Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews. The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out on April 2, 2017 (ORDER IT HERE)! In preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.
Today I'm interviewing Bruno Lombardi, who contributed The Battle of Tim Hortons (co written with Ben Prewitt), and also co-wrote N'oublions Jamais with Tom Anderson.
MTI: We've done a few interviews over the years, but believe it or not there are still people who don't know who you are. Why not tell our new readers a little bit about yourself?
BL: I work as a civil servant for the Canadian government by day and am a writer by night. While I’ve been writing fictional short stories for seemingly forever and regaling friends and family with my many misadventures that often sounds comically fictional, it’s only been the last five or six years or so that I’ve actually become published. My writing career seems to have taken off quite a bit since then, with one published novel and over a dozen published short stories since then.
MTI: Now for Altered Europa, you co-authored two stories. The first one that appears is N'oublions Jamais,. which you wrote with Tom Anderson. Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?
BL: Not to give too much away from the plot, as some of the joy of the story is the realization of just how and why everything deviated, the basic idea is a World War One with wildly different and surprising alliances.
MTI: Tell us a little bit about your other contribution, The Battle of Tim Hortons. What's the story behind it?
BL: It’s the late 1980’s, the Soviets have finally decided to take a roll of the dice and start a land invasion of Western Europe and we follow the (mis)adventures of a group of Canadian soldiers in a mechanized infantry unit.
Yes, Ben and I somehow managed to make a comedy out of a WWIII scenario…
MTI: How much fun is it to co-write with fellow authors? How did your collaborations with Ben Prewitt and Tom Anderson come about?
BL: The backstory of how The Battle of Tim Hortons got written, first off, had a truly hilarious genesis to it. I know Ben from various discussion boards and he knew I was a budding writer. So one day, pretty much out of the blue about 8 years ago or so, he threw me a small snippet of the story.
I laughed my butt off! Ben’s ex-military, so one definitely gets the impression that some of the stuff is, if not based on actual real events and people, is certainly both plausible and familiar to those in the service. I asked him for more of the story and was annoyed he didn’t have more, so together we fleshed it out into a full length story.
As for Tom, we’ve been collaborating on various projects for years, so when he asked me if I wanted to be co-writer on his story, I jumped at the chance. The fun part of the story was that it was written ‘round-robin’ style, which each of us writing several hundred words, then e-mailing it to the other to do the same and then back again. I think we managed to write the entire story in just under a week.
MTI: If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?
BL: I’ve read – and written! – enough stories like this to worry about the ramifications of the butterfly effect but if I had to pick one event, it’s be the events leading up to WW1. There were so many ‘Almost WW1’ events and crises that, nevertheless, had cooler heads prevail in the end that one can argue that 1914 could have been avoided as well.
MTI: For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?
BL: Oh tempting! Very tempting! Do I get to come back or is this strictly one way? If I can get back, I’ll only hesitate long enough to pack a lunch. Otherwise, I’ll think I’ll take a pass on it.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
BL: A few projects here and there that I hope to submit to various anthologies in the next six months. One is dieselpunk version of the Rapunzel fairy tale, a second is the adventures of a New York Subway technician having to deal with a most unusual problem and a third deals with a perennial favorite topic of mine – time travel.
MTI: Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?
BL: By the time this interview sees print, a short story of mine – ‘Devil in the City of Lights’ – will be published in Occult Defective Quarterly #2.
MTI: On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?
BL: I’ve become absolutely enamored with the show Legends of Tomorrow. It’s an absolutely bonkers show that not only has fully embraced its silly premise but has decided to just drive off into the sunset with it as well.
MTI: How about music?
BL: Always have been and always will be a fan of blues and jazz and I’ve been enjoying tracking down all kinds of independent labels showcasing different takes on the genre, including multicultural versions.
MTI: Can you name 3 good movies you've seen in the past year?
BL: Rogue One, like for many people, made me feel like a kid again. Alas, I haven’t seen much lately that I enjoyed but hope springs eternal this summer.
MTI: Readers love samples. Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?
BL: This is a snippet from that dieselpunk story I was mentioning earlier:
She runs across cobblestones stained by a century of smoke and sewage and sediment, the moonlight reflected on scum-encrusted puddles of fluids best not looked at carefully.
There is, however, no danger of that happening at the moment, as more pertinent thoughts are foremost on her mind.
The main one being, quite simply, survival.
For the sixth – or perhaps seventh? – time in as many minutes, Valeria looks around the dark streets looking for a sign – any sign – of help or assistance or succor. And for the sixth – or perhaps seventh? – time, she is disappointed.
The streets are empty of human life at this time of night and now the domain of cats, dogs and rodents. The streetlights – those few and far between that are still functional – are haloed by the ever-present haze of smoke and fog that hangs as a shroud over the city.
For a moment – for a brief moment – she snickers. For a City That Never Sleeps, it certainly seems to be napping very hard at the moment.
And then her mind snaps back into the here and now. She takes another long breath and ignores the burning sensation of her overtaxed lungs being forced to go beyond their limits once more. Her leather boots – thankfully chosen for functionality rather than fashion – pound against the ground. She catches a glimpse of her shadow on a brick wall and a small part of her mind notes – with bemused satisfaction incongruous with her present situation – that her flapping overcoat brings forth the image of a giant bat flying through an ancient canyon.
A silhouette appears in the haze a street ahead, an ogre of old carrying a giant crossbow. The haze clears somewhat and the image resolves itself into that of a large man instead. The crossbow weapon resolves into an angry looking large revolver with an equally large rotating machine-gun-like cylinder attached to it.
Even now, Valeria finds her scientific mind analyzing the gun as the man – a gold tooth glinting in the darkness – advances forth.
A Manville Gas Gun? 37 mm, if I’m not mistaken. Twelve rounds. Designed to carry flare, smoke, sleep or tear gas canisters. Rather poor design – kept jamming up on troops during the Battle of Lake Superior last year.
Valeria twists to her left and down a hidden alleyway, her passage leaving twisting vortexes in the fog in her wake. She had grown up in this part of New York City a lifetime ago and knows these half-formed and unmapped alleys the same way she knew a Coffman engine starter; like the back of her hand.
She has just dodged around a cumbersome pile of crates and was just about to leap over a fence when the man with the Manville Gas Gun appears out of the shadows.
“I grew up in this neighbourhood too,” says the man.
And then he fires the gun.
MTI: A tempting tidbit! Thanks for another great interview, Bruno. Those who wish to read his alternate history stories can pick up Altered Europa.