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

The Kirov Saga

Wow...9 Days Falling really opened the story in many new directions!

It did, and I suppose it challenged readers a bit. There was a lot of new material there, particularly in the Fairchild plot line. It's very essential to the story, though I know there are some who might just want me to stay with the characters from Kirov. Well, the old guard gets a lot of print in this volume, as readers will see

I actually loved the Fairchild stuff...It was easy to empathize with Ben Flak and Mudman, and the nice naval spin with Argos Fire kept it in the main vein of the series itself.

Thanks. The Fairchild line is very crucial for a number of reasons: First it shows where the next war will be fought in the energy centers of the world, and how it begins over a dispute for control of an isolated island group...with oil and gas rights beneath it. Then it links to Tovey’s “Watch” through Elena Fairchild, who is a member of that elite group. Thirdly, that leads Fairchild to become a foil against Dobrynin’s mission to rescue Fedorov on the Anatoly Alexandrov. It’s all related.

The two time periods in the story seem to echo one another.

I think of them more like bookends. In 1942 the Germans made the first great military effort to secure control of vital oil centers of the Caspian region. Fedorov will have to face them before this story ends. Then we get the long decades of prosperity that oil provided to Western economies, the era of petroleum. We’ve all lived our lives out in that era, but by 1990 the oil wars started again, in Iraq, and then in Central Asia. Both the Russian and American wars in Afghanistan were really about access to oil at their root, and access to pipeline routes. Now in the 2021 time line we see the last great battles for this dwindling and ever more expensive resource. So war  bookends the entire era, and we visit both ends in this story.

OK, it’s not hard to figure out the title this time around. The Fallen Angels are the Russian ships and crews, and it looks like Karpov steals the show in this novel.

Yes, Captain Vladimir Karpov is at the core of the events presented in Fallen Angels. In fact, there are a full 18 chapters here presenting that story line, half the novel.

In that sense this book is very much like the opening three volumes.

Largely because it pits the modern Russian ships against the US Pacific Fleet in 1945. After Kirov came home to Vladivostok in Men Of War, the action broadened and moved to a presentation of the onset of the Great War. Those events began to develop in 9 Days Falling.

Will we continue to see that war develop?

Yes, but modern war is fast, violent and short lived. Look what was left of the Russian Pacific Fleet by the end of 9 Days Falling! Only two Udaloy class frigates made it back with the Kuznetsov.  The Chinese are out there too, and in Fallen Angels the US begins to move into more direct confrontation with them, but the main action here is Karpov in 1945.

The Demon Volcano changed everything!

Well, I had planned this all along, but I wanted it to come as a surprise. A lot of readers really liked the confrontation of Kirov vs WWII era forces. That was what got the series rolling, and so I felt I wanted to give them another strong scenario against the one fleet the Russians and Karpov have not yet faced.

The American Navy in 1945! I had no idea it was so massive.

Karpov has certainly taken a task upon himself here. That’s one reason I sent Orlan and Admiral Golovko Back with him when the Demon Volcano erupted. The US Navy has 18 aircraft carriers, over 10 battleships and all the cruisers and destroyers to go with them. Just one segment involving two task groups comprises 60 ships, and the British are there as well in TF.37 with 27 more ships including 4 carriers and 2 battleships. It’s a massive allied force.

Yet the other plot lines continue here as well, yes?

Of course. The big new plot line involving the Fairchild group presses forward, only it is more centered on their confrontation with the Russian Black Sea Fleet--more naval action. Then of course we still have Fedorov’s mission to find Orlov, and the two associated plot lines there--Haselden’s group and Chief Engineer Dobrynin on the Anatoly Alexandrov.

Any more big surprises?

Well, this novel is more about bringing the plot lines I began in 9 Days Falling to harvest, and focusing on the series roots with the naval action. The last book gave us Karpov’s duel with Captain Tanner in 2021, now he takes on Admiral Halsey. Unfortunately for the Russians, all four Iowa class battleships are in the region, so this is going to be a real battle. That said, I always plant seeds in a plot line to allow for new growth. There are three chapters here introducing Sir Roger Ames, the Duke, and they will end up leading in a rather startling direction that I can’t discuss now. But follow the Duke’s inner thoughts and musings closely. There are a lot of clues there. That is for the seventh book, which I’m tentatively calling “Devil’s Garden,” but it is a big part of the time travel mystery at the root of all the novels.

The mystery of Rod-25 and the whole time travel thing has really deepened here.

Yes, after Fedorov’s strange experience on the back stairway at Ilanskiy, that mystery has been loosely linked to another long time enigma in Russia, the Tunguska Event. But things go deeper in this volume. The Russians have discovered something about the control Rods, but also about the effect massive explosions have on the continuum. Now Fedorov seems to perceive a link between that 1908 event, 1942, and the year 2021.

What actually happened at Ilanskiy?

