You’ve Been Canonized!: TheHyphenated1
Hello everyone and welcome once again to this week’s edition of You’ve Been Canonized! our weekly interview segment here on Timelines where we take a patron author and get to know more about them , their thoughts on Timelines , and about their current AAR or project ! If you’re new to the programe , I’m your host canonized , author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? And today’s guest is one of our newest friends TheHyphenated1 , author of the HOI2 hit Weltkriegschaft . Say cheese !
Part I: “-”
Our guest and I talk about his background and his entrance to AARland !
canonized: Firstly , welcome to the programme ! Could you introduce yourself for us a little ?
TheHyphenated1: Thank you!* Well, I'm a California native, which means that most of my promises of "update tonight" really mean "update tomorrow" for the majority of forum members.* Since I was very very young, I've had a great fascination with history.* I got my historical gaming start playing the Civilization series, which had me badly addicted for several years.* I saw my first Paradox game when I was eight and a half years old, and was immediately captivated by the history that could be learned and explored through these games.* While Civilization offered abstract history, the level of historical accuracy in Paradox titles really spoke to me.* Several years passed and I actually started playing myself. I remember that one of the first things I noticed was the density of the maps in comparison to simpler games like Risk and Axis and Allies.* I think I once counted some 89 Vicky provinces packed into one Axis and Allies province.* That simply floored me. So one day I did a Google search to find how to fix a bug in EUII, and it led me to the Paradox Forums.* I noticed the AAR section, but didn't really stick around for another few years.* Then, this past March I decided to write an AAR based on my HoI2 game, so I clicked my Paradox Interactive Forums bookmark and the rest, as they say, is history.
canonized: As a relatively new writer to AARland , what are your impressions of the community ?
TheHyphenated1: As soon as I had my first look at AARland, I was taken in.* You don't know how refreshing it is to find this unspoiled gem of a forum -- one of the last corners of the internet where every conversation doesn't degenerate into World of Warcraft slang and 9/11 conspiracy theories.* In all seriousness, though, the quality of this community is truly amazing.* Every day I am newly impressed by the support that fellow writers give one another, and fun everyone has in all these alternate universes.
canonized: Did you have any inspirational reads that led you to begin your AARland career
TheHyphenated1: Quite honestly, no.* I more or less just took the plunge and started writing.* I do remember, though, the very same day that I started my AAR -- discovering Hardraade's Return to Glory, and worrying that maybe our two AARs would be perceived as too similar.* Since then though, we've read each other's work and find that they actually take rather different tacks.* Draco Rexus's For King and Country was another that I soon discovered.* The level of detail and passion of his fanbase both impressed me thoroughly.* The one AAR that I've promised myself not to read yet is The Yogi's Where the Iron Crosses Grow, which I understand covers some of the same ground.* I'd like to keep my own work as original as possible, and then when I'm done (yes, I will be done, and hopefully before the decade is out) be able to read WtICG without worrying about avoiding similarities.
canonized: What kind of training or background do you have that helps produce your writing ?
TheHyphenated1: None, really.* In terms of background, I've been writing stories of one kind or another for virtually my whole life, which combined with my interest in history, led me quite naturally into writing AARs.* I've also done some nonfiction and journalistic writing, and have a book currently under consideration by a publisher.* Frankly, though, I don't consider my other writing to have much bearing on my AAR, because the styles are so different.* Nonetheless, every word you read and every word you write makes you better at both!
canonized: Do you plan on pursuing any writing in your future career as you grow older ?
TheHyphenated1: I do.* Luckily, though, I won't try to rely on writing to put food on the table.* In addition to serious, important, career-writing, I definitely see myself pursuing fiction writing as a hobby.
Part II: A New ReadAAR
TheHyphenated1 gives us his thoughts on Timelines .
canonized: Reading through Timelines , could you give us some of your first impressions ?
TheHyphenated1: A few things really struck me as unique in AARland.* First, even though it's a subtle touch, the frontispieces and plates really add a lot to the style of Timelines.* Also, the simultaneous plotlines running in two different time periods added a new layer of depth to the work.* In a sense, Timelines seems to me similar in conception to the works of Neal Stephenson -- which should be taken as a high compliment.* Like The Baroque Cycle, Timelines ties together and refers to so many disparate historical elements that don't normally get covered in historical fiction -- and adds to that delicious gumbo the element of alternate-alternate history and a dash of mysticism!*****
canonized: It's definitely a long read and obviously a bit intimidating to the average forumite . What might you be able to say about its length ? Did it bother you at all ?
