I’m a big fan of historical fiction and when it gets mixed in with a good dose of fantasy, all the better! Please welcome Jamie Maltman, author and podcaster, to No Wasted Ink.
I’m Jamie Maltman, from the Toronto area in Canada. When I’m not writing or consulting from home, I’m playing some kind of games (board-, video-, computer- or sports) with my wife and two young sons, or spending altogether too much time talking online about my beloved Toronto Raptors. We love to travel, but are keeping it closer to home while the boys are young.
I’m always reading at least one book, and if I don’t read someone else’s fiction before bed each night, my own ideas won’t let me sleep.
When and why did you begin writing?
Originally? When I was 4 or 5 I started to write my stories down. I typed, illustrated and bound my first little fantasy book around grade 2. I wrote a lot in high school, subverting English assignments to become fiction writing whenever possible, including the start of a novel I might revisit someday.
I started again after my son was born and I started reading to him, and wanting to share not just the stories of others, but my own. The non-kid stories took over soon afterward, and I don’t intend to ever stop.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Fall of 2011, when I made real progress on my first book, by writing daily for weeks at a time. Finishing the first draft of a complete novel probably sealed it.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Brush With Darkness is the first in my historically-inspired fantasy series, Arts Reborn, set in a world reminiscent of the classical Mediterranean, where people believe in myths and gods, but haven’t seen any actual magic in a thousand years.
Simon Baroba is a new legionary in the Pazian army, more talented in logistics and cartography than war. Shadush, Grand Thane of the Scentari, awakens dark elemental magic, and thirsts for revenge over the Pazians that stole his people’s land. When Simon meets Elysia, the intriguing young sculptress who creates works of incredible beauty, she opens his mind to a whole new way of looking at the world, and the threat it faces. Simon must explore his buried creative Talents in order to play his part in defending the Republic from destruction.
It’s about the characters and how their personal worlds are impacted by this return of magic, and how that fits into the wider world. The events kicked off in the first book keep escalating over the course of the series, with book 2: Blood of the Water releasing summer 2014, and book 3 scheduled for the fall.
What inspired you to write this book?
I love history, and the Classical Mediterranean is one of my favorite periods. I had been considering some historical fiction ideas for a while, with a lot of research and picking out interesting setting points for that world. At the time, and completely unrelated, I started telling my very young son a story about a child being bored in school and doodling, but then finding out his doodling had power. The ideas began to collide, and I had just finished reading some books by Guy Gavriel Kay, where he borrows heavily from real history without putting words in the mouths of actual historical figures. Everything came together and the book started writing itself.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I prefer to stay close to my individual character viewpoints so they can experience the world through their thoughts and perceptions. I try to be lean on description, but my readers seem to appreciate the details that are on the page. I definitely keep things moving forward.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Any possible reading of the title ends up being valid. Simon is a painter, and he’ll have to explore that magic in order to face the evil threat to his nation. But he also narrowly escapes that darkness early on in both dreams and reality.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The potential for greatness when people pursue their innate talents. There are other themes lurking under the surface that will be fleshed out more as the series goes on, but I won’t be pointing them out just yet.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not me, but people who have been discouraged from pursuing their art at some point in their life. There are too many I know, but more and more are finding ways to come back to it later in life.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I started reading C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Tolkien’s Middle Earth when I was 3-5 years old, and they instilled my life-long love of fantasy.
Colleen McCullough (Masters of Rome) and James Clavell (Asian Saga) were the first two historical fiction authors who inspired me to look to the past for incredible stories.
Umberto Eco both inspired and terrified me with how much esoteric knowledge you can pack into one book, while delivering an amazing story.
Guy Gavriel Kay, Steven Erikson, and R Scott Bakker are all Canadian writers of fantasy who have created incredible worlds with their own living history, sometimes based on our own, and others as deep and rich as if they were real.
More recently, Neil Gaiman inspires with everything about his work, including his incredible audiobook narration. I hope to do the same someday.
And while I was never a Stephen King or horror fan growing up, reading his On Writing inspired me to actually pursue this crazy calling. And to read and enjoy his non-horror books.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I had a brief mentorship experience with a local writer, Richard Scarsbrook (The Monkeyface Chronicles), who was writer-in-residence at my community library right when I was getting more. After attending his classes, he sat down to read my first few chapters with me. His combination of positive and constructive feedback spurred me onward to finish the book and ultimately publish it.
In the SFF world, Brandon Sanderson is one writer I’d love to have as a mentor, since he’s both a great writer and a fantastic teacher. Or Patrick Rothfuss. Every time I listen to him talk about writing, I’m blown away.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Keri Knutson from Alchemy Book Designs. I saw some of her work from a post on the Kobo Writing Life Blog, checked out her pre-made covers, and saw her portfolio, so I e-mailed her and soon after we were working together. I’ve loved what she’s done so far, and I get lots of compliments on my cover.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write something, anything, all the way through to the end. If you can’t get through your current project, write something shorter first. Completing something, anything, will give you the confidence to write the next thing, or the bigger thing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading, and I love to hear from you! I look forward to sharing more stories in this world, and many more. I’m only getting started. Please join me for a weekly chat about what we are reading and topics related to reading on To Be Read Podcast, I am the co-host of the show and would love to hear from you!
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Published by Testudo Press
Cover Design: Keri Knutson, Alchemy Book Covers