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Stephen Aryan (10.10.2015)
Geschrieben von Judith
Samstag, der 10. Oktober 2015

Interview with Stephen Aryan

StephenAryanLiteratopia: Hello, Stephen! Your fantasy novel “Battlemage” was released here in Germany recently. What can the readers look forward to?

Stephen Aryan: It is an epic story of swords and sorcery, focused around a war that envelops most of the world. The war is the framework of the book which allowed me to tell lots of different kinds of story. So as well as there being lots of big battles with warriors, there is also lots of magic being thrown around with the battlemages. The story is told from three main points of view, but there is also a fourth one that involves espionage and spying.

Literatopia: What characterizes a real battlemage? And what distinguishes him from a sorcerer?

Stephen Aryan: Some of this difference is explored in this first novel, where we learn that battlemages are essentially living weapons.

They are people who have been trained to fight with magic and they don’t really know how to do anything else. Magic can actually be used to do so much more. Those who have skills beyond just battle magic, defending people or hurting people, these magic users are sometimes called Sorcerers. In “Battlemage” there is some information about why magic users are like this and why battlemages are now a rare breed. This theme of magic and how it has changed is something I will explore throughout the trilogy, as well as how magic is seen in other countries in the world.

Literatopia: What is magic like in “Battlemage”? Is it visible at all - e. g. as colourful, shimmering energy? And where are its limits?

Stephen Aryan: In “Battlemage” it’s very destructive and you see different visible types of this used in the war, such as fireballs, lightning and so on, but there are also some nasty things done that only other magic users can see. There are some other very different types of magic, and we see hints of this in “Battlemage”, but I won’t spoil them. There are limits to what someone can do with magic, and there is a cost to the person using magic. We see some of the limits in “Battlemage”, as the battlemages are tested during the war where they have to fight day after day. Using a lot of power every day takes a toll on them, physically and mentally.

Literatopia: Would you be so kind and tell us a bit about your protagonists? What kind of guy is Balfruss? How does Vargus get tangled up in the story? And how can Talandra be a princess and a spy at the same time.

Stephen Aryan: Balfruss is a man who spent many years abroad, working as a battlemage for different countries, helping those in need. In “Battlemage” he finally comes home because the King has put out a request for battlemages to defend the kingdom. He doesn’t realise how homesick he is, and how much he missed his country, but sadly he is now there only to fight, not to relax. So it is a difficult time for him to come home. As well as asking for battlemages, the King needs warriors to fight, so Vargus answers the call and finds himself fighting on the front line. He has another reason to fight which is explored in the story. Talandra is the head of the King’s intelligence network. She directs all of the spies for her father around the world. She gives them their orders and coordinates their strategy. She has an impact on the war through her spies, using them in a variety of ways to cause chaos for the enemy away from the battlefield.

Literatopia: What kind of gods feature in “Battlemage”? And do they really interfere in the war?

Stephen Aryan: The world is very old and I build the history in layers. So several religions have been very popular and then faded into obscurity, and with them the gods also fade as their power is linked. Some gods are popular and therefore powerful, others are almost forgotten, so there is a big mix of different types. Even the gods have rules that must be obeyed, so they meet often to discuss their own mortality and what they can and cannot do to ensure their own survival. I don’t want to say too much more or it may spoil the story.

Literatopia: I suppose that, as a war is under way in your fantasy world, there must surely be action aplenty. How did you go about writing violent scenes to make them look "realistic"?

battlemage ukStephen Aryan: I’ve studied fencing in the past, and am also an archer, so I have some first-hand knowledge of swords and bows. But I also studied good and bad examples of fighting, from films and TV to other books and even comics. I thought about what I liked and didn’t like and I tried to make the fighting exciting, but also realistic so that the hero doesn’t always win and isn’t always the strongest in a fight. Sometimes they might lose because they slipped on the ground and that is all that makes the difference. So there is an element of luck as well as skill in any fight as the unexpected can sometimes happen. I also had to try and bring realism to the magical fights, so there are limits to what one person can do with magic, otherwise every fight could always be solved with magic.

Literatopia: The English edition of “Battlemage” has only just come out as well. Have you received some feedback yet? And how come the book is released in several countries simultaneously?

Stephen Aryan: I’ve had some feedback from readers in America and here in the UK, but not very much yet as the book is only two weeks old. But so far the reviews have been good and people are enjoying the story.

My publisher, Orbit has offices in the UK and America, but also Australia, so the book has been on sale into bookshops in all of those places already. A few other publishers bought the series, like Piper in Germany and Bragelonne, a French publisher. The German release just happened to come out very close to the English version as Piper were very organized. They had designed their front cover even before I saw a cover for the UK version!

