What inspired you to take the Kirov series a step further with Men Of War?
Unanswered questions. That’s the simplest way to put it. That and the tremendous response from the readers indicating they wanted more. There were still
unanswered questions in my own mind when I finished K-III. 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 can shift in time, what do they do with that power? What happens to the ship and crew when they return home? Then of course another significant issue is what happened to Chief Gennadi Orlov after he made his daring jump to freedom off the coast of Spain?
That’s the one thing the ship has left behind. Is Orlov somehow connected to the war?
Certianly. He is a huge chunk of
unfinished business where Kirov is concerned. 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 Men Of War that will take the Kirov saga in a startling new direction In fact, Orlov’s jump from that KA-226 in book II of the series was intentionally meant to open this door for me on the story. You can think of the first three Kirov novels as a finished trilogy, or even as one long book at over 1000 pages. Men Of War begins the sequel to that tale, and its going to be a much more expansive story. I’ve finished it and I am now, and tying it back to pearls I dropped all through the Kirov Series. You will see that historical characters like Turing, Tovey, Colin Maud of the destroyer Intrepid, Helmut Rosenbaum of U-73 and others all had some tie in to the story as it continues to develop. I dropped many hints throughout the first three books that end up seeding things in Men Of War.
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, though that really blossoms in the next book. There will be naval combat here too, the opening actions of the great war that was foreshadowed throughout the first three books. 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 Commando.
From Kirov III we learn that this war starts in the Pacific. Do we get to see that action here?
Definitely. The headlines from the newspaper recovered on Malus Island all become full blown fictional scenes here in Men Of War. That and more. This is not a
localized event. The tensions that lead to this war are widespread and derive from a worsening global energy situation by 2021, the year this war begins. The world’s major energy
centers now become key strategic geopolitical battlegrounds, and targets for military action. In the 20th century the Middle East and particularly the Persian Gulf was the center of
gravity. It still remains a dangerous flashpoint, but as the story develops the new superfields discovered in Central Asia and the Caspian Basin are now prime real estate where energy is
concerned. Russia lost them after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The old province of Kazakhstan is now the new center of gravity by the year 2021 when Gahwar oil field in Saudi Arabia
goes into steady depletion.
Why does the War Start in the Pacific if this is the case?
Why did WWI ignite in the Balkans and WWII
start with a squabble over Poland? Big conflicts are often triggered by smaller events, like minor earthquakes that are foreshocks to the proverbial “big one” yet to come. The
small flashpoint that ignites the Pacific conflict is also a minor squabble over the oil rights beneath largely deserted islands in the East China Sea. The long standing dispute over
Taiwan is the Poland out there waiting to trigger a wider conflict. These incidents are depicted here in Men Of War, along with action involving the major oil centers of the world
as the story develops into book V, even in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf Of Mexico?
Let’s just say the Russians have a surprise package scheduled for delivery to British Petroleum.
I think I get the picture. Then these scenes become the launching points for the Great War that follows?
Exactly. In Men Of War I have to set these various crisis points and plot lines up and get all the fuses lit. In the meantime, the 1940s story involving the hunt for Orlov runs in the background, and I drop in and out of the 1940s to tell that tale. This volume gets the war underway in a number of these key flashpoints. Of course the action in the Pacific is going to drag Kirov and the entire Red Banner Pacific Fleet into the conflict, but remember...Kirov has Rod-25, and that is a powerful darning needle I can use to stitch the action from the 1940s together with the events of 2021. Let’s just say that Volsky, Karpov and Fedorov have their hands full by the time this one winds up and I lead into the next volume. One of the things they must now decide is what to do with Rod-25.
Another Kirov Series Book will follow Men Of War?
I’m writing volume five right now. It is the depiction of the war, which has a long period of conventional military conflict that keeps winding up the
tension higher and higher. It also focuses more on the major oil centers, most of which rely on naval forces for security. We know those nukes are out there waiting in the silos, but
whether or not they fly is determined by these other events we’ve been discussing. All of the plot lines I seed and grow in Men Of War now bear fruit for the harvest in the fifth book, 9 Days Falling, which will be a trilogy where each book covers three days in the war.
Does the Orlov story conclude here or does it continue in Volume Five?
It continues. It’s just too
much to get done in this fourth book. There is a manhunt for the man that spans eight decades, and Orlov leads the action to an amazing place. But I can’t reveal that now. The NKVD
are after him in 1942, as are Fleming’s 30 Commando, and Fedorov also wants to lead a team with Sergeant Troyak along to go after Orlov from the future. The problem is the war. How
will they do that on the eve of imminent hostilities? Tune in and find out.
Sounds like the fur is going to fly in volume five. Will we see it
any time soon?
Definitely. You’ll get naval action here in Men Of War too, under, on, and over the seas. But the climax of all that is volume V. I try to keep a good balance of combat scenes and character interaction in the series, and I think I’ve achieved that. In Kirov I needed a lot of set-up and character development time, but it still had good combat scenes. Books II and III were more focused on the naval engagements, since I had my characters well drawn by then, though they are all challenged by what happens in those volumes, and they grow and change in different ways in response to those challenges. In Men Of War I am looking at the fate of the main characters, the mystery of Rod-25, and the consequences of what Kirov did in the past. But there is also naval combat as a lead into the war that plays out over nine days beginning in book five.
Thanks John, and good luck with the Kirov series We’ll look forward to “Men of War” and
the story continuing in that fifth book. It has been a great ride so far, and we’re looking forward to more.
INTERVIEW CONTINUES - PART 5