Saturday, March 25, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Sergio Palumbo



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out on April 2, 2017 (ORDER HERE), and in preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Sergio Palumbo, who contributed the anthology.

MTI:  Starting off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

SERGIO PALUMBO:  I was born in Florence, and am an Italian public servant who graduated from Law School working in the public real estate branch. I also like playing boardgames/RPGs games or Wargames, attending Medieval Reenacting shows, building scale models - mainly Sci-Fi or Fantasy - and I really read a lot, both for reasons connected to my job, and also during my free time, in this case especially books, manga and comics.

MTI:  What inspired you to start writing fiction?

SP:  I’ve always been a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror movies and TV series, or Japanese Anime in general, and the first titles that come to my mind are Star Trek, Gundam, etc. But it was when I started reading works by some great authors, like Van Vogt and Heinlein, that I understood that the Fantastic genre might be rendered at its best not only on TV shows but also on paper in literary terms, and that it was not just battles or space fighting, but it might become much deeper in a way.
MTI:  If you had to name one writer who most influenced your writing, who would it be?

SP:  For the authors of the past, I would certainly say: Van Vogt, Heinlein, E.Howard, and that one named Tolkien of course…eh,eh. For the present –or more modern ones: Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, E- Feist, Ian M. Banks, Harlan Ellison, Frederick Pohl, P.J. McAuley, Walter Jon Williams, Scott Rohan, Stephen King.
MTI:  Your story, The Forbidden Fuel, appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

SP:  As a matter of fact, some huge meta-planes soaring through the skies of the British Empire didn’t ever make their ever-present appearance in 1800s, and this is probably the main feature of the alternate reality depicted in the short-story itself. Though, I didn’t want to make those flying vehicles become the center of it all, as it happens nowadays in too many Steampunk tales, as I liked most to have a look at the world and the town the characters live in, and what they are trying to investigate there. Other than that, the town of Bristol followed a very different course of history from that you can read in the story.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

SP:  The betrayal leading to the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest should never be allowed to really take place…eh, eh.
MTI:  For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

SP:  Oh, yes, indeed!!! Problem is that, according to our most recent knowledge of the presence of possible wormholes, people are supposed they could get to the middle of one of those from one end, one day, in some fictional way, but they could never get out of it, or reach the other end. Though, you know, our modern science can only explain about 30% of what matter really is, while 70% is still unknown (think of dark matter, dark energy and so on …), so, this conclusion is too highly overrated, and if there are some aliens out there looking at us, they are probably making fun of our science, the same as we would do about the poor science of the old Stone Age…

MTI:  Indeed.  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

SP:  I usually write some entries for Aphelion Webzine Flash Challenge, every month, and about 1 to 2 short-stories every week, though I change from one genre to another, always in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror genre, that lately includes also Paranormal Erotica/Steampunk/Historical Fantasy, Weird Western and Urban Fantasy. And I complete a few some short-stories also in Italian during the year, thought I prefer to write in English, truth be told, thanks to my mother that wanted me to learn English since I was very young at school. I must also thank American authoress Michele DUTCHER that, very kindly, has always edited my first drafts and Americanized them.
MTI:  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

SP:  There will be at least 8 U.S. and 6 British Anthologies that are going to have some short-stories of mine published in 2017, as far as I know, though the exact time of completion of such books, and the release date might change, as it frequently happens in the literary field. Then, I’ll be co-editing a British Anthology titled “Steam-powered Dream Engines”, with many authors from abroad, to be done in the next months.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

SP:  Of course. Game of Thrones, Gotham and The Expanse are the first three that come to my mind. The latest, actually, reminds me, in a way, of another great Sci-Fi TV series of the past, the wondrous Babylon 5!

MTI:  How about music?

SP:  I like most of the music genres available, though I prefer British New Wave, Rock music, Classical music and Anime or movies’ soundtracks that I always listen to while freely writing.

MTI:  Can you name some movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

SP:  Well, they are too many to be listed…In case of a shorter enumeration, I would say Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (the whole series), Inception, StarShipTroopers, Babylon 5 (the whole series), Predestination, Twelve Monkeys, Aliens, Edge Of Tomorrow, Oblivion, Kill Bill I and II, Ghost in the Shell, Gundam 0079, Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny (the whole series), Ringu, Blade II and Once Upon a Time in the West that I always watch at least once per year when I want to set my eyes on something really exceptional…

Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?

