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Writer On The Road - Melinda Hammond 26th November 2018
#139 Writing Fight Scenes For Women, with Aiki Flinthart
00:00:00 00:55:28

#139 Writing Fight Scenes For Women, with Aiki Flinthart

Aiki Flinthart is the author of the YA 80AD Series (where the downloads went nuts), the Ruadhan Sidhe Series, Shadows Wake, Shadows Bane and Shadows Fate, and now, newly released, Iron, the first of the Kalima Chronicles. She has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards & Writers of the Future Contest, appeared on the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Assn of America YouTube channel – and she writes kick-ass women characters.

In a Zombie apocalypse, you need to be able to shoot without sticking your head out.

Read a Flinthart novel, and you’re immediately transported to a world of  Terracotta Armies, Chinese inventions or Eastern Philosophy. You learn about pyramids, tombs and hieroglyphics.

Think Martial Arts, knife throwing, horse-bows and archery, add a few swords and daggers, mixed with a few myths and legends, and you start to get a faint understanding of what you’re in for.

Did I mention shape-shifters, vampires, aliens, elves and quests? Yes, I’m way out of my depth, but it doesn’t matter. Flinthart is an expert in all things fantasy.

In this episode Flinthart talks us through the psychological and physiological differences between men and women in fights, in between talking all things writing.

You can find out more about Flinthart and her novels here.


If you’d like to win a copy of Iron, send a pic of you wielding an iron (at your ironing board:)) to melinda@tropicalwriting.com.au

Read Full Transcript

Mel: Welcome to another episode of writer on the road today. We're staying here in my beautiful town of Brisbane. Welcome Aiki Flintheart.

Aiki: Hey, thanks, Mel. Appreciate it. Glad to be here.

Mel: We have the beautiful Deb Kelly to thank for this one. And we are going to Fantasyland. Aiki has nine or 10 books published, middle grade and adult fantasy novels.

Aiki: I have been training in martial arts for about 18 years or so. It's good for writing it gives you lots of good fight scenes.

Mel: I had a look at some of the covers on your books and there is this woman and she's holding a knife. I love her expression. She's a kickass female. I like her. And we're going to talk about that today about how to write fight scenes because that's what Aiki specializes in.

Aiki: I've actually been writing my whole life but early on they were really dreadful romances that will never see the light of day. And then my son is dyslexic and he was really struggling with the big fat books like the Harry Potter and things you wanted to read something actually but he just couldn't get through them. So I wrote a series of five books for middle graders portal fantasy as kids get sucked back into a computer game set in 1880 and my sneaky goal was to to hide some real history in there so the kids have to go through five levels in five different countries all said in 88. And while they learn things about India and China and Egypt along the way and it's the fight scenes. But you know after I publish those they were really quite successful. There's been about 400000 downloads but. I then realized I really didn't know what I was doing. I went away and learnt a lot of things and wrote some more books and now the ones that are coming out you know are stronger read better written but the older ones keep selling really well so there's something about them.

Mel: 400000 downloads of middle grade novels is amazing. We're talking digital. Aiki Is an indie publisher. And when I went on your website other than Amazon and your own website where else can we buy your books.

Aiki: They're on all the major retailers so I books and Kobo and Barnes and Noble and a couple of others here are all the major retailers and you can actually print on demand as well if you walk into a bookshop and say I want this book they'll order it for you here.

Mel: On your website there are bonus materials and background research and I was off to China myths and legends. You really have to know an awful lot to be able to write these fantasy novels to build two worlds.

Aiki: The research involved is incredible. The latest one that's coming out I own is actually a science fiction fantasy set on a future colony world but my background as a geologist so I decided to do an alternate world a different world. You've got a really science the heck out of those things you have and do your hard science research and for historical ones you have to do your historical research because someone out there will pick you up on every mistake I guarantee. And I was trying to teach kids something so I wanted it to be as accurate as it could be. So yeah it's fun.

Mel: We were talking about me before the episode or before the podcast today I interviewed Sherilyn Kenyon which is why I reached out everyone for fantasy and science fiction because our listeners want that.

Mel: But what happened when I read Sherilyn. I was really hooked on these stories. These stories are fast paced action. You learn something along the way about a whole new world. Crushing it to make up other languages and words that I'm not even going to pronounce here on the podcast you are right up there.

Aiki: The 80AD series it's actually kind of amazing I get fan mail every day from all over the world like the Caribbean and Poland and India and always it it's adults who say I downloaded these for my son but I absolutely love them I've read them three times but just had a lady in America who read them about five years ago and now has a little boy that she's named after the main character which is so cool.

