As Martinus Publishing has some new contributing authors, I'll be conducting interviews to help promote their anthologies/works. Today, I'm interviewing Charles Wilcox, an excellent author who contributed the short story The Lights on Broadway to "Altered America." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Charles.
MTI: Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
CHARLES WILCOX: I’m 23 and a lifelong native of beautiful Boulder, Colorado. I have a passion for history and international politics, and pursued this in college to get a degree in international studies at American University.
MTI: Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?
CW: I have always loved learning about history and the various twists and turns it can take. That interest got me started into writing alternate history. It’s always been my favorite genre to work with because of how many different possibilities there are for settings while keeping a touch of familiarity.
MTI: Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?
CW: That’s a tough one. But I would have to go with Terry Pratchett. The Discworld novels create a brilliant take on the fantasy genre and can weave witty satire in with a good story very well.
MTI: Your story, The Lights on Broadway, appears in Altered America, an anthology of alternate histories. The fictional accounts in this collection let us imagine what it would be like if something had happened differently at different points in history. Tell us a little about how your story changes history.
CW: Well I can’t say much without spoiling the story, but The Lights on Broadway is more subtle with the changes. It’s more of a secret history than straight up alternate history. There have been some changes to technological progress.
MTI: If you could go back in time and try to change any one historical event (aside from killing Hitler/stopping WWII—almost everybody tries that), which would you choose?
CW: I would go back and change the result of the 1954 World Cup so Hungary beats West Germany in the final. As a big fan of international soccer, it’s very disappointing that one of the best, if not the best national team of all time didn’t win a World Cup. And who knows; maybe a more optimistic feeling among the Hungarian population would alter the course of the Hungarian Revolution two years later for the better.
MTI: Conversely, name a historical event that you would never want to see changed/would go back in time to stop somebody from changing it.
CW: That’s a tough question. There’s always something on a grand scale that could be changed for the better. However, I probably would not prevent the assassination of President McKinley. It gave the United States the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, and it’s not likely Teddy would have gotten into office otherwise. Without Teddy there would not have been a progressive era in the United States.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
CW: I have a few alternate history stories in the works at the moment. Primarily I’m writing a story set in a New York that stayed Dutch and became the center of a merchant republic. There are also a bunch of ideas for stories and settings in my head waiting to be fleshed out.
MTI: Other than your story appearing in Altered America, do you have any other works being published in the near future?
CW: Nothing at the moment, but I hope to have something else out there soon.
MTI: On a lighter note, have you watched any good television lately?
CW: Lately I’ve been watching Fringe, the Amazing Race, Vikings, and Borgia (the Canal+ production, not the Showtime series). Borgia in particular is a great historical drama.
MTI: What sort of music do you enjoy?
CW: I’ll listen to just about anything.
MTI: What are three of your favorite movies?
CW: Run Lola Run, The Transporter, and Road to El Dorado.
MTI: You have the attention of potential readers? In conclusion, do you happen to have any words of wisdom to share with them?
CW: Never immediately discount an idea you have for a story. Even if it doesn’t seem like it could work at first, let it sit in your mind for a while. Many times, just keeping a story in mind and coming back to it will give you a fresh look and new inspiration for the story.
MTI: Solid advice for any writer. Thank you for that excellent interview, Charles. For those who want to check out his story, The Lights on Broadway, along with many other alternate takes on history, pick up Altered America.