Monthly Archives: June 2014

Interview with K J Smith

I was born in Cambridge and still live there. My working life has be, mostly, in tech and lab work. I no longer work as I am disabled, but still play music as much a possible. Anything I do at www.alternatehistory.com, which is the only site of this kind I go on like this, my user name is tallthinkev. When I do publish it will be under my real name of K J Smith or John Strand, an old family name.

Question 1
How long have you been writing?

Just a couple of years and only when I first came across this site. This has been the first time I have ever written, and I use that term very lightly, any fiction. About 15 years ago I did have to write a tech manual, for the job I was then doing. It was by far the longest thing I had ever done up to that point.

Question 2
What is the first work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

I have helped out quite a bit the Hairogs story WWIII May ’46. As for my own ‘work’ I am now editing the first part of my story which is called, at the moment, Dark Antiquity. An ISOT where Britain is transported back from 1066 to 43AD. This I hope to publish when I am happy with it, maybe in a few months. That I hope to publish on Amazon.

Question 3
Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

When I went to school there was no such thing as dyslexia, therefore I was a bit ‘thick’ and had to do double English with one to one reading lessons. I was 13/14 when I read my first books which were the, The Chronicles of Narnia. Weather this had any effect on any writing I have done I don’t know, it was sometime ago now.

Question 4
Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

I think you have inspiration from everything you read, even if it’s going to be ‘I am not going to write like that.’ The ones I do like are those who have written for the Doctor Who range from Virgin and the BBC, before Nu-Who. People like Chris Boucher, Paul Leonard and Paul Cornell. Weather it is because I like the subject of the actual authors I’m not sure. I hope never to write in the style or subject matter of someone like Harry Harrison or Robert Conroy, at least I try to write about some thing I do know a little about, or do look something up I’m not sure about. They don’t!

Question 5
Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

Very much so. With the WWIII story I have used a lot of Cambridge and parts not too far away. Also my family is in it as well as those from history. However I have written about them in a real way. I have used them in a way that they could have really done in the situation.

Question 6
Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

I don’t think I have had anything really bad said about what I have done. If have done anything that someone has not agreed with, there have always done it in a nice way. As in pointing things out more than pointing fingers.

Question 7
Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

Hero’s? None really. I can say this person is good, or has done very well.

Question 8
Which was the first writing of yours that you are proud enough to say “I did this” about?

Maybe it could be the one I’m writing now, however it is not finished yet. Saying that I have done over 20,000 word which is something I never thought I would ever do.

Question 9
Do you find Alternate History a genre that is more difficult to write in than others, perhaps due to the focus on plausibility?

It the only thing I’ve written, apart from songs. Songs can come very easy to me sometimes.

Kevin, Thank You very much!

Interview with Fenwick

Writer Interview with Fenwick

Fenwick, who is not giving his name or image as he holds a general fear of something he calls The Machine, is a practicing Public Defender in California. He lives in the 8th most conservative city in the United States, which makes being a regular Democratic party volunteer a tad akward. After graduating with a BA in history he promptly went to Law School where he graduated magna cum laude. Currently he is seeking out his International Common Law Certificate in hopes of working for the US diplomatic corps.

He is not a published author, but has made numerous attempts at it. Most of his work is found on AH.com.

Question 1
How long have you been writing?

Since I was about thirteen.

Question 2
What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

I had art friends who really had this drive to make comics. This was in that odd point when we had the internet but no one used the internet. Meaning this was all by hand. So you had 13 year old boys drawing impossibly, Rob Liefeld inspired narrow waisted big breasted women, and overly muscular men. Then you had me writing the story cause “Fen cannot draw for shit, yo.” And, yes he really did say “yo.” Mind you I was on the “project” for all of three weeks before they kicked me off. They wanted violent, super powerful, murdering space gods. I wanted this:

Only picture I drew for them. Simply 13 year olds get powers, and to me they had no skills at all. So it was buying Lucha Libre masks, and just whatever was at the thrift shop. I kept writing what I felt was realism and no one wanted that so away I went. They published something, but it was on the school printer for like one issue.

Question 3
Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

I really liked Tom Wolf. First book I got into, like could not stop reading was “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” It was his personal account of traveling the world with Ken Keesy (One flew over the cuckoos nest) and it was about drugs, but not really. Just these really honest conversations and events.

Question 4
Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

Terry Pratchett for his sense of humor, and also taking clearly impossible events but setting them in what can only be real life. A cop in a world with dwarves, elves, and trolls. Or a “hero” who is a honest coward.