Mel: You're 15 years martial arts trained and knife throwing and archery.

Aiki: Unless you'reJ.K. Rowling there's a huge disparity between the big selling authors and the rest of the world. So most of us have to unfortunately have full time or part time jobs and I run a full time business and luckily my son has grown up so in the evenings I have time to write and my husband is very supportive.

Mel: You're an indie publisher. You've had 400000 downloads so they download a few dollars each. And even with that amount of downloads you're still not making a full time living.

Aiki: No unfortunately because very early on I had them up for free for a little while and then put money on them after that. I do get money but it's clear it's not as much as anybody thinks because those royalties but Amazon takes a percentage and all the other retailers take a percentage and when you're only selling Abebooks for a very small amount there's not a lot leftover.

Mel: This is where the indie publishers or indie authors have the advantage.The Shadow trilogy three books. Yeah. So you've got them there. They finished and you're starting on your next series with the book coming out, Iron, and it's the first of the Palomar trilogy. The more books you have and every little bit adds up. This is where being Indie has come into their own.

Aiki: It is because the modern trend in Indie authorship is to put out a lot of books as fast as you can. To be honest I'm not sure that's going to work for fantasy because fantasy novels tend to be longer. The Shadows series are 80000 each. Iron is 140000 the two sequels that are already written and their 120 130000 so that's a lot of words and it's quite hard to put that volume out quickly. But that's kind of how the authorship works you just keep putting books out. To be honest I'd rather do a few fewer that are really good quality. And not as much because I'm not dependent on it for a living. I love writing. I don't care.

Mel: Your blog called Warrior Woman: so it's good to have a little slice of life as as she built up I think your writing confidence. And it's interesting because the very first thing that I read was and I've written it down here as a quote and it's something about the middle where you need to find the middle ground between paralyzing lack of self belief and ignorant overconfidence as as a writer.

Aiki: And I thought how very true that is it is it is because when you first start writing you think you know what you're doing and you just pour out the words and then you know if you get negative feedback or you get other writers who go. But what about you start realising what you don't know and you don't know what you don't know. And if you suddenly go oh my god I can't write anymore. I don't know enough and you could get trapped in this cycle of having to be perfect because so many writers tend to be introvert perfectionists. So you kind of have to find that ground where you're still writing and still learning and just be comfortable with the fact that it's never going to be perfect and let it go.

Mel: The advantage of indie publishing is you do make it the best you can and done is better than perfect and later on you can go back and fix it.

Aiki: [00:10:20] Oh yes definitely. And you have to treat that as a good thing because no matter how many times you get it edited because obviously a better book is better if you do get it edited. So I have to say look I highly recommend that you get books edited and any feedback that you get that's positive and useful as opposed to just nasty and negative because everybody gets those and you just have to ignore them. But feedback that actually tells you something like Oh you've made a spelling mistake that's worthwhile take it on board accept it. I actually start my books now where they have a warning to all my American fans because I get a lot of American. I start saying no this is written with Australian spellings. Get over it. Because I got tired of them telling me I was spelling things wrong.

Mel: [00:11:10] I was reading I read all your book blurbs because I was hooked. And one of them at the bottom said if you're expecting shape and shape shifters you're going to be disappointed.

Aiki: [00:11:20] Yes because paranormal at the moment in an especially romances paranormal romance is a big Aperol shapeshifters and vampires and you know there's still some zombies hanging around but I just yeah I didn't go that way. So I just thought I should warn people because no shapeshifters.

Mel: [00:11:40] I got the impression from what I've read yours are a pure fantasy or science fiction that will stand the test of time.

Aiki: [00:11:51] Well I'm hoping so. You know you have to try to do that. You have to kind of minimize the amount of current pop culture references which isn't easy when the shadows is an urban fantasy. There are some in there. But yeah I tried to make the heroine's tough. I've one of the things my husband loves about them is that the relationships in them are equal for women and men are equal. There's no there's no love triangles there's no you know one person being dominant over the other. He he really loves that as a male and this Meteora as a good example of how women can be strong and men can be strong and neither of them has to take away from the other. And that's one of the things I'm really passionate about is writing women as equal and strong without being wimpy walked over and this is cool because you you you have a young audience as well as adults.

Mel: [00:12:52] It's great that the kids are getting these messages I think and the adults amongst us as well. And let's let's kick in now to the workshops that you run because I've got to tell you I am absolutely fascinating. Where do we go if we don't do your workshops I know this story running Mitchell did she get to people.

