Today's interview is with M.E. Brines, author of The Queen's Martian Rifles. A member of the British Society for Psychical Research, he is, like Professor Van Helsing, both a long-time student of the occult and a committed Christian.
He is also the author of more than two dozen e-books, novels, chapbooks and pamphlets on esoteric subjects such as alien abduction, alien hybrids, UFOs, conspiracies, mind control, the esoteric Nazism, the Knights Templar, astrology, magick, the Bible, and the Spear of Longinius, available through Smashwords.
His work has also appeared in Challenge magazine, Weird Tales, The Traveller Chronicle, Midnight Times, The Outer Darkness, Tales of the Talisman, and The Willows magazine.
Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
ME Brines: It allows writers/readers to examine and discuss "what might have been" and compare and contrast what is, for better or worse. Most people just trudge off to work everyday and do what they've always done. It's the people who think "outside the box" that produce all the improvements in society. (And the bad experiments, too.) Scientists often refer to sci-fi books they read as children as inspiration for their careers. All new ideas first show themselves in fiction, and speculative fiction by its very name defines thinking about what might be. Writers of vision show the way and others come along and make it so.
MKR: Why do you write in this genre?
MEB: I've always been interested in thinking "what if...?" and in the hidden "truths" that rarely make it into the history books. Our modern secular society discounts the supernatural in all its forms: religion, the paranormal, magick, and without even looking at the evidence. I just don't think it's scientific to reject evidence based entirely on where it leads. Writing Spec-fic allows an author to investigate truths that if presented in a "non-fiction" book would be rejected because they're too against the established thinking. Just look at what Dan Brown did with his stuff. There's a great deal of truth to the fantastic things I write about, but it's more acceptable because readers suspend their disbelief because it's "fiction."
MKR: How did you come up with the idea for The Queen's Martian Rifles?
MEB: Actually it came from an on-line play-by-e-mail game I was running, The Struggle of Nations. I still run the game today. What if Nikola Tesla invented a steam powered anti-gravity generator in the 1880s? And what if the planet Mars was slightly larger and could hold an atmosphere? And what if there really WERE ancient astronauts? Just how far can you twist that idea? I hate writing stories that are easy to predict the outcome, but are still reasonable.
That's the situation, the basic plot. The characters are something else. And characters are what get people interested in a story and keep them reading.
MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
MEB: I did a lot of research. You'd think, it's a made up world assuming technology that never existed. What sort of research do you need to do - just make a bunch of stuff up. But it's historical. I only assumed a few small changes - that Mars is large enough to hold an atmosphere. That Tesla invented an anti-gravity generator that relates to gravity pretty much like magnetism does with electricity. But the British military kit, the command structure, weapons, etc. How could a Victorian spacecraft reach Mars even assuming you had an anti-gravity engine? (I did a whole blog post on that.) It helps I'm a big military history buff. I did the same sort of research for my World War II paranormal novels The Fist of God and The Unholy Grail.
MKR:What are you working on now?
MEB: The sequel to The Unholy Grail: Roswell Diary. It's about a WWII veteran who gets invovled with the CIA and investigates the Roswell Incident. The Agency thinks the Air Force is holding out on them in the big bureaucratic infighting that goes on behind the scenes in Washington. How did Nazi technology relate to UFOs? Is the Second World War really over? What's the truth behind the Roswell Incident? Lot's of action and weird occult speculations, just like The Queen's Martian Rifles and The Unholy Grail. Great stuff and lots of fun to write, and read.
I'm also working on a sequel to The Queen's Martian Rifles - this one involves an American archaeological expedition to the asteroid belt in 1907. (And yeah, archaeological means they're looking for an ancient civilization out there.) And, of course, another Martian plot against the Earth and another bit of romance between an unlikely couple. But that's not going to be finished for some time yet. Readers will just have to keep themselves busy with my World War II paranormal stories until then.