What Exactly Am I Doing Here?
Updated: Feb 25
This isn’t an existential question I’m asking—at least not today. Rather, it’s about what a friend recently termed “this-whole-JD-wrote-a-novel-and-now-has-a-website-all-of-a-sudden-and-is-talking-about-it-on-the-radio-and-is-going-to-Normandy-for-the-D-Day-75th-anniversary-how-what-and-why-now?” I’ve heard enough similar questions since my website launch last week that I figured I’d spell out what exactly is going on here—how the book came to be, my current push for its publication (I want it in bookstores, damn it—I’m Old School like that), and my upcoming trip to England and Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Those three things are all connected, so here’s the deal:
The idea that eventually became Krelle’s Inferno first crowned in my head almost four years ago over Way Too Expensive Chinese tea with my buddy Charley. It emerged during a discussion ranging from aliens in Roswell to nineteenth-century Japanese warrior clan symbols to why the tea was so damned expensive when, c’mon, it’s just tea. Charley pondered what it would be like to have an X-Files-type show set in a fictional world where the Soviet Union won the Cold War and my History Nerd roared to life. Naturally, I had to choose a moment in history where a different outcome to a big event would skew the Cold War timeline. I realized that the most interesting candidate (to me) was during the Second World War: a failure of the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy. I read up on the campaign, looked through some “what if” scenarios published by historians I admire, and came up with a counterfactual scenario where D-Day’s failure led to the Soviets occupying all of Germany (instead of about a third of it) and most of western Europe to end the war. Abandoning the communist X-Files alien scenario entirely (sorry not sorry, Charley), I developed a plot for a decidedly different story--about humans—in novel form. Then came character-sketches and outlines, and the rest is (counterfactual) history. Krelle’s Inferno (the main character’s last name adorns the title) took me about three years to write, and I had the most fun—and the most growth—I’ve ever experienced in my life. After a second edit over a couple of months, it came time to move towards publication. Which puts me in the middle of….
I am learning this publish-a-novel thing on the fly. When I was writing Krelle’s Inferno, I researched the process but didn’t begin until the first draft was done. It all felt unwieldy at first; I’d done some academic publishing, but publishing a novel is an entirely different beast. The particulars are many, but the short of it is that I really needed to get a author’s website and social media presence underway before I sent out book proposals to agents and publishers in earnest. Cue the website launch last week and new social media accounts—the more likes I get on those, the better. So please follow me, click that thumbs up or heart, then share with your friends! I feel weird, like I’m that kid in fourth grade asking for all his friends to give him Valentines (I never did that. You did that.), but the reality is more likes means more notice for the book and better chances of publisher interest. Public appearances and interviews are important as well, which is why I felt so fortunate to be invited to The Efficient Life radio show in Seattle last week (if you missed it, check it out here) to talk about Krelle’s Inferno and the life journey behind it. I was thrilled they invited me back to the show next month after I return from…
This part of the story just fell into my lap, one of those serendipitous things that makes life exciting. Two great friends of mine in Oregon run a nonprofit named Vectors, which brings aerospace college and career exploration opportunities to youth through virtual engagement—in essence, they help kids find life paths through aerospace education. Part of their program is Virtual Field Trips to aviation museums, SpaceX rocket launches, and other fun stuff. When they heard about Krelle’s Inferno and its premise surrounding D-Day, VECTORS called in their VFT partners at Kerbal Space Academy—who livestream on Twitch—and hatched the idea of VFTs from England and Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion‘s success. Just like that, I became the history subject expert for their livestream broadcasts. I'll also get to talk about how Krelle’s Inferno highlights in unique ways why and how the success of D-Day invasion was so vital to history. We will broadcast from Duxford, England from June 2-4, then from the beaches and hedgerows of Normandy from June 5-8. You can follow the livestreams from VECTORS’ Twitch channel, DC3Girl, or catch archived episodes after the fact. You can also get regular updates by following me on social media and / or signing up for email updates to stay current.
So, that’s what I’m doing here. I’ll post much more often in the days ahead. I hope you’ll come back often!