Monthly Archives: July 2014

Author Interview with Roisterer

I’m an old git by most standards. I was born and raised in the UK, but I’ve lived in the USA since 2001, and became a US citizen in 2013. I’m a Kentish man by birth.
I design silicon chips for a living, and have to remember that not everybody likes the technical stuff as much as I do.
I’m unpublished. All of my works are on AlternateHistory.com (AH) or Counter-Factual.net (CF). I have three novels completed, and a fourth starting, plus several short stories. I’m very much an amateur, and I hold down a full time job, so I never get as much time for writing as I would like.

Question 1
How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since 2011. I honestly would never have thought about putting characters to screen – the modern version of pen to paper – until I had read other people doing the same thing.

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

I’m not sure that I have anything good enough to publish. I might hawk The Arrangement or Bus Trip to some short story anthologies.

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

I read a lot of science fiction as a teenager. My favourites at the time were Asimov, Clarke, Bester, Knight, McCaffrey. Laumer and Niven.

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

There have been a few stand out moments. In an otherwise undistinguished anthology I read in the 80s there was a story that felt completely unlike anything I’d read before. It was called Burning Chrome, by William Gibson. It’s been said that the most effective stories don’t tell you how the future will be, but what it will feel like.
I also like Brian Aldiss’s Billion Year Spree, which is a kind of primer on other books. I doubt I would have read any Lovecraft without having read that first.

On AH I’d name Doctor What (Bruno Lombardi) Chris Nuttall, Thande and the late Robert Parker, all of whom posted things on line. They all have very different voices, and convinced me that if they could do it, I could do it too.
Oh, and Grey Wolf is always worth reading, There is a sense of immediacy in his work that is lacking in a lot of others, plus the stories seem to lead in unexpected directions. A kind of Van Vogt for alternate history.

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

In its broader sense, location and milieu are very important. Would Phillip Marlowe be the same if he came from a different city? In my longer fiction, I’ve tried to give an idea of place. Some of these are SF settings, so I try to put in something about what life is like there. As for buildings, not so much. My late father wouldn’t be happy, as he was an architect.

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

I don’t think that I’ve had enough reviews. People mostly don’t read it. Perhaps if I submit some work and get a lot of rejections, I’ll change my tune.

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

Norman Borlaug and Jonas Salk. The two people who aren’t so well known, but between them probably saved more lives than any politician who has ever lived. Perhaps also Johannes Kepler, a man who threw away decades of work when it didn’t fit the observations. I wonder who would have the strength of character to do that nowadays?

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

Gravity Well, definitely. Firstly, it’s a detective novel, and these are tough to do, as you have to have a well thought out plot. Secondly, I was posting it a chapter at a time, which is especially challenging as you can’t retcon anything if you get any clues wrong. I also came up with a heck of a twist.

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?

If you start a story about a popular AH meme, then there’s going to be a lot of discussion about this. I don’t just mean the obvious ones, like the Nazis winning WWII. You have to remember that there’s always somebody out there who knows more about the subject than you do. So if you write of X becoming a tyrant, or doing something out of character, expect some blowback.
Having said that, like SF, it can hold up a useful mirror.

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

Not so much, although sometimes I try to take a sideswipe at some modern attitudes.

Question 11
Do you find that much of your writing turns out to be Science Fiction, whether or not it was intended to?

Well, I pretty much intended for everything to be SF.There are a few of my stories that blend into horror, but there is some overlap there.

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’d like to know what happened to Anne Bonny, one of the female pirates in the early eighteenth century. Mostly I’d like to go back and tell certain people at certain times, “how could you be so stupid?”

Author Interview with Marc H. Jones

Marc, hi, tell us about yourself:

I was born in London to a Welsh family, which means that I’ve spent my life using the Duke of Wellington’s adage that if a dog is born in a stable, that doesn’t make it a horse. I trained as a print journalist so at the time it made perfect sense for my first job to be at a radio station. After a few false starts I ended up as a (re)insurance journalist, and that’s what I’m doing now.
My amazon page is here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marc-Jones/e/B00FFURIUK
My Facebook profile is here – https://www.facebook.com/marc.jones.50767
The Fireflies of Port Stanley – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fireflies-Port-Stanley-Marc-Jones-ebook/dp/B00COBGLLA/
Cato’s Cavalry – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catos-Cavalry-Marc-Jones-ebook/dp/B00DHUO9V6/
Cato’s Cavalry 2 – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catos-Cavalry-2-Valentian-Campaign-ebook/dp/B00J7M75M8/
Splinters – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Splinters-Different-Alamein-Marc-Jones-ebook/dp/B00GL9LWUQ/
The Books From The Future – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Future-Marc-Jones-ebook/dp/B00KI3APL8/

Question 1
How long have you been writing?

I first discovered that I could write in school, when I was taking my English Language O-Level, so I guess I must have been about 15. However, it wasn’t something that I took very seriously at all. When I was University I dabbled at best with it. I really started to write when I had the most boring job in the world. Initially it was just fan fiction, but I later discovered the Alt-Hist website and started writing alternate history as well.

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

After much prodding by my wife Kathleen I finally published The Fireflies of Port Stanley last year, followed by Cato’s Cavalry.

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

Those who have read one of my books, Cato’s Cavalry, have wondered if I was influenced by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Yes, I was. The Eagle of the Ninth had a huge effect on me when I grew up, but The Lanternbearers had an even bigger impact on me – it left me in pieces for days afterwards.

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

I’ve always read as widely as possible to find out what to do – and what not to do. When I was a teenager I was a fan of the works of Colin Forbes, until I realised that he was basically using the same plot in every book, with the names of the suspects changed. I also cannot say how disappointed I was when I read the infamous Stars and Stripes alternate history books by Harry Harrison, which at times veered into ridiculousness. On a more positive note I am constantly astonished by how much David Weber writes every year, as well as how good he is.

