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 –
My Facebook profile is here –
The Fireflies of Port Stanley –
Cato’s Cavalry –
Cato’s Cavalry 2 –
Splinters –
The Books From The Future –

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 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.