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Local author’s new novel is an 'escape from the real world'

Following the surprise success of her first novel, local author Amy Maltman has turned to a world more fantastic

Amy Maltman’s first memory of watching a movie was one that has stuck with her for many years. A very young Maltman and her family missed the bus they were catching to the theatre to watch the original Star Wars: A New Hope.

“We were late for it. We walked in when R2-D2 and C-3PO were in the Tatooine Desert. I can still see that moment so vividly”.

The film ultimately made a lasting impression on the young Maltman. Like many youth of her generation, she got caught up in the wave of Star Wars’ popularity. She and her sister had all the Star Wars toys and merchandise.

Fast forward to 2020 and Maltman is still collecting the memorabilia. She has an impressive Funko Pop! figurine collection of characters from the franchise.

“The sci-fi and fantasy genres have always inspired me. I like the imagination and the freedom of it. You are not stuck behind a bunch of rules where you can only do something a certain way. You can dream. As a writer, you can do pretty much anything you want to do with it. As the fan, it’s an escape from reality or the real world. It’s a place to escape into that’s not our serious, day-to-day life.”

Maltman’s newly published novel, A Journey Unveiled (Daughter of Venus Book 1), is the author’s first foray into the world of fantasy.

The novel, geared to the young adult market, focuses on eighteen-year-old Lexi Guinel, who survives a plane crash she had predicted and “stumbles through a mysterious veil into a world of magic and evil while looking for help.”

“There is magic, witches and elves. It takes place in a world that is parallel to ours. So it is not in the past and not time travel. It’s set on another earth connected to ours.”

Maltman is a bit self-conscious about how the idea came to fruition.

“This is so incredibly cliché but literally came to me in a dream. It was July of 2009. I remember waking up and thinking the idea was cool. I wrote it down. Then a few months later, I had another dream. I thought maybe I could combine the two dreams into one story. It’s really amazing how the brain connects different ideas together. That’s how it started. Cliché, but true,” she laughs.

The novel’s main character shares common interests with the author.

“Lexi loves horses and animals, so that part connects to me. I have kind of worked in themes of respecting the environment and animal welfare. I have worked it into the mythology of the story without it being my soapbox.”

The artwork for the cover of the novel was chosen by Maltman, herself.

“I saw the art that was to be the cover and I thought, ‘I love it.’ So I contacted JR Korpa and he said I could use it and he didn’t want any money… which was so wonderfully generous of him.”

The novel is the first in what will be the Daughter of Venus Trilogy.

“I am not one of those authors like JK Rowling who had the entire series of Harry Potter planned out before she put a pen to paper, but I am also not flying by the seat of my pants. I have an idea of where I am heading, but there will be some surprises for even myself because I will come up with ideas as I am writing.”

Although writing is a passion for Maltman and it was something she did since she was young, she never really planned to be an author.

“I studied for four and a half years at the University of Guelph [for one degree]. I then took a year and a half off then went back to school at University of Toronto for my degree in Pharmacy.”

Maltman graduated and received her Pharmacist license in 2003. After working as a pharmacist for two years, she was diagnosed with rare spinal cord disorder Syringomyelia in early 2005.

With such a life-altering diagnosis, Maltman began to look for other opportunities she could pursue with the condition.

“I always tried to write. I have a picture of me in the 6th grade with an electronic typewriter, typing up stories.”

In Grade 13, Maltman took a Writer’s Craft class at her high school.

“When the independent study topics came out, I didn’t want to do any of them. I wanted to start writing a book.”

She told her idea to her teacher, who agreed to substitute he story for the assignment, originally thinking she might turn in five to ten pages.

“I handed in about 75 pages. Those pages sat through my nine years of university,” she says. “Once I became disabled and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, I thought I should finish that book.”

The subject of the book was something else she was passionate about: Equestrianism. Maltman began riding horses at the age of 9 and competing at the age of 11.

“I grew up riding and competing. In between my university degrees, I worked as a live-in groom for [Canadian equestrian showjumper and three-time Olympic champion, Eric Lamaze’s horse stable for a few months.”

That experience gave her the background knowledge to take that high school story and turn it into her first novel Ride Every Stride (2015), a story about a boy who tries to outrun his past, finds refuge in his job at a prestigious stable with a goal to gain a spot on the Canadian Equestrian Team.

“The story is totally fictional and is not based on anybody in real life,” says Maltman. “A lot of the day-to-day barn and stable work detail I copied from the way we ran things at Eric’s stable. Obviously, I can’t ride anymore, which is the worst part of my illness, but that is where the background of that book came from; my history with horses.”

The published book surpassed her expectations, both critically and in terms of sales.

“It hit number 1 several times on the charts in young adult and equestrian literature in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.” The novel currently has a 4.31 out of 5 rating on Goodreads.com.

Despite the positive response to her first novel, Maltman is realistic about writing as a career.

“Putting out the book was just a wish-fulfillment. It’s not like I wanted to become famous or anything like that. I think a lot of it, with me having so many health-related limitations, writing is a way for me to feel productive. I had been working on Ride Every Stride for decades. I finally said, ‘I am going to finish it.’”

Maltman is clear she isn’t writing for money or fame.

“The writing, as much as I love it, because of my health problems and limitations, it is more of a hobby with a marketable end product. I’ll go three or four weeks without feeling well enough to even open my computer. The days that I do feel good enough to write, it’s a half an hour here, forty-five minutes there with breaks in those times. So I have been writing as steadily as I can, but unfortunately, it takes me a long time. My opportunities to work on it are so few because of my health. For me, it is an accomplishment and I put it out there and sell as many as I can.”

Maltman has appreciated the success and support she has received.

“I sometimes get messages from people who enjoyed the book or say it touched them… it is nice to hear feedback from people. There is sometimes a downside when people don’t like your book. You can’t produce something that everybody likes,” she laughs. “I didn’t do any promotion with the first book, because I am naturally shy and self-conscious. I wasn’t sure that I wanted people commenting, but I have learned to toughen up and get thicker skin since then.”

Ride Every Stride and A Journey Unveiled (Daughter of Venus Book 1) are available in paperback or for Kindle (including Kindle Unlimited) on Amazon.