With children African, English and American, and myself born and raised in a country of five names, I consider myself… a citizen of the world.
My wife and four children think of me simply as a thorny old man – and thus my symbol…
One of the most influential people in my life was my Godfather. A man of absolute integrity, remarkable intellect, and fine character. He taught me tolerance, and intolerance, together. He showed me that every conflict has are two sides, if not more. It was thanks to time spent with him that I developed a guiding principle in my life, namely that the most fundamental sign of intelligence is the ability to change one’s mind. It is to honor him that I use his name as my pseudonym, yet I know my efforts fall far short of what he deserved.
In my memory, C.G.Ayling lives forever. Is that not as close as any man can come to immortality?
Visit his website at www.cgayling.com/malmaxa.
Welcome to Between the Covers! Why was writing Beltamar’s War so important to you?
In a way, it was a chance to please my mother. In another, an opportunity to immortalize my Godfather, whose name I use as my pseudonym. Finally, it gave me a chance to explore philosophic things that are important to me. Perhaps writing Beltamar’s War was as much about self-discovery as revealing my thought.
What was the experience like writing Beltamar’s War?
The actual writing was very satisfying. The editing, which might well be a bigger part of the overall process, was miserable. In a way the process is like playing a round of golf, which I haven’t done in over twenty years, one good shot makes up for twenty poor ones. The initial writing, is the good shot, the editing is the twenty poor ones.
How did you come up with the title?
As with many things in Malmaxa series, of which Beltamar’s War is the first book, the title is a misleading truth. In Malmaxa, the Seizen fight a ceaseless war. Beltamar is a Seizen Warrior, and finds himself embroiled in relentless battle, more bitter and unforgiving that he had thought possible. Torn from his match and their sole child, Beltamar finds he is actually embroiled within three separate conflicts. The perpetual war between the Seizen and their “Ancient Enemy”, the loneliness and doubt emotional separation from family brings, and a conflict of conscience over an association with a female Seizen warrior. Beltamar’s War also seemed a fitting title, for another reason entirely – in every war, someone ultimately succumbs.
Can you tell us more about your main character?
Beltamar’s War is comprised of multiple interwoven threads. In other interviews, I’ve described Liaju, the principle protagonist of the overall theme – so let me talk about Mithial, one of three protagonists in the war thread. Mithial is a scout whose loyalty lies with the commander of the military force to which he is attached, a female warrior named Ripkira. Though Mithial’s obligation to war is long since fulfilled, he continues to volunteer for service. This devotion to duty has cost him his match and his children, effectively leaving him a lonely old man. However, Mithial is content with his choice because he is in love with Ripkira. Mithial has contrived to serve with her every campaign since first meeting her, yet he has never revealed the faintest hint of his love. Mithial is an attractive hero figure, and a sympathetic one.
What are Mithial’s strengths and what are his weaknesses?
Mithial’s principle strength is his complete devotion to Ripkira. He’ll do anything for her, and often does. Though love for Ripkira is Mithial’s prime motivator, it is also his underlying weakness. He’s spent many years biding his time, in hope of opportunity to be with Ripkira – yet he suspects he lacks the emotional courage to grasp opportunity.
Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?
Beltamar’s War has a large cast, each of whom plays a vital role in the emerging tale of Malmaxa. Imagine a placid pond, surrounded by people, each holding a single pebble that they throw in. The pebble is their character, the ripples it makes modifies the ripples raised by the other pebbles. With that said, naturally there are graduations of importance. Some of the supporting characters are Daniskira, a Symbologist who tattoos the ritual marks of family down the arms of every Seizen. Jalgar, the hunter faced with realization each of his surviving children are somehow more than he. Faroene, Beltamar’s illicit love – plagued by regret, and hope for an uncertain future. Ripkira, the warrior commander – filled with guilt about how she has managed to survive countless battles, while sending untold warriors to their deaths. There are many more, each a crucial thread in the tapestry.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
Sure! Mithial is on a scouting mission for Ripkira where he’s hiding in watch over a valley. Mithial invokes a vision shift, a Hunter rite that allows him to perceive a light spectrum normally invisible, and discovers there are over forty enemy where there should be none. He must remain hidden, try to find their base, then attempt to get back to Ripkira and warn her.
What about page 65?
Page 65… Liaju is performing a cincture, a detailed examination of the entrails of a buck her twin brother has just slain. The Seizen perform cinctures in order to discern potential danger, in the form of disease or infestation. While Liaju is delving in the intestines of the slain animal, her father and twin brother are transporting the carcass to their campsite, where they will butcher it – provided Liaju uncovers no portends of ill during her cincture. The reader also discovers that Jalgar, Liaju’s father, wields a rare, ancient artifact described as a “blade of black”.
Now that Beltamar’s War has been published, what is your next project?
Naturally, I’m hard at work on the continuing story. Though Beltamar’s War weighs in at a respectable 134 thousand words, it merely introduces the reader to the series. Malmaxa is a complex, involved tale – however, it does have an end. I’m also finding Twitter to be a wonderful outlet for creativity, walk with me there for a while, if you wish – you’ll find me as @CGAyling I tend to tweet thoughts of a philosophic nature, many drawn from Malmaxa. I’m also working on an entirely different type of tale – a thriller set in current times.
Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Please visit my website, and blog at http://cgayling.com/malmaxa/ you’ll find a lot of my writing there, along with a generous sample of Beltamar’s War, readable with any web browser. Of course, I’d love you to buy a copy of Beltamar’s War from either Amazon or SmashWords, but only after you try it. Finally, thanks for spending a little time with me today – I enjoyed it, and I sincerely hope you did as well.