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Thursday 4 May 2017

ℚ♫ On Seas So Crimson: Usurper's War [1-2] - James Young

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about On Seas So Crimson (, 858 pages), an Alternate Historycollection for James Young's Usurper's War series.

With the launch of "Acts of War", author James Young shows himself to be a master of that science fiction sub-genre called 'Alternate History'. Exceptionally well written and deftly crafted into a compelling read from beginning to end, "Acts of War" is very highly recommended and will leave its fully entertained readers looking eagerly toward the next installment of this outstanding series. --Midwest Book Review

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to James Young; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start, we are delighted as James shared with us his music playlist for On Seas So Crimson - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for On Seas So Crimson?
"Since I was in grade school, I’ve been a World War II buff. I’ve been an alternate history buff for only slightly less time. Sometime around 5th Grade, I found out about the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. This sparked thoughts of “Well what if they’d still been allied in World War II?” (Momentary pause as I look at my 10-year-old self then ruefully shake my head.) I think I dashed off a story long hand entitled “Time Changed” (shaking of head intensifies) that had British Spitfires escorting Japanese bombers and fighting Grumman Hellcats.

Thankfully, I got older and wiser, but an alternate World War II was always on the back burner. When I got out of the U.S. Army in 2003, I decided to finish the book entitled Acts of War. After giving it to a couple of beta readers, they said the Point of Departure (a German victory in a Second Battle of Britain) was a bit obscure. I also happened to read an excellent work entitled The Most Dangerous Enemy by Stephen Bungay in which he discusses members of Churchill’s cabinet strongly argued for a separate peace around that same time. Based on these two points, I added in another 90 pages that made three things clear:
  1. Adolf Hitler was killed in November 1940.
  2. Heinrich Himmler took over the Third Reich and led it to victory in a second Battle of Britain in August 1942.
  3. Queen Elizabeth ascends to the throne as the Royal Family flees to Canada. This is challenged by her uncle, Edward VIII, who returns to England as a Usurper. Hence the series title, “Usurper’s War.”
The end result was a 750-page behemoth that thus became two books, Acts of War and Collisions of the Damned. On Seas So Crimson is the collection that brings them back together as they were originally intended at a slight discount. Basically I’m giving folks an opportunity to “take a chance on me” from the beginning."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Quite a bit, actually. I’m currently getting my doctorate in U.S. History and majored in Military History at West Point. Ironically, given that West Point is the Army’s commissioning source, I’ve always been fascinated with air and naval combat. That is pretty evident in On Seas So Crimson, as there isn’t any ground combat “on screen.” There likely will be ground actions once I switch back to the European Theater, but I strongly suspect I’ll finish the entire Pacific War arc before that happens."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for On Seas So Crimson - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I am a big believer that covers should convey some sort of action or event from the book.  This is a disputed school of thought, but the last thing I want is for some reader to pick something up and say “This looks cool…” then never get the payoff.  So, the cover image is a canvas painting by Wayne Scarpaci entitled “Death of Kongo.”  A scan of the original painting is here:

It is a climactic scene from the back half of the book, in which the H.M.S. Renown is scoring a fatal 15-inch shell hit on the Kongo. I wargamed out the battles involved in On Seas So Crimson, so I found it pretty ironic that the Renown would summarily “see off” the only Japanese capital ship built in Great Britain.

I went with Mr. Scarpaci because he is a nautical artist of considerable skill. He had previously done the cover painting for the physical copy of Acts of War:

As you can imagine, I was very happy with the artwork. I had it reproduced and sell it at conventions."
Why should we read On Seas So Crimson and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"Both books in this series have been recommended by external reviewers for Amazing Stories and The Midwest Book Review. A large part of this stems from the fact I have a unique Point of Departure (POD) with killing Adolf Hitler in November 1940. Although other World War II alternate histories have Germany either winning the Battle of Britain in 1940 or deal with Hitler dying in July 1944 (when the war is basically over), I decided neither really fit with the available historical evidence.