Harry Turtledove for giving me scifi trash novels. Not as in bad but as in plentiful, cheap, and giving me what I want. My that sounds really bad out loudE

Warren Ellis. Comic book author but I view comics as any other medium. Yet when he writes about things that are not superheroes he is amazing. Ministry of Space is one to pick up, it is the British Empire conquering the stars thanks to a certain WWII black budget. Transmetropolitan an amazing technological society which has just as much crime, disease, poverty, and everything. Lastly is Planetary, which while having superheroes is really this amazing attempt to make all literature, cinema, and any idea of heroes and villains live in a unified world.

Question 5
Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

Kansas City is one. I have been to China, Europe, and South America but as an America I say Kansas City Missouri. It is that awful mix of urban blight, urban sprawl, urban renewal, and urban decay in one central location. You can see these amazing Art Deco buildings right next to rusting out pre-WWI factories, and at the same time what looks like someone nailed 2014 technology to the side of the buildings. It is a really nice city mind you, but it is the ability to go from a wooden shack and fifteen minutes later be in the most ornate of buildings. Really it is how I like to view things in the world, a big huge mess of things somehow working out.

Another is Los Angeles. I live here, and I get to enjoy not the freeway and chain restaurants but the side streets and very clearly defined neighborhoods. It is kind of cool to walk down a street and suddenly everything is in Spanish, and then turn the corner and you are in Little Tokyo. Plus ever since the smog was cut down it is just bright and blue sky.

Question 6
Which was the first writing of yours that you are proud enough to say “I did this about?

For me it was this story in which it is the 1920s. An art critic and his boyfriend are at a party to see this new painter. These guys have to be in this room of communists, and booze hounds flaunting prohibition but have to hide being gay. Yet all of this is so they can see the amazing abstract artworks of Adolf Hitler. I really liked that story. Wrote it in like two hours.

Question 7
Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

In college I wrote this story for the campus literary magazine. It was a really simple story about a guy in a train station avoiding the police. The guy had a bomb, and it was the liberation front or something. Of course everywhere was swastika flags and such so obviously the guy was the hero. I got my little certificate, and my $20 but it was in the “filler pile.” So it was never needed. While that bummed me out, on my submission draft was this single message at the end which was like, “This was rather insulting.” To this day I have no idea what that meant. Was it the terrorism? Was the reader a Nazi? What? Tell me Mrs. T what was it?!

Question 8
Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

I like, I guess you would call them crafty people? Thurgood Marshall, SCOTUS justice, ACLU lawyer, went to the Southern US in the 1950s to defend black men accused of rape or murder. He was a really smart guy, and surprisingly brave, but it was that “I trust the law” kind of bravely. I know in about twenty minutes I will be in my car and go “oh should have him!” But really the British Naval Intelligence of WWII, or the CIA, even some of the lesser known NATO intelligence operations in which a handful of guys clearly diverted thousands if not millions of men on some harebrained scheme.

Question 9
Do you find Alternate History a genre that is more difficult to write in than others, perhaps due to the focus on plausibility?

Not at all. What is plausible? I mean WWI was because a single guy died in his car which took a wrong turn after trying to visit people injured from an assassination attempt earlier that day? Go to a civil war museum sometimes, and you will see two bullets fused together titled, “US-Confederate musket balls.” In any film that is when the audience rolls their eyes and leaves. However it happened all the time. So when someone says it is not plausible something occurred all that means is that the half-baked reason why something occurs needs a few more minutes in the old mental oven.

Question 10
Do you write much non-narrative fiction, e.g. in the pseudo-historical fashion of articles and features from another world?

I play a game called Shared Worlds. The entire idea is to take a nation and write its history from a factual stand point. Some write stories, myself included, but mostly it is writing detailed events.

Question 11
Your ‘Fenwick Writing Challenges” inspired 2 of my short stories that I later turned into novellas. Do you know how inspirational you were? Do you know if any other works resulting from those were published?

In some ways yes, but it always surprises me how many have gone “hey Fenwick great idea there.” Really I get these ideas and I know I cannot write them how they are in my head, so I send them off to others. To my knowledge no one else really used my writing challenges and got them published. I know I have gotten nice rejection letters from all the stories I wrote for them.

Question 12
If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?

I want to know who Jack the Ripper is. I cannot explain why that event is so interesting to me. I think it is the setting. All those smoke filled, foggy hazed nights and some fellow in a top hat arrives luring his victims away. It is like the perfect horror story for Victorian London, and yet the fact it really happened only to suddenly stop makes me really want to know who Jack was.