Aiki: [00:13:11] I'd love to. I want to do one of those as a master class but the liability issues are horrendous. You know look at the moment the workshops do have some demonstrations I have a couple of demos of small techniques that I can use on people that won't hurt them.

Aiki: [00:13:28] And it teaches people things like gun disarms or reactions to techniques that people apply and it's it's hilarious to watch but a lot of it is to do with the physiology the psychology the body chemistry the mental reactions the whole lead up to a fight scene and the differences within how women and men react to violence and handle violence. And it's actually a really fascinating subject. I'm thinking I should do a masters on it or something.

Mel: [00:13:58] I actually think you should write a book on it for the rest of us writers. I was I was enamored I was hooked. Everybody. The workshop is the it's a well I call it a kickass writing scene writing fight scenes for women I want to have go but it's the physiological and psychological differences between men and women fights trained or untrained in martial arts.

Aiki: [00:14:22] Now I take for granted I guess what I know but if I was going to write a fight scene or even an argument scene or even a disagreement scene it is more deeply and give it more credibility and to make it more authentic.

Aiki: [00:14:41] I've had people in the workshops who write straight out romances and there's no action or fights at all but because the psychology and the physiology of leading up to a really full on argument is very similar to the physiology and psychology of leading up to an actual fight scene. It's all applicable.

Mel: [00:15:00] Yeah. Now this didn't come about by accident. Everybody remember we've got to hear clearly she doesn't sleep clearly she's 150 because of all the things that she's done and how she's lived. You had eight years of running workshops for corporates on characterisation.

Aiki: [00:15:17] I was working with businesses teaching them how to understand personality differences in the workplace so that they could hire people to create teams and I suddenly realized that you could apply equally to writing if you're writing an ensemble cast in a book. If you write balanced personalities so that you've got representation like say five different five to eight different personality types or four or eight depending on your team you're appealing to all of the readers then you've got everybody covered. Somebody is going to like one of your characters and it also leads to brilliant conflict about options because you know a leader who's really strong willed is always going to conflict with the really laid back easy going person is going Yeah I don't want to go there go and have your own quest. I go off so many opportunities for conflict and personality profiling it's fabulous.

Mel: [00:16:13] I'm sure I'm not the only one sitting here going where can we buy the book. Can we buy the cheat sheet. No. There's a lot of stuff on your website. Bonus Material for the actual books and the physical research of China and all those places and myths and pyramids and teams and hieroglyphics and we need to go on. But there's nothing on there as yet for writers to be able to go to your website and buy the book because I'm guaranteeing I'm not the only one.

Aiki: [00:16:48] I'm actually at the moment because I've given this Saint's workshop a few times and I've given the personality profiling workshop a few times I'm now at the point where it's refined enough that I know how it should go. So I've actually pitched it to Worldcon in New Zealand in 2020 as well and I'm really hoping that if they take it up I can have a book ready to go with it for 2019 2020 and then that will be available to you know obviously I can't give workshops all over the world as much as I'd love to. Feel free to invite me if anybody's listening. But you know fallling Yeah it means that other writers can hopefully benefit and take away the useful stuff but their fight scenes and their personalities as well.

Mel: [00:17:30] It's screaming out for online courses everybody is screaming you have for webinars if you follow the tradition traditional indie publishing route think Joanne opin think all those guys. If you were that way inclined over time you're going to have an amazing business and your books some of your books are set here in downtown Brissie or I'll be interviewing you in the future.

Aiki: [00:18:06] I've gotten very very very famous.

Mel: [00:18:09] Let's let's talk a little bit more about your expertise in writing because you haven't got this far this quickly without having that expertise as much as you say you started from scratch and you were just arrogant. And we went for it. You have an editing service and you offer some amazing. I guess I'm not an you but you take us through what needs to be done before books published. I'm talking structural with its line. It is just a simple menu script assessment. So what do you really look at your website and what do I need to have all that stuff done.

Aiki: [00:18:51] It's obviously everybody's choice but I don't think you can these days get away with out at least a structural analysis on your book. I know that when I when I first started writing I didn't actually know what story structure was and but because I had read so much as a child and a young adult when I went back and looked at what I'd written in the series I realised I'd actually nailed the structure unconsciously but I was really lucky because I don't think I could have rewritten them all. But when I read it when I looked at shadows wake the first one and applied a structural analysis to it I realised that I missed it and missed a key point that I had to completely rewrite and shift scenes around to make it work. And sometimes you need that external eye to go okay yes you feel like your story is not working here and this is why your scene is too long or you're seen as not paced correctly or you're one of the characters doesn't have a strong enough arc so you do need an external eye and if you can get a lot of it from good beta readers that's a great place to start. But sometimes beta readers love you too much and they don't want to tell you the things wrong because they don't want to hurt your feelings. But as a writer you've just kind of got to suck it up and go yeah I need some help with this. It's not perfect it's never going to be perfect but I'm sure it can be better. And that's where you need the help of somebody who maybe has a few more years of experience. That's really all it is just a few more years.

