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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


INTERVIEW

Let’s talk about a few things from Hinge of Fate we could not discuss last time. The revelation that opened Hinge of Fate has finally revealed the truth to Tovey!
Yes, after ten novels! Turing and Tovey had partly determined that Kirov had to be from a future time, and they had narrowed it down to a Russian ship, but the revelation Tovey finally receives is rather shaking
.
The question now is whether it can be kept a secret from the rest of the world.
That’s a good point. Thus far only Turing and Tovey know the whole truth, but they have also revealed that there are other men from the future at large in this world, which complicated matters. Volkov knows of Kirov now as well, and he will undoubtedly see the ship as a dire threat to his plans as a member of the Axis. He goes so far as to give Hitler a dark warning that he must act quickly if he is to win the war.

So what was the Devil’s Teardrop that Orlov finds in Siberia?
That can’t be revealed just yet, but astute readers must be picking up the clues I’ve been dropping into the narrative. It will have a big impact in Three Kings, as readers will soon see.

The mission to Ilanskiy was successful!
Which surprises both Fedorov and Kamenski Yes, the presence of that stairway at Ilanskiy represented a major threat. It would allow anyone who knew of it to get back to 1908 and reset the entire history again. To remove that threat, Fedorov is set to destroy it, but he does not think through all the implications of that until Troyak is all set to go down those stairs to look for Volkov.

So we get the threat of Paradox.
Yes. Fedorov suddenly realizes that Troyak cannot bring Volkov back to the 1940s, because he already exists there, and he cannot co-locate. This means Troyak would have to kill him, or that Volkov would have to appear in another time, possibly 2021, should he go up those stairs again from 1908. Then what would happen to the Orenburg Federation and the world all the main characters are now living in? They don’t know, but Fedorov intuits that they could be at great risk to the annihilating power of paradox, so he wisely calls Troyak’s mission off and just has him demolish the stairway.

But How could they do that? It’s 1940 and Fedorov goes down those stairs in 1942!
I see you agree with Director Kamenski. Well, Karpov’s reaction when he sees the destroyed stairway is clue enough to how that is resolved. He gives orders to find the owners of the inn, and the archeticts that designed and built that place. Obviously he has it in his mind to rebuild that stairway, and he had until 1942 to do so… Assuming he survives the next six months.

OK… But he’ll have to survive, won’t he? Otherwise who else would think to rebuild the stairway?
Anything could happen. Karpov and Volkov both know about those stairs. Karpov has firsthand knowledge of the power it represents, Volkov has only a suspicion, but he will remain interested in getting control of Ilanskiy. Remember that Karpov will also be exposed to the same paradox Fedorov fears come late July of 1941 when Kirov is supposed to appear. He cannot arrive on that ship while also existing independently in this new timeline, on this new meridian of fate.

Which means a clock is ticking here now as we enter 1941.
Correct. But there are still six months of hard fighting ahead, and some amazing developments in the next book. Three Kings is a ‘bridge novel’ that links the Altered States Trilogy to the next one, which will begin with Grand Alliance.  That’s how I’ve structured the series. There are basically three one-thousand page books, which I’ve broken into three volumes to create a trilogy. Then I conclude that trilogy with a single book sequel, which also acts as a bridge to the next trilogy. The opening Kirov set comes to a satisfactory ending, then I set up the 9 Days Falling set with the bridge novel Men of War. Then Armageddon ends that trilogy while linking to the Altered States set. Now this novel, Three Kings, sets up the next thousand page book, which I’ll break into a trilogy like the others.

So we get another three volumes in the Grand Alliance set?
Yes, it will take me at least three books, another thousand pages, to cover these first six months of 1941. The war is heating up after Gibraltar, and now North Africa becomes the stage, and some rather colorful characters will be introduced in Three Kings. There will be action allover the Middle East, in Egypt, Libya, Syria and even Iraq. Malta is attacked in Three Kings, and Crete is on the Radar screen in the coming volumes. The Germans are planning an eastern pincer that involves an island hopping strategy, from Crete, to Cyprus, to Palestine, so the new  historical characters will be kept quite busy.

That would be Wavell, O’Connor and Popski, and of course Erwin Rommel.
The opening cast of the desert war, only things will be different. Fedorov is trying to prevent the errors the British made, particularly the capture of General O’Connor and Churchill’s folly in reinforcing Greece.

Everyone knows about Rommel, but I didn’t know anything about Popski.
He’s one of those men behind the scenes, out there in the desert conducting raids and recon operations, a Major Vladimir Peniakoff, a fellow the British simply called “Popski.” Wavell was very interested in special ops, and Popski fell into his favor. He was just the perfect type of character to introduce for the new mission Fedorov dreams up. But the readers will see.

Where’s Montgomery?
I thought he would get into this one, but I’m not ready for him yet, so Monty will make his appearance later. I know his name got dropped in the blurb at the end of Hinge of Fate, but remember, those blurbs are written before the actual novel, so they sketch out what I’m planning, yet the story often evolves differently as I actually write it. Don’t worry. Monty will be with us soon.

The setting itself has a kind of character too, and you find ways to convey that through the other figures.
That’s all part of building the suspense. That whole sequence when the Narva gets lost and ends up in the Tunguska river valley is a good example. There I get to dial in the sinister and mysterious element that wilderness carries, largely through that scene when Orlov spots something on the ground.

God yes, and that passage about the ultra low sound was riveting.
Thanks. Well, in three Kings Popski is the guide to the Western Desert. The action in Three Kings is more in the desert than on the sea. He’s like that guy in Alfred Hitchcock’s  “The Birds” in the diner who knows all about the birds and what they could do. He’s like the old salt they hire in “Jaws” who sets up the danger that Great White shark represents. So when he briefs Troyak and his Marines on the hazards of the desert, the ‘character’ of the setting becomes real through him.

Hindenburg has been at the edge of battle several times, but  slips away.

I know that Tovey and Lutjens have an appointment one day, but I’ve deliberately suspended that action. don’t mean to tease with that, but as the plot develops you will see why I have delayed that battle... But it’s coming, a huge battle is setting up.

You try to give us a good range of action scenes, and on different scales.
I want to have naval battles, a good small unit operation, and something on land. The Zeppelin duel in Hinge of Fate was also lots of fun, and to me it was very like a naval engagement. In some ways the land battles coming up are like naval actions too, only on the great sand seas of the Western Desert, a very dangerous place, just like Siberia.


And there is more action on land than at sea in this one.
There is, but to present an alternate history of these events I cannot simply gloss over the land war. Why would I want to? The desert war was one of the most interesting campaigns of the war, one I’m particularly fond of, so I intend to show that fighting, bring it to life through these new characters, O’Connor, Wavell, Rommel, and Popski and the other ship members who get embroiled in a ground mission there—a very significant event that sets up the action yet to come. That is its work. As a bridge novel it has to move the story to a place where the new elements being introduced, new potential energy in the story, can then become kinetic. Right now the new arrivals in the story, and there are three of them, are all ominous potential energy. In Grand Alliance, the next volume, all hell breaks loose. All the battles staged here in Three Kings will rage through those chapters. But I can’t get to that action from Gibraltar without laying the careful groundwork, and telling the story of these other three kings, the new arrivals readers are about to meet as they read this next volume.

Count me in!

Get your copy of the Kirov Series Book XII: Three Kings, which is also book four in the Altered States segment of the saga... and enjoy!  Coming soon to Amazon.(May 15)
 

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