Welcome to the blog, Orsolya! Could you tell us a little bit about The Nation?
Thank you for hosting me, Rachel! I’m honored to have the opportunity to share The Nation with you and your readers.
The Nation is an alternate history novel where one of the assassinations on Hitler’s life is successful, and to everyone’s surprise, this causes the Allies to actually lose the war to the Nazis. As a result, the Third Reich quickly becomes today’s modern superpower, instituting all of the power and ideologies that defined it historically. This is also the world that the main character, Adelfried, is born into and raised. In The Nation, Adelfried recounts his remarkable life tale and the circumstances that led to the most unprecedented twist of irony the world never knew…
What led you to write this novel?
I’ve always been fascinated by two things. First, how every moment that passes holds the potential to play out in an infinite number of ways and given this context, what a ‘miracle’ it is that each moment passes exactly the way it does. And second, how perspective and intention are such important components in our lives. We all make mistakes so it is imperative to always question our actions, no matter how seemingly small, and act with integrity in everything we do. Hopefully, this book demonstrates these concepts in an innovative way.
I’ve always been fascinated by alternative histories. How did you create a world that was recognizable, yet clearly different from reality?
Creating a different world was a very exciting process, even if it was a world I doubt most people would like to live in. To make it recognizable, I had it take place in a European city that, on the surface, held onto its rich architectural heritage; this is consistent with essentially all European cities today, as many remain a beacon of architectural marvels. However, the clear difference from reality in The Nation was not so much the tangible scenery but the societal mentality. This is where the reader would most likely feel like a complete foreigner in The Nation’s world with only the ornate churches and cobblestone streets to remind him or her that one was still on familiar land.
Were you worried that readers would react negatively to Adelfried? How did you make that risk pay off?
Yes! This was one of the most challenging aspects of writing this novel. In order to make the story unique and inspirational, I felt that the main character, Adelfried, had to be a complex and controversial figure who had ample room for growth both in character and integrity. However, to compel the reader to turn the page and read on, the reader had to, on some level at least, relate to him in a personal sense. To merge these seemingly dichotomous ventures, I decided to write the novel in first person with Adelfried narrating his own unusual story (the good, the bad and the ugly) through the mature eyes of a reformed and seasoned man.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing The Nation, and how did you overcome it?
Aside from the complicated character development described above, the biggest challenge was keeping the part of the novel that took place in the real 1940 as accurate as possible. Creating a fictitious world as a result of an alternate history outcome is relatively easy—one is ‘king of the castle’ and anything one wants done (or undone) in a make-believe world just takes a decision and of course, some imagination. However, inserting characters into a very real past and staying true to actual history in a day to day setting is a meticulous and time-consuming endeavor that involves a lot of research. Everything from clothing style to geography to societal customs and norms needs to be researched and properly addressed since they will all serve as the story’s backdrop in some shape or form. To overcome this challenge, I did the only thing I could—burned the midnight oil with research, research and then some more research!
What is your best advice on writing?
Write about something that you are passionate about and in a way that excites you. There is a lot of advice and information out there on how to write to sell, but it seems like they always fail to mention the obvious: if you don’t absolutely love your story and your characters, no one else will.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Orsolya!
Orsolya is a scientific writer and consultant who has a long history of writing with over 20 published scientific manuscripts and abstracts as well as an academic book chapter. The Nation is her first fiction novel and she is currently working on her second novel, In the Absence of God, which takes place in Ancient Greece. Orsolya is also an avid reader, with special interest in any fiction that lets the reader play in his or her infinite imagination.