An event occurring late in Carpathia becomes the central plotline as the war has become a costly stalemate and each side begins looking for unusual ways to break the deadlock.“Unusual?” you may ask. “What do you mean by that?”
Well, considering the vampire prince and his shapeshifter servants in Carpathia wanted to create a nation for undead creatures … it would be safe to assume there will be some undead creatures.
There will also be lots of airships and some other machines created by the combatants to break that deadlock in the trenches. Once again, the tone I’m going for is less “monsters” and more in the tradition of the Indiana Jones movies, with action, adventure and some thrills that just happen to include paranormal elements like vampires, werewolves and zombies … lots and lots of zombies.
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The Devil’s Harvest Fun Facts
As with Carpathia, I decided to include some interesting “Easter Eggs” in The Devil’s Harvest to make it special to me. There are not as many as I put in my first novel, but here are the ones I can recall, in no particular order. Warning: There may be some spoilers here, so you may want to read the book first.
- The name “LaMoille” for the village and the French noble family is taken from my wife’s hometown in Illinois. You may recall there was a Comte de Moille in Carpathia … who would perhaps be the direct ancestor of the man Caterine married (or a continuity error by the writer who didn’t plan on another book!)
- Metzger means butcher in German. Apt, that.
- Lough is taken from actor Catherine Lough Haggquist, a good friend who I will insist play the role of Caterine if a movie is ever made. She also serves as the inspiration for Caterine.
- Air Lieutenant Vallery of the Royal Airship Duchess of Cornwall shares a name with the heroic ship captain in Alistair MacLean’s debut novel HMS Ulysses, one of my favorite books.
- Commander Krug, the officer of the deck on the German airship Scharnhorst, was taken from a U.S. Navy officer I served with in Naples, Italy. The name was chosen purely because it sounded Germanic.
2. The Prologue was written about a third of the way through the novel. Originally the first chapter, set in Russia on the war’s Eastern Front, was going to be the prologue, but later I decided there needed to be more explanation as to how the Germans came to develop Phonix. It also allowed me to add Colonel Johann Von Driesen into the story, a character who first appeared in Carpathia.
3. Other characters from Carpathia who appear or are mentioned include: Daniel, Stump and Olivia O’Brien, Jameson, Count Pushkennov, Admiral Tomsa Madame Despre, and Antonin the vampire. The Romanian airship Domnitor, setting for much of that book’s action, is also mentioned.
4. One of my favorite authors is Alistair MacLean, who wrote such thrilling adventures as The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra and When Eight Bells Toll. Caterine’s spy codename “Broadsword” is taken from MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare, another of my favorite books The spy elements in The Devil’s Harvest are homages to MacLean, who could twist a plot with the best.
5. Anyone familiar with the Clint Eastwood-Donald Sutherland movie “Kelly’s Heroes” will recognize the inspiration for Private Jack MacLeod and mates from his British platoon undertaking an unauthorized raid behind enemy lines to steal plundered gold from the Germans.
6. Mike Berry, a good friend and fellow author of the superb sci-fi/horror novels Xenoform and Macao Station, is responsible for the airship-heavy final chapters. My original plan was to have the final action take place in Ville LaMoille, but after reading Carpathia Mike urged me to include “more airships, lots more airships! ” in my next book. Mike’s a smart guy, because it made the overall story so much better.
7. As noted above, unlike Carpathia I did not know how this one would end until very late in the going. The Devil’s Harvest was planned initially to be around 90,000 words, but more story kept coming out of my head and it ended up a shade under 135,000.
8. The original title was “Dead Man’s Land” but shortly before publishing I discovered another book with that title was set to come out around the same time. That book was also set in World War I, but it did not include any Steampunk or paranormal aspects. Still, after having the same thing happen with Carpathia, I decided to change the title to avoid confusion.
9. One of the alternate titles considered was “Undead Man’s Land,” which thrilled no one.
10. The Devil’s Harvest refers to a quote by Rev. William Foote, which is spoken by Colonel Metzger after a late rewrite to include it.
11. Two of my favorite scenes to write were:
- The opening of the crates underneath the Summer House when the Phonix-infected soldiers spill out and begin rampaging; in fact, the whole sequence of events leading up to that, with Jack and his mates slipping unseen into the tunnel system while on patrol in No Man’s Land, was a lot of fun.
- Manon kissing Lough to hide him from two German soldiers; up to that point Lough had not had much going for him, so having a beautiful young woman climb into his lap seemed like a great way to turn things around for the Irish pilot.
12. In an early draft, the treasonous airman Corporal O’Reilly was reunited with Daniel and Lough in the church. Although Daniel was suspicious, they let O’Reilly join them in their mission to stop Metzger and he would reveal himself as a German agent at a critical time. Once the setting for the finish was moved to the airship, having O’Reilly along stopped making sense so it was dropped and the IRA man met his fate off-screen.