Author Spotlight – Jamie Edmundson
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Jamie Edmundson!
Jamie has always loved a good story, whether real or imagined. He grew up in the south of England before moving to the north, where he worked as a history teacher. He still lives there with his wonderful family, but now spends his time writing, mainly about people hitting each other with swords.
Thanks for joining us today, Jamie. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I will choose a non-fiction book here, Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles. The title comes from a phrase used by the war party in Rome, Carthago delenda est. Apparently, the Roman senator Cato the Elder ended every speech in the Senate with this phrase.
The book charts the history of this civilisation from the emergence of the Phoenicians in the Middle East, to the destruction of Carthage by Rome in the Punic Wars. That truism, History is written by the victors, applies to this story, because our knowledge of the Carthaginians comes mainly from Roman sources, their enemies, making a history of Carthage quite a challenge to write.
Some of the things I found interesting were their naval explorations, possibly going as far as Britain in the Atlantic and quite a way down the west coast of Africa. Plus, of course, you’ve got to love the great Carthaginian hero, Hannibal. All in all, it’s a book that’s stayed with me and gave me plenty of inspiration for writing.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
In this kind of game, I am the elf and I am armed with a bow. I let the dumbass barbarians/warriors go fight the orcs in hand-to-hand combat and risk losing their hit points, while I safely take out my enemies at a distance. Neither do I need to learn complicated spells like the wizard. I just shoot my arrows, whilst feeling superior to everybody else.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Well, it’s gonna have to be typed at some point anyway, isn’t it? So let’s not give ourselves more work. But if I am in the planning stage, coming up with ideas, I like pen and paper.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Generally, silence. Music can be distracting. But if I am struggling to write I will put music on just to change things up. I tend to be better with instrumental music – a voice can distract me. Plus, there’s the danger that your wizard starts talking like Morrissey. Actually, that would be pretty cool…
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
I’m more on the architect end of the spectrum. But if you are doing fantasy in a secondary world, which is my current wip, you need to do some worldbuilding first, or your characters are acting in a vacuum. I have a fairly clear overview of plot, but that’s partly because I think about the story in my head all the time. Having said that, you have to be open to changes when you are actually writing. When I was writing The Jalakh Bow I realised that for the sake of the story I had to kill a specific character off in this book, which moved the plot off in a different direction than I had originally intended.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Mainly films. Being an 80s child, definitely the original Star Wars trilogy, including the action figures. Other films I mention from that era are Ladyhawke, The Princess Bride and Hawk the Slayer.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
My wife, daughter and I all enjoy Parks and Recreation – and we are in the process of binge watching our way through the seasons.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Fly to wherever in the world is hosting a live tennis tournament that week and watch the action, then sightsee in the evening.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Not a subject I expend much energy on, but certainly, would the world end if we did away with apostrophe’s?
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
I am three books in to a four book epic fantasy series called The Weapon Takers Saga. A motley crew of heroes have to find seven ancient weapons. They are in so much trouble after Book 3 that I have no idea how they’re going to do it (seriously, can’t see this ending well).
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
Someone hard-working and prolific, who is happy for me to be the ‘ideas man’.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
reigns = royalty
reins = fastened to a bridle for animal direction
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I’d like to see the first human being born. I’m not 100% on my chronology here, but I think I’d also be able to check out the last dinosaur dying at the same time.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I was a teacher for 15 years, so I basically remind myself that I am doing something fun that I love and that I’m very lucky to be doing it.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
The Eagle’s Flight by Daniel Olesen is an excellent piece of medieval-inspired epic fantasy. It’s not underappreciated by those who’ve read it, but not many people have read it yet. Shame about the apostrophe, though.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
Imagine a series with the scope of A Song of Ice and Fire and the pithiness of The Dragonlance Chronicles. It has characters to rival Joe Abercrombie and has the wide appeal of Harry Potter. Now imagine that my series is like that.
Brilliant! Thanks again for joining us, Jamie, and good luck with the release of The Jalakh Bow!
Jamie Edmundson is the author of The Weapon Takers Saga. Book three, THE JALAKH BOW, will be released in April 2019.