This is part one of the interview with Jamie Maltman. Part two will show on Friday.
Tell us a little about yourself for the readers.
After years in I.T., consulting and businesses, the birth of my first son reconnected me to libraries, reading, and the itch to write. I still do some consulting, but spend much more of my day writing, as well as doing a lot with my sons. We read together, play all kinds of games, watch movies and television, and generally have a blast.
I’m a reader first, and co-host the To Be Read Podcast (www.tbrpodcast.com), where every week I share a little about what I’ve been reading, and discuss a reading-related topic with the other co-hosts.
What is Brush With Darkness about?
Magic returns to a world like the ancient Mediterranean at the time of the Roman Republic. A barbarian warlord channels evil destructive power for revenge on the legions who stole his homeland, and in response a young legionary must rediscover his own creative Talent as the only hope for the Pazian Republic to stop this new and powerful enemy.
It’s the first book of the Arts Reborn series that explores how lives are changed by this reintroduction of magic into a mundane world.
What was the inspiration for Brush With Darkness?
I had always wanted to write a book set in the Roman Republic, or something like it. I’d started on the first version a couple of years earlier, with a lot of world-building, but the story bogged down about a quarter of the way in.
One day I was making up a story on the fly for my son, about a boy who had to sit in class when all he wanted to do was draw, and later found out he could use his creativity to do magical things.
That night I had an aha moment in the shower and marriage of the two ideas came together into what is now Brush With Darkness. Shockingly, the first few chapters didn’t have to change much to fit the new direction, as if that was my subconscious intention all along.
What genre do you like to write?
Historically-inspired fantasy. I borrow liberally from historical periods of our earth and mix in fantasy elements, without the constraints of history. It lets me do as much research as I want, without having to get everything perfect, or feel bad about manipulating the lives of real historical figures.
What genre do you like to read?
Fantasy and historical fiction are my favorites, though I do read pretty widely. Anything that blends the two will particularly catch my interest. I’ve been getting into graphic novels lately too, both with my son and for myself.
Who are some authors who have inspired you?
As a child and early teen: Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and David Eddings.
As a later teen and into university: Colleen McCullough, Terry Goodkind and James Clavell.
Today: Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and Haruki Murakami, though R. Scott Bakker and Guy Gavriel Kay were two that helped push me to get serious about my writing.
If you could dine with a famous author alive or dead who would it be? Why?
Right now, Patrick Rothfuss. I love his writing, he’s awesome to listen to in panels and interviews, and we have a ton in common (no, not the beard, but everything from taste in games and books to the age of our kids and charitable interests).
What do you do to combat writer’s block?
First of all, I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I absolutely believe in inertia. Writing is like staying in shape. If you exercise regularly, it’s much easier than taking a long break and diving back in cold. Those first few minutes, hours, or days are painful. I’ll often try writing prompts and exercises to go off in another direction if I’m feeling especially bad inertia.
That’s not to say I never get stuck in the middle of a project. Usually it means I’m missing something, or went down the wrong path. On the rare occasion where that happens, I might go for a walk or take a shower and talk out loud to myself, playing “What if?” until things resolve themselves, and they always do.
What advice to you have to aspiring authors?
Read a lot, and write a lot. That’s most of what you need to do. Carve out the time to write. Everyone wants more time, but it’s on you to create it. Then get beta readers for your work, once it’s done and you’ve given it at least a once or twice over.
What is your next project?
I’m working my way through the Arts Reborn series, with the second book already out, and three more to come plus related novellas. I’m almost ready to send my novella Kallara’s Song to beta readers. It falls between book II: Blood of the Water, and book III: Winds of Turmoil, which is about half-written as well.