Today I am interviewing Miles Cameron, author of the new fantasy novel, Cold Iron, first book in the Masters & Mages series.
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DJ: Hi Miles! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Miles Cameron: I’m fifty-six years old. This morning I ran seven miles, did a ballet class, and then taught a class on sixteenth century swordsmanship. I have a degree in Medieval history, a suit of armour, a family and a cat. I strive to be a history nerd.
DJ: What is Cold Iron about?
Miles: It is about our world. It’s about making choices, whether they are choices about violence or about politics. It is about Aranthur Timos, who is not really the best at anything; in another way, it is about how someone might become a fantasy hero; not ‘the chosen one’ but the right person in the right place. It is also about adolescence and growing up and changing goals and sexuality and all that stuff. I know, I’m old, but I’m not that old, and I have a fifteen year old daughter to remind me how it all works…
DJ: What were some of your influences for Cold Iron and the series?
Miles: What a great question! In no particular order, Ellen Kushner’s ‘Swordspoint’ and the old ‘Thieves’ World’ books and C.J. Cherryh’s ‘Angel with a Sword’ and an incredible non-fiction book called ‘Agents of Empire’ and all the historical events of the Greek Revolution (1821-28) and even Lord Byron.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Miles: The main character is Aranthur Timos. He’s clever, and interested in almost everything; good at things when he applies himself, and not otherwise. He’s rash, almost to the point of foolishness, and this impacts every aspect of his life from dating to fighting. His rashness is actually something I remember all too well from youth. And maybe day before yesterday. Dahlia, who might well be seen as the protagonist, is better at most things than Aranthur and adds a nasty sense a humour and aristocratic birth. Sassan is a thuryx addict and is based on addicts I have known; but under his PTSD and the drug is the noblest of people. Myr Tribane (the General) is a middle aged woman who commands armies and lovers and is probably my favourite character.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Masters & Mages series like?
Miles: Well… The setting is roughly Greece and Turkey, although this is, really really, fantasy. The City, Megara, at the heart of the books is Istanbul and Venice rolled into one place, with some touches of Old Cairo and bits of London and Athens. The time is… Fantastical. It is the dawn of the Enlightenment; think Isaac Newton and the Duke of Marlborough, not so much King Arthur or LOTR. It is more ‘Eastern’ than ‘Western’ with characters and setting in places more like the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia, but then, again, this isn’t Historical Fantasy; this is a whole world. Just as an example of huge differences from our world, almost every polity is a large island; there are no ‘continents’ like Eurasia or North America. Races don’t match up with our own (partially because I wanted to discuss racism without offending anyone) so that we have Byzas people with dark skin and blond hair, and Souliote people with fair skin and dark hair, and Masr people who aren’t’ really like any race in our world at all… there are elves (Dhathians) who are long-lived and tall, yes, but also very reclusive and very humble; and the Jugj who are somewhat like Dwarves but more militant (and modern). Religion is polytheistic and complexas people of the many islands have mixed and matched religions until virtually every individual has a liturgy of her own. All this can be seen and downloaded from my ‘Reader’s Guide’ on my author website, as well as some military details and some beautiful art from my friend Keight McClean. http://christiancameronauthor.com/index.php/the-long-war/artwork-resources/cold-iron-readers-guide/
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Cold Iron?
Miles: Making every sword fight an individual action that explained something about character AND taught a discerning reader a good fencing lesson.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Miles: I hope that they are intrigued by the non-standard ‘Euro-Medieval’ background. I hope they consider analogies between ‘The Pure’ and the politics of the alt-right in today’s world. And I hope they talk about the City…. Megara was meant almost to be a character.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Masters & Mages series? Cold Iron is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Miles: My goal, first and foremost, is to write a good, tight story. I like stories that build slowly; I recognize that’s not the common path these days but I hope that people will enjoy this take. Beyond that, I’d like readers to look at our world and Aranthur’s world and see if there are parallels. And I’d like them to think about how often fantasy novels are a conduit for violence, even extreme violence; Ihave my share of sword fights and a lot of magical pyrotechnics, but I still hope readers will consider the costs of violence and the consequences.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Cold Iron that you can share with us?
Miles: Actually, so far, my favourite quote from this series is from the thrd book, ‘Bright Steel’. Spoiler. Dahlia says, ‘Your wife is a daemon and your sword eats souls.’ And Aranthur says ‘And we’re the good guys.’
DJ: Now that Cold Iron is released, what is next for you?
Miles: I’m writing the last book in the series right now; Bright Steel. It will go to Gollancz in three weeks. Then I work on Historical Fiction for a while; another William Gold book, set in late 14th century Europe.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Cold Iron the Masters & Mages series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Miles: It has lots of sword fights, and meticulously detailed costumes. I’m a clothing nut… also, I really like Middle Eastern and Turkish costume, so there’s lots of it. And different swords…did I mention that?
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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A young mage-in-training is unwittingly pulled into a violent political upheaval, in the first book of this new epic fantasy trilogy by Miles Cameron, author of the Traitor Son Cycle.
Aranthur is a promising young mage. His talents compel him to attend University to develop his abilities further. But the world is not safe for a mage, and after a confrontation leaves him no choice but to display his skill with a blade, Aranthur is instructed to train under a renowned Master of Swords.
During his intensive training he begins to question the bloody life he’s chosen. And while studying under the Master, Aranthur is conscripted to the City Militia. Soon after, he finds himself thrown into the middle of a political revolt that will impact everyone he’s come to know.
To protect his friends, Arnathur will be forced to decide if he can truly follow the Master of Swords into a life of violence and cold-hearted to commitment to the blade.
About the Author:
Miles Cameron is a full time writer who lives in Canada with his family. He also writes historical fiction under the name Christian Cameron.