Thank you for taking the time and answering some questions. Our Australian Speculative fiction group has grown to include some very talented writers and we’re extremely excited to have you on board.
You have several published books, your most recent the series, Kalimna Chronicles. With pre-order open from the second book, Fire, can you tell us a bit about the series?
Hey, all. Glad to be here. I love that Australia has a small, close-knit group of spec-fic writers who all try and help each other out. It’s wonderfully inclusive and there are some amazing authors.
Thanks for asking about the Kalima Chronicles. I sweated blood over those! It’s a sci-fantasy trilogy set on an Earth-colony world. It came about because of two circumstances. One, I stupidly sent my husband and son on a weekend blacksmithing course. They came back covered in coaldust and keen to buy a forge.
I can’t complain too much, though, because they made me the MOST awesome sword and dagger set to match those in my books.
Second was the fact that I’m a geologist, originally. And, as I was staring at my coal-dust-covered husband, I suddenly wondered what a society would be like if you had a colony planet with no history of life in its geologic past. The things we take for granted – vast iron deposits, coal, oils, plastics, concrete, lime, flint, chalk…so many things that are the building blocks for our civilisation – ALL of them exist only because we have a 3.5billion year history of life on this planet. Yes, even the big iron deposits are a result of life, believe it or not. It’s a long story (geological time pun intended).
So I set up a world that had been terraformed to have life now, but had none of those resources. Then I isolated the colonists from the dying Earth for 500 years to let them stew in their own idealistic, peaceful feudal world.
Then I threw in a newly-discovered iron deposit and sat back to watch the fun.
Wow, didn’t that upset the politico-economic system!
Poor Alere, the protagonist, is thrown in the deep end. She has failed at her birth-role of being one of the rare telepaths that help keep the peace as diplomats. But she’s a fine swordswoman and martial artist. And she gets dragged into the political arena and forced to try and stop Kalima’s first ever war.
Things go badly. Really badly.
What is that helps to inspire your writing?
I have a series of causal loops in my life, I’ve realised. I trained as a geologist, so I wrote a world and magic system based on geology. I do martial arts, so my protagonists are martial artists. But Alere is also an expert archer, and I wasn’t – so I went and learned archery. Now I shoot longbow and horsebow left and right handed. In my Shadows trilogy – an urban fantasy set in Australia – Rowan throws knives. So, I had to learn that, too.
I guess you could say the things I do inspire the characters I write. And the things they do inspire me to learn new stuff – all of which ends up in a book.
Your website says to watch for at least three new books, two of which are the newest Kalimna Chronicles books. Can you share any inside scoops?
FIRE – the sequel to IRON – is just about to hit the shelves. 3rd of March. And STEEL should be out sometime around July. Needless to say, Alere and her companions don’t have an easy time of it. All three books explore themes around freedom and family and how to have both – or not. FIRE (not giving spoilers) sees Alere confronted with the reality of the slave economics of a neighbouring country.
More bad things happen. A lot of people die.
But, on the up side, my husband literally whooped and punched the air at the big climax scene, so I’m pretty sure I got that one right.
My other pet project, a tapestry novel named “Blackbirds” (which I’ve just finished writing), is set in the same universe as the urban fantasy Shadows trilogy. It’s an origin story set in 1486 London. That was a huge challenge to write. For many reasons.
You run a full time business, are a wife and mother, into martial arts, archery, writing, reading, belly dancing and play musical instruments. Is there anything you can’t do? How do you structure your time to fit it all in?
I really suck at golf. I don’t have the patience to master it. 😊
Luckily my son is out of school, now. It was a lot harder when he was still at school. I initially wrote the 80AD series for him, because he’s dyslexic and couldn’t deal with reading huge fat books like the later Harry Potter series. He loved the 80AD series and now devours e-books constantly, so I think that was parenting done right.
After those books (which did crazy-well with about 400 000 downloads last I counted), I was too busy for a few years to do much. But their success convinced me that maybe I should actually learn how to write properly. So I’ve devoted the last six years to improving my craft skills – in between working, martial arts, archery etc etc.
I guess I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic and very deadline-oriented. I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve and DO things, constantly. I write or edit most evenings here and there. Even if it’s only for half an hour, at least it’s something. And I watch youtube videos or listen to podcasts on craft training ideas when I’m on the walking machine.
I must admit my belly-dancing is restricted to the lounge room these days. With Shakira turned up loud and the curtains drawn. The rest of the things I dabble in when I have time. I thrown knives most afternoons after work, though. Great stress-relief. I’m having some time off full-contact martial arts due to injuries. More time to write!
Oh, and I just bought a beautiful new lute and am learning that. It’s a slow process. Medieval tablature is…challenging. And there are thirteen strings, for chrissake!
What has been the best money you have spent on your writing career?
In terms of the most enjoyable spend, it’s always going to conventions. Finding your ‘tribe’ is so energising, even for an introvert like me. I always learn a lot from the panels and workshops. Failing those, bar-con is great. I get to spend time with intelligent, well-read people who have thought-provoking viewpoints on the world. And many other worlds. Or parallel worlds, even.
Plus I get to give my “Fight like a girl – Writing Fight Scenes for Women” workshop quite a few times at cons this year, and that’s always a blast. (Shameless plug) Come along! Play with swords. Learn how women handle violence differently from men. It’s true. We do.
If someone was to write your biography, what would the title be?
Bahahaha. If you ask my husband, he’d probably call it… ‘Just chill for a moment, would you?’
But I’d probably call it… ‘There’s just not enough TIME, dammit!’
Can you give us all the details on where to follow you and buy your books?
Find me on my website: www.aikiflinthart.com
You can sign up for my guaranteed non-spammy email (because I’m often too damned lazy or busy to send out annoying emails). That will let you know when new books are coming out or workshops are happening.
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aiki.flinthart
And on Twitter as @aikiflinthart
And Instagram as AikiFlinthart.
Though I’m a bit sporadic on those last two.
Books are available at all good online retailers, and as print on demand from Amazon (although their print quality is a bit dodgy at the moment), so POD from any other retailer is probably a better bet!
Sci Fantasy… IRON universal link: https://www.books2read.com/u/31xdJr
Urban Fantasy…Shadows Wake universal link: https://www.books2read.com/u/md0X0R
Portal Historical Fantasy…80AD Book 1 universal link: https://www.books2read.com/u/4AYAJJ
Thanks for having me.