SP:  Maybe this would be good enough:

“The wind seemed to become colder, and the darkness grew as those men moved onwards to an area even darker, and the street was in worse condition than where they were before. The sound of their feet over the rough pavement turned to an unending beating that appeared to be the only thing capable of reviving such a silent location, as the detective kept tailing the two at a distance. They definitely weren’t policemen investigating that man, Tyshawn was sure about it.”

MTI:  A nice, short excerpt.  Thank you for a great interview.  Those who wish to check out more of Sergio Palumbo’s work can get a copy of Altered Europa!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Kirton and Nelson Family Photos, 1920's



It has been too long since I last posted about my genealogical research.  It has been sporadic over the last couple of years, as I’ve had other priorities get in the way.  I do still try to find time to uncover new bits and pieces.

A few weeks ago, I was picking through some things and found a few photos my mother received from my grandmother years ago.  I had not seen these before, as my mother often kept these things to herself, since I did not express a keen interest in them when I was younger.  I’m ever grateful that she left these photos for me, as I can now apreciate them.

First off, is a photo of my grandfather, John Julius Kirton.  This photo was taken when he was about 4, which dates it to around 1922.



Second in this batch is a photo of John Kirton and his sister, Mary Alice Kirton, taken in 1927 according to the attribution on the back of the picture.  John is holding baby alligators, it appears.



The third photo was taken at the beach (where is not stated), about 1926. 



This photo has a whole bunch of family in it.  The 3 adults in back are listed as Aula Nelson, Adelaide Nelson, and Elizabeth Urech.  The 3 taller kids in the middle are Ned Nelson, Jr. (Who was killed fighting the Nazis in WWII), Ruth Nelson, and John Kirton.  The two smaller kids in front are Mary Alice Kirton and Richard Nelson.  It looks like Ned is carrying a surf board?

Here’s the family run down:   Ned, Ruth, and Richard are the three older children of Ned Nelson, Sr. (their youngest sister, Aula Joanne Nelson, wasn’t born until 1929).  Aula Steele (Alexander) Nelson is their mother.  Elizabeth Urech is the sister of Ada Belle (Urech) Nelson, Ada being the kids’ grandmother.  John and Mary Kirton were the children of Mary Alice (Nelson) Kirton.

And here’s a small diagram I drew for this very post:



It’s always fascinating to run across old photos like these.  They have survived much, and give us a glimpse into the past.  I hope to share more in the coming years.  If any of you wish to contact me, I can be reached at mtiediting (at) inbox.com.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Mark Mellon



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out on April 2, 2017 (ORDER HERE), and in preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Mark Mellon, who contributed A Rare Chance at the Enemy.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

MARK MELLON:  My life has been checkered with previous experience as a mover, skip tracer, soldier, door to door salesman, translator, and teacher. I describe myself currently as a novelist who supports his family by working as an attorney. I live in Falls Church with my wife, son, and two disgraceful dachshunds.

MTI:  Now, the next question I generally ask new contributors is this; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

MM:  I started writing at the age of seven although none of my juvenilia survives. As to why I write, like Faulkner said, “some people want to write; others need to write.” I fall in the latter camp. All writing is pretty much miserable to me, but I seem to have more luck with crime fiction than anything else.

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

MM:  Anthony Burgess. His autobiography, Little Wilson and Big God, made me decide to try to be a novelist.

MTI:  Your story, A Rare Chance at the Enemy, appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

MM:  The story is an excerpt from a novel, Napoleon Concerto, in which a money-mad Robert Fulton decides to stay on in Paris and builds a steam powered fleet that enables Napoleon to invade and defeat Great Britain.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

MM:  I’d have Napoleon win at Waterloo, of course.

MTI: For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

MM:  Since my body would probably be ripped into subatomic particles if I did so, no, I wouldn’t.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

MM:  I’m currently trying to write a “cozy” mystery, something I’ve never done before. I like to break the mold.

MTI:  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

MM:  The Great Man’s Iron Horse, a steampunk short story, will appear in Third Flatiron’s Principia Ponderosa in March. Annals Of The Allred Clan, a dystopian short story, will also appear this spring as a reprint in an anthology entitled Mother’s Revenge from Scary Dairy Press.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

MM:  You bet. Every Thursdays on the El Rey Channel, it’s Flying Five Finger One Armed Eight Pole Shaolin Exploding Death Touch. Five kung fu flicks in a row, some of them masterpieces.