Mel: [00:20:23] You've got your own coming out as we speak it's going to be a series as well. Have you had the book professionally edited and given your own experience.

Aiki: [00:20:32] Definitely. Because you just can't seem to read it so many times you cannot see the mistakes and I learned a lot from when that one got edited. That was really useful. And the same year you can then take away what's been applied to one book and immediately take it to your next book and apply all those new skills the land to that next book and it's better again. So you require a bit less editing on that book because you now know a bit more about what you're doing. So hopefully the process of getting edited means your next series of books your next set of books you know is tighter and stronger right from the get go and that's it that's the experience of all authors whether they're in the or traditionally published. The more you write the more you get edited the less editing you gradually need because you kind of know what you're doing.

Aiki: [00:21:25] Remember this is a lady who started out not having a clue what she was doing and just wrote rows and rows and rows and very successfully as well because the kids loved you with iron. Is that a series of three and can you tell us a little bit about the same. I'm curious.

Mel: [00:21:41] Iron is one of three. The second one is fire. The third one is steel. They're already written. They got inspired because I made the really stupid mistake of sending my husband and son along on a weekend blacksmithing course and they came back covered in called us and went we we're going to buy a forge so now we have a porch and my husband blacksmiths every weekend. And I can't really complain because I have a matched set of swords and daggers now which is really cool but I'm also a geologist as my original training and I sort of went well. What happens if you colonise a future world which is a standard science fiction trope where you colonize a world and you terraform it. You make it habitable but if that world doesn't have a history of millions of years of life then we have no iron deposits and we have no chalk and we have no coal and oil and all of the things that are associated with millions of years of life. And then if you take that well that has no iron. And you find an iron deposit suddenly the whole social order gets turned upside down and everything's chaos. And it was fun I really enjoyed writing that.

Mel: [00:22:53] We go on a blacksmithing weekend and we buy a each and we now and sets of daggers and swords you're just jealous. This is beyond anything that I could imagine everybody forget that we're writing for last year. I want to know more about science fiction worlds and clearly your deep knowledge of geology. Look I was married to a mining engineer so I've got a fair idea what you're talking about. I'm going to apply what you know and turn it into something like this. This must be huge will you have a big map on your wall someplace.

Aiki: [00:23:34] There's actually a map in the front of the book. So and I spent hours hand drawing maps for you know every city and every part of the planet and it's kind of thing for science fiction science fantasy maps and luckily I actually set my map off to a dead woman. Russell Crowe Patrick Kirkpatrick who is a writer and a cartographer and he gave high praise indeed and he said it's a good map which is for rustlings very high praise. So I figure it's not too bad. But yeah look as a geologist it did make the world building easier in some ways because you know you know that the central conflict it revolves around my speciality which does make writing it a lot easier it's very hard to write something that you have no knowledge of because that really requires a heck of a lot of research.

Mel: [00:24:26] It's been fascinating I've really enjoyed the process of worldbuilding which is so crucial to science fiction and science fantasy and I love the idea like you know my whole experience of this is general Tolkien and his languages and his will and all that kind of stuff so that's that's where my love comes from and I think that's why when I read your what's on your website I get very very excited. Again people want to know what you're doing when it comes to. I don't have a clue how to draw a map. My kids at school would be jumping up and down with excitement if you came in and taught them some of this stuff. I'd love to. Do you think you're going to move into nonfiction and start I know you've talked about you wanted this book for the conference in 2020 which I'm sure they'd be crazy not to take you up on you have you have a whole future in nonfiction for the rest of us will you.

Aiki: [00:25:24] I'd love to. To be honest there is a lot out there. There's a lot of writers talking about how to write especially in the last seven eight years it's I don't know that I have too much that's unique I could add to it but I probably will take you up on your suggestion and throw a few things up on the website the next year or so just because I've had a few people ask Bowan I go. I'm happy to help other writers if I can.

