You’ve Been Canonized!: Mettermrck
Good evening everyone and welcome to this edition of You’ve Been Canonized! our weekly interview section here on Timelines where we get a patron author and get to know more about them, their thoughts of Timelines, and a little bit about their latest AAR or project ! If you’re new to the programme , I’m your host canonized author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? and today’s guest is our special friend and demi-mod Mettermrck author of the epic The Eagles of Avalon . Let’s get to the questions !
Part I: When in Rome…
Mettermrck lets us know a little about himself .
canonized: First , thank you for coming the programme ! Would you tell our audience a little bit about yourself and how long you've been on AARland and writing AARs ?
Mettermrck: Glad to be here! A little bit about myself...I'm a 32-year old history buff, I enjoy reading of course, and writing fiction thanks in large part to the Paradox forums. I've been an official member of the forums since July 2001 though it took me a couple years to get active. I began AAR writing in 2003, thanks to some good stories I was reading the HOI1 forum which persuaded me to take the plunge.
canonized: What got you started on writing AARs ?
Mettermrck: I remember reading a HOI1 AAR by Johnny Canuck where he modeled it like a history book and I thought the concept was fascinating because he was stepping outside the bounds of gameplay and adding his own imagination to create his story. That persuaded me to start my Congress AAR, which was political/gameplay. After that, I began to evolve towards more novel-like writing.
canonized: And although your AARs are thick with historical context and study , what made you settle particularly on the narrative style ?
Mettermrck: I had always wanted to try my hand at fiction. In many ways, the Paradox forums give me the courage to write fiction because I'm backed by great computer games for inspiration and readership by committed history-buffs like myself. My narrative AAR, Eagles, specifically came about after finishing Advantages, which was a massive history-book story. I wanted to branch out and try something different.
canonized: Your writing style has also struck me as particularly romantic . You even include theme songs amongst other things . Is it perhaps the nostalgia of the periods you're writing about or is there some other undercurrent there ?
Mettermrck: I doubt its nostalgia as I'd be terrified of being run through with a spatha at the first opportunity. There's an attraction to the period, certainly, as it's one rarely written about, and I feel bound to my characters as they grow. One of my forum-friends, cthulhu, once asked me if Selenus, the young farm boy who grows up to be a general and politician, was modeled after myself, and I think he has a point. Selenus grows in maturity and glory and I guess I see myself going along for the ride. As for the music, I've always felt that music helps me visualize history. I like giving themes to my stories and characters. It makes the world that much more real for me.
canonized: Would you say you had any outside influences towards your writing or other sources for inspiration aside from the game ?
Mettermrck: Oh yes. A big influence is other writers on the forum. For me specifically, Yogi and cthulhu were my two mentors of sorts, showing me how imaginative one could be in fiction and historical writing. Outside the forums, the Paradox games themselves really lend themselves to bringing an alternative-world to life. EU2 lets you change things any way you want. It lets people mod the games. I would've never attempted Eagles if it wasn't for Lofman doing his 476 mod, attempt Advantages if it wasn't for CORE. Movies always shape my fascination with history, because of the music and the action. Eagles goes hand in hand with 'King Arthur' the recent movie with Clive Owen. Historical books help me since I find myself researching as I wrote stories, to make sure I stay accurate and see what new elements I can add to my tales.
canonized: Being someone who has written an AAR with the help of a mod and we've been having modders on the show recently , what can you say as to the kind of relationship mods and AARs have ?
Mettermrck: Mods help make imaginative storylines possible. In some cases, they add realism, in others, the modder does a lot of the leg-work already, helping the author launch right into their story. Lofman, for example, studied the borders, the leaders, the political situation. I could begin writing immediately thanks to him. This goes for many of the mods. I did some early work on VIP, for example, and have wanted to do a US AAR to utilize the research and events that great mod fashioned for Victoria.
canonized: Do you have any plans to do any real life writing perhaps ?
Mettermrck: I muse sometimes about translating Eagles into a real book someday, flush it out some more. It's hard to write outside this forum, without the constant support and constructive input of everyone here.
Part II: When in Madrid…
Mettermrck lets us know a little bit about his thoughts on Timelines !
canonized: You're a good ways into Timelines and I'm curious to hear your initial impressions or something that has stood out for you in your journey through it .
