The subtitle is a pretty solid hint about the action in Kirov III--Pacific Storm
Yes, I just
couldn’t walk away from the story until I took the ship to one of my favorite naval theaters, the Pacific, and so I continued on after K-II ended and forged right ahead into K-III, Pacific Storm. There
were just too many unanswered questions after I finished K-II. What Happened to Desron 7 was one of them, but beyond that there was the issue of how and why the ship displaced in time in
the first place, and I answer that definitively in K-III.
There’s an Alternate History of the Pacific War Here.
course! Kirov’s actions in book I caused a radical change. Japan does not attack Pearl Harbor because the war begins in August of 1941 after the attack on the US Task Force 16 and
the sinking of Wasp and other ships .There is also another point of divergence when Yamamoto selects the drive south against Australia instead of the Midway plan. This is the action that
Kirov becomes entangled with.
How does the ship get to the Pacific?
They vanish just as they reach St Helena at the end of
K-II, and appear in that same bleak future they glimpsed at the end of K-I. Thinking the Pacific southern hemisphere might have survived the disaster, they sail there to investigate
before they are again displaced in time.
There’s lots of action in this one
Perhaps more than any other novel in the
series. The IJN was a very competent force, with strong carrier groups and some of the best battleships in the world. So you are going to see carrier action with Admiral Hara 5th Carrier
Division being the first to stumble on Kirov, then Captain Sanji Iwabuchi takes up the chase in the battleship Kirishima.
Then the finale--The Battleship Yamato.
That action was a must have for this period. It’s been talked about endlessly in the forums. How would a modern ship fare against a reall good battleship
from WWII. The answer, at least as I see it, is here.
But there are many other issues tackled in t book III as well.
I also reveal what started the final war
that so devastated the world, and you learn whether Kirov had something to do with that. But the heart of the novel is the incredible duel the ship fights with the Imperial Japanese Navy. It trumps everything that came before it.
Perfect! Does this conclude the series or do you have another book in mind?
That depends on the readers. They are the ones who have motivated me to continue the series beyond Book I. The third book resolves many things and brings the
series to a satisfying ending as a trilogy, but there were still unanswered questions in my own mind when I finished. For example, what do the men at Bletchley Park and Whitehall do
with the knowledge and intelligence they have gained on the ship? Do any other nations discover what they have learned? Do the Russians, for example ever learn what Tovey knows? And now
that the officers aboard Kirov know how they were displaced in time, what do they do with that knowledge? What happens to the ship and crew when they return home?
Book Four Will have a lot of ground to cover.
Yes, and another significant issue is what happened to Chief Gennadi Orlov after he made his
daring jump to freedom off the coast of Spain? Astute readers may have noticed that he’s carrying a Glock Pistol, the one he called “Comrade Glock” in the first Kirov novel. Well that gun wasn’t designed for another 60 years! Beyond that, Orlov has taken something else, though I won’t reveal that just now. Well, I realized that there was another whole story there, and one that would involve intrigue, naval action, spy masters, Orlov, as well as members of the original crew. It all was blossoming in my mind as I wrote K-III, and so I laid some groundwork throughout the story for a novel I’m calling “Men Of War” that will take the Kirov saga in a startling new direction. I’m knee deep in it now, and tying it back to pearls I dropped all through the Kirov Series.
Will Men Of War still feature the ship itself and the characters there?
Yes. Men Of War will reprise Admiral Volsky, Anton Fedorov, Vladimir Karpov, Gennadi Orlov, Admiral John Tovey, Alan Turing’s code breakers in Hut 4, and a whole bunch more, even some interesting work for the implacable Sergeant Kandemir Troyak. You will see that I dropped many hints throughout the first three books that end up seeding things in Men Of War.
There will be naval combat here too, but I can’t reveal any of that now because it derives from a situation at the very end of Kirov-III. There will also be some cloak and
dagger special services action. In fact, Ian Fleming, the man who went on to write the James Bond series, is actually a character in the next book. He established the elite British 30
You love military history—that’s evident in your writing.
Yes, I’ve read and studied military history all my life, and I was a professional war game designer through the 1990s. I’d say I probably know more about WWII than any of the generals who fought it, and a lot of this interest finds its way into my fiction. The Meridian time travel series is a typical example. With time travel you get to choose all your favorite places in history and then go exploring.
Meridian won book of the year award for Science Fiction, which must have been exciting.
Yes, I won
the silver medal for Sci-fi in 2002 with ForeWord magazine. That helped get me a little attention and made Meridian my top selling novel for some years. It also motivated me to fire up my time machine and visit some of my favorite places with sequels — Lawrence of Arabia, the Crusades, Napoleon in Egypt, the Battle of Tours and then I wound up the whole series with a book called Golem 7. That volume comes right from my love of battleships and naval engagements. I read all the books on the hunt for the Bismarck when I was a tadpole. So I finished up my Meridian series novels with an alternate history retelling of the Bismarck chase. In fact, that book was what led me to continue naval fiction and write Kirov, as
I said earlier. The historical figure Admiral John Tovey makes his first appearance in Golem 7, and he will also be a key figure in “Men Of War.”
What was your first novel?
A book called Wild Zone, which was a classic Science Fiction yarn about
an earth colony prospect that has been infected by an insidious virus that can alter the course of evolution. I actually developed a computer game about it, in the old Infocom style of
text based games if you’ve ever heard of them, and then thought–well, just write the whole story. It ended up as a trilogy, though I have only published the first two volumes.
But I remain close to the story, as it was my first, and it had a lot of things I like to write and read about—biotech, robots, military action, starship battles—a real space
opera kind of sci-fi epic.
What are your other books about?
I also have another historical fiction story I call my “Silk
Road Series.” It’s a long epic story of a caravan master on the Silk Road, who gets embroiled in the conflict between Tibet and China. I call it a hybrid of two of my favorite
books, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and James Clavell’s Shogun. That book is perhaps my best from the standpoint of the pure craft of writing. I realize it may
not interest fans of Kirov, but I really put my heart and soul into that one. It was originally going to be a long heroic fantasy novel. In fact, I wrote the first three chapters
in that imaginary world of my own making. Then I thought that so many other writers had done this so well, Tolkien, George Martin’s wonderful stuff. So I decided to re-tool and put
the story into the real world, in a real time and place at the edge of the Taklamakan desert along the Silk Road. I don’t regret that decision at all, but it made me really work to
do the necessary research that must underpin a good historical fiction. I loved it.
And I see you’ve also got a horror story in the mix.
Yes, a kind of mythic mystery horror novel that was originally titled Steamboat Slough. I just couldn’t find an audience for
that story, though I thought it contained some of my best writing. My editors finally convinced me that both the title and book cover were completely impenetrable, and did not convey
anything of what the book was about, so it has just been re-tooled and released under the new title of Dream Reaper. It’s about an ancient entity that has reportedly preyed on humans in their sleep for centuries, across every culture and era. I once taught high school in an Eskimo village in Alaska, so I used that experience to give me my setting. Amazingly, I found evidence of this entity even in the Eskimo legends and lore, so my story here is about a teacher who goes back to visit his old school in Alaska on a vacation and is stalked by this thing. The book is “chilling” in more ways than one.
Sounds like a great read! Thanks John, and good luck with the Kirov trilogy! We’ll look forward to “Men of War” too.
INTERVIEW CONTINUES - PART 4