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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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The Kirov Saga
Season 1

A continuing Interview with John Schettler - Author Of the Kirov series novels.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW on Nemesis and Winter Storm

So Karpov meets his other self in Nemesis, and the two now switch places!

Yes, and that was inevitable. The Siberian has been scheming on how he can get his hands on Kirov for a very long time, and he is not even going to let his own self get in the way this time.

He has this way of sounding oh so reasonable. That man could talk his way out of hell!
And he often gets himself there by his impulsive actions, but we are beginning to see a new Karpov now. His experience, having fought and lost, has all conspired to give him a new dimension. So it is no surprise that he talks his younger “brother” out of the Captain’s chair, but I’ve also done this for a reason, as you will see later.

Of course, Karpov has plans for the Japanese.

Definitely, and particularly now that he has assumed the role of head of the Free Siberian State after Tyrenkov arranges the death of Kolchak. He sees the Ob River line relatively quiet now, as Volkov has pulled troops off for his Volga offensive. So this is the perfect opportunity for Karpov to deal with the threat that will surely rise on his eastern flank, the Japanese.

They will certainly be a serious threat, both on land and at sea with the altered naval order of battle they have.
Of course, with HMS Invincible at sea, and the Hindenburg, the Japanese Navy has a few new surprises too. That’s all part of the altered history, and this largely dates back to Karpov’s earlier intervention in 1908. Remember, Tojo faced a real fire breathing dragon at Tsushima Straits, and the so the Japanese built a much stronger navy.

Yet before we get to the Pacific, most of this book is on the Eastern front and in North Africa. There’s a lot going on in the cover art!

Yes, the cover depicts the advance on Moscow, and the two tanks above face off in the desert war. Then there’s the Japanese plan to attack Pearl harbor, so this one is loaded with the history. Operation Typhoon continues here is greater detail, for it was perhaps the most critical battle of that year. Many historians believe Germany lost the war right there, in the snows before Moscow, and they make some very good arguments. So that battle has to be presented in detail, and it also gives me a vehicle to get the Big Cats into the story, as readers will soon see.

Nemesis set up a lot of opposite pairs, Fedorov vs Karpov, Kurt Knispel vs Dmitri Lavrinenko, etc.
I had to do a lot of tilling of the soil in Nemesis, but now the seeds planted there begin to grow.  Of course, if you introduce a new tank like the Germans are doing here, you’ve got to show it in action. Those characters were the perfect way to do that. Nothing like a pair of tank aces matching metal and wits on the field of battle, and with high stakes. I presented the sea duel between Invincible and Hindenburg, with Tovey vs Lütjens opposed on the character level in Doppelganger. This is about the men, and the machines of war they built, and the outcome of those conflicts.

Too bad for Lütjens.

Yes, he meets his historical fate and is killed, though his ship survives to fight again. Adler remains Captain, and there will be a chapter in Winter Storm where you will learn Raeder’s new strategy for 1942 naval operations in the Atlantic.

The blurb at the end of Nemesis mentioned a new discovery by Professor Dorland. Is that also presented here?
I had hoped to cover that in this volume, but since the resolution of Operation Typhoon took twelve chapters, I had to hold it for a later volume. The good professor goes home, but does not appear here in Winter Storm. This was so I could give the chapters needed for the war scenes, particularly Typhoon, and Operation Crusader.

Yes, that was another nice surprise, as it wasn’t mentioned in the Winter Storm preview blurb.
I write those at the very end of each novel, and  try to describe what I intend to cover next, but the story goes its own way at times. In this case, Dorland exits stage left, though he will return with his hunt for the lost key, and in his place you get more of Rommel, O’Connor, Montgomery, and Operation Crusader. There’s a lot going on in late 1941. Operation Crusader was one of those key battles, so another round of desert fighting is on the menu here. This is a slightly revised plan for the British, but everyone involved in the battle learns some valuable lessons.  The Germans have a very good position on the Gazala Line, and the British know that they have to attack it and open the roads onto Cyrenaica again.

