Today I am so pleased to welcome Morgan Brice to Joyfully Jay. Morgan has come to talk to us about her latest release, Witchbane (which I reviewed earlier this week and loved). She has also brought along copies to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Setting the Stage for Love, Magic and Murder
How does an author pick a city as the setting for a novel—and match up local lore and urban legends to make the supernatural threat feel real?
Here’s the quick recap for Witchbane: Seth Tanner and his brother Jesse’s fun evening debunking local urban legends ends with Jesse’s gruesome murder. Seth vows revenge on Jesse’s killer–too bad the murderer has been dead for a hundred years. Seth uncovers a cycle of ritual killings that feeds the power of a dark warlock’s immortal witch-disciples, and he’s hell bent on stopping Jackson Malone from becoming the next victim. He’s used to risking his neck. He never intended to risk his heart.
The action starts in a small town in Indiana, where legend has it that an old railroad bridge is really a ‘hellgate’—an opening to Hell itself. I didn’t make that part up. If you Google ‘Brazil, Indiana’ you’ll find the hellgate legend, a story that’s been around for at least half a century. I just tweaked it to make it fit the story I wanted to tell. That’s exactly the kind of thing I look for when I’m building a story.
I love to make the places in my stories be essential to the plot. For me, the place is another character, and I want to tell stories that couldn’t happen anywhere else. That starts with looking up local legends and ghost stories, strange happenings and historic disasters. I’ll look for local landmarks and famous people who came from that city, and the pieces of the story begin to fall into place. If possible, I try to visit in person, because you get such a feel for a place when you see it yourself.
Most of Witchbane happens in Richmond, VA. We lived in Richmond for nearly two years, and it’s a fascinating city that is trying to move forward while being very much trapped by its history.
There’s a lot to like in Richmond: beautiful gardens, a vibrant riverfront and trendy restaurant scene, great museums and cool architecture. At the same time, much of Richmond’s past is blood-soaked, and its reluctance to renounce some of that history creates a simmering tension that seems to lurk in the oddest places. I drew on that uneasiness to set the tone for Witchbane.
The legends that are incorporated into Witchbane are part of local lore. The Church Hill Tunnel really did collapse, and local ghost hunters swear that the Byrd Park Pump House and the Pool Mausoleum are haunted. Discovering those local elements is part of the fun for me, because it helps me tell a story that is very rooted in the location. I also think that weaving in that kind of lore makes the story more believable, because it incorporates details readers might have already heard.
As the Witchbane series unfolds, each book will take place in a different city. I’m looking forward to discovering new hidden gems as I look into the ghost stories and legends for each area and do my homework to make sure each new setting gets the vibe right. I hope you’ll come along for the adventure!
Witchbane is the first novel I’ve written as Morgan Brice, and my first M/M romance. But as Gail Z. Martin, I’ve written 19 books in epic fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk and horror. The epic fantasy books take place in completely fictional realms, but the urban fantasy, steampunk and horror are grounded in cities like Charleston, SC and Pittsburgh, PA. In fact, the next book in the Witchbane series, Dark Rivers (coming in a few months), takes place in Pittsburgh. And—sneak peek!—my upcoming new Badlands urban fantasy MM romance series is set in and around Myrtle Beach, SC.
I’ll be a Supporting Author at Gay Romantic Lit Retreat in October, so please look me up and say hello!
Witchbane is available in ebook on Kindle, Kobo and Nook and in print. We’re working on audiobook.
Follow me on Twitter @MorganBriceBook, on Facebook in the Worlds of Morgan Brice group https://www.facebook.com/groups/143333126341151/ and check out the Morgan Brice Books and Stuff board on Gail’s Pinterest page You can find more about Morgan at www.MorganBrice.com
Seth Tanner and his brother Jesse’s fun evening debunking local urban legends ends with Jesse’s gruesome murder. Seth vows revenge on Jesse’s killer–too bad the murderer has been dead for a hundred years. Seth uncovers a cycle of ritual killings that feeds the power of a dark warlock’s immortal witch-disciples, and he’s hell bent on stopping Jackson Malone from becoming the next victim. He’s used to risking his neck. He never intended to risk his heart.
About me: Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions.
Morgan has brought three copies of Witchbane to give away to three lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Wednesday, March 28th at 11:59 pm ET.
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