Tag Archives: history

Book Review – Zhirinovsky’s Russian Empire

Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire: An Alternate HistoryZhirinovsky’s Russian Empire: An Alternate History by D.F. Pellegrino

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a mighty book, of significant length, wide and ambitious plot, and global scope. It is one of those works of Alternate History that never lets the threads escape, and is masterful example of how the butterfly effect can work, and can work in the most unexpected ways.

The basic plot is that Vladimir Zhirinovsky becomes Russian leader instead of Yeltsin, but the book is so much more than that. Whilst the butterflies unleashed mostly have their origin inside Russia/CIS lands (as we would term them), their effects have dramatic consequences in the Balkans, in the Baltic states, and across Africa, not to mention within the USA itself.

Characters we know from history play greatly varied roles, some similar to their real ones, some vastly different as the butterflies multiply and the knock-on effects of history gather momentum.

But this book is far from dry, and in fact there are tremendous moments of emotional tension, moving scenes, heart-rending stories and heart-warming stands. The power of the emotive response that this book evokes is a significant testament to its author.

There is throughout a curious sub-plot, epitomised by one Mr Putin as a conspiracy theorist, but are things always what they seem?



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Interview with Spanish Spy

I’m from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and I go by the name SpanishSpy on AlternateHistory.com (I can’t say I’m too comfortable giving out information on the Internet). A list of my works on that site can be found here:- http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php/offtopic/spanishspy

How long have you been writing?

I first creatively wrote in 4th and 5th grade by writing script-like “comics” to friends of mine via email. I wrote my first AH in 6th grade (I was 11 or 12) with the PoD being if John Cabot’s expedition became violent with Native Americans. This butterflied into a war between England, France, and Spain.

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

I’m no published author, so I can’t say anything on this. The closest thing I can get to is my first work of AH that I put on the internet, which was originally a project I did for my 8th grade geography class. It was called The Hammer, the Sickle, the Earth, and was a blatant Sovietwank, with a balkanized America, a USSR that went as far west as Germany and as far south as Vietnam, as well as directly annexing western Canada after its PoD, where the Soviet Union intervenes in the Korean War on the behalf of the Chinese. Things get horrendously implausible from there, but I had a hell of a lot of fun writing it.

Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?
When I was in Middle School, my father let me read several books in his collection of science fiction novels; one of my favorites was Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. Coincidentally, a friend of mine got me a collection of his stories, and I later read the Space Odyssey novels in addition to several others by him, and then onto Asimov, Niven, Heinlein, Bear, and others. This interest in science fiction led me one day to looking up more books on the internet, and I found out about Harry Turtledove’s WorldWar series. After gleefully reading all eight books, I read all eleven books of TL-191 in quick succession, and then The Guns of the South, The Man with an Iron Heart, and many others, and then other alternate history off of Amazon on my Kindle.

Also during Middle school I was exposed to the general “international politics” (for lack of a better term) interest that I had, which evolved after gushing over the lore of the Command and Conquer series of PC games. They took me to theoretical World War III scenarios on YouTube (which are in retrospect absolutely implausible), and then I found the videos of a user named alternatehistorypt, whose videos are not plausible either but served to eventually put me on the path of actual alternate history.

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

I’m a little odd in that I haven’t read much for a while, and yet I am an utter geek. A lot of my influences, therefore, have been from games on the PC. There’s a lot of Command and Conquer influences in my work, subtle they may be. My work, The Beacon of Halifax, has taken a good deal of inspiration from Bioshock: Infinite after being inspired in part by Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Perhaps it is best I break down my influences by significant works:
Liberty and Death: a Timeline of an Otherworldly Revolution and Beyond: this was inspired by a ghost story I read in the books Weird Massachusetts by Jeff Belanger, and I subsequently blew it out of all rational proportions. One of the major characters in the timeline, Thompson Phillips, was an actual but obscure man, and the house owned by John Hancock in the timeline was really owned by him, but in OTL never used by him.
The Beacon of Halifax: as I said before, it was inspired by Command and Conquer 3, in addition to a trip I took to Halifax, Nova Scotia between 8th grade and my freshman year of high school. In the PC game, a major plot point is an earthly explosion beginning an alien invasion. In my work, the 1917 Halifax Explosion is the catalyst to a similar invasion. Additionally, some ideas have been inspired by Bioshock: Infinite. On the topic of books, Harry Turtledove’s WorldWar has been a source of inspiration.
Emancipation and Exodus: This was inspired more by the general sociopolitical zeitgeist of the 2010s, especially by the controversy from the Snowden leaks and the growth of the security/bureaucratic state; I think that if a literary critic or an anthropologist reads it after a few decades, they would be able to say it is a product of these times. In the updates I’ve written, at least (my coauthor, Blackjack555, may be thinking something different), there are themes of government corruption, disillusionment with public figures and institutions, corruption of noble ideals, the growth of government bureaucracy, and how a democracy could become tyranny gradually. Aesthetically, it takes a few pages from Ad Astra per Aspera, an amazing work on alternatehistory.com by the user Rvbomally (which partially inspired the idea of alternate history extended into the future; the core of it is based on an idea for a story my coauthor had). Thematically, it borrows some from Bioshock Infinite and a little from the CoDominium series by Jerry Pournelle.
Scorpions in a Bottle: I wanted to do what David Bar Elias did to TL-191 to For Want of a Nail. This timeline is a result.

