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!