Literatopia: When you compare the English and German covers of “Battlemage” - which one do you like better?

Stephen Aryan: It’s very difficult to decide. When I first started writing this book I never imagined it would be sold in other countries, so I feel very lucky to have one cover, never mind two. I like them both and can’t pick a favourite.

Literatopia: You have been active as a book blogger, a columnist, and a podcaster. What does it feel like to be standing, so to speak, on the other side now, to have published something which is judged by other bloggers and reviewers?

Stephen Aryan: It is very strange to be on the other side. When I was reviewing books I always tried to be fair and not to just say that I didn’t like a book. If I had a problem with any part of a book I would always explain why. I think that is very important, but a lot of people hide behind their online names and troll creative people as they are anonymous. They would never say the same to a person if they were face to face. They don’t think about the amount of work and effort that has gone into writing the book and getting it published. So now that my first book has just come out I am very aware of reviewers and bloggers.

Literatopia: To what extent do you keep in touch with your fans? Do you communicate with them regularly, e. g. via the social media? And do you think you may come to Germany one of these days?

Stephen Aryan: I am very active on social media, on Twitter (@SteveAryan) and I try to reply to anyone who comments. I’m happy to talk about the books or other geek stuff like books, comics, podcasts, films and games. I also have a website ( where I post regularly, or if people want they can email me, and my email address is on there. I also have a Facebook page ( where I post news and again try to talk to people. I have already heard from readers all over the world in America, Australia, the UK and it is amazing to think of my book in all of these places.

I would love to come to Germany one day, but as a new writer a lot of people are just discovering me for the first time. Over time when my fanbase grows, and if enough people want me to come to Germany for an event, I would definitely travel.

Literatopia: When and why did you take up writing fiction? And what was your first story about?

Stephen Aryan: I have always liked to write stories, even as a young boy, so I can’t remember what my first story was about. I’ve been writing novels for a long time as well. “Battlemage” is either my eighth or ninth full novel, so I have a lot of old ones in a drawer. It has taken me many years of practice to improve and find out what kind of a writer I am, but now I feel comfortable with my style and I just hope that it will improve going forward in the years to come with more practice.
Literatopia: You wrote on your homepage that you enjoy reading superhero comics. Which heroes do you like in particular?
My favourite superhero character is Batman. The character in the films is quite good, but the character in the comic books is much better. I also love Daredevil, and other Marvel characters like Captain America, so I have been really enjoying all of the Marvel movies and TV shows. I love Arrow and Flash as well, so it is great to have those DC characters on TV as well.

Literatopia: What else do you enjoy reading? And do you have a favourite book/author you would like to tell us about?

Stephen Aryan: I read a lot of comics, but in terms of novels, I mostly read fantasy, horror and science fiction. I have a lot of different favourite authors, many are very well known names, like Stephen King or Dean Koontz, others are less well-known. I also like to try new fantasy and science fiction writers. Three really great fantasy authors who are friends, but their books are excellent, so you should definitely look out for them.

They are Jen Williams, who writes great fantasy adventure novels starting with “The Copper Promise” in her trilogy. Den Patrick, he writes dark, brooding gothic fantasy that is very creepy and exciting. Peter Newman, his first novel “The Vagrant” is really good, it’s sort of a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel but also a SF novel with demons and a broken earth. He’s very clever and he has a very unique style of writing. I’ve really enjoyed reading their books this year.

Literatopia: Are you currently busy writing part two of your “Age of Darkness” trilogy? And could you perhaps give us some hints at what will await us there?

Stephen Aryan: The second book in the trilogy, “Bloodmage”, has been handed in to my publisher and has been proof-read, so the content is completely finished. I can give you a few hints about what is coming next. The story takes place a year after the events in “Battlemage” and main characters are different people. There are some old faces from “Battlemage” so it is not completely new, and some story elements carry through. So each book the trilogy is mostly a self-contained story, but for long-time readers I am trying to reward them with lots of hidden things that new readers will miss.

I’ve also just handed in the first draft of book 3, so very soon I will start editing that. So right now I’m having a short break, then I will get back to work on editing book 3 later this year.

Literatopia: Thank you very much indeed for the interview, Stephen!

Stephen Aryan: Thank you for asking me to be here.

photocredit: Copyright by Stephen Aryan

author's homepage:

zur deutschen Übersetzung des Interviews

zur Rezension von "Battlemage - Tage des Krieges"

This interview was done by Judith Madera for Literatopia. All rights reserved.

Zuletzt aktualisiert: Sonntag, der 24. Juli 2016

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