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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

Wow! What an ending to Tide of Fortune!
I wanted to reach the mid point of season 3 with a bang, not a whimper.

Alright… Let’s begin with the BIG question. Is Admiral Volsky really dead?

It certainly seems that way. That was one hell of an explosion when that 16-inch shell from Hindenburg goes off. So yes, this Volsky perishes there on the shattered bridge of HMS Invincible. But remember, there is still another man out there somewhere, our original “Papa Volsky” as first introduced in Book 1.

Wasn’t that ship destroyed in the Paradox ending the second Season?
We don’t know… That is to say the readers don’t know yet, though this is presumed. Paradox cannot allow both ships and crews to exist on the same Meridian, and I have not returned to that ship to relate its final fate, or even hinted that it even still exists. So this question will just have to wait.

I’ll miss the old man.

Readers have written to tell me the same, but he was really not the same Volsky after the Paradox. He did not know anything of what happened in the first two seasons, and so there he was, “filling in” at a post given him by Tovey while Karpov made off with the ship. It was kind of sad, though his death was rather heroic. Life goes on, as this story now continues without him.

The war is really starting to heat up.
Yes, 1942 is a pivotal year. The Allies finally get up off the floor and begin fighting back. Rommel has been stopped in North Africa, and now the Japanese offensive meets its first real challenges in the Pacific, from the British and Siberians, and the Soviets launch their counterattack.

How serious will the loss of those fuel bunkers at Pearl Harbor be?
Quite serious in the short run, though it will not prevent the US from operating with the few carriers it now has. New shipments of fuel, and more importantly, tankers, will soon arrive from the west coast. The Americans were keen on getting in at least one jab with the Doolittle raid, but that will come about in a most unexpected way in this retelling of events.

The German attack on the Canary Islands looks serious.
It’s is a very strong threat to the convoy routes. Once they get Stukas and U-Boats there, and perhaps a surface raider like Kaiser Wilhelm, they can literally cut the British convoy routes to Freetown and Cape Town. Right now that action is still underway. The battle for the main island of Gran Canaria is presented here in Knight’s Move.

This is going to figure heavily in Allied plans for 1942.
Of course. Now that the US is in the war, the big plan was Operation Gymnast, which morphed into Torch. So now they will be looking at how they can begin to mount their own counteroffensive. Those plans will be introduced in the next book as Eisenhower comes on the scene. They have a number of options: a counterattack to stop the Germans in the Canary Islands, or a direct attack against French Northwest Africa. Then there is also the prospect of a landing in neutral Portugal near Lisbon, which would then become an overland drive to Gibraltar. That could be mated with landings in Spanish Morocco. So the Allies have a number of options, yet they all presume that they can maintain control of the seas. Fuerteventura was a hard blow to both sides. That battle for sea control is now more crucial than ever.

It looks like the British will be pushed out of those islands soon after losing Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.  That land based German air power is too much.

Britain has the fighters to stand her ground, if they can get them to the other islands they still control. Remember, they held Malta, which is only 65 to 170 miles from considerable Italian and German air power in Sicily. That is the same distance from Gando Airfield on Gran Canaria to Santa Cruz in Tenerife, 65 miles. And the distance from Gando to yet another base at Santa Cruz La Palma is 165 miles. So these islands will now be as significant as Malta ever was, perhaps even more so. They are the key to the convoy lifelines heading south.

And the story line involving Kaiser Wilhelm is all wrapped up with that.
It is. That is a most crucial sortie, though neither side really knows what is at stake. I can’t go into that here, as it would spoil Knight’s Move, but we’ll talk about it in the interview for Turning Point.

Knight’s Move… I thought that was an odd title, but it has so many meanings in the story.

Yes, it first came to me with the German Operation Rösselsprung, then it dovetailed into things like the new British heavy cruisers, the small yet significant movement of airborne troops in all these actions, and finally, the segments I included concerning Vladivostok in this book.

Did you really dream that stuff about Admiral Knight?
God’s truth! I think the actual words that got stuck in my head were “Captain Knight” and “USS Washington.”  Then I go and find Admiral Knight was the commander of that same ship in the 1920s. The odd thing was that I had not done any research on that yet. It was spooky, so I simply had to do something with that.

There’s more intriguing stuff in this one from Alan Turing.
Yes, there is a most significant development here when Kaiser Wilhelm heads into the South Atlantic. That also dovetails with things that happen in that business with Admiral Knight. I used that segment to fill in some of the back story on the Japanese occupation of Siberian territory, as that part of the war now comes into focus with Karpov’s Plan 7. But there is something else there that readers will not fail to pick up, another tie in to the book’s title.

Is Karpov biting off more than he can chew at the moment?
He has done that in the past, but he is a chastened and clever man here. Fedorov is warning him that Japan will now have to mount a major operation to stop him, and this is the action that lies ahead. In the meantime, you will see how he uses that airship fleet and Kirov to surprise the Japanese on Kamchatka.

So what about Rommel?
I could not get back to him in Knight’s Move, but hope to do so in this next book, Turning Point. He is finally getting new tanks off the production lines, but soon the British will have to decide the issue of what to do with Kinlan’s Brigade. A big offensive is brewing, though both sides are reorganizing after the Gazala line battle. Remember, Rommel lost a regiment of mountain troops to the Canary Islands Offensive, and the Brits lost a good deal more when the Australians pulled out all their veteran divisions. That is partly what is so vital about the Winston Special convoys. They are reinforcing the Canary Islands, Alexandria and also Singapore.

And what about the Russian Front?
That was another similar situation. The Soviets threw in so many reserve armies to try and stop the Germans that they found themselves with little in the bag when Moscow fell. The government is reeling, trying to regain control while putting down Beria’s uprising. Zhukov is desperately trying to plan an offensive, but it cannot happen in December. It’s coming in Turning Point.

There is so much combat in the books now. These last three volumes have had cover to cover action on one front or another.
That will be the template for the foreseeable future. There is so much to cover in the war. I have a lot of things already planned for the next book.

Still on schedule for January?
The holidays are always a tough time, but yes, I will make my deadline as always. In fact, this was a very hard 60 days. I lost one of my dearest friends in September, and then, as if to spite me, my trusty old Toyota gave up the ghost. Yet I managed to finish on schedule, and will continue on as always. The discipline I have now as a writer is the secret to being able to produce at this pace. It’s really not as difficult as it might seem. Every book is structured as twelve parts containing three chapters each, and those chapters average eight pages in length. So I write 4 pages in the morning, 4 in the afternoon, and then proof that chapter after dinner. The next day I do research and gaming if necessary. Then it’s on to the next chapter.

And what’s with these new “Battle Books?” Will the first be out soon?
Yes, readers wrote to tell me they loved all the WWII action, and wanted to re-read it from one book to the next, but they have to go through six or seven novels, hopping to find the next chapter that relates to that action. This gave me the idea for the Battle Books. I’m taking all the chapters relating to a given campaign, some spanning 7 novels, and then melding them into one continuous narrative of that battle. The first deals with the fighting in the Med from Operation Felix to Bir el Khamsa. Think of them like the Director’s cut. They just focus on the WWII action, and primarily stay with the historical characters. Each one covers a full year of the war in that theater, and may present material extracted from six or seven novels, and possibly maps.

That’s a great idea! Well, we’re excited to get our hands on Knight’s Move, and also look forward to starting the year off with Turning Point.  Thanks John!

The Kirov Saga
Season 3

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The Kirov Saga
Season 2

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And coming in January!

Kirov Saga:

Turning Point

Knight’s Move

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