MTI:  How about music?

MM:  Pissed Jeans is playing at the Black Cat on the 23rd.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

MM:
1.      The Wild Bunch
2.      The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
3.      The Searchers

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today? 

MM:  This is an excerpt from a horror story, Last Of The Aztec Riders, which appeared in Deadman’s Tome in October 2016:

"Buy me a beer and I'll tell you a good story."
            Jack Pilgrim regarded the one-eyed, one-armed, huge man on the barstool beside his. The half of his face minus an eye was scarred almost beyond recognition as human, deformed lip pulled down in a perpetual half scowl. After twelve hours on his hog high on meth, Pilgrim only wanted to focus on the booze before him, drunk to delay and lessen the inevitable bummer.
            "Look at the patch on my cut."
            He turned his back to Pilgrim. On the faded black leather vest, a skull with a feathered headdress screamed. The top rocker read "Aztec Riders;" the bottom said "Tiny."
            "I'm the only one can wear this patch. Nobody left but me. And I can tell you all about it, the whole freaked out story. But you gotta buy me that beer first, man. What do you say?"
            Intrigued and sympathetic to a biker so fucked up he'd never ride again, Pilgrim nodded to the bartender who poured a draught Bud and set it before Tiny. He knocked it back, set the glass down, and wiped the foam from his scraggly beard with his hand.
            "Like I said, I'm the only Aztec Rider left. You should've seen us back in the day, bombing a hundred strong in a tight vee formation at eighty per, total road Nazis, blowing through every traffic light. And no one, not no citizen, not no pig, dared fuck with us. We had Bullhead City under our thumb and most of Nevada and Arizona too, at least as far as pussy and meth went. And it was all because of our Prez, Pothunter. See, we called him Pothunter coz he was always poking around in caves on Federal parks and reserves, looking for old Indian shit, know what I mean? Even if it is a Federal beef. Like we cared about stuff like that. And then he showed up at the clubhouse with this idol, a real idol, you know-"

MTI:  A fascinating excerpt.  Thank you for a great interview.  Those who wish to read more of Mark’s writing can pick up Altered Europa!

http://www.martinus.us/books.html#ae

Monday, March 20, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Tom Anderson



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming April 2, 2017 (ORDER YOUR COPYHERE), and in preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Tom Anderson, who contributed the solo story A.E.I.O.U, and also co-wrote N'oublions Jamais with Bruno Lombardi. 

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

TOM ANDERSON:  I’m a chemist by trade, having studied at the University of Cambridge, and I now lecture in Chemistry at the University of Sheffield not far from where I was born in Doncaster. I’ve always been an avid reader and I also play the electric organ. I enjoy travel, particularly to North America.

MTI:  Now, the next question I generally ask new contributors is this; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

TA:  I started probably the way many people do, enjoying stories written by others, acting them out in my head and then taking them to new places. As a scientist it’s perhaps unsurprisingly that I like science fiction and fantasy, and similarly my interest in history led me to alternate history.

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

TA:  J. R. R. Tolkien will always be the gold standard to me, particularly when it comes to worldbuilding (an idea he essentially coined although he called it ‘sub-creation’).

MTI:  Your story, A.E.I.O.U., appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

TA:  Real history often seems like it took the most unlikely outcome, and the Seven Years’ War of the eighteenth century is no exception—Frederick the Great of Prussia managed to defy the odds and fight off both Austria and Russia at once, even when at one point he so despaired that he almost virtually committed suicide on the battlefield, and was ultimately saved when the Empress of Russia conveniently died at the right minute. A. E. I. O. U. explores what might have happened if the duller (but rather more plausible!) outcome had taken place with the defeat of Frederick and Prussia and the continued success of the Hapsburgs of Austria.


MTI:  Tell us a little bit about your other contribution, N'oublions Jamais.  What's the premise behind it?

TA:  Without giving away too much of the plot twists, N’oublions Jamais was inspired by the fact that the European alliance system in the years leading up to World War I switched around so much that a very recognisably similar war could have taken place with a rather different lineup of allies…

MTI:  How much fun is it writing a story with Bruno Lombardi?  How did your collaboration come about?