Mel: [00:25:49] I love maps. We heard Kevin Tumlinson. He writes beautiful his historical thrillers and he loves maps and photography and his books are amazing as well. You could cast a couple of times and I love his stuff and I know Jules gets into those worlds as well.

Aiki: [00:26:11] I will put those maps up now that you reminded me. But the other thing I've just realized is that I'm at the moment my current work in progress is. In the same world as the shadows series because it's an ongoing series that one urban fantasy but it's set in 14 eighty six in London which is the time of the end of the war of the roses the start of the tutor dynasty and I decided to try something a bit interesting and different. I wanted to teach myself more how to write really unique character voices so that each character comes across very differently. So to do that and this is the challenge and you may laugh I'm writing 24 short stories. Are all set in London 24 different women. First person close. So 20 for unique character voices and several of the women they all kind of will know each other or glance off each other and there's an overarching story involving an attempt to assassinate King Henry the Seventh that will thread through each of the 24 stories. So that. Together it will form one big novel. But each story will stand alone. It's I'm halfway through. It's challenging but I'm really enjoying it.

Mel: [00:27:30] Don't forget the fiction. We want you to keep your fiction.

Aiki: [00:27:40] I actually said this to my husband this morning I did not sleep last night because my brain woke me up at about midnight and went. You don't want to sleep. You've got too many ideas. You're not going to sleep so I literally didn't sleep last night.

Aiki: [00:27:54] And within 24 voices and you've got that beautiful beautiful rich historical period. Then maybe a little bit of peek full source in her her I guess fantasy stuff that she writes and research that she puts into that you know mazing as well.

Mel: [00:28:12] You talk about your shadows trilogy. Now call me naive but I thought they were sitting in Brisbane.

Aiki: [00:28:18] The first one is actually set in Cairns because that's where I grew up and I just thought that was a fun place to write one because it's got such rich tropical sensations and the characters have a very strong connection to forests so I wanted somewhere that had a good place they could draw from. And then the second one moved to Brisbane and then the third one ends up in Florence in Italy partly because I'd just been there on holidays and I was like This is a cool place to write a story and there was a museum in Florence called this debate Museum which was a private museum owned by one of the last people who hadn't money from the Dutch East Indies Companies and he went and bought all of these weapons and armor from all over the world the Turkish Empire the Japanese Empire all these. This whole mansion is stuffed with weapons flint locks and knights armor and swords. And I I went into this museum and I went I need to run a fight scene in this museum. So I did so Book 3 has a fight scene in it where they trash the music that used the weapons. It was so much fun.

Mel: [00:29:44] You've got your fight scene you've got your museum you're trashing it you've got all these amazing weapons that I just think Wow how exciting. Let's talk this through talk us through CNN talk us through what's going on in your parities mind the psychology the physiology how you move your characters that you just all on the page to your planet. Do you do you structure would you get up and have a go at doing it.

Aiki: [00:30:09] Well it's it's kind of tricky because I try and make the fight scene so varied but you don't feel like you repeating the same scene each time and just a different place. And because my characters use different types of martial arts like my martial arts speciality is Yashin come Aikido but I also cross-trained in jujitsu and a whole kung fu and so I can pull from a whole bunch of arts so I try to use different techniques for different characters and different fight scenes just to get variety and then different weapons like in the shadows trilogy rowin the lead character has a knife called a cut up bit which is a middle east Asian knife and it's like a little claw that sticks out from your hand and she uses it and she she has a very thin version that she keeps underneath her bras her bra underwire so that she can whip this little knife out. It's just so much fun writing unusual weapons. One of the characters one of the bad guys in the series had a sword called otro me which is a flexible piece of steel that can be worn as a belts. So one of the bad guys slips this flexible me out and waves that around very Indiana Jones style and attempts to kill the good guy. So it's all about variety and making sure that there's nothing boring there's no white room where people are just standing there punching each other. You have to make them trip over things or smash into things and. You have to allow them to have a little bit of internal dialogue but not so much that it slows the fight down which is a really tricky balance to get right.

Mel: [00:31:50] Does the energy that you exuding now and like everyone this lady's life which is just literally throwing herself into a flashing light. Does this come in to you. Does this translate onto the page is your writing as energetic as you are.

Aiki: [00:32:09] I think so. I mean it's very hard for me to tell but most of the feedback I get from readers and reviewers is that it's fast paced action orientated and I actually had one writer say that there was no way that iron was 140000 words no way it was impossible. And I'm looking at my word count going. I'm pretty sure there's 140000 words on my page here. But he was adamant that because it was so fast it couldn't possibly have been that long. So I feel like that's a success because I want people to be so immersed and so drawn through it. But even the slower pieces feel like they are moving quick enough that you're not bored.