Mettermrck: I think what stands out is the sheer amount of great characters. In many ways, you wish we could spend more time with each one to get to know them better. Renault, Antonio, Isabella, Nia, Cardinal DeWitt, the list is endless. As for my initial impressions, I'm blown away. And I'm anxious to catch up to the current writing so that I'll understand more where the story is. I have never seen anyone pull off two worlds intertwined so well in an AAR. Your story really deserves its accolades.
canonized: Thank you very much ! You've mentioned some of the characters that you've met so far ; do you have any special memories with any of them as you've gone along ?
Mettermrck: There was one element in your story which really surprised me, and I found myself thrilled at the twist the story took, yet also a bit disappointed that I wouldn't know more about the apparent path. I'll let the readers find out this treat for themselves! There's a lot of little moments I enjoy that aren't necessarily critical to the story. Cardinal DeWitt fishing with the boy, for example, was very charming. You could see his strength and his compassion. The bizarreness of Marcus Councilman made me cringe very properly for this villain. I loved Renault's adventures in Mecca, with the crocodiles and the construct.
canonized: I actually also enjoy the sometimes unnecessary things such as Jakob and the others playing Werewolf was fun to write . Was there anything in the cast of characters of the 2007 era that appealed to you ?
Mettermrck: I liked their discussions of their EU3 multiplayer games, and the way it paralleled what was happening in the 16th century storyline. It was fun the way Tom would argue with his friends over certain moves in the games, and you can almost see how your gameplay could have that impact in a 'real' world. Within your game, there's people - generals, kings, their own little storylines.
canonized: Speaking of that player ethos , Timelines usually does not concentrate on too many leaders as it does on those 'players' that govern from behind the scenes . What did you make of this approach ?
Mettermrck: Very realistic. History often focuses on kings and rulers, and it's nice to see how the Spanish monarch, for example, is barely relevant to the story. It's the Silent Room where's it at and with the agents throughout the world. Adding them all up produces a far more profound influence than the Holy Roman Emperor could ever dream of.
canonized: Aside from the adventures and intrigue , what kind of thematic elements rose to the surface for you as you've read along ?
Mettermrck: I picked up on the theme that a central authority is not necessarily a bad thing, that a unified church, a unified state, could be a benign force, whereas the traditional concepts we revere - liberty, individuality - are forces of evil in this story when taken to violent extremes.
canonized: Any guesses on what the Timepiece or Keys might be , how they work , or even just their thematic importance ?
Mettermrck: It's funny, I've been thinking of this question ever since I read my first interview, and I'm still just as lost, haha. But I think that testifies to how well you conceal what the piece really is. The fact that it needs keys to control it and how the lack of them is dangerous reminded me of my college days studying nuclear engineering. It reminded me of a nuclear reactor in a way, yet it must have some effect on time/space. I can't wait to find out, you fiend!
Part III: When on Romulus … er …
Lastly , we take a look at Mettermrck’s current AAR !
canonized: It's strange because when one usually talks about the Roman Empire in AARland we usually immediately think of the Byzantines , but instead you've attempted (and have been succeeding one might say) in resurrecting the Western Empire . Why did you choose this focus for your narrative ?
Mettermrck: It was a backwards move actually. I had this idea for a short story of a battle between King Arthur and his knights and the Roman legions. And the more I studied how this would work, the more I realized for this to happen, the Western Empire had to survive. Which led me to see how difficult that would be, what would be involved in saving it. The West needed Caesar or Alexander reborn pretty much, which is where Remus came from.
canonized: And Remus himself indeed fills the bill ; including crossing rivers towards Rome ! Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to make a general like Remus ?
Mettermrck: Part of it is that in so many books and movies, the tragic noble figure never rises to take control, to rule. He always submits to evil out of some self-inflicted nobility. He lets forces tear apart his world because he was afraid to be bold and authoritative. Remus had to be this way to save the West. If he had nobly submitted to Odoacer, that would've been it. So I had to make him thoroughly Roman. Another big factor is that I wanted him to suffer. Nobody would believe the West would rise again if Remus won every battle, was never wounded, never suffered loss. I had to make sure this happened a lot, even if he would win in the end.
canonized: Well certainly there were challenges both in Italy but also in his hunting grounds of Gaul . There have also been rival generals and , naturally , an incompetent Romulus Augustus . How has it been like creating such an ensemble cast and developing them ?