TA:  I’ve known Bruno for some years and we’ve collaborated on other projects before. It’s not surprising he became a writer when his everyday life is more far-fetched than any fiction could ever be. I once met him on a railway in the Canadian Rockies four thousand miles from where I live and two thousand from where he lives, for no reason. Crazy (but awesome) guy.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

TA:  Selfishly I wouldn’t because the butterfly effect would probably get rid of everyone I’ve ever known and most of the media I enjoy (we joke that a friend who writes pop-culture alternate history gets more flak from readers for averting the creation of TV shows people like than other AH writers do for nuking China or something). As a purely intellectual exercise, I always think a world without the American Revolution would be perhaps the most fascinating possibility.

MTI: On that note, "The Two Georges" by Turtledove and Dreyfuss comes to mind.  I also have a rough story about an American Indian who goes back in time and kills George Washington which alters the outcome of the Revolution, though that is nowhere near ready for publication.  Further still is Owen Morgan’s story “The Loyalist Washington” from Altered Europa.  The American Revolution certainly is a popular point of divergence for alternate history!

For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

TA:  Probably not for the reason given above, though I’d certainly like to send a probe through like in Stargate.

MTI:  Yes, a MALP would make exploring so much safer.  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

TA:  My current project is called ‘The Twilight’s Last Gleaming’ and, without giving too much away, it can be summarised as ‘Deep Impact if it had happened in Victorian times’. What does the response to a global disaster look like in the 1880s?

MTI:  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

TA:  A number of my stories have been published and are upcoming published by Sea Lion Press, which was co-founded by two good friends of mine and fellow writers. My largest project, Look to the West, currently has two volumes published there (out of five and growing…) which describes the very different world arising from the Prince of Wales being exiled to America in 1727.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

TA:  At the moment I’m mostly into the growing stable of DC Comics TV adaptations, it’s interesting to see how they develop themes and crossovers, and of course especially the use of a multiverse with multiple parallel dimensions.

MTI:  How about music?

TA:  I have eclectic tastes that mostly stop in the 1980s. One good thing about the ‘Youtube generation’ is that it’s no longer considered so odd for people to be fans of music that was released before they were born.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

TA:  A Night at the Opera, Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Trek: First Contact. I tend to think humour is better for repeat viewings than action alone.

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?  (If you'd like to share a few paragraphs or a page of writing, this could be a good place for it, but only if you want to share it.)

TA:  Here follows below a short excerpt from The Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

North of Medora, Dakota Territory, United States of America
April 19th 1886

Three cowboys trotted their horses southbound, wrapped up against the chill spring weather of northern Dakota. Well, two cowboys—their names were Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow—and another guy. This fellow could quite accurately be described as ‘a bespectacled asthmatic from Manhattan who enjoyed collecting butterflies and had a copy of Anna Karenina, in French, in his pocket’. In the same way that Manhattan could quite accurately be described as ‘a small island that last changed hands for twenty-four dollars’.

The gentleman in question was chuckling to himself. “It’ll be a tale for years to come, no doubt about it. Around campfires of the west, or the hearth in a townhouse, even the State Capitol in Albany—I’ll never tire of this one.” His moustache wagged. “And don’t think I’ll ever leave out your part, gentleman! I can’t if I wanted to!” He laughed and patted a pocket. “Photographic evidence!”

Bill and Wilmot exchanged looks. At times like this, it was best to let the boss run on. He wouldn’t really hear anything they said in response anyhow. Not that they didn’t respect him. It was hard not to respect a man who responded to being called ‘four-eyes’ in a Western bar by beating the hell out of some dude twice his size.

“Think they’ll steal our boat, will they—Finnigan and his cronies?” the boss said, as though planning out a chapter in his memoirs. “Well by hook or by crook you boys damn’ well build a new one inside of three days and we’re after the bandits! They didn’t expect that!” He chortled. “Up the frozen river! Through the Badlands, past those Gros-ventre teepees! Steal on them when they least expect!” He mimed holding a rifle. “You took our boat, we’ll take your LIVES! Or at least your freedom,” he said, realised he was getting carried away. “Hands up! Boots off! You won’t get far in cactus country without ’em, my good sir! And off to Bismarck jail with you!”

“It was a good piece of work,” Bill ventured. It had also been several weeks ago, he didn’t add.

“So it was – SO it was,” the boss smiled. “Why, it almost makes me want to—”

He was interrupted by his horse rearing and neighing. Though he had come to horsemanship long after most of the men of the west, he managed to get it under control, as did Bill and Wilmot. “Steady! Steady there! What are you—”

Then they felt it too. It was the same sense of vague but definite dread by which animals seemed to predict thunderstorms and earthquakes, but so strong this time that even humans could dimly grasp it.