Aiki: [00:32:58] And you've got the other two written about as long as there are slightly shorter because it's a lot more worldbuilding to set up in the first book. And you've got a lot more establishing the characters at the beginning so you know you need that extra ten thousand or so to get everything immerse the readers comfortably into the world without being dull. So the second book in the third book are about 120000 each and you can just kind of launch straight into those because everybody's already comfortable with the characters in the world they know what's going on and it's it's kind of fun you get to open straight into an action scene in the second story because everybody knows what's going on they don't have to be set up just like get in kill people. Always fun. Is see lots of blood. To be honest I don't write Gore. I don't write gratuitous gore because partly because I want it to be readable by younger people and partly because I have nightmares. Honestly I can't watch a horror movie to save myself and I don't feel the need for graphic descriptions of eye gouging and blood dripping down people's arms it's just not necessary for the story. The stories about the characters and how they feel about things and that's what you want the reader to be connected to not how gruesome it was and how much blood and guts all over the ground is revolting oh kids like that stuff.

Mel: [00:34:25] I have a question for you. And it's a marketing question everyone. You're going to release one. And then what happens because I'm assuming it's a marketing thing that you're going to release them one at a time through. Ready to go.

[00:34:38] It's more the lack of time because it takes time to do all as well as running a full time business. It takes time to do all the lead up and the marketing and the prep and the formatting and all the final works and make sure everything's right to go and it takes money. You've got to be able to afford to buy the covers get the covers professionally designed and get all the editing paid for and so it's not something that I can afford to release all of them instantly unfortunately. But you know what they will be closed. It's like with traditional publishing you'll have maybe two to three years between a book with these it'll only be maybe two or three months so it's not going to be a big time lag.

Mel: [00:35:18] You put out one then you put out the other then you put out the other it's actually a very very clever marketing technique and with the sales of your previous books and then you have what a dozen are doing the circus school you went to.

Aiki: [00:35:33] Exactly. And the idea is you use SA use some of your books as loss leaders like so the first two inA.D.H.D permanently free because they draw people in to read them and then hopefully they'll buy the rest and then know they they'll like the style so much that they'll be happy to move on to the other books that are paid books as well which is the ideal. But periodically you do giveaways and you do promos and you find if you can get onto book Bob which is kind of like the Holy Grail of marketing. It's all very time consuming and you know I actually prefer writing to marketing so strangely enough.

Mel: [00:36:12] You had a choice back at the beginning where you did have publishers interested in your work and clearly I know why. Because these things are just so good but you chose to go indie.

Aiki: [00:36:26] The 80AD series to be honest I think it made some very halfhearted attempts but I didn't know what I was doing with query letters or sending them in. So I didn't even really bother. I just put them up and they went nuts. Maybe I should get publishers to look at what I'm doing and the Shadows series had a publisher interested and had an agent interested but offered the publishing contracts these days are really not that great. They don't give me anything that I couldn't do myself and they don't do any marketing much anymore because they can't afford to take risks on unknowns so. There wasn't really a huge benefit in going with the publisher except that they would do some other time consuming stuff. But. I'm a bit of a control freak so I stayed within it.

Mel: [00:37:14] Thank God she's a control freak. Here's one dangerous woman with whom I've got Mum my daughter Sam who I talk about all the time and who is very very good friend Amanda. She's the same age. Amanda dropped out of school. Sorry uni everyone she finished uni because she is obsessed with martial arts she's been doing it for many years. She's about all nothing. So she has to have special techniques because she's too tiny to throw the big bucks. But she now goes five nights a week. Fantastic jujitsu she is. She tells us what she's doing she comes she's very animated just like you. But it is an obsessive. She's learning different styles and she's got to get back to the beginning. Clearly that's what you've done as well haven't you. Once you get into this it becomes your world.

Aiki: [00:37:59] It does get a bit obsessive yes. When I was training for my first black belt I was training six days a week three to four hours a day for a year between brown belt and black belt so I had defensive bruises up and down my arms and it got to the point where I would walk into a shopping center and yell in the ladies toilets brushing back hair and other women are looking at you like should we like be calling the cops. No no it's okay really. It's OK. But there is it's empowering and it is there is something about the change in you when you know that if you had to you could put up a damn good fight. It really does it makes you walk differently it makes you feel different it makes you think different. You just feel better about yourself and yeah it's addictive.

