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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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

The Kirov Saga
Season 1

So Halder finally gets his wish, and the Germans are actually in Moscow.
Other armies have been there before, most notably the French under Napoleon. And like Napoleon, they find the place on fire. Three quarters of the city was burned in September of 1812, over a four day period. That was probably caused by a combination of sabotage by the Russians and looting by the Grand Armee. This time it was Beria.

It was a great image, with the German troops literally fighting their way into the city behind that fire. But what happened to the Siberian 3rd Shock Army?

A question Sergei Kirov might ask. That will be explained in part I of Tide of Fortune.

I must admit, I did not see Beria’s plot coming.
Nor did Kirov. Berzin had his suspicions, and you will soon see what happens with that, and whether Kirov survives.

The question now is whether Soviet Russia will survive now that the Germans are in Moscow.
That was a hard blow, but it was only a thousand kilometers from the Polish frontier to Moscow. The Soviets control another 500 kilometers of territory behind that city, and then there is Siberia, now firmly allied with the Soviet State. Remember also that the Germans did not mount the drive on Leningrad. They just took Lithuania, Belarus and parts of Latvia near Riga, then halted so that city is still firmly in Soviet hands. Now it remains to be seen as to whether the Russians can mount an effective Winter Counterattack. Zhukov had been planning one, but the defense of Moscow had plundered most of the armies he wanted to use for that. There is no guarantee he will be able to do so in this history. We shall have to see.

Moving to the Pacific, Japan’s entry into the war came right on schedule.
Some events simply have such magnetism that they are doomed to occur. Pearl Harbor was averted in one telling of these events, after Karpov Nuked the Mississippi. But that does not happen in this loop through the history, so Pearl Harbor is a given. This is a perfect example of Fedorov’s cracked mirror theory. It still reflects perfectly in places, yet is shattered and distorted in others.

Yet Karpov didn’t make it to the party on time.
He’ll get there, as you will see in Tide of Fortune. But he has plans within plans. I dropped a hit here and there in his conversations with Tyrenkov. Plan 7 will begin to develop in the coming books.

I also assume we will see Volkov’s next attempt to seize Ilanskiy.
Yes, he will mount his third sortie, this time with a full division behind the troops he bring son his Zeppelins. Karpov’s “Younger self” will be called to battle now aboard Tunguska, and you will see how he does in this next book.

Let’s see, so we get the resolution of Pearl Harbor, Karpov’s intervention, trouble in Moscow, then Volkov’s attack. Sounds like this next volume is loaded with combat.
That’s just the first half. There will also be two other major battles covered. Remember, Japan is now raging into the Philippines and Malay. There is coverage there, but I also include a little known episode concerning Operation PLUM, Roosevelt’s relieve convoy to MacArthur, and its fate.

I didn’t know about that.
Few people do, but I present it here to detail changes in this alternate history as they have affected the Pacific. It illustrates and introduces the strategic situation that the Allies will face soon as they recover from Pearl Harbor. You will also learn about something that happened at Pearl that has a big impact. This battle takes six chapters, and then at the end I take us back to the Atlantic where the Germans launch a major operation. So the book is mostly combat of one form or another, perhaps more than in any other volume of the series.

This has all got to be driving Professor Dorland crazy. Does he appear here in this next volume?
I had planned to revisit the Meridian team, but there was just no room in Tide of Fortune. So I’ll get back to him later, when I need him. That plot line will have to do with the Keyholder’s Saga. It will continue to be woven through the story line, but for now, there were too many battles to cover. 1942 opens with a bang.

And what about Rommel’s tide of fortune?
He has his difficulties, as we have seen. Crüwell wants to attack in the traditional way, leading with his panzers, and he has some success against the Crusader Operation. But then there is Kinlan, always that absolute factor in the background that serves to check German offensive operations.

How can he ever take Tobruk, let alone advance into Egypt to eventually set up El Alamein?

Perhaps he cannot, though he is only now beginning to receive his allotment of the Big Cats. That said, those tanks may shock the British, as the UK is woefully behind in tank development, though they are working on new models with help from Kinlan. Up until now, things have been handled with white gloves by the men from 2021. They have intervened, and decisively, when needed, but an attitude if forming that leads them to decide that if they are in for a penny, they are in for a pound. You will see this in the new little alliance between Fedorov and Karpov.

So what will Rommel do?
At the moment, he’s been holding on the Gazala line, and the British Crusader offensive here was hoping to push him off that, but he is stubborn. He fought the British to a draw, frustrating their offensive, but he is still not capable of launching a convincing counteroffensive aimed at Egypt. The action later in Tide of Fortune will also impact his situation, for good and for ill. Germany has another  offensive planned,  but not where you might expect. It is an indirect offensive conceived by Raeder, an operation he wanted to conclude right after Operation Felix. In this history, I call it Operation Condor, and it sets up a major battle in the Atlantic.

Another big naval duel?
That and more. It’s all in the book, the last six chapters of Tide of Fortune. But it is so big it will carry over to the next volume as well. Germany finally does what it should have done in 1940, and targets the Canary Islands in a major operation. They bypassed Crete, but now they use the airborne troops here, and if they are successful  it could have major ramifications.

Yet you must already know whether or not they succeed, yes?
Not really. At the outset, I have some general notion of their prospects, for any side in a battle I present. But then I actually simulate it, using methods I’ve developed long ago in my war game design years, and using numerous computer programs. I run these simulations over and over as I am writing, testing what I’m doing in the story to see how they would most likely resolve. So it isn’t a matter of me simply deciding to sink this or that ship, or to have the Germans do this or that. These things happen in the simulations, and then I fictionalize the outcomes in the story.

Cool. So then there is a sense of unknowing as to the outcome.

Correct. I make good and well educated guesses, but I need to back that up with as much simulation as possible, and I do this in great detail. I simulated the attack at Ilanskiy right down to company level. The Condor attack plan was simulated both at Regimental scale, and then again down at Battalion/Company level. I do this until I get what I judge to be the most likely outcome. All the battles were done this way, The entire east front thing, and then all of Operation Scimitar, all the fighting in North Africa, and I had the attack on Gibraltar designed down to Company / Platoon level.

I’m told something very dramatic ends this volume,
You might call it that, but I certainly can’t comment further. But yes, something happens here that I did not even expect. But it happened in the simulation, and so I took it to a place in the story where it needed to go. I have something in mind down the road that I need to lay groundwork for, and the ending of Tide of Fortune is setting that up. You will just have to wait and see.

We’re half way through season three with this release. Any idea where this season will end up?
Given the detail I put into the story, a single season seems to cover about one year of the war. Season two took us from June of 1940 to about June of 1941. Season three actually brought us through the effects of Paradox hour, and the Doppelganger effects that splits Karpov. My guess is that I may get to June of 1942, but I just see how it pans out.

Do you want to do the entire war?
I’d love to. It would be quite an achievement. As long as there’s a readership out there, I will continue this alternate history. The war is really heating up now, and there are some very dramatic battles ahead. I’d love to take the readers there, along with Kirov, Argos Fire and Kinlan’s Brigade.

Sign me up!
 

The Kirov Saga
Season 3

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The Kirov Saga
Season 2

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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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