Three years ago Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Press put out a call for stories for an anthology entitled Alternative Air Adventures. Stories were to be aerial adventures set in worlds without any fixed wing or helicopter aircraft. Intrigued, I quickly signed up.
Flight without fixed wings immediately brought dirigibles to my mind. I have been fascinated with airships since I was a boy and was taken through the enormous hangar used by the USS Macon by my Dad. Since then I have accumulated quite a library and knowledge of Airships.
The Germans arguably built the best Zeppelins so I decided to make my heroes the crew of a German Zeppelin. Since I did not want Nazis involved I invented a world where the German had won WWI and twenty years later a cold war among the European powers existed. From there it was easy to conjure up a brushfire colonial war in Africa between England and Germany starring my hero Max and his Zeppelin the L-107.
Flight of the Wasp ended up being a fun little story that led off Alternative Air Adventures and I am quite pleased with it. If you’re looking for something fun and different to read pick up a copy of Alternative Air adventures. There are some imaginative stories there.
Once I completed flight of the Wasp I quickly moved on to other work. However, my friend Terry had loved my story and would not let it go. He kept badgering me to write a sequel to Max’s zeppelin adventure. Initially I wasn’t that excited about it but finally I gave in and came up with a sequel. The story was longer and more involved but also turned out to be a pretty good air adventure. Again I thought I was finished. But Terry once again demanded more, telling me that what I had written wasn’t a pulp adventure but great alternate history fiction.
This got me thinking; he was right. While I hadn’t set out to create an alternate history world, that was just what I had done. So I tinkered with some outlines and in the end decided I had enough to write a whole book about the adventures of Max and L-107 in Africa.
So this winter, in addition to writing my recently finished Purple Scar novel I also completed parts three and four of my Zeppelin saga. I then expanded Flight of the Wasp a bit, added a prologue and an alternate history timeline and ended up with over sixty thousand words.
What I am doing now is assembling and editing these four stories and I hope to have the whole thing ready to send off to a publisher soon. Tentatively it is called Zeppelins over Africa. The four stories each stand alone but linked together are the story of a nasty little war in an alternate 1930s Africa.
The fun thing is; my alternate world is there waiting for more stories. I want to move on to other things now but I have future plans to return to Max’s world. There are lots more airship stories to be written. Perhaps some American airships . . . huge descendants of the USS Macon and USS Akron scouting for the US fleet in the Pacific. And what about the Japanese? They would have airships . . . wouldn’t they?
I’ll keep you informed on Zeppelins over Africa as it progresses. Next week I’ll talk about new writing projects I’ll be working on this summer.