Yet both sides bounced back and forth so many times. Why do they want that useless desert?

Well… because it’s not just empty sand. The peninsula is very strategic. The Germans have great airfields there to use against both Egypt and Crete, which is still British occupied. German possession of Cyrenaica also shields the important harbor facilities at Benghazi, guards the roads to their main port at Tripoli, and keeps British bombers far from the now German occupied bastion of Malta. So there’s a lot at stake there, and this is why Rommel refused to retreat, even after his second defeat at the hands of Kinlan’s Heavy Brigade.

Why didn’t Kinlan just finish him off in Crescendo Of Doom?
Because Kinlan’s force is a limited asset, extremely powerful, like Kirov itself, but a force that diminishes every time it is used. So the British had to build up 8th Army again, particularly their armor, though Operation Crusader showed them how woefully inferior their cruiser tanks were.

Particularly now that the Germans are getting new tanks.
Correct. The British are behind on tank designs, and relying on the Americans to send them Stuarts  and Grants, but Kinlan puts the fear of the Lord into them and tries to get them moving, as you’ll see in this book. You see, I have Kinlan there, but it’s going to be a long war. So the British put his brigade into a defensive reserve, and they try to take on Rommel themselves.

But doesn’t that rig the jury? How can Rommel ever win with Kinlan’s Brigade backstopping the 8th Army?

Perhaps he can’t win, as he certainly lost even without Kinlan’s troops in the desert. But all that remains to be seen. Rommel is adapting and changing too. While he still has all the energy and drive that characterized his operations, he is now more cautious, drawing on other experience he had in WWI, and learning how to defend against the power of this unstoppable British tank. He is no longer the man who made that mad dash to the wire in the historical Operation Crusader. The tactics he devises will stand him in good stead later in the war… Assuming he survives in North Africa.

So we get three battles here in this one. The war is heating up!
Call it 2.5, as the Pacific thing will spill over into the opening of Tide of Fortune to do it justice. There’s a lot happening as we enter 1942. Of course the war in Russia continues, a titanic struggle there that moves from one dramatic battle to another. I’ll cover the most important developments on that front, including what happens with Manstein’s southern offensive  to attempt the linkup with Orenburg. That has been mentioned in briefings, and some narrative, but the drama near Volgograd will be a big part of 1942. In North Africa, fighting near the Gazala line continued after Crusader, and at Bir Hakeim, El Alamein and El Aghelia those last two depend on who wins at Gazala, which is far from decided. Then the Allies also have to decide what to do about the Vichy French West African Colonies, which is what eventually led to Operation Torch.

Yet they cannot invade at Algiers and Oran because the Germans hold Gibraltar.
True, which begs the question as to what the British will plan to do about that? They know that any campaign against French North Africa must eventually put Gibraltar back into the cross hairs again. They must have it back, particularly because they now know where one of the time rift portals is there under St Michael’s Cave. So 1942 will see that question decided. There will likely be fighting in the Atlantic, the issue of Casablanca, Gibraltar, and then the door for an operation like Torch would be open again. In the meantime, the Germans will have plans of their own, as Admiral Raeder begins to explain in Winter Storm. The Allies eventually pushed Rommel into Tunisia by the end of 1942, but we’ll see how the Desert Fox fares here in these Altered States.

And in the Pacific?
That entire war chronology is riding the whirlwind now. It will all depend on what Karpov actually does.

Can he really back down the Japanese Navy, and by extension Japan’s entire war effort?
Hitler doesn’t think so… But then Hitler is not Vladimir Karpov, so we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, enjoy this one, Operation Typhoon, Operation Crusader, and the events taking the  Japanese up the foothills of Mount Niitaka. What happens next decides how all those other dominoes fall in the Pacific War. CLICK TO CONTINUE

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The Kirov Saga
Season 2

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The Kirov Saga
Season 3

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And more to come is the Kirov Series enters 1942 in the next volume:

Tide of Fortune

Coming Sept, 2015

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