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

On occasion, I try to describe a city, for example, based on what the suburbs of Washington look like, as well as the countryside of north-central Virginia (where my family goes on day trips to). Other inspirations have included southwestern Texas and Washington proper, as well as bits of London and rural Lincolnshire.

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

I did something stupid while writing The Beacon of Halifax and got chewed out for it. It was surprising, but I understood the rationale for it. However, I feel I’ve turned that poor decision into a very interesting plot point, so I feel it’s become a net positive. It’s even influenced, for the better, my conception of the timeline’s future twenty years or so after the current point.

Are there any themes driving your writing?

I have always found the approach of taking a theme and then writing about it as producing preachy, heavy handed works that are often dull; only a few works in my experience, like Orwell’s 1984, do it well. Rather, I start with a setting, and the themes grow out of them. For example, The Beacon of Halifax lets me explore the concept of what TvTropes calls “Evil vs. Oblivion,” the question of to what extent is it morally sound to support an evil individual or regime to fight an even greater evil? This is the focus of the recent arc focusing on Grayson Chester’s liberation of Memphis.
Despite my dislike for that method, I am guilty of writing with a theme in mind (but it did not arise until well into planning it), in Emancipation and Exodus. I find the notion that, in the future, humanity will somehow become better morally and ethically to be naïve and, frankly, childish. Star Trek, for example, uses this idea, and I vehemently disagree with it. People are, by their nature (in my opinion), shortsighted, vindictive, vengeful, brutal, and murderous, and no amount of charity or goodwill is able to fully overcome that. The future (of an alternate history with a 21st century PoD, so many things are still recognizable to us) of Emancipation and Exodus is a brutal one, where a hyperpower exploits human space at its leisure while being impeded by an overwhelming bureaucracy and politicization of most issues. The history of this universe is a bleak one, with multiple wars with liberal nuclear and chemical weapons usage (a favorite tactic of this hyperpower is the issuing of vaccines to citizens who swear allegiance to it on a newly conquered or rebellious world, while an artificial plague runs rampant on those that did not – credit to my coauthor, Blackjack555, for this idea).

What makes this so compelling to me is that, even in space, people are still people (I see this phrase as a sort of thematic statement of that work). I feel that, given the power to do so, people would do all the things in this timeline in real life. I find it interesting to subvert common science fiction tropes with a barbarous twist; rather being some uplifting, species unifying occurrence, the discovery of Faster-than-Light travel is during a major war and is subsequently used to kill thousands of innocents to prove a political point.
And yet, this theme of the inherent humanity of people is not necessarily pessimistic all of the time in that work; there are other touches in the story that are kinder and more mundane. People sell tacky gifts at spaceports and sing angry songs at rivals in love, and gush over the taste of a good hamburger (from Earth, even). One of my favorite examples is the name of a planet: Dote di Vittoria, or ‘Victoria’s Dowry’ in English. The backstory behind this is, when the system was surveyed, a young surveyor smitten with the daughter of a mining magnate, claims the mineral-rich world in his name and gives to his family in exchange for permission to marry his daughter. It’s romantic, perhaps melodramatic, but people are just that way.

Are there any genres, whether thematic or stylistic, that you enjoy writing?

In terms of subject, I usually write Alien Space Bats works mainly because those are most of my ideas and because I am afraid any non-ASB idea would be poorly executed (I have one such idea with a point of divergence in the Mexican Revolution that I am terrified of writing because of fear that it would be implausible). ASB lets me take the real and disrupt it with the absurd or impossible, and see the realistic (to a given degree) response of the actual world in question, a confluence of the real and unreal that I find quite fun to write.
In terms of style, I like writing in a textbook style moreso than a novelistic style, as it allows me to cover more history while not restricting myself to certain perspectives (although the latter approach certainly has its advantages, and I enjoy writing my timelines in that style). I once talked to someone of whom I had made an acquaintance about Emancipation and Exodus, and he insisted that I needed a central character to explore the universe. Had this conversation occurred over the internet rather than in person, I would have sent him that image macro that says “that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.” I find the ‘macro’ of history far more interesting than the ‘micro’ of history, so to speak, and Emancipation and Exodus is written from the ‘macro’ perspective, giving multiple points of view from different time periods, expounding on the theme of the corruption and decay of a noble ideal. EaE is not a drama of a few people; it’s the tragedy of a species.

