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Category: Interviews

A Life Of Research: Interview With J.F. Penn

J.F. PennOxford educated, British born J.F. Penn has travelled the world in her study of religion and psychology. She brings these obsessions as well as a love for thrillers and an interest in the supernatural to her writing. Her fast-paced ARKANE thrillers weave together historical artifacts, secret societies, global locations, violence, a kick-ass protagonist and a hint of the supernatural.

Russell Phillips: Pentecost was a NaNoWriMo project. How did the tight deadline affect the research and writing of the book?
J.F. Penn: It only started as a NaNoWriMo project and I managed 20,000 words and a rough idea for a book. It was called Mandala at the time, and I definitely wanted a psychologist and Carl Jung’s Red Book to feature. But that January we had a trip to Venice and in St Mark’s Basilica, I saw the Pentecost mosaic which sparked the idea for the stones that Morgan must hunt down across the world. The bones of the apostles have always fascinated me! In the end, the book took 14 months from idea to publication.

The Red Effect: Interview with Harvey Black

Harvey Black

Harvey Black is the author of the Devils With Wings series and The Red Effect, the first of a new series of novels set during a fictional Warsaw Pact invasion of West Germany in 1984. He is a qualified parachutist, and served with British Army intelligence for over ten years.

Russell Phillips: Can you give us a brief summary of your career in the army?
Harvey Black: Hi Russell

Thank you for the invite. I joined the Army in 1979, so my service was very much focussed around Northern Ireland and the Cold War. I cut my teeth in the Army with an Armoured Brigade in West Germany. I did three tours in NI, one conducting covert surveillance around Belfast and the other two as a Liaison Officer. For that I travelled around NI, visiting various Army units, coordinating the use of the Intelligence resources available, such as the RAF and Army Air Corps. I remember one tour I had a gold coloured Ford Capri (Except for going to Crossmaglen, that was by helicopter). I used to carry a Walther PPK, 9mm Browning and a Remington 7-shot shotgun (or alternately an MP-5) for protection.

The Cold War element consisted of Intelligence gathering in East Berlin during the 80s, where I was dragged from my vehicle and attacked by KGB soldiers, and covert surveillance in West Germany against KGB, Spetsnaz sleepers and the like.

Dirty Secrets: Interview with Shelley Poole

Shelley Poole is the author of Lily White, a novel set in 2043, in a future where Britain has deported most immigrants and become extremely isolationist.

Russell Phillips: What prompted you to write Lily White? Were you concerned that the BNP or a similar party might gain real political power?
Shelley Poole: When I started writing Lily White, there was a rash of news coverage about the far-right gaining political ground. At the same time, politicians from the mainstream parties were trying to out-tough each other on the subject of immigration, whilst also oversimplifying the debate. For example, when was the last time you heard a politician seriously talking about the differences between political and economic, illegal and legal, EU and non-EU immigration, and the real advantages and disadvantages to our society, economy, etc.? I certainly do not claim to have all the answers, but it struck me that with all the rhetoric, we are at risk of forgetting that immigrants are people. I was inspired to write because if I’m still around in 2043, I do not want to live in a Britain that resembles that of Lily White.

Realism and historical accuracy: Interview with Steve Anderson

The Losing Role by Steve Anderson was the first self-published book, and the first e-book, that I read. I was very impressed, and I’ve since read his novels False Refuge & Besserwisser and the non-fiction Kindle Singles Sitting Ducks and Double-Edged Sword. Anderson has written short stories and screenplays, and was a Fulbright Fellow in Munich, Germany. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Russell Phillips: Most of the characters in The Losing Role are fictional, but SS Lieutenant Colonel Otto Skorzeny is a notable exception. How accurately do you think you captured his personality?
Steve Anderson: He’s only in the novel briefly, but I hope I captured something basic about him. To best serve the story I have him as a type of wartime celebrity, the propaganda hero who can do no wrong, and the reality in the research seems to back this up. I tried to imagine him equal parts sports legend, Hollywood producer, and patriotic warrior but one who’s floating above the gritty realities of daily soldiering. An unfortunate character like my main character Max is just one of many means to a grander end.

RP: If The Losing Role was made into a film, who would you like to see playing Max?
SA: Great question! As an actor he’s handsome but in a flawed way. Slightly cheap and shady looking, yet with a glint in his eyes. Someone like Christoph Waltz or Sebastian Koch would be great, if we’re talking about German-speaking actors. Philip Seymour Hoffman (with hair dyed dark) could pull it off. Clive Owen or Russell Crowe, if either could learn to smile. Robert Downey Jr, certainly. I could play this game all day.

Interview: Glenn Dean, Soldier/Geek

I recently finished reading Soldier / Geek by Glenn Dean. It’s an edited copy of the journal that Glenn kept during a six month deployment as a science adviser in Afghanistan. I found I had some questions after reading it, so asked Glenn if he’d mind answering them on my blog, and he agreed. Glenn has also written In Search of Lethality (a short book about development of the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round) and Weapons of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Russell Phillips: Can you give us a brief summary of your career in the army thus far?
Glenn Dean: I was commissioned as an Armor officer in 1993, and after my initial training was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (later 3d Infantry Division) at Fort Benning, Georgia, where I held normal assignments for a lieutenant — M1A1 tank platoon leader, Bradley scout platoon leader, and company executive officer. I departed Fort Benning for advanced training and then as a captain took command of a Recruiting Company for two years, followed by an assignment to Fort Hood, Texas in 1st Cavalry Division. There I served as a Brigade staff officer, an M1A2 tank company commander, and a headquarters company commander. Leaving Fort Hood, I transitioned to my secondary specialty as an Acquisition Corps officer, attended graduate school at Georgia Tech, and went on as a major to be the Small Arms Division chief at the Infantry Center, responsible for developing requirements for the Army’s small arms weapons and ammunition. Subsequently, I moved to Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey where I worked in program management in medium caliber cannon ammunition, and did quick reaction technology work in the Armaments Research, Development, and Engineering Center. While assigned to ARDEC I volunteered for my science officer assignment in Afghanistan. Since my return from Afghanistan I’ve been working in another program management assignment in combat vehicle development.