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

The Kirov Saga
Season 1

INTERVIEW: Paradox Hour and  Doppelganger. Continued…

So we finally get the resolution of Paradox Hour here in the third season opener!

Yes! At last! Sorry, but it often takes me much longer to develop a given plot line than I first realize. I originally meant to resolve all this in Paradox Hour, but first I wanted to show the effects occurring as the  ship began to approach that fateful time. These begin with that deep sound being heard, and progress through Lenkov’s legs. And I also had to tie off the subplot involving the Devil’s Teardrop.

That was a major story element.
Yes, I used that to bring Kinlan’s Brigade into the story, largely as a device to get a more detailed presentation of the war in North Africa. But the Devil’s Teardrop was a very powerful thing, and there it was aboard Kirov. I realized that if it stayed there, it was going to definitely interfere with what I had planned for the resolution of Paradox Hour. So when the strange effects begin to manifest, I used Fedorov’s suspicion to prompt him to get rid of the Teardrop in the segment entitled Peak’s Deep.

So no more mystery surrounding that object, but I see it did have one last powerful effect on events in Paradox Hour at the end.

And only Lenkov saw what happened… Well, I know where I can find another Teardrop if I ever need one, but it was necessary to get rid of this one, and when Fedorov throws it into Peake’s Deep, it works as a kind of homing beacon, just as it did in the desert. That results in the sudden, unexpected appearance of the British Sub Ambush, and the little duel fought with Gromyko.

Loved it! We’ve seen that sub once before, haven’t we?
Yes, In the Prologue to Men Of War. There was a brief segment there that introduces the standing head of the Watch in 2021, an Admiral Yates.  In that prologue, I reveal that the British Submarine Ambush is actually stalking Kirov on July 28, 1941, and they witness the ship’s disappearance. Yet this is not the initial event presented in book 1. It is in one respect, but it is Kirov shifting back from a world slightly altered by precursor waves of change caused by past interventions.  It was sent there by the Watch, the group started by Admiral Tovey. That sub was mentioned only one other time before it appeared in Paradox Hour, but I won’t go into that, as it relates to events in the next book, Nemesis.

You mean to say that you had all this long and complex plot worked out as far back as Men of War?
Not entirely. I did have certain elements that I knew I was going to use to resolve the story, but it grew and changed over all these books. But I keep things like color on my story palate, and I dab my brush in them from time to time. I don’t put anything into the plot without a reason, and many seeds and little kernels of often return to bloom later in the story.  I drop hints about them here and there, but only very astute readers might pick up on all the little breadcrumbs I’ve laid to lead us to this point.

It’s been a wonderful mystery, along with all the military aspect, and the alternate history.
Thanks. The series does work on many levels. Yes, it’s a naval thriller of sorts, and definitely heavy on the military fiction aspect and the retelling of WWII. But it is also a mystery involving time travel, and that has been at the heart of the series since Fedorov first heard that rumble in the hall at the Railway Inn at Ilanskiy. This had to be covered, as much of the story involved the outcomes and consequences of the ship’s intervention in the past. That’s what is creating the alternate history, and to present all the battles I covered beginning June 1940, I had to move the ship back there somehow, and to cover this history, I decided to leave Kirov there for a good long year.

Yet that set up the paradox
Correct. The ship was now approaching the time of its first arrival from the past. Now that time has come. We finally get to “the other side of midnight” in Doppelganger. But to take us there, I had to deal with this paradox, as the resolution creates the real crisis that is now looming behind the story.

When did you make the decision to merge the series with your Meridian Series universe?
In the middle of Paradox Hour. I was sitting there in those scenes where Fedorov is huddling with Director Kamenski, trying to determine the nature of time and sort through the paradox. Kamenski has always been a bit of a mysterious character, growing and developing over many evolutions. First he’s just a curious old grandfather and the friend of Inspector General Kapustin in Men of War, but he is soon revealed to be very much more in that book. Once  he and Volsky mend fences, I then use Kamenski to help carry some of the mystery of time travel. Through him we learn how explosive events can affect spacetime, and not simply space. And we also learn the origin of Rod-25 and the other control rods.