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

The Rise of the Tri-State World Order: A Timeline of Orwell’s 1984 was my first work that was critically praised, and reflected a massive effort on my part, writing four to five pages a day, plus research, for about three weeks, with the resultant product being fifty-five pages long. It was originally a project for an English class, and I got the highest grade possible, so that’s a plus. Getting the 2014 Turtledove for Best New Speculative certainly helps as well (my highest thanks to those who voted for it).
The other work that I am quite proud of is my Christmas special for the year of 2013, So Be Good for Goodness’ Sake: A Holiday Timeline. It’s a parody of the general feeling of government paranoia and public distrust of government in the 2010s, especially in the wake of the Snowden leaks, while framed in the context of a government pursuit of Santa Claus; in a phrase, it’s ‘Santa Claus vs. the NSA.’ There are some scenes where the tragedy of the story is balanced by the inherent absurdity that having Santa Claus as a character entails, and I think personally I used that juxtaposition effectively.

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

Yes. I spend a lot of time fact-checking, even down to slang and tidbits of everyday life, to ensure a feeling of authenticity. Most of my work is ASB (if not all of it), but I want to make sure it’s an accurate world that I am messing around with. It’s just so much more fun seeing a historically accurate world interrupted by something bizarre and impossible, rather than a half-baked, poorly researched one, which just becomes something focused on the bizarreness of the whole thing, lacking the characteristic of disrupted realism that good alternate history has.
Additionally, Emancipation and Exodus is not written in chronological order like my other works; the timeline jumps around century to century. Keeping continuity is hard, and I often have a second tab with the timeline open while writing to keep my writing consistent with established canon. For my older works, such as Liberty and Death, The Beacon of Halifax, and Scorpions in a Bottle also require such constant continuity-checking.

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

Yes; in some ways I find it more interesting than a narrative format, detailed above in my discussion of the structure of Emancipation and Exodus. Both Scorpions in a Bottle and Emancipation and Exodus are in a variety of nonfiction formats, while Tim Kane Lives is exclusively written as a series of news articles; it is intended, to a degree, to be a parody of the 2016 US Presidential Elections we see quite frequently on AH.com’s future history forum. Additionally, many of my oneshots are in the format of a history text; Wheels of the Patriots is in the format of an encyclopedia entry. As stated previously, I enjoy this format as it allows for a more full understanding of the world and the issues at hand; it feels more real, more understandable, and more complete.
Perhaps most interesting in terms of format is my work The Creators of This Hell: an Alternate 1940s, which I wrote as a background guide for a Model United Nations conference that I was chairing for middle school students. They were supposed to assume the roles of countries in this universe and debate two topics (which are given special treatment in the work) of concern in a mock League of Nations session; the work itself is in the format of a LoN dossier.

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

If it is extended into the future, it naturally becomes Science Fiction due to the necessity of extrapolating changes in technology; certainly even when it is not science fiction, there is some of that. Some of my work shows some science-fiction-like elements; Liberty and Death required some creative thinking in regards to technology merging the designs of Da Vinci with technology of the 1700s; we have Congreve Rocket-powered airships launched from France invading Britain, and fighters in the sky intercepting enemy aircraft, as well as Da Vinci style circle tanks armed with Congreve Rocket batteries and cannons, and on one occasion Greek Fire. Liberty and Death generally verges on a form of clockpunk for the Catholic Church and associated nations and Magitek for the United States of Fredonia, as I call it; the latter uses magic-powered aircraft that act essentially like fighter planes and cargo variants of these are gradually phasing out naval ships.

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.
__________________

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.

Tagged and Answering

Thanks to Devorah Fox (http://devorahfox.com/index.php/2014/03/blog-tag/)

Thank You for the tag, here are my answers to the questions!

1. What are you currently working on?

I have just relaunched Ten Naval Battles so my major foci are on completing the launch of Farflame (Resistance), my newest collection of poetry, and compiling the alternate history ‘Tsar Michael The Great’

2. How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Both Ten Naval Battles and Tsar Michael The Great are written in the alternate history genre but not as stories, but rather faux histories. They are like Hector Bywater’s great book ‘The Great Pacific War’ in this.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I like to change the past! And by changing the past to change the present! And then give me a canvas to paint a world on.

4. How does your writing process work?

I am a creature of Chaos. I might sit down with an idea and begin. I might have a scene, or a dream or something and try to make more of it. When I try to sit down and create a world I end up with a great world but no plot.

I will tag 3 authors.

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