Something had happened.

It was not for quite a while till they had any sense of what it was. But then the sound of a loud explosion echoed distantly across the flat landscape of the Plains, lacking much in the way of mountains or other raised features to reflect and confuse it. It was not a bang or a boom: it went on too long and was too complex to be dismissed with those examples of onomatopoeia. The boss, because he was the boss, discussed this excitedly with Bill and Wilmot and eventually concluded it had been more of a “BRAKAKAKAKOOOOOOOOOOOOM”. The spelling with twelve Os won a tiebreaker coin toss against thirteen Os.

“But dammit, men, we have to find out what it was!” the boss said finally. He pointed vaguely to the west. “It was definitely in that direction, I’d swear by it, when a man hears an explosion he should run towards it...”

Bill coughed. “Yes, but we’re low on supplies. And we have our wives and families at Elkhorn, remember.”

The moustache slumped. “Yes of course you’re right,” he theatrically slapped the back of his head, “what am I to forget your loved ones? A plain pig! Come on then—back to the ranch, we’ll see everyone is plumb fine, and then, and then...” He rubbed his hands together, “let’s see about assembling a little expedition.”

Bill and Wilmot exchanged glances again. “OK, boss.”

Theodore Roosevelt grinned. “Bully.”


MTI:  I am suitably intrigued by this sample!  Thank you for an excellent interview.  Those who wish to read more of Tom Anderson’s excellent writing can check out Altered Europa!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Murray Braun



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out April 2, 2017 (ORDER YOUR COPYHERE)!  In preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Murray Braun, who contributed Voyage.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

MURRAY BRAUN:  I practiced medicine for 29 years as a chid neurologist because it was intellectually stimulating. As an academic I wrote several papers on my research and articles in my field.

Six years into early retirement, I began to write short stories, attended workshops and classes at Grubb Street Writers, Boston, and worked with an editor (“doctoring”) online from Gotham Writers Workshop in NYC.

MTI:  Now, the next question I generally ask new contributors is this; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

MB:  I was compelled to write fiction as a second generation Holocaust survivor, describing the experience of growing up in America after immigrating from Austria where I was born in a DP camp.  My favorite story to write turned out to be alternate history, although like most fiction writers I write semi-autobiographical pieces.

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

MB:  If I had to pick one author who influenced or inspired me, it would be Philip Roth, an exemplary writer of the American Jewish experience in the 20th century. His 2004 “The Plot Against America” is as alternate as history can get.

MTI:  Your story, Voyage., appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

MB:  “Voyage” was conceived after months of research on the life of Columbus. It presents the discrepancies in his motives to sail to India at the time of the Inquisition, his navigational skills, and his apparent religiosity — all of which could be said to be alternate.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

MB:  If I could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an “altered” world, it would be the rise of Nazism and its aftermath.

MTI:  A truly popular point of divergence.  For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

MB:  Like in “Alice in Wonderland,” if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of me, I would definitely dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side, knowing full well that the other side held both positive and negative realities.

MTI:  Finally, someone willing to take the plunge!  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

MB:  Presently, I’m rewriting the story of a fallen angel who attempts to save the people of Jerusalem from a massacre at the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes and his Assyrian troops in 167 BC.

MTI:  Intriguing!  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

MB:  I continue to submit stories, but have no other piece that is slated for publication in the near future.

MTI:  Get that fallen angel story polished up and hopefully that’ll see the light of day soon.  The premise sounds fascinating.

On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

MB:  Good TV watching abounds. “Westworld,” “Stranger Things,” and Philip Dick’s alternate history adapted for TV, “The Man in the High Castle,” come to mind.

MTI:  How about music?

MB:  I’ve focussed on listening to early music lately: classical music on period instruments, especially Corelli; Jazz from the 20’s to the 50’s.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

MB: Hitchcock's “39 Steps,” “North by Northwest,” and “Rear Window” are movies I could watch repeatedly and not be bored.

MTI:  True classics.  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?