The magic wands.

Yes, every author has them. These were my means of moving the ship in time, along with the explosive events that help that process along. The Devil’s Teardrop is another similar artifice to enable plot lines involving time travel, but you’ll not fail to notice that all of them, the control rods, the Teardrop and the back stairway at Ilanskiy, all are related to the Tunguska Event.

Including the airship by that name!
Exactly. The frame of that airship has exotic material mined near Tunguska. So that event has been lurking behind the scenes all through the series. The characters have put these clues together, and even visited the place during that mission on the Airship Narva when Orlov finds the Teardrop.

And hears that god awful sound…
Yes. That’s the very same sound that returns as a precursor to other strange effects that happen on the  ship in Paradox Hour. So it’s all related. But now this is all taking another evolution. The time rift aligned with the stairway at Ilanskiy is not the only one, there are others, and this tied directly into the mystery of the Keyholders that I first introduced in Fallen Angels with the Duke of Elvington. He’s already taken us through one of the other time rifts.

Ah, that little trip to Lindisfarne.
Well that’s even earlier than the Lindisfarne segment. In Fallen Angels, Chapter 16, the Duke learns of an anomaly involving an artifact in the British Museum. In fact, in his inner muse he actually mentions Professor Dorland, a man he had been consulting with on something, which turns out to be the  theory and possibility of Time Travel.

Will the Duke return?
There’s one little hint in Doppelganger about what he might have been up to after he went through the time rift at Lindisfarne. See if you spot it. There will be more about that later in the series. Yes, he’ll be back. He’s a Keyholder!

Dorland is also mentioned by Fedorov several times.
He was, a little name dropping there for my Meridian fans at first, but then many wrote to me asking whether the Meridian world would ever know of Kirov, and what it did, and about the key Duke Elvington had, particularly after that scene when he goes to the British museum and sees the impression of a key in the base of the Selene Horse.  That was a major clue I wove into the story, way back in Chapters 16 and 30 of Fallen Angels. In Chapter 30 there, I first relate the story of the Elgin Marbles, and how they were transported aboard Rodney, which is completely historical. Then I decided to play around a bit and introduced that little anomaly, the impression of a missing key in the base of that statue. And the Duke actually produces his key there and sees it is a perfect match for that impression.

I remember that now!
Well, that is a big clue, because if that key was missing, and the Selene Horse was sitting there in the museum in 2021, it tells you that the Duke began his journey to Lindisfarne from a meridian that was not yet altered by Kirov’s interventions in the past—at least those that happen in Paradox Hour. As we have seen in Paradox Hour, Rodney is sunk, and the Eglin marbles and the key went with it. I realized, in writing that scene, that I was slowly reprising events that happened at the end of the Meridian Series, in the novel Golem 7. So in the middle of Paradox Hour, I also realized that there I was, in May of 1941, right when those events occurred. So I decided at that time to begin merging the two story lines. Hence we now get the mystery of the  Keyholders growing in the Kirov Series.

And Kamenski was one of them!
He was. That was one of those little revelations made in Paradox Hour. But I realized that I could only use Kamenski so far in the explanation of time travel, and what was happening. There were aspects of this paradox that needed a much more detailed explanation, and there was only one man who could do that.

Professor Dorland.
Correct. So I reprised a few pages from Golem 7, brought back Dorland disguised as Lieutenant Commander Wellings aboard Rodney, and drafted a clever revision of the events that took place in Golem 7 for this May of 1941 in the Kirov Series. With Kamenski vanishing, leaving only that mysterious key behind, I now have Dorland to be the mouthpiece of the time theory.

Works for me! I’ve read all the Meridian books, and now I get the best of both worlds, the resolution of that deep hook you left at the end of Golem 7, and more Kirov Series books! Yet you’ve presented Dorland in a way that doesn’t really require people to go back and read the entire Meridian Series.