Mel: [00:38:51] It really is those endorphins you know this is coming through this will all come through in your female characters. You walk differently. Are those details I wouldn't even know. And in a case knife throwing talk.

Aiki: [00:39:05] I want to. Well I decided that when I was writing The Shadow series I decided that I might if I was going to write a character who threw knives. I needed to know how to throw a knife and so I ordered some knives into all of them on eBay. It's really easy. And my husband very kindly made me a throwing target which is a big sheet of board and I just looked at a few YouTube videos and there's about three different main techniques you can try. And just practiced and practiced and practiced and till now I could probably I could fairly safely kill you at about 3 4 metres away without a problem.

Mel: [00:39:44] I never had any reason to do this stuff. Your mind works like this is just so you know I don't even know if we're going to get time to talk about his romance novels people but they can't be half as much as.

Aiki: [00:40:01] I actually know the one that over it the one that I have published I've published because she was a kickass heroine. So she's not a lay back and let the hero rescue me she rescues herself from some really nasty people at the end of the book and kicks their arse.

Mel: [00:40:16] And you've got a new one coming up.

Aiki: [00:40:20] Oh that's a work in progress that's been put on the backburner for a little while but the next one in the shadows series is actually probably technically a paranormal romance but yeah it's again on the back cause I got so obsessed with the black birds which is the 14 86 story I just got to finish that one first.

Mel: [00:40:37] That's the 24 voices isn't it.

Aiki: [00:40:40] Yeah. Which bizarrely enough only has to kickass women because it's quite hard to work in teenagers into 14 86 London.

Aiki: [00:41:10] I decided that the character in iron net was a very good archer and she is a horseback Archer and so I needed to learn to use a horse which is a bit different from a normal bow. And so I now have a horse fire. I also have a longbow which I had custom made and I shoot them both left and right handed because you know in the zombie apocalypse you've got to be able to shoot around corners with sticking without sticking your head out. And because. The lead character of iron can shoot left and right handed so you don't know what these characters do because then you can make it realistic.

Aiki: [00:41:46] It's not just me is it weird but it is just you and it is running. So maybe an apocalypse you've got to be able to shoot around corners without sticking your head out.

Aiki: [00:42:16] I think we have 35 different weapons and that's including all sorts of daggers and bows and swords and you know don't don't come and rob our house really just don't care.

Mel: [00:42:37] You have a whole forge in your backyard.

Aiki: [00:42:44] Well my son was part of a medieval Viking reenactment group a couple of years ago so he made a couple of really cool Battleaxes. And as a spear used by the Vikings when they were being mercenaries for the Ottoman Empire which I believe I don't know if you knew that but they did. So he yeah he made some historical weapons then which was awesome and now I just have to convince my husband that really really we need more we need more swords we really do. I'm keen for a lady as one of the Roman swords that would be fun.

Mel: [00:43:20] So your son has gotten into all this as well I know we had some wonderful medieval re-enactment festivals up on the Sunshine Coast.

Aiki: [00:43:52] They're full on and some of the combat in those reenacting is really for long as there's some injuries some people taken away in medieval ambulances. It's impressive.

Mel: [00:44:04] You said you have a full time business first of all my question is why. And my question is When are you going to give it up and write more stories.

Aiki: [00:44:14] I'm I'm saving up for retirement so if we can retire a little bit early which I'm hoping we can then we can sell the business that I can just write and I can just get back to painting as well. So I missed painting a lot of that as well. So yeah writing painting retiring in that order is your business.

Mel: [00:44:33] Just a nice office job with you sitting in a chair.

Aiki: [00:44:36] I haven't got my sword in today but I wear a little sword that I twist up in my hair and hold my hair up with it. And you know everyone so I when I wear that at work and you get a really annoying customer the temptation.

Mel: [00:44:49] Honestly the temptation is very strong with the details of this sword everybody's on the website. I was reading about this sword this morning so it must come up in one of your novels about here kid thing.

Aiki: [00:45:02] Yes. A letter in Ireland uses a hair pin sword.

Mel: [00:45:08] The science fiction fantasy writers association of America had you on a YouTube interview recently hosted by Diane Morrison with authors Stephanie Barr and Sarah Berman.

Aiki: [00:45:23] A day as insanely exuberant, the one you've missed is Mercedes Lackey was on there as well and if your heroes are into fantasy. They'll know who Misty is. She's a really big fantasy writer and she was amazing. And yeah it seems to me that Mercedes obviously is a traditionally published author but the other authors on that podcast where indies and every indie I've met is just a bundle of energy just going and getting stuff done because they kind of have to you your own one man business you you have to do it all so you can't be slack you've just got to get in and do it. Yeah and.