MB:  Excerpt from “The German Tutor” (Poetica, 2015):

Graz, Austria
June, 1968

On a deceptively bright summer day, I walked from the tram stop to the address of my new tutor. Blushing poppies and pale wilting hydrangea were contrasted by dour boxwood hedges. The lush greenery veritably gushed but the lilacs already had begun to wither. The perfume of flow-ers mixed with the musty smell from nearby weed patches. The orderliness of yards and floral window boxes, admirable as they were, couldn’t but make me wonder if Jews killed after the Anschluss in 1938 lay beneath the well-tended gardens. A crazy thought, I know.
            If ever those who were murdered reached the Jewish cemetery, itself vandalized, trash-ed and left in ruin on Kristallnacht, those bodies must have been thrown into mass graves dug there and throughout Austria and Germany in the days following the “night of broken glass.”
            Coincidentally, on the way to the tutor I passed the forlorn Jewish cemetery. Astonished
to see toppled headstones still lay on untended grounds, I asked myself if enough Jews remain-ed to rectify such neglect?
            I walked past strewn broken headstones and squatted down in wildly growing grass in front of a still-standing grave marker with Katz in block letters and gestorben 1932 inscribed upon it. Engraved in Hebrew below the Star of David: “May God bless you, Yeverekhaka Adonai,” followed by Mein hertz roll in Israel zein, my heart is in Israel.
            What have you done, Ben? You’ve chosen the most inappropriate country in which to attend medical school. I considered turning around right then to leave Austria before my studies had even begun. Used to fleeing from those situations that were the slightest “threat” — a “second generation” trait no doubt — it was a means of self-defense from the outside world, rooted in my Holocaust survivor family’s paranoia.
            Of all the places, I went to Austria, my birth country, to study medicine after my rejection from American schools. Encouraged by another New Yorker in the third year at Graz, I adopted the university’s suggestion for success: live with an Austrian family and study German with a tutor.
             How could I have returned to the scene of the crime! Seemingly unaware that the re-mains of the Holocaust, veritably a conflagration, were both the foundation of my very existence and the source of my depression, I’d jumped at the opportunity to study medicine in a language that I knew after English-speaking schools said no. Thus, I had found myself in a country in which they spoke the language of the aggressor.

MTI:  Thank you for a fantastic interview!  Those who wish to check out Murray Braun’s story on Columbus, along with 20 other alternate histories, can pick up Altered Europa!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: DJ Tyrer



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out on April 2, 2017 (ORDER YOUR COPY HERE)!  In preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing DJ Tyrer, who contributed the solo story The Archers.

MTI:  Starting off, for those readers who haven't run into you before, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

DJ TYRER:  I’m the person behind the Atlantean Publishing small press, based in Southend-on-Sea in the UK, which has been going for two decades, and am a writer and poet who’s had work in a number of anthologies and magazines.

MTI:  Now, the next question I generally ask contributors is this; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

DJT:  I’ve always done it and would be doing it even if I wasn’t being published. The bulk of my writing tends to be horror fiction, but my favourite is whatever I’m writing right now; I like to try my hand at different types of story, even if the result isn’t always successful.

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

DJT:  That’s a tough one! Starting out, it would’ve been Tolkien. Then, Lovecraft became a major influence upon my work (and still is). But, probably it’s R.W. Chambers, whose Yellow Mythos has become a regular playground for my own writing, and the inspiration for my most successful fiction.

MTI:  Your story, The Archers., appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

DJT:  The story had its inception in the claim that, when the British railways moved from steam to diesel, the government stockpiled the steam engines in hidden tunnels for use in the event of nuclear war. The deviation from known history takes place during NATO's Able Archer military exercises. As in reality, the Soviets believe them to be the prelude to an attack on the Communist bloc – only, in my story, they launch a preemptive nuclear strike. While they nuke the NATO military forces in Europe, their attack on Britain is restricted to a high-altitude detonation causing an electromagnetic pulse that puts a lot of modern technology out of use. The arrival of a steam train is both the symbolic and literal start of a return to normality, although it proves a fraught journey.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

DJT:  To be honest, I don’t know if I would. There are certainly things I wish had been different, but having no way of knowing what the knock-on effects of any change would be, there’s no way to know if even the most positive-seeming changes wouldn’t lead to something worse. I doubt this is the best-possible world, but it could probably be a lot worse.

MTI:  For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

DJT:  I suspect I might just wuss out, but curiosity might just get the better of me and pull me through!

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

DJT:  Primarily, I’m focused on stories and poetry for submission to anthologies, along with a ‘fictional non-fiction’ booklet for my Buxton University Press imprint. I’ve got a long list of projects I want to get to work on, but my plans to focus December and January on writing a novel were derailed by the discovery of a damp and mould problem that has had me spending an inordinate amount of time on drying and salvaging books. Still, I’ve learnt a surprising amount about mould and it’s inspired a couple of stories and poems, so it’s not all bad!