Interview with author Paul Leone

Grey Wolf’s Blog welcomes author Paul Leone for an Author Interview.

Paul Leone

Paul Leone grew up on a strange diet of Tolkien, Lewis, Lucas, Roddenberry, Stoker, monster movies and comic books. This genre passion has inexplicably fused with his entrance into the Catholic Church to give you the Vatican Vampire Hunters series. He currently resides in Western New York with a cat who is not at all interested in his overly large collection of bad movies.

Paul Leone is the author of the Vatican Vampire Hunters novels. His profile can be viewed: Paul Leone at Amazon; Vatican Vampire Hunters on Facebook; and Paul Leone at Goodreads. Purchase links for the books can be found at the end of the Interview.

Question 1 – How long have you been writing?

Professionally, for just a year or so, but I’ve been scribbling stories since I was in middle school. I think
the first one I ever wrote (or at least started) was a Quantum Leap fanfic.

Question 2 – What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

Mysterious Albion, the first book in the Vatican Vampire Hunters series.

Question 3 – Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

Inspirations specific to my urban fantasy are the late John Steakley and Bram Stoker, and M.R. James for his ghost stories.

Question 4 – Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

Without a doubt, J.R.R. Tolkien is at the top of the list. He practically invented the genre of high fantasy and found an inspiring way to infuse it with his religious beliefs. Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Arthur Machen, John Whitbourn – all excellent British authors in various genres, and Machen in particular (along with M.R. James) is helping me find the tone for my latest work, a novel about a Victorian occult detective.

Question 5 – Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

London and Rome, and my home in Western New York. London is far and away the greatest city in the world, in my mind, and it was a joy to use it as the setting for Mysterious Albion.

Question 6 – Which was the first writing of yours that you are proud enough to say “I did this” about?

I think some of the stories I wrote in college would qualify for that, although I also think I’ve improved – somewhat! – since then, too.

Question 7 – Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

No. The harshest review anybody’s posted so far (one for Mysterious Albion) was still fairly kind even as it pointed out some shortcomings in my writing style that I’ve tried to work on since then.

Question 8 – Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

Tolkien, St. Augustine, WW2 veterans (and veterans in general), the man who invented pizza.

Question 9 – Do you find Alternate History a genre that is more difficult to write in than others, perhaps due to the focus on plausibility?

I haven’t done much writing in the way of AH itself, but I think it’s a fine line – you want to keep things plausible, but you also want to make it entertaining. My favorite AH novel, Fatherland, is built on a fairly weak “Nazis win WW2″ scenario, but it’s still a classic of the genre.

Question 10 – How much historical, or existing vampire and demon law did you bring into your stories, and how much did you make up for the Vatican Vampire Hunter series?

As far as vampires go, I stuck with the classic Hollywood/modern idea of vampire weaknesses – sunlight, fire, holy water/symbols, etc. I don’t *think* anybody has used my particular take on the origin and nature of vampires before (which probably means 10 writers I’ve never encountered did it years ago). Regarding demons, they’re treated in a fairly Catholic manner. Most of the demonic names come from medieval and post-medieval demonology in the real world.

Question 11 – Did you find that writing the Vatican Vampire Hunters incorporated any elements of alternate history writing?

No, at least not any more than nearly every work of fiction is technically alternate history.

Question 12 – If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?

I can only pick one? That’s tough, that’s really tough. What really crashed in Roswell in 1947, I guess.

Buy Links for Vatican Vampire Hunters

Mysterious Albion (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Vatican-Vampire-Hunters-ebook/dp/B00BRIENTS
Mysterious Albion (Amazon POD): http://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Albion-Vatican-Vampire-Hunters/dp/1482739828
Mysterious Albion (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mysterious-albion-paul-leone/1115319453
The Book of Thoth (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Book-Thoth-Vatican-Vampire-Hunters-ebook/dp/B00G725FVO/
The Book of Thoth (Amazon POD): http://www.amazon.com/dp/149272839X

Grey Wolf’s Blog

RIP Mum, passed into glory 29th April 2014

I have brought my blog back online after taking it away for the duration. Apologies to anyone who was scheduled to have a feature in that period; my heart just wasn’t in it.

I will slowly rebuild the blog, but doubt I will have so many guest posts or features. This, tho, will mean that if you are featured your article will remain at the top of the page for a lot longer.

Thank You
Grey Wolf, author