I’d be quite happy if they did, but I wanted to make this a seamless transition if I could. I did revise Golem 7 slightly, and edited it to make it a standalone novel. It was offered just before the release of Paradox Hour for as low as $.99 cents in a Kindle deal, to stand as a kind of prelude to events that were going to take place in Paradox Hour. But the Meridian team can be grasped by Kirov readers without requiring them to read Meridian. At times I do a page or two of character reprise from the Meridian Series, but the characters can stand on their own. They’ll be involved in the mystery of the Keyholders, as will Elena Fairchild and Argos Fire. She’s a Keyholder too. Later, we’ll even see our good Duke return. It’s all related to where I’m taking that part of the story now, but that will just be one plot line, I still have the main military history to present, and events that will take us to 1942.

So the title of this next one is intriguing. Is it revealing some outcome here?
Readers will soon see, but that title works on a few different levels. In one respect, it has to do with the new weapons development programs the Germans launch as a result of the shock of war delivered by Kirov and Brigadier Kinlan’s heavy tanks. The German rockets and new tanks are like duplicates of the weapons they have faced.

What is the King of Spades doing on the cover? Is it a symbol of something?
Its a duality, there are really two kings on that card, one a doppelganger of the other, so I thought it would tie in with the title. There is a small scene in the book where Fedorov is with Nikolin that ties it in. Careful readers will spot it, and know what it means.

I’m told Doppelganger also hints at the answer to that Grand Finality that Elena Fairchild has been worried about.

Indeed, I use Dorland to explain what that is, and how it would happen. That is the real danger lurking behind all of this, and the silence from the future is the dark shadow of that danger. And it relates not only to events that take place in Doppelganger, but also to the fact that other time rifts exists, like the one at Ilanskiy, and secured by these keys.

Is there a key for the one at Ilanskiy?
I can’t tell you that yet.

Alright, I’m looking forward to this Keyholders mystery. Great stuff. But what about the military events coming next?
In Doppelganger I get the naval battle resolved, but after that I turn my attention to resolving this paradox and setting up the story that creates. However, in Part VII, War Plans, I recap what has been happening on the Russian front, and bring in the viewpoints of Sergei Kirov, Karpov, Hitler and Volkov. One thing that readers already know is coming is the fact that the Germans are launching crash programs to develop these new wonder weapons they’ve encountered. Hitler wants new heavy tanks, and brother, he’s going to get them, and much sooner than they appeared in the real history. Those developments, and the accelerated missile and jet engine development, will make for a very interesting 1942 here. I’ll be taking us to the Russian front soon, with some close up depiction of that fighting, with some new characters, including tank ace Michael Whittmann for the Germans. Marco Ritter and Hans Rudel, last seen on the light carrier Goeben, will soon have some new toys.

Yes! But now the Germans have lost Graf Zeppelin.
That was a difficult decision. Yet there I was in Volsky’s shoes. He knew that getting that carrier was job one, and it had to be done. He literally tells Fedorov that he was going to destroy the entire German surface fleet in Paradox Hour, and he starts with Graf Zeppelin. Realizing he could easily make good on his threat, I decided to pull Kirov into the fog to face its fate, and the paradox that was coming. This also allowed me to hand the sea battle that opens Doppelganger to Admiral Tovey, where it rightfully belonged. He finally catches up with Hindenburg and Lutjens, and this novel presents that battle, the G3 class battlecruiser against the best the Germans have.

Alas, poor Graf Zeppelin, I knew it well…
Well, don’t mourn too long. The Germans have Peter Strasser nearly ready, and several other carrier conversion projects underway. After Raeder lost the Oldenburg, he put all his chips on the carriers. So don’t worry, I have some great sea battles planned for upcoming books.

One last question: Do we get the final answer in Doppelganger? Do we learn Kirov’s fate.
Yes. And in that you can have your cake, and eat it too. That’s all I can say for now until Doppelganger releases.  On we go!


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The Kirov Saga
Season 2

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The Kirov Saga
Season 3

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