In some exciting news, we have Brent A. Harris with his new release ‘A Time Of Need’ – a fascinating alternate American historical with a cast of famous characters.
I’m Brent A. Harris, a writer of SF and alternate history. When I’m not writing, I’m a family man, carting kids to ballet, school, soccer, and shops. In between the two, I wedge in a little geekdom. I love comics, Netflix binging, and board games – Pandemic, Heroclix, and the like When I read, it’s either non-fiction research for a book I’m working on, or SF for fun. I read Turtledove, Martin, Stirling, Heinlein, Bradbury, Brackett, and I watch original Star Trek episodes, my favourites penned by D.C. Fontana.
You mention you write alternate history. What is it?
Alternate history is speculative fiction, which is a fancy way of saying it’s science fiction that asks, “What if?” It’s a genre that changes one thing about our past and then produces a whole new world from that change. What if the Allies had lost WW2? What if Rome had not fallen? Alternate history allows us to learn how our world came to be by examining what might have been.
“Alternate history allows us to learn more about how our world came to be by examining what could have been.” –Brent A. Harris, Tales from Alternate Earths
What is it about history that you love and what made you want to alter it?
I’m passionate about history, but I’m convinced we’ve gone all wrong in how we approach it. It’s not a list of drab dates, or numbing numbers. We may all know that December 7th, 1941 is a day that will live in Infamy, but I guarantee you the sailors attacked on that fateful morning were not looking at their calendars. History is about people, and their lives lived, sometimes painfully, to bring us to this point.
In altering the past, there’s a science fiction component to creating a new world, and then having that world say something about our own. It’s a way to entertain first, and draw the reader in – the idea of Washington wearing a redcoat should immediately start to raise some questions, and perhaps objections too – but then hopefully the reader walks away with a new or altered sense of appreciation for the past.
Tell us about your alternate history novel, ‘A Time of Need’. What is it about?
I’ve written several short stories that have been picked up by various outlets. One of them earned me a nomination for the Sidewise Award in alternate history. If you’re interested in time-travel, or dinosaurs, or time-traveling dinosaurs, you’ll want to check out Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon, in Tales from Alternate Earths. The anthology itself includes another story that won the Sidewise award, which is pretty exciting.
My book, A Time of Need, an alternate history of the American Revolution, sees George Washington fighting alongside the British against American forces marshalled under Benedict Arnold. It asks that you abandon pre-conceived notions of America’s founding and open yourself to the challenges, sacrifices, and horrors the fighting men and camp followers experienced during the war as these two titans clash.
What is it about the period that you find fascinating, and how do you explore that in A Time of Need?
American Colonialism is really a clash of many worlds. It’s interesting to see how adamant early settlers were in bringing with them their European traditions and values only to saddle themselves unnecessarily. In many ways, the Revolution was the result of that slow realization, which over generations, created a rift between Europeans who saw Yanks as damned and dirty, and Yanks who saw themselves as enlightened, yet superior to Natives and slaves alike.
But this early history isn’t widely discussed. If you go to a book store, there’s very little written on the subject outside the Mythos of our Founding Fathers. And they are all full of misconceptions and preconceived ideas, mostly from what we’ve been taught in schools. Either dry dates or out and out fibs. Washington never chopped down a cherry tree, but a young Washington had a crush on a married woman.
These are real people with real lives that made mistakes and yet somehow stumbled into greatness. When the focus is put on people, history becomes story.When the focus is put on people, history becomes story. Click To Tweet
I’m currently at work buried in books to research the next instalment of the series. I also have another alternate history short story set to release this winter and a few other ideas knocking around the cabinet that I might let loose, so long as soccer practice allows. Thanks for reading!
Where can people find you on the internet?
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Brent-A.-Harris/e/B01L0I22OM
For those that have not read Druid’s Portal yet, here is a link to the first chapter DruidsPortal