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Interview: Jamie Ibson

Greetings all

In honor of the upcoming release of Keen Edge of Valor, I thought I’d provide some interviews of the authors in the anthology throughout March. Today, we start with Jamie Ibson, who actually is one of the reasons I got started with New Mythology Press.

Jamie asked Chris to do an anthology involving altered humanity. That was We Dare, and I have a fun story in there (And a fun story about that fun story). Anyway, others had asked as well, including James Young and his magnificent Phases of Mars series of alternate military history, of which I have the honor to be in all three.

But these other anthologies prompted me to ask Chris, may I do an anthology of fantasy stories? That became When Valor Must Hold, and from that I have ended up here with New Mythology.

OK, enough about that, on to the interview.

Jamie Ibson

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.
Jamie ibson
Jamie ibson

Kevin Ikenberry and Michael Z Williamson have taught me more, directly, about the craft of storytelling than anyone I can think of.

More generally I grew up reading D&D fantasy like the Forgotten Realms books, SF off my Dad’s bookshelf like Robert Heinlein, Gordon R Dickson, Spider Robinson, and Joe Haldeman.

These days I often find little aspects of gaming I find intriguing – for example, using crystals to power magical effects in the Westlocke stories (ed. note: You can find the first two in Songs of Valor and Keen Edge of Valor) comes directly from a Fridge Horror moment playing Skyrim where I was slaying wolves left and right, charging up my soul gems, and went “wait… doesn’t this make me the Fantasy equivalent of the machines from the Matrix?”

“Creators” is a great non-specific term and some of my favorite YouTube videos are of self-made musicians like Leo Moracchioli, who is an absolute maniac in Norway pumping out a new heavy metal cover song, with video, every Friday. His music often accompanies me as I write. He plays a bajillion instruments, sings, growls, records, produces, edits video, and generally is only not a one-man show when it comes to bringing in guests or going on tour.

I’m also heavily into mashup songs, where an artist will take, say, the Ghostbusters theme song and overlay the Gangnam Style lyrics to it and it’s genius.

Book-wise, falling in with the CKP crowd has been tremendous. With all the foolishness going on in the world, having a regular Saturday night video call with friends literally all over the globe, with conversations that sometimes last 6, 7, 8 hours has been a boon to my mental health.

I became a creator in the first place at LibertyCon 30, when I learned it wasn’t nearly as impossible as I believed it to be. I chose to create because  I found my people. Science fiction and fantasy nerds are best nerds.

Fingers crossed, I would like someday, perhaps someday soon, to narrate one of my own works.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I work at home. Used to be in the attic, now it’s in a room on the 2nd floor of the house. I’ve got two scratching posts to my right, my bar fridge to my left, my RPG gamebooks over my left shoulder and my RPG figures/miniatures in a cabinet over my right shoulder.

I was originally in the attic, but the floor up there is uneven and I found the ergonomics was putting me in for massage and chiropractic more often than I’d like. The floor literally dropped 4” over 15’. (That’s bad.) The floor in here is much more even.

Gizmo Helping
Gizmo Helping (Jamie needs all the help he can get)

As I mentioned above… Leo Moracchioli, Holocene, and First to Eleven for covers. DJ Schmolli, DJ Cummerbund, William Maranci, Bill McClintock all do mashups. When I’m feeling nostalgic I might listen to Soundgarden, Perturbator, Foo Fighters (especially their live stuff, especially Monkey Wrench featuring Kiss Guy), or electroswing like Caravan Palace.

Cats exist in my working environment – Naomi the ninja, Miss Belle, Floofiest Of Her Name, and Gizmo, the new kitten.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I like lots of different cultures in my writing. I currently plan to put each of the four (five?) Myrmidons books on a different planet with a different… Terran Ancestry, if you will. Urbicide was set on Montoya, in La Republica Del Escobar, which gave everything a distinctive South American Spanish tilt. Disavowed will be in & around the hive city of New Athens, in the Hellenic Cluster, so it’ll be Space Greek. Other destinations will include Space Russia, Space Japan, and probably Space Canada.

I think I do my combat scenes well. I’m 40, and since the age of 17 I’ve only had 1 year where I wasn’t wearing an infantryman’s uniform or a redcoat (ed. note: he’s Canadian, so by redcoat he means the RCMP).

I’ve been in fistfights, I’ve trained for firefights, I’m a good scrapper and good with a firearm. I try to keep my fight scenes tight and chaotic but accurate.

We Dares 1, 2, and 3
We Dares 1, 2, and 3

I’m very proud of the We Dare anthologies. Number Four is in the closing stages right now, and the feedback from them has been great, both from readers and from my contributors.

We Dare 1 was the first book with my name on the cover, and I had no idea what I was doing. Between them and last year’s And Then It Got Weird, I’ve edited more than 70 short stories, have generally had very good feedback from my contributors, and I think we’ve released a really great series of anthos featuring some really great authors.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

Hah, I am my own Lex Luthor. I struggle with self-doubt, anxiety, impostor syndrome, and have trouble focusing. So I’m not as productive, word-count wise, as I’d like to be.

Gizmo Gaming
Speaking of cats…

Sometimes, some very rare times, I can focus like a laser and I can bang off 4000+ words in a night. Others I’m like a cat chasing a disco-ball’s worth of little red laser lights and I’m so scattered as to be useless.

