Today I am interviewing Alan Smale, author of the new alternate history novel, Eagle and Empire, the final book in the Clash of Eagles trilogy.
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DJ: Hey Alan! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Alan Smale: Sure, and thanks for having me on! I’ve spent all my life in the sciences, and by profession I’m an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. But I’ve also been writing fiction for as long as I can remember; at high school, I used to stay inside and write during the lunch hour instead of going out.
I made my first professional short fiction sale in the early 1990s and have been going strong ever since. When people first meet me, they expect me to be a hard SF writer because of the physics background, but I’ve always been a history buff as well, and when it comes to fiction I’ve been gravitating to the past rather than the future for many years now. I did write some SF early on, as well as some straight fantasy and horror, but these days my output is solidly alternate history, twisted history, historical fantasy.
I’m originally British, and grew up in Yorkshire. I went to Oxford, and then came to the U.S. in my late twenties, and somehow I never went back again. I’ve been a U.S. citizen since 2000.
DJ: What is Eagle and Empire and then the Clash of Eagles trilogy about?
Alan: It’s the thirteenth century A.D. in a timeline where the classical Roman Empire never fell. The Emperor Geta managed to defeat his brother Caracalla in a bloody civil war, and then brought in reforms that staved off the Crisis of the Third Century A.D. As a result, the Empire managed to remain strong and repel the “barbarians” that assaulted it, to remain a world power. Now the Norse have discovered North America, and Rome is moving in.
That’s where the first book begins, with Roman general Gaius Marcellinus marching his legion in from the Chesapeake Bay in search of gold and glory in this brave New World. What they find is completely different to what they expected. In the early 1200s A.D. the Mississippian Culture is at its height. The city of Cahokia, on the Mississippi close to where St. Louis is now, is a dominating force. Cahokia was a mound-builder city, a Native American metropolis of some 20,000 people. When Marcellinus’s legion smacks up against Cahokia, the Romans come off worst.
Now we’re in the third book, and three more crack Roman legions are in Nova Hesperia – North America. They’ve made an alliance with the Hesperian League of tribes, an extension of the Haudenosaunee League of our world, that’s been building up over the years since Marcellinus arrived. And over on the western coast, the Mongol Horde of Genghis Khan has landed. The battle for Nova Hesperia will take place on the Great Plains of North America, with the various Native American nations and tribes making their own necessary alliances, trying to survive while trapped between these two powerful invaders. Continue reading