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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

Question 2: J P Ashman

J P Ashman, author of Black Cross, a book you should read (after you've read mine, clearly) asked me this:


Hi GR,

I'm enjoying reading The Stone Road at the moment and have actually shelved a 'best selling' hardback trad. published book whilst I read yours. I honestly felt grabbed by your setting and the intrigue surrounding what's going on. Time is short at the moment (is it ever not) and I can't find the time to have two on the go as I usually do, so chose yours, which I find quite refreshing within the genre. I imagine a lot of questions you get are and will be about the setting, so wanted to try and come up with something different.

Here goes:

Would you ever consider writing historical fiction, and if so, what century/event would you choose? Ancient China aside, what really grabs you from world history, that would get your artistic juices flowing?




Hi JP,

Children tend to soak up time - but it is worth it.

You know I had an idea, a while ago, for some more historically accurate fiction (whether fantasy or strict factual fiction) set in World War One. I have taught a unit on that period for many years and you can see the horror develop in the children's minds as they listen to first hand accounts of the battles. In age where children play games such as Call of Duty and Counter-strike (I play, as does my son - don't tell my wife! Sssh!) some have this idea where you get shot, but its OK you can just respawn. I think Myke Cole wrote an article about guns and getting shot - or I followed one of his links to it, I forget now, but it was around time of the Michael Brown shooting. The realism vs films was the general direction of the article and it was damn interesting.

But you watch the World War One films (primary sources), the Pathe News, and then some films like All Quiet on the Western Front (the one with John Walton in it... I forget his name now... old age!) and you get a real sense of the desperation, the courage, the bravery, the resignation. It is an era sown with fear, hope, loss and courage in equal measure. I want my characters to go through the wringer, the mangel, to be squeezed to breaking, to fear for themselves, but more importantly to fear for others. That time, 1914 - 1918, has so many opportunities.

My Grandfather fought in WW2, like many people's grandfathers, but he so rarely talked about it. A few stories is all we have from his time in the desert - a friends head shot off as he peeked out of his tank turret, winding the worms out of legs around a pencil. I never knew his Dad, my great grandfather, who fought in WW1 - what stories would he have had.

We find out about our families stories too late... going all maudlin now!

So, after all that wordiness, World War One.


Thanks for that, very insightful. I'd be very interested to read a fantasy set in a WWI setting. I think it's safe to say it'd be grimdark for sure. I also have to say that after asking the question, it was the two world wars that my mind drifted to for a new fantasy. Interesting. I'd also be inclined to pick up an accurate historical novel of the period should you write one in the future. JP


Perhaps a joint venture a la Baxter and Pratchett!

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