Today's featured author is Hans Victor von Maltzahn, the author of the well received, THE BLACK SUN ASCENDANT: An Assassins Tale (2011). Hans was born in Dublin, Ireland, and raised in North York, Ontario, Canada.
An author of poetry and non-fiction, Hans became serious about fiction in 2006 when he started to write the Black Sun book series. He has just completed AN EARTH ECLIPSED: An Assassin’s Revenge (2014), Book Two in the series, and has begun the last book in the series, tentatively entitled, A BRILLIANT DAWN: An Assassin’s Redemption.
He currently lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada with his wife Joanne. I had a little chat with Hans and this is what he had to say :-)
Why do you write?
I write for fun and creativity. I also enjoy seeing people pick up my books and become enthralled by their stories; that for me is the most satisfying of feelings, that I can capture a reader’s imagination with a story that I have produced - that’s what keeps me writing!
Which writers inspire you?
It was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s clear and precise prose, especially in his Sherlock Holmes stories, that first drew my attention to him; his style was very different from many of his Victorian contemporaries. He will always be my number one favourite author in both fiction and non-fiction work.
From Conan Doyle I advanced to authors like Tolstoy, George Orwell, and Ernest Hemingway, because all these men displayed the type of prose to which I would eventually like to aspire.
What is your favorite book and why?
My all-time favourite book has to be the collection of Conan Doyle’s “Brigadier Gerard” stories. These stories follow the exploits of one of Napoleon’s brigadiers during the Napoleonic Wars. Gerard is a pompous, vain, irascible character with a big heart and much energy, and a penchant for getting himself into trouble, all for a good cause – either women, or his beloved emperor.
The stories are in an easy to read style. A style that invites the readers along for the adventure, and keeps their attention until the bitter end. Conan Doyle also includes many historical details that, as a history lover, I drink in. He always made sure to do extensive research before embarking on any of his books.
Two non-fiction books are also my all-time favourites: A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel (c. 1996) and Planet Word by J.P. Davidson (c. 2012, with forward by Stephen Fry, who was to go on to host the BBC documentary series of the same name, and based on the book by Davidson). Both write about the history of human language, both oral and written, and the importance that it has had on our evolution. Well written and insightful, these are must-reads for authors and anyone else who loves language in any of its forms.
What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?
When ‘all the planets are aligned’, and I sit down to write, that moment when I fall into ‘the groove’ and the words just flow through my fingers and onto the page – that is the easiest thing I find about writing.
I have two difficulties: 1. beginning that first paragraph, of any chapter, in order to get the word-tap flowing is always hard, and I’ll rewrite the same paragraph maybe five or six times before it feels right; 2. EDITING – I hate EDITING! However, editing is unavoidable – so I just grin and bare it.
From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written?
I love George Orwell’s Animal Farm and its message, and I wish that I had written this one, since its message is still very relevant today. When I read the book in grade nine, for a class assignment, its message did not fully dawn on me until I finished it, and realized what a perfect metaphor it was for our modern, democratic society.
We still see blatant examples of those individuals that consider themselves (insert politicians, celebrities, business moguls, etc.) 'more equal' than the rest of us, and therefore, not subject to the same restrictions as the rest of us, or feel that they are ‘above the law’.
How do you market your books?
I mainly market my print books through authors’ meet-and-greet forums, writing group gatherings, and talks that I may give to the public. I should be doing more to sell my books, but I am just too busy writing this three-book series (one book left to go).
Smashwords.com and Amazon.com, and their respective affiliates, market my eBook very well, so I have quite a web presence and sales have been moving along nicely.
Any new release? If yes, what is it about?
My newest release (Dec. 2014) is a sequel to my first book, THE BLACK SUN ASCENDANT: An Assassin’s Tale, c. 2011, and is called: AN EARTH ECLIPSED: An Assassin’s Revenge, c. 2014. The Black Sun Series of books follows the adventures of an assassin by the name of Victor Colvin, and the female archaeologist, Dr. Ahu Eser, whose lives are inextricably tied together in the first book.
Dr. Ahu Eser, archaeologist, is missing and presumed kidnapped, while the charred remains of her colleague have been discovered in a burned out SUV in London, England. Artifacts unearthed and subsequently stolen from an excavation in which the deceased worked, prompts the authorities and the archaeological community to wonder if these incidents are related.
Follow Victor Colvin, assassin and associate of Dr. Eser, as he searches for the missing academic, battling to find her before her captors no longer require her expertise.
At the same time, diplomacy in the Middle East deteriorates as the tension between Israel and her Muslim neighbours’ increases - pushing all involved closer to war. When a maniacal business tycoon, with a penchant for archaeology, and her associates position themselves to benefit from the coming confrontation, they begin the process that will force America, Europe and their allies to choose sides in the coming, day of reckoning.
A missing archaeologist, an assassin with unfinished business, and a powerful enemy with revenge on her mind - continue the adventure in AN EARTH ECLIPSED: An Assassin’s Revenge, Book 2 of the Black Sun Series.
AN EARTH ECLIPSED: An Assassin's Revenge
A cache of cuneiform tablets disappears in 1999, from the Sagalassos excavation in Western Anatolia, Turkey. Archaeologist Dr. Ahu Eser and assassin Victor Colvin recovered the stolen artifacts from the bowels of Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada. Two years later, the tablets disappeared again, this time from the vaults of a museum in downtown Toronto. Who the perpetrators of these thefts are, remains a mystery.
