Today I am talking with Harvey Black, author of the Devils with Wings series.
Hi, Harvey, before we focus on your writing I wonder if you could tell me what authors most influenced you as a writer.
That depends Martin. In my teens I was very much into science fiction and loved authors such as E.E.Doc.Smith, Arthur.C.Clarke and not forgetting J.R.R.Tolkein. But then I joined the Army and my interest in all things military came to the fore. My favourite authors in that genre are Guy Sajer, Alistair Maclean, Alexander Kent and Bernard Cornwall.
You are a qualified parachutist and worked in British Army Intelligence. Your first novels are about the para-troopers of the German military. What made you decide upon this?
I needed to find a niche subject. There are numerous WW2 novels out there, particularly from the British/Allies perspective. The Fallschirmjager were exceptional soldiers and completed many firsts, such as glider assaults, use of hollow-charge weapons and of course the first ever airborne invasion of a country. Crete. But, although we fought against them, they were noble soldiers and not fanatics like some of the other elite units. I came across the modern day Fallschirmjager during my time in the forces and they are just as tough and mean now.
I guess your own experience is central to your writing but how do you supplement this in terms of research?
I try to visit the places where my novels are set. I really suffered having to spend two weeks in Crete with all that warm weather… I like to fully understand the equipment that is used, the tactics followed and get under the skin of what makes those particular soldiers tick.
If you could spend time with any of your characters who would they be what would you do?
Poaching with Fessman and getting drunk with Max!
What advice would you give to anyone hoping to write historical fiction based on such recent events as World War 2 and the Cold War?
Really get to know your subject. Don’t compromise on your research. Be sensitive to the feelings of others who have been in actual combat during those awful times.
What has been the most surprising thing about your writing career?
How much I enjoy it. To start with it was achieving an ambition, now I write for the love of it.
What would be a typical writing day for you? Do you have set times, spaces, routines or rituals?
No set times. Often write in a morning sat in a Costa’s or Nero’s café, or even sat in a chair on the beach with my toes in the water (weather permitting). I normally scribble in a Moleskin notebook to start with, expanding on what I’ve written once I type it up.
What is your next writing project?
I am the third of the way through ‘A Red Effect’, the first in my Cold War trilogy. The hypothetical invasion of West Germany by the Warsaw Pact in the 80’s. I will cover the intelligence build up, which will have some of my own experiences woven into the story. At the time, it wasn’t if they were coming across the Inner German Border, but when.
Thank you very much, Harvey.
You can find more about Harvey’s books by clicking on the links below.
Next week I’ll be talking with Ben Kane.
- Grune Teufel (Devils with Wings Book Review) (broeder10.wordpress.com)