Friday, March 17, 2006

Fiends of the Eastern Front: behind the scenes

Need to get some work done today, so here's a piece I wrote for's Connect service about my trilogy of WWII vampire novels...

Fiends of the Eastern Front follows in the grand tradition of other alternative history fiction, taking a moment from the past and twisting it to create a new reality. To be honest, I don't know who invented this kind of story. Maybe Len Deighton, whose 1978 novel SS-GB told the tale of a detective solving a murder in 1941 Britain after Hitler had won the war for Europe.

Wars and particularly WWII have become a particular focus for this kind of fiction. Fiends of the Eastern Front details the titanic battle between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army along what German troops called the Ostfront. But there's a wild card in the mix - a cadre of Rumanian vampyr from the region of Transylvania, led by the enigmatic Constanta. This intriguing concept was originally created in 1980 for a short-lived comic book serial by writer Gerry Finley-Day and artist Carlos Ezquerra. Now has been developed into a trilogy of novels, beginning with Operation Vampyr.

When my editors at Black Flame first suggested transforming Fiends into a novel [hopefully the first of several], I was initially sceptical. The original comic strip was only 44 pages long - how could such a slim slice of source material sustain itself through three novels and nearly quarter of a million words of prose? But when I began to research the battle for the Eastern Front, I soon came to realise a trilogy would only scratch the surface of the war between Germany and Russia.

The first volume of the trilogy is already available via and Operation Vampyr details the first few months of war along the Ostfront, the advance called Operation Barbarossa by the Wehrmacht. The novel's events are seen through the eyes of three German brothers - one a Luftwaffe pilot, another a Panzer commander and the third an infantryman. They realise to their horror that the Rumanian allies who fight so well are actually the undead, servants of darkness who have their own agenda for this savage war. Eventually the three brothers decide they can longer accept having such fiends on their side, setting the stage for an almighty and unholy battle royale.

The second volume, The Blood Red Army, is due out in April 2006. It covers the period from January 1942-January 1943 and focuses upon the Siege of Leningrad. Unlike the first volume, this novel is told from the Russian point of view as they battle against both the Wehrmacht and the vampyr.

The last book in the trilogy, Twilight of the Dead, leaps ahead to August 1944 and the battle for Rumania, before playing out the final days of the war in Berlin. But as the fight for Europe is coming to an end, the vampyr masterplan is just beginning. Soon all of humanity will be fighting a war of survival, a war of blood, a war of attrition aganst Constanta's vampyr army - unless the fiends can be stopped.

Twilight of the Dead is coming this summer and it's a cracking finish to this blood-soaked saga of death and honour, blood and betrayal, horror and heroism. If you enjoy writers like Sven Hassell or Kim Newman, then I think Fiends of the Eastern Front might be your kind of story...

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