When I started to read “The Losing Role” (Buy | Book Review – don’t forget to enter the giveaway) I immediately knew that I have something special in my hands – I couldn’t resist an espionage novel set in World War II. The author, Steve Anderson (Website | Facebook | Twitter), has been kind enough to answer a few questions about his ideas, research and social media.
Q. How did you come up with the idea of writing a WWII espionage novel from the German perspective?
A. I read an article that told the real story behind this infamous mission in which English-speaking German soldiers impersonated American units behind the lines. In legend it was a frightening and deadly ploy. The reality was totally different. Most Germans called up for it could barely speak English and the few who could were far from ideal soldiers let alone crack terrorists. The whole thing was a disaster. Something about the absurdity of it all appealed to me. So, the German perspective just evolved from that — I like to give a different angle to known events in my writing, and telling it through some sorry German conscript’s eyes seemed a good way to do it.
Q. Did you worry about making the Nazis look sympathetic?
A. It always crosses your mind but I didn’t have to worry too much because the true Nazis in the story — the ones in the party or SS or both — really are the antagonists, the very ones who started the whole mess and the war itself. By their actions they’re the least sympathetic and probably help make Max a little more sympathetic. I wouldn’t call Max a victim, because he himself made all the wrong choices to end up in the grim place he was. But he’s more of an everyman. And he’s not looking to Nazis for hope, but to Americans.
Q. I could tell that you put a lot of research hours while writing “The Losing Role”. How do you go about your research for historical fiction books?
A. Thanks. I like researching. It’s the best way to procrastinate. Most of my research is over the Internet, though I do order books and articles from anywhere. It’s amazing what you can find now in seconds compared to when I was a grad student in history — right before the Internet. I speak German so I was also able to get articles that helped me shed light on the German side of things.
Q. What’s next for Max Kaspar?
A. Good question! The Losing Role is the first in a loose series. The second book is called The Liberator and involves Max’s younger, Americanized brother Harry, a US captain in the early occupation of Germany. Max and Harry reunite in the third book, tentatively titled Lost Kin — I can’t tell you how Max gets there though or I’d be spoiling it.
Q. You are active on the Social Media front. How do you find the experience? Any positive/negative experiences in book promotions?
A. Doing social media doesn’t come naturally to me, so I simply try and follow and get involved in conversations around common interests. It’s got to feel natural. Twitter’s been far better than I thought depending how you use it — for me it’s like having your own personal wire service. I think many promotions are simply unproven, and I probably spend as much time assessing what’s not worth the time or even detrimental. I like to be writing as much as possible despite the day job. That said, there’s nothing better than connecting with a reader who gets what you’re trying to do. That makes getting involved worthwhile.
Q. Shameless plug disguised as a question: Why do you love ManOfLaBook.com so much and often visit the website?
Wise guy answer: First it was the name — who’s this dude going around calling himself the Man of la Book? Then I also saw you’re a sucker for espionage thrillers set in the 1940s. Seriously, I do like a lot of the books you’re choosing (I’m not talking about mine) and will be coming back to see what you’re up to. Call me Sancho!
Thanks Steve, good luck with the book (don’t forget to enter the giveaway) and the whole series.
Keep up the good research.
Zohar – Man of la Book