Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Yet more good news

My partner just got the offer from an investment bank, which means a 30% salary increase. He's pretty chuffed. So am I. Making grandiose plans of taking over the world after London, too. But in the end, it's all going towards the house and the pension. We're already doing nicely, everything extra is now for financial  planning. I did not plan to work until I'm 70 or whatever the age will be at that time.

Thanks to uneven workload (feast or famine, at the moment it's famine), I'm done with my first major research book for Iron Cross (covering German history from 1870 to 1933) and have gathered some ideas for the characters' background. Questions such as "when did the American press began to report on Nazi atrocities commited against Jews" and "where could Richard have attended university" are answered. The answers are: as early as Jan/Feb 1933 and "Heidelberg or Marburg" (personally I tend towards Marburg, since I know that city). There are also many details I hadn't considered, and things like "un-Germanic art" and the bookburnings are put into perspective.

I do like reading those sweeping histories and start tell before my book's set. To write Vadim in "Special Forces", I read a 600-700 pages history of the Soviet Union, starting well, well before 1979, when "Special Forces" starts. The idea is to understand what issues and events shaped the characters growing up and getting to where they are. In Vadim's case, the relationship with his father and the way the totalitarian system twisted his character, even though, strictly speaking, 1979 was not in the teeth of the red terror. Nevertheless, people living in 1979 would remember - or have friends/family that would remember - the terror and the purges and the enforced uniformity. Fascinating stuff.

In Richard's case, the book burnings would have an impact. He'd notice the drop in quality of literature. He'd agree that Expressionism is ugly, but I think he likes modern literature and some of the discourses playing out in the twenties and thirties would have made an impact. He'd agree that the Communists need to be suppressed as they were clearly going to overturn the Weimar Republic. But if it had been for Richard, he'd have opted for a proper military dictatorship under Hindenburg. He'd largely agree with Kurt vom Hammerstein, for example. Very interesting - that'll give me enough of a foundation to not make the mistake of making the "good guy" into a democrat, because for all intents and purposes with his background and class, there's just no way he could have been.

If I've learnt anything about "Iron Cross" it's that it, like "Special Forces", very much dictates its own terms on which I can approach it. And that's really how historical novels should be, I think.


  1. Congratulations! But, hey, you guys need to spend a little on yourselves too. All work and no play make for very dull boys.

    Looking forward to "Iron Cross". Your research will speak for itself.

  2. Congratulation :)

    And yes, most definitely... Iron Cross... what Artemis said. :))