Writers of fantasy and science fiction often take things very seriously. But in talking to writer Jamison Stone about his new novel, Rune Of The Apprentice (hardcover, digital), which encompasses both fantasy and science fiction, I learned that him mixing genres isn’t why the first book in his Rune Chronicles is so deep, philosophical, and psychological.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is Rune Of The Apprentice about?
This is Rune Of The Apprentice in three short paragraphs: In a world where magic, technology, and nature have merged, the few who can control Runes hold dominance over all of creation. All believe that Aleksi, a sixteen-year-old orphan, was blessed to be born with a Rune embedded in his palm, but that’s only because they don’t know the truth: Aleksi’s Rune is so powerful it’s killing him.
Asura, a brutal emperor who uses Runes to conquer entire continents, will stop at nothing to kill Aleksi and claim the boy’s power for his own. With Aleksi’s Rune burning its way through his body, and assassins hunting his every step, his survival depends on discerning ally from enemy and learning to tame the competing forces of light and dark within.
With the burden of his Rune haunting his days, and the prophetic whispers of a young captive priestess illuminating his nights, Aleksi will be able to unravel the mysteries of his past, rescue the girl in his dreams, and challenge the most powerful warlord the world has ever known only if the one thing keeping him alive, his Rune, doesn’t kill him first.
As a fantasy novel, Rune Of The Apprentice is legally required to be influenced by The Lord Of The Rings. But what other books, movies, games, and so on do you think were also big influences on it, both in terms of what you wrote, as well as how you wrote it?
Though I personally love The Lord Of The Rings, The Rune Chronicles is rooted in archetypal psychology and mythology instead of the very worn-out Tolkien tropes and clichés of “traditional” fantasy. Due to my psychology training, The Rune Chronicles pushes the fantasy and sci-fi genres’ evolution with a cohesive storyline founded in a universal mythos of collective symbolism while resting on a framework of advanced future technology. I based this all on C.G. Jung’s psychology of archetypes and the collective unconscious, while also adapting Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Monomyth, updating it to be relevant for Millennials who now live in a “Collective Technological Age.”
Creating a contemporary “Modern Myth” in a single book is obviously impossible. However, The Rune Chronicles Book I sets a wonderful foundation for my ultimate goal. As the series continues, the very strong roots that I created with Rune Of The Apprentice will grow into a beautiful modern day Hero’s Journey culminating in a massive series of epic role-playing video games.
But, I didn’t answer all of your question… My primary book influences are the unified character and world arcs of The Sandman and Books Of Magic by Neil Gaiman; the large scale impact of magic upon political machinations of The Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jorden; the historic vibrancy of Game Of Thrones by George. R. R. Martin; the poetic character development of Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss; and lastly, the magic systems and epicenes of story and world building of The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.
I was also strongly influenced by the theatric-epic mythos of Star Wars, as well as large scale, role-playing video games. This includes the immersive and emotional franchise elements of Final Fantasy, the open word exploration and fantasy combat realism of The Witcher, the martial and political intrigue of Metal Gear Solid, the massive-scale, socio-military campaigns of Suikoden, the team based synergy of Dota2, and the fantasy and sci-fi depth and vibrancy of player choice of Mass Effect.
Rune Of The Apprentice, as you said, is centered on Aleksi, a sixteen-year-old kid, and also features Asura, a brutal emperor. In describing how those characters would act, did you talk to any sixteen-year-olds in your family and research real-life despots, or did you base these character’s behaviors on fictional depictions of teenagers and dictators?
Well, it’s said that “writers write what they know,” and I have a background in psychology, meditation, martial arts, executive level leadership, boarding schools, higher education, and mentoring. With said background, I have seen the gambit of people, young to old, being both altruistic and despotic, not only from person experience but also from clinical and academic perspective as well.
Most importantly, however, I have used my own experiences — personal or researched — as ways of approaching our communally shared architypes found in the collective unconscious of humanity: the place we go every night when we dream. Joseph Campbell has called archetypes the “Eternal Ones Of The Dream.” It is within the depths of our minds that these universal archetypes dwell, acting as the inner mystagogue, initiating us to the mystery of our own dreams.
