Joseph Malik is a new and upcoming author and wrote both “Dragons Trail” and “The New Magic”. The front covers and his website look amazing and he has some very serious writing credentials that make this author someone to watch. What I found from this interview is that Joseph Malik has a lot of life experience and many great writers have had a lot of experience to draw from when writing which makes their books all that more interesting to read. Joseph has had experience both as a soldier and experience with many activities such as archery, blacksmithing and BASE jumping. Have a read of this amazing interview and check out his new books!
Feel free to share a little about yourself in your own words.
I’m a fantasy author, and a career soldier in the U.S. military—a former member of the Special Operations Command and now an instructor in advanced intelligence theory and asymmetric warfare analysis. I write what some reviewers are calling “Fantasy Technothrillers.” Fantasy spy thrillers with plots that hinge on the technical details.
My forthcoming novel, The New Magic, is the second in my series. It comes out in September.
How did you get into writing?
I started writing novels in high school. I studied English in college and got serious about becoming a novelist around that time.
What can you tell us about your daily routines that help you focus and your creative habits? So, for example how do you come up with some of your ideas and inspiration for your book?
Again, I’m in the military, so my daily routine is just that: routine. I get up at 4:30 am, I exercise until about 5:15, and from 6-7 I’m in my office at home, drinking coffee and writing. One hour a day. Weekends are when I sort it all out, edit, and stitch it together.
Is this book very personal for you? If so, how?
I think every book is personal for every author, but this one was tough to write. We lose a character I was really attached to, and it happened earlier in the series than I would have ever expected. It caught me by surprise.
THE NEW MAGIC
How did you come up with the book title?
In language of the Western World, where the books take place, “the new magic” refers to technology, which the characters bring with them from Earth.
Plot and Synopsis
Can you describe what the book plot and give a detailed synopsis of the book, of course without any spoilers.
It’s a portal fantasy series. In The New Magic, the characters who came over from Earth in Dragon’s Trail find themselves up against someone else from Earth, who brings the same kinds of advantages that gave them such an easy ride last time: modern steel armor and weapons, modern training, a classical education. The new villain levels the playing field, and the war that ensues starts to set the world on fire. In that respect, it’s kind of a superhero arc, I guess. It’s the beginning of the second act, so it gets pretty dark, and ends in a pretty dark place. Dragon’s Trail, even with all its violence, is is a lighthearted romp by comparison.
Is there any movie, book, or television series that you can somewhat liken your story to? So for example, some books you can say are like Game of Thrones or Star Wars, what mainstream and popular movie do you think your book somewhat “feels” like? Did you want this to be the case?
I’m told again and again that there’s never really been anything like this. I think of Book I, Dragon’s Trail, as doing for knights in armor what The Hunt for Red October did for nuclear submarines.
The series represents a completely new take on fantasy, or so I’m told, with highly detailed and realistic worldbuilding based on personal experience (more on that, below) and plot points that reside in the minutiae of the worldbuilding. This combines to create a suspension of disbelief that dozens of reviews at this point say goes way beyond any other fantasy out there. I’m told it feels real. Reviewers use words like “plausible” and “believable,” even though it’s a fantasy novel.
I even get the occasional email or DM from a reader who is sure that it’s all real, because I get things right—processes, history, techniques—that “no other fantasy author could ever know” (their words), and they swear that I’ve been there somehow, as if I have a magic portal in my study. I don’t, of course; it’s at work, in the room next to my office. And I don’t travel through it, I just guard it. (Only kidding. As far as you know.)
Themes or Messages
What themes and deeper meanings or messages can we expect to find in this book if any? Is there any deep meanings or philosophical questions being explored in the book?
I wrote Dragon’s Trail, and I guess the whole series, really, as a commentary on the increasing obsolescence of the warrior caste in modern society.
As I’d said above, The New Magic is the beginning of the second act, and it starts to dig into the deeper themes of the series, one of which is the disconnect that arises when a leader has a disparate and alien intellectual history from the people he’s responsible for. This resides in a larger subtext about meta-ethical moral relativism and what humans who grew up without The Sermon on the Mount and Hammurabi and Emmanuel Kant would consider “right” and “just.” I think this is missing from a lot of portal fantasy, especially when the hero is “coming of age in a world of magic and wonder.” How do they know that their ideas of right and wrong that they’re fighting for aren’t just going to confuse everybody and make them mad?