Fedorov figures it out. Just follow his stream of thinking on the problem, but there is more that he does not yet know. His encounter with Mironov was very significant. This is called the “Kirov” series for a reason. Inspector Genreral Kapustin and Pavel Kamenski have a part of this tiger by the tail as well as they discuss it with Admiral Volsky, and in this book, the character Sir Roger Ames will deepen it all further. Things are going to happen in the next book that are really profound.

You really love time travel, don’t you? You also have the five volume Meridian Series.

Actually, I love history. I just use time travel to take me places in history that I want to write about, and time travel presents the the “what if” factor. What if things played out differently? I’ve been an avid “war gamer” for decades. The thing I most enjoyed about it was exploring the “what if” factor. The Meridian Series visits five unique historical milieus, and really hones the whole time travel element in a much more refined way. That’s where I really tackle the notion of outcomes and consequences, and how seemingly small actions can have dramatic consequences. A cow kicks over a lantern and we get the Great Chicago fire of 1871. It’s fascinating!

Fedorov is really struggling to preserve the history, isn’t he?

True. But things are getting out of hand and the characters do not yet know how to harness and control the power they have. I mean, here in Kirov the characters are blundering through the history. They only have a rudimentary understanding of what is happening, and how time travel has become possible. It’s hit and miss, and their dilemma is that they cannot truly control it. In the Meridian Series you have a physicist as a main character who has this all figured out, and a device that allows the principle characters to target any date in history for intervention. They also have the Golems, a computer program that can identify when there have been changes in the time lines--the meridians of history. While Fedorov struggles to understand what is happening, the characters in Meridian Series have it really nailed down...or so they believe--until they encounter other time travelers from the future and realize there is a “time war” underway. The treatment of time travel here in the Kirov Series is like a prelude to events that take place in Meridian...Assuming the world can be saved from the “Great War” that has been brewing.

Are the two series linked?

Not directly...but there is a seed planted here in Fallen Angels that was also planted in the Meridian Series.Anyone who got to the end of Golem 7 will know much more about it. But I can say no more...It has to do with another story line brewing in my mind now, something that I think will please both the reading audience for Meridian as well as the Kirov Series Grognards.

Was Kirov your best seller?

It was. And that was just a gift from the readers who enjoyed it so much. It started slow the first couple months, because it's hard to get noticed as a writer these days. There are 1.2 million books in the kindle store. Kirov climbed to the 2000 rank at one point, which I thought was fantastic, especially for a genre fiction novel like this where there were absolutely NO VAMPIRES.  That put the novel in the top two tenths of one percent for all books in the Kindle store when it peaked.  I didn't do that. All I did was try to write a good story, but it's the readers, and the miracle of Amazon, that really make it all happen. So I’ve done my best to give them something back and worked hard on the series all year to bring out good titles at a fair price.

Which novel in the Kirov Series was your personal favorite?

Gosh, that's hard to answer. In the opening volume I really worked hard on the characters, giving them depth and dimensions, and flaws as well. I think I did my best character work there. From a naval combat perspective I think I enjoyed writing  Kirov III: Pacific Storm the most. I love that encounter with the Imperial  Japanese Navy, and particular the Yamato. I always loved that ship, as well as the Bismarck. I’ve taken the story back that way here in Fallen Angels, while continuing to develop the whole time travel mystery elements.

Is Kirov going to ever take on the German Navy? That's the only place you haven't taken the story yet.

The Germans were in the first two books, albeit the U-boat arm of their Navy. Those U-boat Captains caused some real mischief. Will Kirov ever face Bismarck? Well, I’ve already done my time travel thing with the Bismarck. The last volume in the Meridian Series is all about an alternate version of that campaign. But... stay tuned. There are things I could play with there and write a very riveting story. I could send Kirov home to Severomorsk, and then ZAP they find themselves lapsing into 1940s again to tangle with the Kriegsmarine and a new Graf Zeppelin.  It could happen. If the readers want it they can sound off and put in their vote.

Alright...Bring on Ziggy Sprague, Bull Halsey, and Chester Nimitz! And let me personally wish Captain Karpov good luck. It sounds like he's bitten off more than he can chew here.

Never underestimate Karpov! He has some surprises, and his effect on what now happens in book seven is profound.

When can we expect the seventh book, “Devil's Garden?”

I'm writing it now, and it should be out this fall. In the meantime, let Fallen Angels heat up your summer, and my thanks to all the readers who have so faithfully stayed with the story. I’m very grateful for their continued support.




      Kirov Saga:

      Fallen Angels

      9 Days Falling ~ Vol. II


      John Schettler


      Day Four

      Part I – Ziggy
      Part II – Argos Fire
      Part III – Quantum Sleepers
      Part IV – The Bull


      Day Five

      Part V – Night Stalkers
      Part VI – Arrangements
      Part VII –The Mission
      Part VIII – Twilight


      Day Six

      Part IX –
      The Black Hole
      Part X – Fallen Angels
      Part XI – Breakout
      Part XII – War In Heaven

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