MTI:  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

DJT:  I’ve just had a novella, Different Masks, published across two issues of The Yellow Sign magazine (Rainfall Books). I’ve got stories in forthcoming issues of Xnoybis, Dunhams Destroys Lovecraft and Frostfire Worlds, amongst others, and anthologies such as What Dwells Below (Sirens Call Publishing) and More Bizarro Than Bizarro (Bizarro Pulp Press).

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

DJT:  I don’t watch much TV, but I do enjoy Death In Paradise. In watch a lot of DVDs and recently discovered Big Love.

MTI:  Ah, yes, I've heard interesting things about Big Love.  So sad about Bill Paxton passing recently.  Now, how about music?

DJT:  Very little recent music has caught my attention (The Handsome Family and Meghan Trainor being the main exceptions), although my tastes cover a ridiculously-wide range.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

DJT:  Murder By Death would be first, as it’s one I rewatch a lot. Addams Family Values, definitely. The third would probably be Franklyn, as it rewards rewatching as I seem to notice something new each time.

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?

A sudden jolt wrenched me awake. Despite the discomfort of the carriage, somehow I had managed to fall asleep on the wide red-leather seat, although my dreams, nebulous as they were, hadn’t been pleasant. I seldom remember the details of my dreams, but I could recall a shadowy figure looming over me with a bloody knife in hand. I shivered at the thought, despite the warmth of the day.

Clearly we had left the highway. From the way in which the carriage rattled along, lurching and bouncing, the road that we now took hadn’t been maintained in years. That meant we were likely drawing near to our destination, which was deep in the middle of nowhere.

I was on my own in the carriage, the coachman being seated up top. My parents had decided to send me away to stay with my cousins in the country due to the war. Father was in the army and Mother was doing some sort of important war work. Most of the servants had left to fight or work in the factories. From what I recalled, it had been said that the country was safer than the city. Not that I knew the details, it was also rather hazy. I couldn’t recall ever having met Camilla and Cassilda; something about their names made me think that they must be an obnoxious pair whom I would hate. I wasn’t looking forward to my stay.

Feeling curious, I leant my head and shoulders out of the carriage window. It was marvellous to feel the breeze on my face and whipping back my hair. We were passing a bright-yellow field of rape that looked amazing in the golden sunlight. The rape was the same colour as the dress I had on, my best, the one Father had given me for my birthday, and of the bow in my hair. It was also the colour of the house that came into view a moment later as we crested a hill. It was an oddly garish colour to paint an otherwise grand house. I had heard someone call it The Yellow House, but hadn’t really given any consideration to what the name implied. I didn’t particularly like the look of the building, although I couldn’t really pinpoint why.

My novella, The Yellow House, is available on the Kindle and in paperback from Amazon

MTI:  A truly tempting sample!  Thank you for this insightful interview.  Those who wish to read more of Mr. Tyrer’s work can pick up a copy of Altered Europa!



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Alex Shalenko



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out April 2, 2017 (PRE-ORDER PRINT OR KINDLE HERE), and in preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.
               
Today I'm interviewing Alex Shalenko , who contributed The Great Bear to the collection.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

ALEX SHALENKO:  While I have only received my first publishing contract a few years ago, I have been writing for as long as I can remember, first in my native Russian language, then, upon moving to the United States, in English. I have always considered myself a storyteller, whether through fiction, music, or other creative endeavors, and I was fortunate enough to learn that others were interested in what I had to say. When not writing fiction, I am a heavy metal enthusiast, and have been a part of many musical projects over the years.

MTI: Now, the next question I generally ask new contributors is this; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

AS: I have been an avid reader since early age, and my imagination was captured by the fantastic worlds from the very beginning. It was only natural that after a time, I wanted to craft my own stories. I remember the bittersweet feeling when the characters we grow attached to finish their story arcs, some in satisfying manner, others making us with that things turned out differently, others yet leaving on cliffhangers which may never be resolved. It was this desire to craft stories that continue on, the stories that reflect the world around me and spread out in unexpected directions, that prompted me to consider writing.

