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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

GUEST POST: Keeping Epic Fantasy Fresh By Gail Z. Martin


I love epic fantasy with all its sword and sorcery, magic, castles and intrigue. As much as I enjoy the classic series I grew up with, I realize that the world changes and the way we tell tales should change with it. So as I continue writing my fourth epic fantasy series (Assassins of Landria), here are some things that I try to keep in mind.

Many readers don’t have the time or inclination to dive into massively-thick novels. While they’re home during the pandemic, they may be juggling working remotely, having more family at home all the time than usual, remote learning for children, or just the stressed-out attention span limitations of these trying times.

While some readers welcome immersing themselves in a really long book, others can’t muster the focus and concentration. That’s why my newest series, Assassins of Landria has books that are about half the size of my traditional epic novels. They’re lighter, funnier, with fewer points of view and interbraiding plotlines, and a smaller cast of characters. They’re also buddy-flick style, with a lot of banter. My goal was to provide epic feels without the epic length.

I also try to approach the cast of characters with a fresh eye. A lot of classic epic fantasy limits women to roles as wife, mother, servant, and paid companion. Yet the historical record shows that many women went to war, took up arms to protect their villages, and carved out roles for themselves beyond home and family. The same is true with LGBTQ and non-binary characters. Once again, history provides many examples of real people through the ages, figures who have been too often overlooked in the most familiar retelling but who existed and from whom we can draw ideas.

Since my study as a history major was Western European Medieval history and my own ancestry comes from that part of the world, my books’ fictional settings tend to resemble that area in topography, economics, political systems, technology, etc. But the historical record is clear that throughout history there were travelers, merchants, and others of many ethnicities present in Northwestern Europe, so the Middle Ages weren’t nearly as ‘white’ as our movies and TV shows tend to present. An ethnically varied cast of characters is actually more historically accurate.

At every age in history, there were people who held a range of views about social, cultural and political beliefs and actions that were common in their time. That includes topics like slavery, persecuting witches, forcing religious conformity, and abusing the power of a title, position or office. Showing characters who oppose such things, even if they are in the minority, is not retconning the past, but rather acknowledging that humanity has never been in full agreement on anything.

By diving deeper into real history and going beyond the broad-brush overview, we can find a much richer, varied and more interesting—and historically accurate/representative—source of inspiration than in turns keeps epic fantasy fresh and appeals to a broader group of readers.

What’s new? Plenty! Sons of Darkness (Night Vigil Book 1) and Inheritance (Deadly Curiosities Book 4) are now on audiobook. Monster Mash and Creature Feature are the newest Spells Salt and Steel books. Witch of the Woods and Ghosts of the Past are the newest in the Wasteland Marshals series, and Black Sun is the latest Joe Mack Adventure. Coming soon: Fugitive’s Vow (Assassins of Landria Book 3) and Reckoning (Darkhurst Book 3).

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new guest blog posts, giveaways and more! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour at www.GailZMartin.com



Official Author Information: Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. She and co-author Larry N. Martin write the Spells Salt and Steel, Wasteland Marshals and Joe Mack Shadow Council Archives Adventures. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow series.

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