I wouldn’t say failures, so much as sticking points where I’ve gotten jammed up. And in those cases, I have some pretty great friends I can go to with a problem and say “So… how about this?” and they’ll say “Oh, do that” and boom, they can see to the heart of the issue pretty much immediately. I have really smart friends.

I overcome slow points a number of ways. Grind through, sprint, dictate, change the subject… curse Lex Luthor and his inability to focus…

Urbicide
Urbicide

I’d tell new writers, when getting going, find something you want to create for yourself and focus on it like a laser.

To date, I’ve written one 4HU novel co-written with Jason Cordova, another with Casey Moores, one in Christopher Woods’ Fallen World, and Myrmidons Inc: Urbicide. Getting going as a noob is difficult and I likely would have enjoyed greater sales and success if I had, say, written three Myrmidons books first before branching off in some other direction.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created: Brendan Fraser to voice Bellerophon. He’s brilliant in Doom Patrol and I love him to pieces
  • Favorite Muppet? Pepe
  • Belle
    Belle

    Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Bill McClintock. (Check out his “Slipshack” mashup of Slipknot and the B-52s, it’s wild)

  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer, because we live in the Maritimes now and I have a 9’ pile of snow in my back yard.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wolverine
  • Best Game Ever? Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Lol, I dunno man I was born in 81 and the cartoons I grew up on were pretty great…
  • Do You Have Pets? Naomi, Miss Belle, and Gizmo.Favorite Weird Color? Michelle has a gorgeous Victorian gown made out of a… I think it’s called taffeta, where it shimmers between brown and green. The effect is amazing.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? Michelle gave me a pen as I embarked on my writing journey that simply says “Believe” on it. (See Lex Luthor weaknesses above for why that’s relevant)
  • Favorite Sports Team? Team Canada Hockey at the winter olympics
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Optimus Prime
  • Your Wrestler Name? The Frozen Hoser
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? The Avalanche
  • Naomi
    Naomi

    What Do You Secretly Plot? [Redacted]

  • How Will You Conquer the World? [Still Redacted but nice try]
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Weird Al Yankovic, and/or Saturday Morning Cartoons
  • Favorite Historical Period? The Renaissance. People had style.
  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With? Robert Heinlein
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare, I guess? I’m not really a steak guy, I prefer BBQ and burgers and pulled pork carnitas and tacos.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Ranch
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Homemade Nuka Cola with Baron Samedi spiced rum
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Bruce Willis from like, 30 years ago
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? Rock, Paper, or Scissors? (ed. note: Me like rock!)

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

Of all the stories you’ve published, which one is your personal favorite and why?

Rob’s Answer: So. I gotta pick between my babies? Yeeesh.

My favorite might be either the first or the third of the stories I gave James Young for the Phases of Mars.

Gizmo
More Gizmo, because who doesn’t want more kitten pictures?

The first story is the only time the Muse hit me over the head with a Clue-by-4. I literally can tell you only that it was set in 1908 and nothing else, or it gives the story away. The key to that is the final word, which I used only once in the story, though James quite rightly initially pushed for me to use it throughout as editor.

The third was the only story I’ve written in the time period I’ve actually studied, Anglo-Saxon England. It was a retelling of the Battle of Maldon, with some reconsideration of Byhrtnoth’s “ofermod” and the strategic challenges he faced. Oh, and there’s a plausible way the English could have won.

I could say the story I sent to Jamie for We Dare, but that’s mostly because of the story about the story, which he and I still tell. Just give us a beverage…

There’s the story I gave to Kevin Steverson for his Salvage Title Universe that was totally written to be quirky and fun. Putting in 227 band name and song name references in a short story was a great challenge.

The Ravening of Wolves, frankly the whole Foresters series, proved to me I could do this job.

I’ve skipped over a bunch, and each of them has a particular reason for being precious to me.

I think, though, I have to say A Lake Most Deep. Yes, it’s my first book and it’s flawed for many of the common first book reasons. But I wrote it in a really down place in my life, and I’m not entirely sure where I’d be or even if I’d be if I hadn’t written it.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Conventions are on hold until we can cross into the USA without needing to invest in covid tests. Generally speaking, I go to LibertyCon, went to FactoryCon last October, and hope to attend FantaScis, Superstars, and maybe LTUEs going forward? We’ll see, that’s a lot of travel from the frigid north.

Do you have a creator biography?

Jamie Ibson is from the frozen wastelands of Canuckistan, where moose, bears, and geese battle for domination among the hockey rinks, igloos, and Tim Hortons. After joining the Canadian army reserves in high school, he spent half of 2001 in Bosnia as a peacekeeper and came home shortly after 9/11 with a deep sense of foreboding. After graduating college, he landed a job in law enforcement and was posted to the left coast from 2007 to 2021. He retired from law enforcement in early 2021 and moved clear across the country to write full time in the Maritimes. He is married to the lovely Michelle, and they have cats.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

What are you doing now, that much-younger-you never would have guessed you’d love?

(Me, cooking/turning into a foodie)

Rob’s Answer: Oooh, great question. For me, it might actually be writing itself. I started this job at 46, having never really written anything other than academic stuff, having never really done anything creative. I didn’t think I could.

Name two of your most-favorite niche genres, whether that’s within SF or Fantasy or Other…

(Examples: Cyberpunk SF, noir mystery, First Contact SF, military fantasy)

Rob’s Answer: Noir/hard-boiled mystery is probably the genre that fits into everything I write, no matter the other genre.

* * * * *

What a fun interview. Many thanks for Jamie fighting through the helpful assistance of his cats and providing me this to share.