Thank you to Rachel from Rahcel’s Random Resources for connecting me to the author for this interview and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
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Synopsis of the book, Jupiter’s Fire
When Franco, a teenager living in the monastery at Monte Cassino in 1944 uncovers a long-lost Roman Eagle, the fabled Aquila for the Jupiter Legion, he sets in motion a desperate struggle to prevent the Nazis from using it to win the war. In a do-or-die mission, Franco and Dulcie, a teenage mountain girl, must steal the Eagle back and escape before its deadly power is unleashed. Pursued by the implacable forces of the SS they will discover not just the secrets of the Eagle but also themselves.
About the Author, William Osborne
William Osborne – Born 1960 – educated at Greshams School, Holt, Norfolk and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach, California, studied law at Cambridge,(MA), barrister at law, Member of the Middle Temple. Screenwriter and member of Writers Guild of America (West) – Author (published works, 1994, 1998, Hitler’s Angel, Winter’s Bullet, Jupiter’s Fire). Lives in Norfolk, enjoys life, film, dog walking, cold water swimming, lego, collecting odd stuff, driving his beach buggy.
Interview with William Osborne
I have note yet had the opportunity to read Jupiter’s Fire by William Osborne, but it looks like a really intersecting combination of fiction and history. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the author about his inspiration for the book, his writing process, and his other projects.
Rebecca: Can you share a little bit of your inspiration for Jupiter’s Fire? Where did you get your idea for this story?
William Osborne: Jupiter’s Fire is a long in the writing third story in a trilogy of war adventures I have written featuring a teenage boy and girl as the protagonists. I have always been interested in all aspects of the second world war and in particular the great sieges that happened, Stalingrad, Leningrad of course but also Monte Cassino where our story begins.
I have spent quite a few summers in Amalfi around Vesuvius and I love the Roman history that is always lurking in the landscape and the cities. So I set my imagination to work and slowly a story emerged. It just wasn’t the right one and the first draft was a complete disaster! Mainly because I had chosen a “McGuffin” as it is known the screenwriting trade that simply didn’t work and had not really worked out the back story between the protagonists properly.
So I sat down and completely reworked the story, using some of the best bits from the first draft, there weren’t many! And this time the right story emerged and I was able to complete it to my satisfaction. The old adage, if at first you don’t succeed, should be the watch word for every writer.
Obviously the Indiana Jones films, which I enjoyed hugely when they first came out were a strong influence on the narrative.
Rebecca: I see that you are a screenwriter. How is writing for the screen different from writing for the printed page? Does your screenwriting experience influence your other writing?
William Osborne: The simplest and most definitive difference is that when you are writing for the screen you do not have to paint a picture for the viewer of what they are seeing on the screen. You have to of course, describe the setting, place, day/night, weather etc, anything you think is important to each scene but what that actually looks like is done by the director and the team he employs. In writing fiction you have that job as well, not just the story, the dialogue, the characterization but also the job of creating a world your reader can imagine in his head.
As I have spent most of my career writing for the screen or television the way I tell my stories, their structure, rhythms, character turning points are very much driven by that craft. But what these stories allow is much greater creative freedom. You can write anything you want in a novel, but very often, particularly in Hollywood, your decisions are circumscribed by many things, not least the cost involved. When I was writing action films for a living or rewriting them, and I had written a wonderful four page car chase, the best car chase anyone would ever see on the screen, I would then be told by the producers, “Look we love the car chase, but we can only afford a foot chase.” So then you would have to go back and fit the action and the story to the budget. You don’t have that constraint in novels. And it’s wonderful.
Rebecca: Jupiter’s Fire is a work of historical fiction. What research did you do to help you prepare to write this book?
William Osborne: An awful lot of research on the science of procession in astronomy, together with research into the existence of a very large planet or dark star that exists on the edge of our solar system. That was the first draft story! For the second, I had already done the historical research into Monte Cassino and all the other various places in the story. I did look into the myth of Jupiter’s Fire, some of the theories advanced by Nicola Tesla on wireless transmission of electricity in the atmosphere, and ether: the rarefied element formerly believed to fill the upper regions of our atmosphere.
Rebecca: Can you share a little bit about your writing process?
William Osborne: The writing itself is in many ways the easiest part. I spend a lot more time, thinking and planning and outlining. But not to the finest detail. Then I try to find a clear two or three hours at a convenient point in the day and just sit down at the keyboard and start tapping away, knowing from a carded outline what has to happen storywise in the next chapter, but not exactly how it’s going to happen. I find that as I write and am always happy to be taken off in an unexpected direction so long as that doesn’t totally derail what happens next. But even then sometimes I go with that and find that the story ahead did need changing or perhaps sometimes, the story I have already written needs changing. And sometimes both!
Rebecca: What was your favourite part of writing this book?
William Osborne: I like the ending, the tying up of all the story elements laced through the narrative to that point. My favourite type of murder mystery story is always the Agatha Christie style detective in the library with all the suspects at the end explaining who the murderer is and why.
Rebecca: What was most challenging about writing Jupiter’s Fire?
William Osborne: I got stuck in Venice, the mid point of the story for about a month. Don’t get me wrong, Venice is probably my favourite city in the world, so I was happy to spend time there, figuratively speaking, but the story going forward just wasn’t working properly. It took four weeks to see where the problems were and rework the narrative. After that it was pretty much plain sailing to the end.
Rebecca: Of all the books you’ve written so far, which is your favourite and why?
William Osborne: Someone much cleverer than me once said, “Books are like your children, you love them all equally and dearly.” I would go further and say you also admire different traits and qualities and talents in them, but can see, however dimly, their differences- some good, some bad. I feel that about my books, I love certain aspects of one more than the others, but at the same time they each have different faults of their own. Certain chapters in each of the three books are absolutely favourites, and I sometimes, vain gloriously, pick them up just to read that specific chapter again.
Rebecca: What are you most excited about right now?
William Osborne: Christmas…. it’s the most wonderful time of the year…better stop now or I’ll break out into that song. Having four children, three of whom are now adults, it’s always been a joyful and loving time for us as a family. Carol service in our tiny village church on Christmas Eve, the ritual of Christmas day itself etc. If it would snow it would be even better, we had a few Christmas in North Norfolk where we live where we went tobogganing on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Surely one of the most pleasurable outdoor exercises ever invented. I wonder by who…now I think about it.
Creatively, I have a good idea for my next novel, with the protagonist being a minor character that appears in Hitler’s Angel, a young woman Naval Intelligence officer, called Daventry Calling. She is based in Switzerland during the Second World War, and if the novel works, I would love to do a trilogy or more around her escapades.
I have also completed a young adult coming of age love story based on the novel by the late Mal Peet, Life an Exploded Diagram. I am hoping to get that made next year or the year after with the help of my wife, Debra Hayward, who is a film producer.
Apart from those two, my dance card is currently empty but I am sure it will fill up.
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