The reason I chose my particular POD date was that Hitler issued the formal attack order for Operation Barbarossa, the attack on the Soviet Union, on 30 November 1940. In using a RAF bomb to kill him, I figured that whomever ends up in charge would have a readily apparent reason for settling up with England before going east. In early concepts for the books, I went with Reinhard Heydrich instead of Heinrich Himmler. Then, as I did more research, I realized that Heydrich would really not have wanted to be in charge of Nazi Germany, whereas Himmler was ruthless enough to take the reins. Hermann Goering, of course, would have to pay the price for the bomb."
Can you tell us something quirky about On Seas So Crimson, its story and characters?
"The book starts off with London on fire, nerve gassed, and the Royal Family fleeing to Canada. There’s a rather broad cast of characters, with some definite influences from authors such as aviation historian Barrett Tillman, major leaning on the written expertise of Royal Navy test pilot Eric Brown, and a couple of nods to Derek Robinson’s Piece of Cake book / miniseries. I take the view that war is chaotic and deadly, which is a polite way of saying “If you love a character that dies, I’m sorry.”"
Who would you recommend On Seas So Crimson to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"If you liked Robinson’s work, are a fan of Harry Turtledove, and also enjoy World War II naval combat, this is definitely a book for you. I will say, other than the first 90 pages, Europe is only deal with obliquely. However, even with England technically out of the war, the Royal Navy and Air Force continue to fight on as “The Commonwealth.” Their influence is definitely noted throughout, as I think all too often American authors forget that we did indeed have allies in World War II.

I feel that one disclaimer I should mention is that I am, as my Canadian spouse says, “a bloody Yank.” I did try to keep the “u” in certain words when applicable to a character’s speech, but I probably missed quite a few instances."
If you could / wished to turn On Seas So Crimson and the Usurper's War series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Well this would indeed be interesting. I’d want Steven Spielberg directing it, as I really like Saving Private Ryan’s cinematography. Actors? I freely confess to not being great with actors.

I’d probably want Jamie Bamber to play Adam Haynes, as I loved his turn as Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. Haynes, like Apollo, is a damaged individual thanks to trauma that happens before the reader is introduced to him. I think Barber plays the flying professional extremely well, so that would be my first pick.

Locations? I’d prefer to film it somewhere in the tropics, but not Pearl Harbor itself. As several of my close friends can attest, Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor has some serious inaccuracies that annoy me to no end. Several of these are forced because the location is currently an active United States Navy base. As most of On Seas So Crimson takes place underway, I don’t think it’s necessary to actually film the Pearl Harbor scenes at Pearl."
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?
"The greatest challenge has been finding time. As mentioned, I’m currently in the midst of my doctorate and also have a nasty commute. But, I manage to get things done."
W● What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
"I was once accused of basically writing “Star Trek fan fic” for my sci-fi series. The rest of the critique isn’t exactly family friendly, but suffice to say that’s one I just walked away from.

The best compliment I’ve been given was that I compare favorably to David Drake, Harry Turtledove, and Tom Clancy. That’s great company to be in."
What is your writing process?
"Generally I get an idea while driving. It’s not always fully coherent, but if I make a note with it using speak to text, usually I can come back to it. Or I’ll mull it over during the rest of the commute and jot down the notes on my phone.

When it comes to actually writing, I start off by getting the notes together. Sometimes I’ll do an outline, but a lot of the time it’s more a case of getting from Event A to Event B to Event C. I have my own home office with all my research books nearby, so that usually helps a great deal. If I’m going mobile, I’ll take one or two of what I call “desert island” books with me depending on what series I’m writing in."
What is in store next?
"The very next thing that needs to get done is my dissertation. I’m also working on my sci-fi sequel, Though Our Hulls Burn…. In between there, I’ll take time to partake in essay contests and anthologies, as these are usually “quick hits” rather than long-term projects.

With regards to The Usurper’s War series, I’ll be advancing the Pacific War culminating in at least two more major naval battles between the Imperial Japanese Navy and United States Navy. Royal Navy forces will play a major part in these actions, as the bulk of the RN will be shifted to the Pacific in order to avoid fratricide. So if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a King George V-class met a Yamato…well, let’s just say you may find out in the next book."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My wife and I, fellow author Anita C. Young, have three cats and two dogs. This is my way of saying there’s no way we’re getting everyone in the picture, especially as Emma (the eldest cat) hates the kittens. (“I don’t know who you cats are, but I’m pretty *bleeping* sure you’re lost. This is my house.”) So, without further ado, here are the fur babies:"

Lots of cuddles to all of the fur babies! Thank you for sharing them with us! You've been brilliant :-)
"Thank you for having me down."

On Seas So Crimson
Available NOW!

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