Your Own Bravery And Skill
Posted by Literary Titan
Knights of the Air: Rage follows two RFC pilots struggling to survive the dangerous skies during WWI. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The genesis of the story was to take the main storylines from the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere and explore how such a story might unfold in a more modern setting. I chose WW1 flying for two reasons. First, I have always been fascinated by it and already knew a lot about it. Second, it was probably the most recent time that still allowed man to man combat and some chivalry. Many of the pilots saw themselves in such terms. Cecil Lewis, WW1 ace and author of Sagittarius Rising, wrote “The light fast single-seater scout was my ambition. To be alone, to have your life in your own hands, to use your own skill, single-handed, against the enemy. It was like the lists of the Middle Ages, the only sphere in modern warfare where a man saw his adversary and faced him in mortal combat, the only sphere where there was still chivalry and honour. If you won, it was your own bravery and skill; if you lost, it was because you had met a better man.” Arthur Gould Lee, another ace in WW1, wrote that the pilots considered themselves “airborne warriors who engaged in single combat, like the nights of mediaeval chivalry, but wielding a winged machine gun in place of Lance and sword.”
Lance and Arthur are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I wanted a number of development arcs for Lance.
In the legends, I always liked Lancelot the most. An idealist who was perpetually falling short of his own ideals, but never became bitter. An outstanding fighter who tried to use his prowess for good. A loyal friend and subject who somehow ended up cuckolding his monarch and friend. A chivalrous romantic whose every relationship ended with disaster. A soldier who held the elite Knights of the Round table together, until his illicit love affair with Guinevere rotted the kingdom from within. So much contradiction in one person.
And then there is the eternal triangle between the three of them, which is never satisfactorily explored in the legends. How does a fundamentally decent man end up betraying his greatest friend?
So I wanted to explore a number of character arcs across the whole series.
First, I had to create circumstances that showed how a normal youngster could be shocked into a world where revenge became his driving force. Then his evolution from a lone killer to a leader who main motivation was winning while looking after his men.
Second, I wanted a love arc where Lance grew from relations driven primarily by sex; then one driving infatuation, before settling for warmth, but then finding much more.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted to show many facets of war; the way it can bring out the best in some men as well as the worst; the enduring friendships of comrades who face death together; the nobility of fighting for righteous beliefs. But at the same time, I did not want to glorify war. I wanted to paint a picture of men at war and allow the reader to admire the best of them while at the same time showing the terrible pain and destructiveness inherent in every war.
Although I gave Lance a personal experience of brutality, I also wanted to show by the end of the series that both sides, German and British, contained good men and right bastards. That is why I brought in German characters with their own POV, so Lance’s enemies were not as impersonal as they would otherwise be. By the end of the series, Lance ends up realizing he has more in common with young fliers from Germany than he does with many men of his own nation. Although Book 1 shows him hating Germans, that evolves over the series.
Last but not least, I wanted to introduce readers to the incredible men who fought in the air, and their planes, their stresses and strains. I did my best to make the history accurate and to give a feel for what it was really like to be a pilot in WW1.
What can readers expect in Book 2 of your Knight of the Air series?
Book 2: Fire shows Lance’s struggles as he adapts to leadership, forging a squadron with teamwork that can take on and beat Richthofen’s Circus. Events challenge his relationships with his lover, Megan, his father and Arthur. And all the while he is fighting his fear of fire and mental breakdown.
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
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