Off the wall question, but would some of the issues being explored in the book relate to us here in the real world?
Absolutely. Something weird that’s happening right now, literally as I’m typing this, is that this morning, pictures started cropping up on social media about ICE—Immigration and Customs Enforcement—keeping children locked up in what are basically dog kennels. It’s heartbreaking. A pivotal plot point in The New Magic involves the heroes launching a mission to rescue families that the villain is keeping locked up in cattle pens. I wrote the shell of the book a year ago if not longer, and I think I’ve had that particular plot point as a crux of the storyline for probably fifteen years. So, yeah. There are some parallels.
What can you tell us about the setting that we will be seeing in this book?
I think the big thing to keep in mind is that I did most of the research for the worldbuilding in person over decades. I learned swordsmanship, horsemanship, blacksmithing, archery, and axe-throwing; I went BASE jumping; I traveled to Europe to visit castles and ruins; I built a working language; everything. From the phases of the moon to the slivers in the floor, everything works, because I’ve done, or at least attempted, most of it.
What cultures or societies can we expect to see and can you tell us about how you came up with creating these societies? Was it difficult to get deep into how the societies function?
One hugely different aspect from other grimdark / gritty fantasy books is that I engineered the culture to remove sexual violence, and with it, the concept of patriarchy, almost entirely from their social fabric. They have a completely different take on sex and what it means. To them, forcing sex upon someone is on par with torturing small animals; it’s completely aberrant. The idea doesn’t even cross most people’s minds. Most of them can’t even conceive of it.
As a result, The New Magic is a gritty, dark, extremely adult fantasy novel, with graphic violence and sex, but none of the women are subjected to sexual violence or even threatened with it, and none of the powerful women—generals, leaders, knights—became so by having to overcome abuse or trauma, or even having to struggle to be taken seriously in a male-dominated world, which is another trope we see a lot in fantasy. Their world is completely gender-equal.
I didn’t do this as part of the #MeToo movement or #TimesUp or any of that; as I’d said above, I built this world and sketched the plots for these books over a decade ago. The whole rape trope in fantasy is such crap writing, and it’s everywhere. This part of the worldbuilding stemmed from me kicking a crutch out of my own writing long ago and coming away from it with better characters and a better story.
So, I guess one takeaway here is that you can have a gritty, even scary fantasy novel written for adults, without having a woman get raped every other chapter. Rape is lazy writing; it’s the “Planet England” trope of our time. I plan to work without it from here.
Tell us about the history of the land or world or worlds that we will be exploring through out the book?
It’s another world, which the hero initially believed was in another dimension. In reality, it’s a moon orbiting a ringed gas giant in probably another part of our galactic supercluster. However, the world is uniquely prone to rifts and eddies in the fabric of the universe, which some wizards can manipulate, opening “portals” to other worlds. It makes the world kind of a nexus in the continuum. Demons—dimensional-traveling beings—come and go.
What can you tell us about some of the main characters and villains in this book?
When I first concepted the series, and in the first few early versions of Book I, the hero, Jarrod, was the villain; and the wizard-king villain, Ulo, was the hero. I flipped them and told the story from the then-villain’s perspective, and made the series about his redemption instead of about a kid from Earth “coming of age in a world of magic and wonder,” which was the original plot. Now, it’s about a guy from Earth who takes a gig as a hero in another world, and when he gets there, he finds out that the Big Bad over there is also from Earth.
How to buy
You can buy Dragon’s Trail in ebook, hardcover, and paperback at the following retailers:
https://amazon.com/dp/B01JF0KWZ8 -trail (Amazon)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragons-trail-joseph-malik/1123955543?ean=9780997887525-TrailBN (Barnes & Noble Nook)
The New Magic will be available for pre-order in late summer. I’ll be giving out details and a special pre-order deal via email. Sign up at www.josephmalik.com.
Social media links and websites?
Michael Tinker Pearce wrote the amazing Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman series, a fantasy about dwarves with guns. He’s a wonderful storyteller and one of the world’s foremost swordmakers.