1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?
I prefer paperbacks, but I’m forced to read e-books because my hands cramp and spasm if I try to hold a book. My Kindle and Kobo cases have built-in stands. I’ve always found hardbacks too cumbersome. (*ducks head and hides*)
2. Pick a genre, any genre!
Just one? That’s mean! I guess it’s a tie between epic fantasy and murder thrillers. Is that cheating?
3. What is the first book you remember reading?
It was one of Dr. Seuss’s. Possibly The Foot Book? I remember being at my nana’s house lying on the bed with her before a nap and reading it out loud to her.
4. What book shaped your childhood most?
This one is easy. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. It sparked my lifelong love of horses and started me on my journey to competitive riding. I was the quintessential horse-crazy girl that seems to exist in every classroom in the world. I had the uncanny ability to bring horses into every conversation…kind of like I’m doing now.
5. When did you first start writing?
In the sixth grade, roughly 35 years ago. Yikes. That math was painful. I have a picture of myself at an electric typewriter, wearing one of my many horse T-shirts, huge glasses, bad hair, and a farmer’s tan.
6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?
Growing up, my family referred to me as the What-if Kid. Most of my what-ifs were anxiety-based imaginings of catastrophes such as something spooking my horse and me falling off and getting injured and everybody laughing at me. Or, what if the teacher calls on me in class and I give the wrong answer and/or people laugh at me? What if my crush catches me looking at them, or what if I say something to them and make a fool of myself? However, other what-ifs were flights of fancy that I finally decided to write down because I couldn’t stop thinking about them, building on them and fleshing them out in my mind. What if a young man with a tragic childhood tried to work his way onto the Canadian Equestrian Team? What if a plane crashed in the mountains and a survivor took refuge in a cave, only to accidentally pass through a portal into another world?
7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?
I’d have to say Ride Every Stride because it was truly a labour of love. It went from the incredibly rough and laughably bad first draft of a teenager to reaching #1 on Amazon charts in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. When I had to give up riding because of my health, it also became a way for me to experience it vicariously, through my characters.
8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?
After a couple decades of working on it, yes, I did. I began Ride Every Stride in 1993 during my final year of high school. The class was called Writers’ Craft and it was taught by Mr. Chiappetta. I didn’t want to do any of the suggested topics for the class’s main project (called an Independent Study) so I asked if I could start writing a book instead. He later told me that he expected me to hand in about 15 pages. Instead, I handed in over 70. I finished the first draft in 1998, between university degrees, and it sat until a couple years after I was forced onto long-term disability. I finally published it in 2015 after many, many revisions.
9. How many books/collections have you published so far?
Three, and I’m working on number four. My first, Ride Every Stride, is a standalone equestrian novel. A Journey Unveiled and An Enemy Defined are the first two books in my fantasy trilogy, Daughter of Venus.
10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?
I’d like to try my hand at a mystery since I enjoy reading them so much. I have an idea germinating in the back of my mind that could take that route. Maybe. Possibly.
11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?
Ride Every Stride required research because it takes place in the real world. In fact, I found the research about drugs and their effects so interesting that I became a pharmacist. A Journey Unveiled and An Enemy Defined, being fantasy, didn’t require as much research, although I did base some of my fantasy races on paleontological fossils, and the Transit of Venus (a rare astronomical event) plays a major role in the plot.
12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?
I completely pantsed Ride Every Stride. I had the basic premise and the main character and that’s about it. With A Journey Unveiled and An Enemy Defined, I had a faint outline in my head. I knew the starting and end points of the trilogy and a basic idea of what had to happen in between, but I made up much of it as I went along. For some reason, plotting always seemed too daunting a task, perhaps partly because I’m indecisive. A Destiny Confronted is my first foray into the world of planning and I wish I’d been doing it from the beginning! It makes things so much easier. I know there will still be ideas I come up with as I’m writing, but I have the major plot points planned according to the traditional three act structure. Highly recommended. Five stars.
13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?
I chose to self-publish and will continue to do so, the main reason being time. My parents are getting older and I wanted them to be around to see my books published. Of course, I hoped they’d witness me being far more successful than I have been, but that’s another story. Also, with my health issues, I didn’t want to spend years querying, etc. I myself wanted to be around to see them published! And I can’t work within a deadline because my health is so unpredictable. When my symptoms flare, it’s not unheard of for me to be unable to open my laptop for weeks at a time, and even when I’m well enough to write, it’s in short bursts with many breaks.
14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)
Narnia, one hundred percent. Talking animals. I mean, enough said. Animals are already my best friends, and to be able to communicate with them? Hmm, although on second thought, what if I don’t like what they have to say? (See? There’s that ‘what if’ again!)
15. Do you currently have a WIP?
I do! A Destiny Confronted is the third book in my fantasy trilogy, Daughter of Venus. I hope to publish it by the end of 2022.
16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.
I’d have to say Jed Carver, the main character of Ride Every Stride. I spent 22 years with him, after all. I put him through some terrible things, yet he persevered and rose above them and never lost his humanity or his kind heart. Plus, he’s a cute horse guy.
17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?
That would imply that I consider something I write to be (or have the potential to be) a masterpiece, and I’m far too insecure to have that much confidence.
18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!
I do, but I don’t want to spoil anything.
19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.
It depends on my mood and on how well I’m able to focus. Sometimes it’s classical music and movie soundtracks, but I most often listen to a playlist of slow songs that features a lot of Louden Swain, Elton John (and Taron Egerton as Elton John), Garth Brooks, U2, Our Lady Peace, and Lady Gaga. In fact, U2’s “Love Rescue Me” was a big source of inspiration for one character’s arc in Daughter of Venus.
20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)
Having fans care enough about my characters and stories to create character art is a dream of mine, as is fan fiction. Until then, I’ve created character portraits using Artbreeder, which I can’t recommend highly enough. It is amazing. Just beware! You can lose yourself in it, especially if you’re a perfectionist.
21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
I’d give two pieces of advice. Manage your expectations and develop a thick skin. I’ve yet to accomplish either.
22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!
I’ve entered five, including one that I deeply regret because the judges’ comments made me want to unpublish my books and quit writing. Have I mentioned that I’m an insecure perfectionist? However, I won a short story contest hosted by the Firecracker Department this summer. I almost didn’t enter because I didn’t think I stood a chance against professional writers and screenwriters. The night before the deadline, I decided to take a chance, and boy am I glad I did! With a maximum of 500 words, the task was to write a story about heroes that included a potato or a license plate. ‘The Boy in the Box’ was based on the real life heroics of Irena Sendler and you can find it on my blog (AccioTofu.blogspot.com).
23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?
Karin Slaughter, Harlan Coben, Leigh Bardugo, Angela Marsons, Linwood Barclay, Kristin Hannah, Patricia Cornwell, and Kate Quinn.
24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!
I’m on Twitter (@AMaltmanWrites) and Instagram (@AmyMaltmanWrites), and I have an underused blog (AccioTofu.blogspot.com). I’m also on Goodreads, and I have a Facebook page that I rarely use because, well, it’s Facebook.
My links can be found at linktr.ee/AmyMaltman, including my author pages in every Amazon marketplace and all my reviews across all platforms for A Journey Unveiled and An Enemy Defined.