Spotlight + Guest Post: The Pirate Kings (TimeRiders #7) by Alex Scarrow

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Pirate Kings (TimeRiders, #7)
Title: The Pirate Kings (TimeRiders #7)
Author: Alex Scarrow
Publisher: Puffin
Date of Publication: February 7, 2013

Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

But all three have been given a second chance—to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history...

Relocated to Victorian London, the TimeRiders joy-ride back to 1666 to witness the Great Fire of London. In the ensuing chaos, Liam and their newest recruit, Rashim, find themselves trapped between the fire and the Thames. They escape onboard a river boat, only to be confronted by an unscrupulous captain with his heart set on treasures of the high seas ...

Back in 1888, Maddy and the rest of the team are frantically trying to track them down. But with limited resources at their new base, can Liam and Rashim survive the bloodthirsty and barbaric age of piracy long enough to be rescued?

Guest Post

Tips on Writing an Alternate History Story
by Alex Scarrow

Imagining a world that could have existed if some key moment in history had gone just a little bit differently, is what historians do for fun. And, good grief, it is fun. It’s a bit like the building of a fantasy or science fiction world in which to set a story. Like running a gigantic simulation in your mind and envisaging the results.

For the purposes of creating a great setting for a story, I think you don’t have to beat yourself up too much in aiming for the MOST plausible alternate world. Quite often the most plausible alternate world ends up drifting toward the world that we know. It’s as if history really does have a “preferred” course it wants to take.

For example, if the Roman Empire had not fallen when it did, it might have collapsed just as easily half a century or a century later as migratory pressures from the east pushed ever-increasing swarms of barbarians up against the weakening thin red line of the Roman Empire’s far-flung borders. Fact is, It was gonna happen sooner or later.

Or if Germany had won the war in 1945, surely the Russians would have become an ungovernable part of the Third Reich eventually, a Vietnam-like drain on resources and men that would ultimately weaken them dangerously, perhaps leading to a later war in which Russian tanks would inevitably have rolled into Berlin. See? Same result in the long run.

For a great story you want a hugely different world, a world that offers you as much of a chance as possible to imagine wonderful new creations, new inventions, architectural marvels; something to truly astound your reader—you have to stretch plausibility sometimes, just a little.

For example, in the fourth TimeRiders book, I imagine a world in which the American Civil War never ended. It just rumbles on and on into the present day, and the ruins of New York look like Stalingrad! A landscape of foxholes and trenches, bunkers and craters, and the skies overhead filled with enormous zeppelin-like aircraft carriers! And all this simply because a certain unemployed young riverboat worker named Abraham Lincoln stepped in the path of a lumbering runaway brewery cart! I make a superficially plausible case that only Lincoln’s strength of character, the determination to hold the northern union together, was what ultimately led the North to victory.

In truth, though, a proper historian would argue that the industrial might of the North, the sheer economic muscle of the northern states versus the weaker agrarian economy of the Confederate States, made the outcome an inevitable victory for the North. A proper historian would also argue that Abraham Lincoln’s boots would probably have been filled with another equally strong-willed Republican president, determined to fight the South and reunite America . . . and we would still have a Civil War that ended around 1865.

But come on, now where’s the fun in that?

About Alex Scarrow

I live in Norwich with my wife, Frances, my son, Jake a very spirited little dog called Max. I spent the first 10 years out of college in the music business chasing record deals and the next 12 years in the computer games business as a graphic artist and eventually a games designer. For those of you who like their computer games, here's some of the titles I've worked on: Waterworld, Evolva, The Thing, Spartan, Gates of Troy, Legion Arena. In 2005 I got my first book deal with Orion, writing adult thrillers. And in 2009 I signed up with Puffin to write the TimeRiders series.

I seem to spend most of my time hunched over my laptop in various cafes and coffee bars sipping lattes, tapping keys and watching the ebb and flow of shoppers outside on the street. As I write this, I'm working on the third book in the TimeRiders series. Ahead of me, lies research work for my next thriller, and also some screenplays I'm looking forward to writing. Although I'm glad to be where I am now, I do occasionally kick myself for not having succumbed to the writing bug much earlier. But then we all just muddle along through life, don't we? There's rarely a plan.

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved alternative time-line stories and these tips are really great. Thanks so much. And it was a surprise to discover we live in the same county, too. Maybe I can sneak in the back if my local school ever gets him along!


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