Saturday, March 4, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Mike Jansen

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 HERE), and in preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Mike Jansen , who contributed The Fire Tulips to the collection. 

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

MIKE JANSEN: I’ve been around for 47 years and most of that time I have been involved in writing and publishing. I started off in my native language, Dutch, but during the nineties I taught myself English and later honed my English skills to such an extent that I could write stories in English and get them published. My writing is varied, ranging from literary to whatever strange and wonderful stories I can come up with. I’ve won several Dutch literary prizes for best short story. In 2011 I debuted with my novel The Failing God, an epic dark fantasy.

MTI:  Now, the next question I generally ask new contributors is this; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

MJ:  I was already used to writing material for some of the role-playing campaigns I held with friends. When one of them challenged me to participate in the biggest genre-award of the Netherlands, I accepted. I won the prize for best newcomer and the year after the prize itself.

My stories are diverse, depending on mood, interests or imagination. I prefer intelligent stories, sometimes with a philosophical point of view. For that I often do extensive research to get all the details just right. Sometimes that makes my stories difficult to read, but always interesting, with layers of meaning for those willing to read between the lines. So no favorite type, more a favorite style.

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

MJ:  Hmm, difficult one. Going to take a bit of leeway here. When I was young a Dutch author named Tais Teng introduced me to alternate histories. Later on I found Glen Cook’s Black Company and Dread Empire series. Then, end of the last century, I discovered the writing of Iain M. Banks. These guys shaped my reading and writing.

MTI:  Your story, The Fire Tulips, appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

MJ:  There is a specific inflection point mentioned in the story. End of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century the power of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) had dwindled significantly. It was still a formidable, multinational trading company, however, its influence was vastly reduced when Napoleon invaded Holland. In this story that never happened. Additionally certain events further in the past never occurred. Britain never ruled the seas and never industrialized and the Spanish tried to conquer the New World, but were met by stiff resistance from the natives, while at home revolutions and invasions weakened the Spanish empire, leaving it struggling for its very existence. Interesting? Read The Fire Tulips and find out what else happened.

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?

MJ:  One point that always intrigued me was the death of Julius Caesar. What if that never happened? What would the world look like then? I really liked L. Sprague de Camp’s take on something similar in Lest Darkness Fall.

MTI:  Now, 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?

MJ:  Actually, I liked my previous timeline better…

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

MJ:  Well, there is the third novel in my epic dark fantasy series of which The Failing God was the first book. I’m always working on a few short stories simultaneously. And I have about a dozen book projects I’m trying to find time for.

MTI:  Other than The Fire Tulips appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

MJ:  I’m pretty sure that getting published is ongoing business for me. I usually have a dozen or so stories out at various anthologies and magazines. In several languages also, not just English.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

MJ:  Ha, I never watch TV. I might watch a movie, once in a while. And then mostly to indoctrinate… I mean educate, of course, my eldest daughter on the great movies of the last thirty years.

MTI:  How about music?

MJ:  Most of my fiction is written to music. I’ve recently done a few post-apocalyptic pieces that were written while listening to ‘Godspeed You Black Emperor!’ Dark fantasy I write with Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings pieces or the album ‘Illusia’ by DarkLily in the background. My musical taste ranges from Clannad and Kate Bush to Billy Idol, Henry Rollins, Type O Negative and a bit louder to Metallica or more exotic stuff like Tengger Cavalry.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

MJ:  Actually, yes, I can. I usually watch the Terminator movies once every two years. And Star Wars. Of course. And Lord of the Rings. There are others I really enjoy too, like the Resident Evil series, or Alien, but these first three I come back to regularly.

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?

MJ:  I have something better. They could look on Smashwords or iBooks or Google Playstore and find some of my free stories. Something for everyone: dark fantasy, alternate futures and cyberpunk.

MTI:  Sounds good to me!  Thank you for a great interview.  Those who wish to read Mike Jansen’s alternate history tale, along with 20 others, can pick up Altered Europa, coming in April 2017!

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