John R. Fultz: ICE FORGED is a “fresh start” in a new fantasy world, one that is separate from your previous five books (which were all set in the same world). Why start fresh after six books’ worth of fleshing out your first fictional universe? Along those lines, what was your initial inspiration for ICE FORGED and the Ascendant Kingdoms?
Gail Z. Martin:I love my characters and the world I created in my previous series (Chronicles of the Necromancer series and The Fallen Kings Cycle), but the action had come to a natural resting point. I still hope to tell more stories about that world, but there is a natural break in the action for the characters, so it seemed like a good time to go do something else myself for a while.
I got some of the inspiration for Ice Forged and the new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series by turning a few elements of my original series upside-down. In my first series, my main character is a necromancer, with very powerful magic. In Ice Forged, my main character has very little magic, more on the hedge witch level of power. In the Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings books, my main character keeps magic from failing. In Ice Forged, the magic upon which the civilization depends becomes impossible to harness and wipes out much of civilization. In my original series, my main character was wrongfully hunted as an outlaw. In Ice Forged, my main character not only actually committed the murder for which he is exiled, he is unrepentant about it.
Stories, for me, begin with the question, “What if?” What if…a civilization depended on magic like we depend on the power grid—and the magic could no longer be controlled? What if…the only one who might be able to restore the magic was someone exiled to the farthest reaches of the world? What if…the future of the kingdom depended on a handful of convicts?
My other favorite question is, “And then what?” As I think through a plot, I always ask myself, “And then what?” So they have a battle—and then what? So there’s a confrontation with the forces of the opposition—and then what? So they win a battle—and then what? Even after a victory, there are messes to clean up. For me, that’s where the story starts.