Jamie comes to Worldhoppers with a prequel short story, Striking Out. It occurs 5 years before his debut novel, Toric’s Dagger; which is the first of four in his bestselling Weapon Takers Saga.
Striking Out gives you a taste of Jamie’s epic fantasy writing style. I hope you all enjoy the Q&A as much as I did and make sure to check out Jamie’s featured author page.
Ryan: Jamie, thanks for joining us as a featured author of the week and providing our readers with your short story (and Saga prequel) Striking Out. In your introduction, you talk about your inspirations from older fantasy fiction – Lord of the Rings, Belgariad, and Dragonlance. Then you moved through the 90’s and 2000’s. More recently are there things that you draw inspiration from, whether it’d be writing or film media?
Jamie: There’s no doubt you’re influenced by the things you read and watch. In fantasy fiction I’m a big fan of what tends to be called ‘grimdark fantasy’ – I love the writing of GRR Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence. My family loves watching The Walking Dead which has a pretty similar tone to it.
I feel what these writers have done is made fantasy reading feel more realistic – whether you want to call that cynical or dark is up to the reader. An issue you could get in earlier fantasy was characters who were inexplicably heroic or villainous, and worlds that didn’t always make sense. And we went along with it at the time. But now as a reader I expect a more immersive experience – even though it’s in the spec fic genre, if I don’t believe in the character or world, I’ll get thrown out of the story.
As far as my series is concerned, while I certainly didn’t aim to write an out and out grimdark story, and I wanted to keep the feel of those epic fantasy classics you mention, I worked hard on setting and character so that it is more than a set of generic fantasy characters in a generic fantasy land.
Ryan: I love how you included how much the world of publishing has changed and how exciting the future of indie can be. The technology exists to be your own publishing house; but balancing time can be difficult. Do you have a specific routine you keep, or do you go about your business of writing a certain way?
Jamie: Well all of that has been a huge learning process for me just like everyone else in indie publishing. Early on I recognised that being an indie writer also means you are an indie publisher and I think you need to embrace that and learn some of the business side of things.
The other issue I’ve had which again will be similar for lots of writers is transitioning away from the ‘day job’ – which for me was teaching. Managing your time and working out what your time is best spent on is part of the learning curve.
I’m always loathe to talk about my routine because I don’t think it’s the most sophisticated out there. What I would say to anyone thinking about going down this route is focus on writing the best series of books you can and then everything else flows from that.
Ryan: I love the concept of the Weapon Takers Saga – each book focused around the group’s quest to locate a specific weapon and the other happenings in the world of Dalriya. For someone just being introduced to your work, how else would you describe the Saga?
Jamie: Yes, the quest for the seven weapons (that takes place over four books) is a really useful way to hold the plot together. The heroes always have that as an overall objective, and it makes for an intense storyline. Built around that are situations where friends need to be rescued and enemies defeated. Then you also have other perspectives which show what is happening in other parts of Dalriya. The enemy, the Isharites, begin conquering and threatening the various kingdoms of Dalriya and this demonstrates what is at stake and why those weapons are so important. One reason I called the series a saga is to get across that the story includes a wide range of characters in a wide range of locations – really, the classic epic fantasy model.
Ryan: Since you published The Giants’ Spear and completed the Weapon Takers Saga (congratulations), should we expect future writings to happen in the history-rich world of Dalriya? What is on the horizon for Jamie Edmundson?
Jamie: Thank you. In my notes at the of The Giants’ Spear I mention that Dalriya is so rich that I could easily set another series there and I do have an idea for a story set some time after the events of series one. That said, The Weapon Takers Saga was such a complicated project to write that my poor brain really wanted a change and so my next series is going to be more focused on a single character. If I tell you that this character is a three-headed ogre, you might realise that this will be a much more light-hearted/humorous series, but still in the fantasy genre.
Ryan: You and I briefly talked about how influential the Weis & Hickman Dragonlance books were for both of us. Who’s your favorite character, and why?
Jamie: Definitely, I still vividly remember choosing Dragons of Autumn Twilight from the bookshop after reading the back-page blurb. One of the things that actually made me choose it was it described a group of characters and I still love fantasy books that have multiple points of view.
Hmm, but you want a favourite. I remember my friends all liked Raistlin because he was a complex character of evil alignment. Perhaps a progenitor of grimdark! But I had a soft spot for Tanis Half-Elven. The whole idea of being a half-elf was cool to me, plus he could fight with a bow and sword and he had a bit of a tortured leader vibe going on.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to answer these questions, I really enjoyed it!