Dream is said to be the personalized myth, myth the depersonalized dream; both grounded in the symbolic dynamics of the psyche. In dreams, trials and tribulations represent the personal struggles of the dreamer. In myth, the problems and solutions shown speak directly to the collective, archetypal trials facing all of mankind. This is because myth speaks in the language of archetype, the symbolic language of dream; directly addressing the unconscious processes of the human mind. And thus it is here, in the exchange between myth and dream that the dormant internal archetypes are brought, through myth, to life.
Each and every character of The Rune Chronicles lives in this majestic tapestry of archetypal resonance within the reader. So while influenced by my personal experiences and research, Rune Of The Apprentice touches upon elements of the human much more universal than my own singular life. This is true for all books in The Rune Chronicles, and will be felt even more powerfully in a massive scale role-playing video game when the player can actually make individual choices which not only affect the characters and how they act, but also the overarching story and the world in which everything takes place.
Rune Of The Apprentice is, as it says on the cover, “Book 1 Of The Rune Chronicles.” How much of the series do you have planned?
This particular section of The Rune Chronicles series is all already outlined and has exactly six books, though there many supplementary written works, including the novelette Shadow Of The Moon, which was featured in The Too Many Controllers Anthology. This current series also sets the foundation for a trilogy of massive role-playing video games I hope to produce in the future.
Now, you wrote this book while your wife, who’s in the military, was away on deployment and going through training. Why didn’t you write a book about a military woman who kicks ass and is smart and cool and pretty and other stuff that would win you points with your wife, points you could redeem the next time you forget to take out the garbage?
Ha! Saiya, the heroine of Rune Of The Apprentice, is much of that and more. She however, is not a “physical” fighter, but instead a political leaders and spiritual guide to her people. For a female who performs physical feats of “kickassery” you have to read Shadow Of The Moon. Zera, the main character of that, is a female warrior who’s part princess, part ninja assassin, and a whole lot of awesome. She’s also my wife’s favorite character in the series.
You’ve said the proceeds from pre-orders will go to some military family charities. Can you tell us which ones and why you picked those charities?
I have pledged my pre order profits to go to Hope For The Warriors, National Military Family Association, Our Military Kids, and Military Spouse Advocacy Network. For me, this is not about making money. It’s about sharing passion and inspiration. As a writer, I am unable to do what our uniformed service members — soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguardsmen — do and go overseas to defend our freedom under fire, put an end to terrorism, or liberate persecuted peoples. Instead, it is my hope that through my writing I can inspire the hearts and minds of our families and service members through an action-packed literary adventure filled with love, heroism, and self-discovery. Through my writing I hope to brighten the day of men, woman, and children alike. And, as a military spouse, is my honor to be able to support our service men and woman while doing so.
Nice. In doing research for this interview, I punched your name into Wikipedia, and came up with the story of Pigzilla, a story from 2007 about an eleven-year-old boy named Jamison Stone who shot a 9-foot-four, 1,051-pound pig. I’m know that wasn’t you, but given that you and the kid have the same name, were you tempted to put any big pigs in Rune Of The Apprentice?
Yeah, that’s a different Jamison Stone. Though I do not know all the details myself, I have friends who have referenced the story many a time in jest. Sadly, there are no big pigs in Rune Of The Apprentice. But my novel has a far more interesting creature called a Night Prowler. This frightening animal comes from the Southern lands of Neberu, a realm of eternal night, and has permanent nocturnally adapted eyes and is a terrifying predator in the dark.
Yeah, but does anyone in the book make bacon out of a Night Prowler?
Ha! In a way. But I don’t want to spoil anything, you have to read it to find out how.
Lastly, if someone enjoys Rune Of The Apprentice and they need something to read while waiting for the next book, what would you suggest they read next?
First off, if you are looking for epic fantasy and have not read The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, The Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jorden, Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, or The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, then you should start there. But if you have, or are looking for something new, then I’d suggest The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz, an awesome demon and dark intrigue themed urban fantasy set in Chicago; A God In The Shed by J.F. Debeau, a chilling tale of group of friends who inadvertently trapped an ancient trans-dimensional god in their backyard shed; The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein, a sci-fi novel set in 2471 New York where teleportation has become the elite mode of transportation and advanced nanotechnology has made everlasting life possible; and lastly, The Catcher’s Trap by Ricardo Henriquez, a terrifying dark-fantasy book about emotive protagonist captured by supernatural being and forced to face his inner demons.