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An Interview With John Schettler - Author Of the Kirov series novels, Part 2

The ending of Kirov hinted at a sequel, and I see it has finally here!

Yes, the reader response to Kirov has been so positive that it really motivated me to continue the story with a sequel. So Kirov II was finished in early December, 2012 and is now available on Amazon.

I can’t wait! Can you tell us a little more about it? Does it also involve time displacement?

Well…The story will begin right where I ended the first novel, with Kirov heading out to sea, away from what they have discovered at Halifax Harbor. In fact, I had written a much longer epilogue to Kirov that my senior editor advised me to shorten. So the full, extended version of that material will now stand as the prologue to this second book. From there, Kirov heads east to see what’s left of the world. I really only had two directions I could take the story for a sequel. The first was to leave Kirov where she was at the end of the first novel, and then perhaps introduce a stealthy US sub that has survived those events, and then you get a modern Kirov vs sub kind of story.

Is that what we get in Kirov II?

No. My thinking on that was that there was already a whole herd of good modern naval fiction writers out there with great stories along those lines. The virtue of Kirov, and what made it unique, was in the way it took the ship to another era.

So there will be time displacement involved?

Yes. That’s the proverbial ‘road less traveled’, and it’s what made Kirov really interesting in my mind. The way I have imagined it, Kirov has basically never stopped moving in time. When she manifests in any particular milieu her position in time is not really stable. At the end of the novel, Fedorov is suspicious about a number of strange sightings of a Hipper Class cruiser off Halifax and Newfoundland. He reads about them in his Chronology of the Naval War at Sea, and, in fact, they are actual real events from that chronology. The implication is that Kirov is fading in and out of time, and her position in time has not stabilized. Think of it like a stone skipping over water in a series of hops. The first book was the first hop.

And now the ship is about to land somewhere else?

Exactly. This strange interval that makes up the conclusion of the first novel will also open the sequel. Think of that as the rock skipping off the water where it first hit and suspended in the air. But what goes up must come down, and Kirov is going to make another hard landing in what I call a ‘Cauldron of Fire.’

That explains the subtitle. Can you tell us where you’ll be taking us in the second book?

Well,  I could have chosen any era of history, but I saw no point in moving the ship farther back in time to the age of wooden ships, or even earlier. There would be no challenge in that. Harry Turtledove has already covered that anyway with books like The Guns of the South and others. I realized I wasn’t going to have any fun with a battlecruiser like Kirov dueling with wooden sailing ships or Roman galleys. So to answer your question, Kirov is still rebounding in the same basic era of WWII where she was first displaced, only this time the ship has moved a year ahead in time to 1942. But the ship moves in space during the interval at the end of the first book, and that continues in the opening chapters of Kirov II. So they change their location in space, then discover that they are still not stable in time, and they shift again, into one of the most intense naval war zones of 1942.

Hints? Hints? What can we expect?

Well, I had a lot to choose from. 1942 had some pretty dramatic naval action in both the Atlantic and Pacific. In the first novel I had to spend a lot of time developing my characters and dealing with the perplexity of what happened. That probably took up about a third of the whole novel. But now that work is done. I don’t have to labor too hard to draw characters like Admiral Volsky, Karpov, Orlov and Fedorov, and when the ship reappears in Chapter 2 of this new story, I don’t have to write five chapters where they try to accept or figure out what has happened. They are much more ready to “believe” now. So it’s out of the frying pan of the first novel, and right into the fire of the second book. Kirov will sail to the Mediterranean before discovering they have again shifted in time. Trapped in those very restricted waters, they now have three routes out, with potential enemies on every side and a major Air/Sea campaign already underway in theater. This one is going to have a lot more naval combat; a lot more action. All I can say is that Kirov will face her toughest challenge, because every missile she fired in the first book diminishes her power. I have big spreadsheet where I have been tracking every single weapon system used in the story and updating the tally of missiles and rounds remaining. So if you like battleship action, tune in to this one, because the book is loaded with naval combat.

Yes, the situation with Kirov’s limited ammo inventory is a kind of game balancing issue, isn’t it?

Correct. The ship has tremendous power relative to her WWII adversaries, but they are also learning and adapting, and Kirov is slowly expending her missile inventory as well, and there will be no replacement missiles—ever.  They have to be very judicious in how they employ their weapons now, and that is part of what ratchets up the tension in this second novel.

What about those American destroyers at the end of the first book?

Desron 7? The implication I leave you with is that the surviving destroyers have also been displaced in time, but for now I’m going to let that one dangle like a loose shoelace. I always leave a few things unresolved like that at the end of my novels, particularly my time travel stories, to keep the door open for sequels. One day I may write a novel and title it Desron 7, but not just yet.

OK, when can we expect to get our hands on Kirov II?

It was released on Amazon for kindle on December 3 as an eBook. There is also a link on this site for the print version.  If  you like my writing, the fifth book in the Meridian time travel series might also interest you. Golem 7 can be read as a standalone novel, though you’ll know more about the characters if you’ve read the first four books in that series. If I hadn’t written that book, Kirov might have never come along. It’s where I first introduced Admiral Tovey as a historical character, along with his Chief of Staff Brind, and then all the characters on the German side. So enjoy!

On that note, what are your other books about?

Well I’ve talked a bit about my early science fiction novels and the Meridian time travel series. There’s a lot of info on these books at my  web site. I also have another historical fiction story I call my “Silk Road Series.” It’s a long epic story of a caravan master on the silk road, who gets embroiled in the conflict between Tibet and China. I call it a hybrid of two of my favorite books, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and James Clavell’s Shogun. Then there’s a kind of mythic mystery horror novel that was originally titled Steamboat Slough. I just couldn’t find an audience for that story, though I thought it contained some of my best writing. My editors finally convinced me that both the title and book cover were completely impenetrable, and did not convey anything of what the book was about, so it has just been re-tooled and released under the new title of Dream Reaper.

And what’s next for you?

For now I’m focused on getting Kirov II into reader’s hands, but I still have four other unpublished books in various stages of completion. I’ll just have to see where the muse takes me.

Might there be a third book in the Kirov Series?

That depends on the readers. If they support Volume II in the same way they have the first book, it would be hard to walk away from the story. After all, there’s a lot more ocean out there. I already know where I would take the ship next, and I have written a “blurb” at the very end of Book II, so if this second book is well received, I’ll continue.

Thanks John, and good luck with Kirov II.



The Saga Continues . . .


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