Mel: [00:46:16] The science fiction genre is almost bigger than romance isn't it. When you get followers and you get people who are obsessed with this stuff it's a whole world of its own earnestness.

Aiki: [00:46:28] There's not a lot of crossover between romance and science fiction although that whole paranormal romance thing is blurring the lines a little bit. I'll have to be honest and say No I think the romance authors especially the in the authors they are so on top of it they are outstripping everyone. In fact Kim Wilkins Dr Kim Wilkins recently did a presentation about this that romance indie authors are outstripping every other author by magnitudes of 10 20 30 times. But you're a science fiction science fantasy people. They are loyal they are doggedly loyal and once they love an author they will read every one of their 50 long book series that fantasy writers tend to do.

Mel: [00:47:18] I'm definitely going to go and visit you and check out her blacksmithing shop. How exciting would that be. But for now I'm going to actually put you on a spot. I'm going to pause and ask you to bring up some of your writing scenes and get you to read this one. Is a pain.

Aiki: [00:47:42] Okay so this is the just the opening scene from Ireland. Just so you get a taste of how the writing goes. Freedom however imaginary and brief should be savoured Alair danced a few steps along the cobbles each moment in the blood orange sunlight was a gift to be treasured hoarded against days to come. She raised her face to the warmth but the veil although it softened the grey cityscape into dusty shades of gold clouded her vision. A cage and a reminder she shoved the gossamer silk up onto her head then with arms flung wide she embraced the jewel mirage of free will perfect and unattainable as a Yand stone. The long sleeves of her gold silk Tsingtao house robe fluttered like a gin Red Wing. She smiled and strolled on through the xylem slums of Madinah. Her steps slowed even though she was already late. Returning to Tsingtao house with the veil lifted reality's sharp edges cut into her pleasant delusion overhead drunken houses held up by washing lines and hope crowded the narrow streets and through shadows the color of day old bruises mud and dung mire her embroidered shoes and it took an effort to ignore the stench of rotting food and human waste.

Aiki: [00:48:57] Julia hesitated the child by the side of the road was one of thousands in the slum these days. Regretfully she turned aside and concentrated on the sky visible as fragments of pale Perito between the uneven rooftops. The people here were poor but even they were free to choose their own path.

Aiki: [00:49:15] She envied them but tomorrow she would lose even this small independence of walking home toJ.J house. For now. She bumped into ketz back and the illusion shattered as it had to. What is it. Appeared around him ahead. Five people had someone cornered in the mouth of an alley that reeked of urine and vomit. Caused laughter rattle off the surrounding patchwork of violet bamboo and mudbrick hall walls windows shuttered closed as tenants hid from the future. Looks like another brawl hete said blocking our route home. Before you ask no you can't help. Fine can we try a different way. This place is a maze. I've never been down that street. Could be interesting. Interesting is what I'm trying to avoid cat replied. Which would be easier if you didn't insist on coming this way every week.

Mel: [00:50:06] That is absolutely beautiful. Aiki Is holding up her new book in her hands. I am ordering a copy of that book it's got a little sword on it that you get for free that you can dangle around. Where can we find you.

Aiki: [00:50:26] Yes you can find it on www.aikflintheart.com. I'm also on Facebook under Aiki Flintheart or Twitter and Instagram as Aiki Flintheart. So you reach out talk to me and if you're a writer I'm more than happy to to help with any ideas you need. Write fight scenes or whatever and if you're a reader. Absolutely connect more than happy to chat.

Mel: [00:50:47] You have another writing sorry a fight scene workshop coming up because I've got to go.

Aiki: [00:50:53] But you see I put it recently on at the Queensland writers centre and they've got such good feedback that they're talking about possibly running out again next year and I'm hoping I can convince them to let me do a masterclass otherwise possibly continuum which is down at Melbourne next year. Maybe there was one more I can't remember. There's two or three coming up next year I think so. We'll get that. You'll find me somewhere.

Mel: [00:51:21] Now I'm sure everyone we're going to be hearing a lot more of this lady we're going to hearing a lot more of his stories. Really looking forward to blackbirding and talking to you again maybe about the intricacies of pulling 24 disparate pieces together. So his official invitation everybody would love to have you back when you're rich and famous and good luck with all that blacksmithing that's going on.

[00:51:44] Thank you very much it's been a lot of fun.

[00:51:46] And that's it for another episode of writer on the road. I'm going off to write them.