Dr. Eser, formerly the Chief Archaeologist of the Sagalassos excavation, narrowly escaped dying from a gunshot wound. Through her tenacity of will and against the advice of doctors and friends, she forced herself back to work as professor of Middle Eastern studies at Ankara University in Turkey. Her physical recovery from the damage caused by the sniper’s bullet has been remarkable; her psychological recovery however, has yet to be determined.
As for the assassin, Victor Colvin, who was the target of that sniper’s bullet – there has been no sign. Last seen in a café, in a small Turkish town on the Bosporus and surrounded by police, his present whereabouts are unknown.
“In politics, nothing happens by accident.
If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Western Pomerania, Germany, 1991.
Victor Colvin, assassin, lay among heaps of twisted metal, smoking chunks of debris and broken glass. He was dazed and bleeding, prostrate and barely able to move, lying on the road near the obliterated remains of a Mercedes sedan and near victim of his first assassination attempt. The air surrounding him roiled, driven by the blaze that engulfed the vehicle and that spewed out an acrid fiery stench.
He struggled to clear the confusion that cluttered his thoughts and overpowered his senses; testing his limbs, and found his movements were slow and ungainly. The act of standing set off a shooting pain that raced through his spine, blasted into his brain, and caused a dizziness that again sent him toppling to the pavement.
As he lay there face down, eyes burning and ears ringing, he unexpectedly felt a firm hand take him under the arm and lift him into an environment much darker, cooler, and quieter than the inferno outside. The assassin’s confused brain barely recognized a voice drifting from somewhere within this sanctuary, saying, “You should have taken greater care, Mr. Colvin…” However, the rest of the rebuke remained a mystery as his head lolled sideways and he slipped into unconsciousness.
Baden-Wurttemberg, southwestern Germany, late October 2005.
Foreign Minister Hartmann had made this trip many times before. Karlsruhe’s federal court buildings provided a convenient setting for the ‘private’ negotiations that the German government had from time to time. Today’s meeting was to tie up the finer details of an industrial investment-for-energy contract that Germany wanted with her largest energy provider, Russia.
Prior meetings between he and his Russian counterpart had gone well, yet some details remained worrying to him. The Russians insisted on using Sonnenaufgangindustries GmbH (Sunrise Industries Inc.) as their sole source, infrastructure contractor for their South Stream natural gas pipeline - leaving Germany at the mercy of a single, industrial/energy behemoth.
Another point of contention was the Russian President’s demands that Germany’s official representative for all energy deals in the future, had to be the young Baroness von Sonnenfinsternis. Here was a clear conflict of interest for the German government since von Sonnenfinsternis was the CEO and majority shareholder of Sunrise Industries. However, to cement assurances that the Russians would supply a reliable stream of natural gas and oil to his country well into the twenty-first century, he had to accept the President's unpopular request.
The Baroness was the daughter and sole heir of the late Siegfried Wolfram, Baron von Sonnenfinsternis. After his death, she had inherited an industrial empire that made her one of the richest women in Europe, even before reaching the age of 35.
However, with the meeting behind him now, Hartmann put these disquieting thoughts out of his mind and shifted his Audi from the A5 highway. He had entered the Black Forest on the B500 and the car flew effortlessly along the well-maintained road with the Rhine Valley to his right and the thick, evergreen forest on both sides. The sun was almost below the horizon and the shadows of the giant firs lay long over the asphalt. As he noted their pungent scent lingering in the crisp autumn air, his mood lightened.
Now views of the Rhine Valley emerged through breaks in the conifers spreading out along the western side of the highway, while the land to his left abruptly rose, telling him that he had reached the foot of the Hornisgrinde Mountain. The Audi continued swiftly along the road, curving first west and then jogging back to the east as it hugged the mountain’s base.
Accelerating around the final curve, Hartmann’s reverie dissolved as his headlights illuminated a mature stag that stood in the middle of the road. Awash in the lamps’ icy glow, the beast’s silhouette contrasted sharply against the darkened forest. He pushed hard on the brakes, forcing his car into a skid. Hearing the throaty roar of the Red stag, he jerked his steering wheel to the right in an attempt to avoid hitting the animal, but became resigned to the inevitable; Hartmann watched trance-like as the distance disappeared between his car and the beast.
Its bellow over, this great stag turned its shaggy head toward the minister, its eyes glowing a phosphorescent crimson. Hartmann perceived a look of mockery crossing the animal’s face, which seared its image into his mind. Surprisingly the stag evaporated, like a mirage, as man and machine rocketed through where it had stood.
“Kristi…” the name involuntarily slipped from the minister’s lips.
With the shock of what just happened, a vice-like grip took hold of his heart. The man gasped for air, his body growing numb and he passed out, his foot slipping from the brake. Now with its movement unimpeded, the vehicle freely careened into the dense evergreens at the side of the highway. The mangled Audi came to rest against a tree, its driver lying dead, slumped over the steering wheel. As the chaos faded, the peaceful sounds of night returned to take its place.
You can also connect with Hans:
Amazon Author Page:
Goodreads Page: (still very new, as of Jan. 2015)