martin said in an interview.
“So I will often take a common occurrence—like a funeral, or a holiday meal,” she continued, “and think about how those elements would change the culture and the practice. I also draw a lot from world mythology for ideas and then mix and adapt concepts. And I draw from real life—I’ll find myself in the middle of something and think, ‘I wonder how that would work if we were in my world?’ And then I go think about it.”
The central conflict of the first two books in the series has been resolved, but the Winter Kingdoms will never be as they were. “In Dark Haven, the effects of Jared the Usurper’s reign of terror strike at the stability of the Winter Kingdoms,” Martin said. “Undead forces align against Lord Jonmarc Vahanian of Dark Haven in a struggle for power between mortals and the [vampiric] vayash moru. King Martris Drayke prepares for war against rebels still loyal to Jared. Isencroft is on the brink of civil war. Only one thing is certain—the Winter Kingdoms will be changed forever, and innocence is the first casualty.”
Martin was a history major in college with a special interest in medieval European history, and she’s made a lifelong study about the medieval and early Renaissance periods…all of which comes in handy when writing an epic fantasy. “As I’m writing, I look up elements that I need, such as specifics about battle strategy, weapon range and capabilities, etc.; I also check word etymology to keep the word usage reasonably accurate to the period,” Martin said. “On the other hand, the narration and dialogue need to be comfortable for modern readers, and I’m also writing about an alternate universe, so there’s some wiggle room because it’s not the literal historical world.”
If Martin had to pick a theme for the book, she said it would be loss, grief, vengeance and restoration. “With an understanding that ‘restoration’ doesn’t always mean putting things back the way they were, but creating a new equilibrium that you can live with,” she said.
Dark Haven takes the reader much deeper into the world Martin has created. “Because of the plot, you experience more of the daily life,” she said. “And the way things are done—whether for a holiday or a wedding or a ritual—vary by location and by whether the participants are living or undead.”
Dark Haven and the next volume, Dark Lady’s Chosen, are much darker and grittier books than the others in the series. “They definitely live up to the ‘dark fantasy’ genre,” Martin said. “It’s a natural progression based on where the plot needs to go. It makes sense that the deeper the reader gets into the books, the more complicated solutions become and the more likely it is that if you fix one thing, you break something else or get serious unintended consequences. That makes it fun to write, but very dangerous for the characters!”