I have always had a soft spot for the darker side in fiction, from fantasy stories flirting with antihero archetypes to space operas dealing with rise and fall of civilizations. As such, my favorite kind of a story has realistic and typically flawed characters, ambiguity driven by all sides of human nature – both good and bad – and complex internal worlds for the characters who are neither paragons of virtue nor utterly irredeemable.

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

AS: I would say that my love for darker fiction was heavily influenced by Michael Moorcock. The use of an antihero protagonist in considerably more grim settings than traditional heroic fantasy was, and still remains, a great source of inspiration in my writing, and is something I still enjoy to this day.

MTI:  Your story appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

AS: In our own world, the great space race of the 1950s and 1960s was a momentous development from scientific standpoint. It brought out the best in humanity, and proved that we could achieve amazing things if we remain focused on it. While our own space race was largely over with the American landing on the Moon, my story The Great Bear posits a question – what if the Soviet Union decided to continue the space race? What if USSR decided that they could not let the American achievement stand, and that they had to one-up it?

As a side note, the story was inspired by similarly-named album by a Colorado-based heavy metal band Silencer, a long-time friends of mine. I had an opportunity to participate in the making of the album, and the story came organically as a result of it.

MTI: If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

AS: I have always been fascinated with late-era Rome and Byzantium, and a part of me wants to see what could have happened had some of the catastrophes which diminished Byzantium in our own history did not happen. Can you imagine what the world would have been like if Justinian’s plague did not happen, and if the reconquest of the West was a lasting success? Would the Dark Ages as we know them have been avoided with the Mediterranean remaining a Mare Nostrum, a hotbed of commerce, innovation, and travel?

MTI:  Now, for further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

AS:  Tough question! In the real world, having a family would make it a deal-breaker, but for a pure thought exercise, why not? Let’s have an adventure!

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

AS:  I am making progress on “Graveyard Empire”, my next grand space opera novel with a distinctly grim original setting. The great apex civilization has fallen, and all that remains is a decaying society only dimly aware of its origins, using irreplaceable ancient technology and dwindling corps of guardians to just barely stave off the depredations of the things waiting outside its borders. And then, it gets worse!

MTI:  Other than The Great Bear, appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

AS:  At this time, I do not have any other scheduled publications, as I am focusing all my literary efforts on getting “Graveyard Empire” finished. Once it is done, hopefully in the near future, there will be plenty more stories to tell!

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good TV lately?

AS:  I am not much of a TV watcher in the best of times, though I do play a good amount of video games. Lately, it has been all about Final Fantasy series for me… does that count?

MTI:  How about music?

AS:  I don’t think there is a day when I don’t spend at least several hours listening to music. My preferences tend to be on the metal side of things, but the actual artists vary based on the mood. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Candlemass, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and Falconer, but I am all over the map. In addition, I sing in several metal bands, so any time I am not writing fiction, I am usually writing, recording, or performing music!

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

AS:  Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI! In all seriousness though, throw in The Dark Knight and Die Hard, and you will have a holy trifecta of all that is entertaining, in various ways.

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today? 

AS:  A little while ago, I wrote several novel-length works of fan-fiction, essentially reimagining a popular universe of Warhammer 40,000. Being that these works are not publishable, I thought they still presented a good sample of how I write, and tell entertaining stories. Interested? Check out the dedicated blog for the project:


I will leave you with a short sample to give you an idea of what to expect.

*          *          *

Yusuf al-Malik was nine years old when he saw a god.

Slight breeze broke through the monotony of hot, humid Apellan summer, making the decorative flags on the roofs give an impression of movement. Garish banners covered the white brick walls, obscuring the rectangular designs which marched parallel to the cobbled stone of the streets. Wooden shutters kept the worst of the afternoon heat out of the windows, where curious eyes looked down onto the throughway, where thousands of Apellans waved to the militant procession passing by.

Aristocrats in their pristine citizen's togas and elaborate turbans decorated with flowery designs mingled next to beggars in filthy rags and courtesans braving the sun in their gaudy silks and garments showing off more than they hid. Excited children ran to and fro, chasing after mangy dogs or playing countless games of skill and imagination as their parents kept watchful eye over them. Wives and daughters of respectable citizens filled the balconies of two- and three-story houses, wreathed in flowery garlands, while their servants held on to the bouquets to be thrown down when the time came.

Today was the momentous day. Today, the Legion came home.

MTI:  Interesting sample.  Thank you for an exceptional interview, Alex.  Those who wish to read The Great Bear and 20 other exciting stories of alternate history can pick up Altered Europa!