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

Swansea, Wales. The minute I see the Mumbles I get all homesick. Well, the minute I see the Black Mountains I tear up.

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

Oddly enough I’ve never had a really bad reaction from any of my written works. I have however had a few bad reactions towards my work from a boss who I will not mention.

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

A lot of political heroes – David Lloyd George. Jo Grimond. David Steel. That should give you an idea of my politics! Other heroes – William Slim, AB Cunningham and Marcus Tullius Cicero. Oh, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Oliver Cromwell.

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

The Other Empire Strikes Back. I remember finishing it and then leaning back and thinking ‘wow, did I really do that?’.

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’s very important to find a plausible point of departure. You can’t just say “Yes, the Soviets will reach the Rhine because Hitler catches a cold”, you have to really choose something consequential. And it’s important to find something that won’t make your readers howl with derision. Some of the most contentious threads on the AltHist.com website came about because the original poster came up with an idea that fit their prejudices and then stuck with that idea despite a torrent of facts and figures being thrown at them by other posters. So, it’s not particularly difficult, but you do have to think about just where the ripples from the changes you made will end up.

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

Not really at the moment, although that was how I started off with writing alternate history.

Question 11
Do you find that much of your writing turns out to be Science Fiction, whether or not it was intended to?

My largest work so far has been the FanFiction works Jedi Harris and The Terran Jedi, both of which have taken me into science fiction territory, somewhat to my surprise. When the plot bunnies bite hard then things can go in unexpected directions! I’m also now working on my first science fiction novel, Earthfall, which be the first volume in a trilogy.

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’d go back in time to the bridge of the SS Californian, to see if they really did see the Titanic on the night that it sank. And if they did I’d like to kick Captain Stanley Lord in the nuts.
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Author Interview with Jasper Barlowe

Jasper Barlowe, age 31, location: Seattle, WA, USA. Studied history at the University of Washington. I was in the Army for a brief period. I’m not a big social media guy. Under the name Thespitron 6000, my major AH thread is “A More Personal Union” (at this link:
http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=193869 ) which diverges from our timeline when Francis II of France does not die early of a brain abscess.

My currently published work is The Red Crow, available at Amazon at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Red-Crow-Jasper-Barlowe-ebook/dp/B00JMHC3VG
It is the first volume in a projected five-volume series of horror/alternate history novels set between 1914 and 1918, concerning an alternate Russian Revolution and World War I. The Red Crow is set in Saint Petersburg in late 1914, where an ancient evil is beginning to rise, threatening the whole of Russia, and eventually, the world. I am currently working on the sequel, to be entitled The Silver Eye.

Question 1
How long have you been writing?

About 18 years. I started when I was in high school, and have been writing off and on for years (with gaps due to various life events).

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

My first published work is a novel available on Amazon, entitled The Red Crow.

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

“Earliest” is a really difficult concept; I’m a voracious reader, and I honestly couldn’t tell you who I was reading when I started writing.

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

H.P. Lovecraft is a huge influence on my writing, as are Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, Robert E. Howard. I’m continually impressed by the transparency of Isaac Asimov’s writing; it’s astonishingly evocative while being as clear as a window pane. I read a lot of humor writers, which, when well-written, are master courses in brevity and wit, vital skills for any writer. I find myself influenced by artists outside of literature as well; musicians and film-makers have a decided impact on my visual conception of certain scenes–Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone, Christopher Nolan, the Wachowski Brothers, Stanley Kubrick, Todd Browning.

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

I’m very much an “atmospheric” writer, so location is extremely important to me. A piece of writing has no verisimilitude if the reader can’t feel themselves in the setting. When writing The Red Crow, I spent countless hours researching Saint Petersburg, specific sites where scenes take place (the Winter Palace, the Mariinsky Hospital, the Admiralty Docks, etc), which was very difficult because most of the source material was in Russian, which I don’t read! Right now I’m being inspired by accounts of abandoned villages in England.

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

The nitpickery some of my alternate history work has received has always surprised me. I’m baffled by the sort of mindset who focuses on one tiny detail and allows it to ruin the whole work for them. If I say Napoleon was 5’3″ when he was actually 5’2″, what difference does that make to the story, really?

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

Unfortunately, all my heroes are authors. H.L. Mencken and Ambrose Bierce remain among my top ten literary heroes, if only for their scathing wit, usually, although not always, targeted at the stupid. I also admire Aristotle, Isaac Newton, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

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

I submitted a story to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction when I was 19 about Christmas on Saturn or something, which I suppose I was proud of at the time. (It was rejected, incidentally.)

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?

Less plausibility and more research. Most of my alternate history is historical, and therefore requires a lot of research into historical events that a science fiction story or fantasy can simply invent. Other genres need to be just as plausible, but invention is more acceptable, I think.

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

Not really, not in that sense, because I find it’s often hard to “stay in character”, as it were. Most of what I write is narrative.

Question 11
Do you find that much of your writing turns out to be Science Fiction, whether or not it was intended to?

No. I have a pretty good idea of what a story is about before I start writing it (“Man discovers he is his own twin”, for example, may or not be science fiction, but “Man discovers he is his own clone” definitely is). I write a lot of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, crime, westerns, and horror because I find “literary fiction” to be boring and usually self-indulgent–writers who can’t write and painters who can’t paint, and so on.

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’d like to know what the hell happened to the Roanoke Colony. Also, the two missing plays of Shakespeare: what were they about, and were they any good?

Jasper Barlowe, Thank You very much!