Mettermrck: One by one, actually. In the beginning it was Remus. Then I added Selenus, then Claudius, on to Romulus, now it's a large ensemble. I have to write them all down to keep track of them, to make sure I give them "time" in the story. It shows how the story evolves as I write it. I rarely know where my own tale is going. And the readers really help me figure it out. A huge help in keeping this growing story on track is Vincent Julien, a guest writer who's evolved into a wonderful co-author. He has brought characters to life beyond what I was imagining and helps provide more depth to my political and military tale. We do our best to coordinate how our characters interact with each other.
canonized: Speaking of Selenus , he recently did something surprising when sent off to fight Remus showing the dynamicism of his character . Tell us a little about him and what kind of purpose he serves for you as the author in the grand scheme of your work ?
Mettermrck: Selenus started as a side kick. In fact, he was introduced in the story chasing after the infamous Peperna the Cow (to CatKnight's delight) and ended up finding Remus instead. From a naive farm boy who read books, he finds that he hates killing and that he's completely naive in imperial politics. Yet he goes through trauma, which slowly shapes him. He sees friends die; he gets seduced, he runs away from battle, he leads men in horrific combat, he compromises with shady characters. I guess he is how I identify with Selenus’ struggle. His experiences could be how I might face those circumstances. I tried real hard to make his positioning against Remus to be real, to make people feel that he was actually considering fighting against his friend.
canonized: Right now , the future has many choices and I think it shows poignantly with the way Remus has to come to terms with the increasing complexity of administrative and not military rule . Not to mention future romantic prospects . Could you give us any insight to what the future holds for Rome and our heroes ?
Mettermrck: The Western Empire is far from won, that's for sure. There's many barbarian tribes who hate Rome even more now. The Eastern Empire will have to be dealt with, there'll be lots of intrigue, political, religious, some romantic... . And naturally, the massive battles and grand campaigns you've come to expect. Look for some historical characters entering the stage in unexpected places.
canonized: One of the things that we have in common in our works is the length of each . Where do you get the energy and drive to continue to create such an epic piece and how has the experience been ?
Mettermrck: It's been a struggle, I'll admit. I've been writing Eagles for 2 1/2 years now and there are times when I want to pause everything and start something fresh. Sometimes when EU2 becomes older, and most of the new writers gravitate to EU3 and HOI2, you feel that your work is less noticed and you want to be a part of what's going on in AARland. Then you look at the immensity of what you've written and you can't help but feel pride. I made this world, I wrote those characters. And something always brings you back. A kind word from a dedicated reader or maybe you get a brilliant idea on how to write the next scene. Then you're able to start writing again. The readers who keep following my story, after so many false stops and starts, are sooo appreciated. I can't tell you how hard it would be to keep writing Eagles if it wasn't for the gang who keeps following along.
canonized: After Eagles is over , do you already have plans for future AARs or concurrent AARs ?
Mettermrck: Many ideas, that's for sure. I had a couple AARs start but never finish that I'd like to continue. Broken Lands, using the Independent Europe Scenario in a Mongol-devastated Europe was a fun concept. The American Nation AAR was actually supposed to be the big AAR while Advantages and Eagles were test concepts. I'd like to revisit that world sometimes.
canonized: Well i'd like to thank you for being on the intervew ! From One Universe to Another
Mettermrck: I have to say I really enjoyed it. It's great to be able to talk about your own work and think hard about your writing. As for Timelines, in many ways it helped bring me back to the community, primarily because I subscribe to it! I never used the subscribe feature. Now I'm able to follow about 15 AARs regularly and keep interacting with old friends and great new authors. I do think your interviews help bring the community together. Kudos, sir!
canonized: Thank you very much for being on the show , Mettermrck , and we were very honoured ! I hope everyone also enjoyed it and we hope to see you all next week when we’ll be interviewing Calipah , our friend from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . That’ll be an interesting interview don’t miss it ! That’s all for Timelines this time , see you next time , and in the meantime , stay tuned for more segments , fair , balanced , and unafraid !