TheHyphenated1: Well, I'm certainly far from done myself, but my best advice would be not to see it as race.* You'll finish when you finish, and the ending will still be there waiting for you when you finally get there.* The length hasn't been a problem for me, but I've certainly been cognizant of how other people have reacted to the length of Timelines, because that has a bearing on my own AAR, which is shaping up to be rather large as well.
canonized: Being as long as it is , we get an opportunity to try different arcs and adventures ; different characters etc . Did you have any particular adventure or adventure style that you enjoyed ?
TheHyphenated1: I try to enjoy each chapter for its own sake, rather than focus on any single style.* That said, the Mecca chapters were great, as well as the adventure in Japan particularly appealed to me.* I'm a big fan of Dante, so when I reach that arc, I anticipate enjoying that greatly as well.* The bonus material and interview segments also add to overall reader involvement.
canonized: Any characters or set of characters that appealed to you ?
TheHyphenated1: Echoing what many others have said, the Panzerkardinal imagery is terrific.* I also enjoyed the interplay between Tom and Rodrigo, and Tom and Father Xavier, who I thought was particularly well-drawn.* There's something strongly appealing about Antonia and Isabella, too.* Which reminds me: you should create a Dramatis Personae for Timelines!*
canonized: Haha everyone says I should . Naturally we also place a lot of Easter Eggs and other little references or goodies in almost every chapter . Any of those pop out for you ?
TheHyphenated1: Hmm...* I think there was a reference to the infamous "Contest Episode" of Seinfeld that was particularly clever.* Of course the "all your base" line popped out at me, but everyone seems to mention that.* Oh!* There was a really subtle one that was a reference to Brit Hume.
canonized: Wow ! a varied eye you have there . Didn't expect you to pick up on those XD . Let's also talk about the bad guys and the villains . Any of those you enjoyed or were intrigued the most by ?
TheHyphenated1: From the way things are going, I get the sense that our perspective on exactly where the boundaries between good and bad lie may change somewhat between where I am and the current story.* Cardinal Ximenez was certainly interesting, but I'll wait and see more of what the Silent Room is up to before passing any final judgments.
canonized: Lastly of this section , any guesses on what the Timepiece is ?
TheHyphenated1: Well, having read about 25% of Timelines, I imagine that's a little like someone trying to figure out Lost based solely on the pilot.* But I'll try.* The Timepiece may be somehow intrinsically linked to the creation of and end of the world (and therefore time itself, which links the two).* The keys may constitute some sort of tontine that accesses the Timepiece, or might have stronger individual spiritual significance on their own.* From where things seem to be going, I would guess more toward the latter.
Part III: A New Face to an Old Enemy
TheHyphenated1 reveals a few things about his current AAR !
canonized: Lots of people choose Germany to play in their AARs , but often they have many unique reasons . What were your motivations for playing the Reich ?
TheHyphenated1: From a strictly gameplay perspective, Germany allows the player to "play to win" while remaining in-character historically.* While I might prefer the United States as a sentimental favorite, it would provide a very different gaming experience.* From a literary perspective, I've always found Nazi Germany to be at the heart of the greatest drama the world has ever seen -- World War II.* I've sought to capture that sweeping drama, and present it convincingly from the inside out.* Combined with the element of alternate history, I felt that Germany's story could be the most compelling of any nation in the game.
canonized: Speaking of drama , you certainly have impressed upon your readers not only the historical significance of your writing but also the intricate interaction between such high figures including Hitler himself . How did you prepare and ready yourself for creating such roles ?
TheHyphenated1: I based my character studies on the sum of the books and television that I've absorbed about these figures.* Then, I sifted through those (often conflicting) viewpoints to come closest, in my own estimation, to the truth.* I then combine the general character information with specific research into the sorts of details that really give life to the scenes.* I try not to hit readers over the head with these sorts of details, but rather have them mentioned in passing to lend overall atmosphere to the writing.* For example, in the prologue Dr. Morell mentions Mechnikov.* In that scene, he would have historically almost certainly dropped the name of Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (a renowned Russian biologist whom he had worked with), but to belabor the point with readers would ruin it.****
canonized: here's what i asked: Aside from the hierarchy of various countries and the 'major players' so to speak , you've also spent some time examining the minor plots and almost-nobodies who become significant assets to the plot and cause a dramatic tension . Tell us a little bit about why you chose to work that into your story ?
TheHyphenated1: Well, it's something that really came to me when watching Ken Burns' documentary The War.* I saw that even though he was presenting this sweeping and impersonal story, by approaching it through immediate, personal experiences, he reached audiences in a way that all previous documentaries had not.* As applies to Weltkriegschaft, characters like Johann Mahler allow me to provide a sense of the experiences of a single soldier -- valuable perspective which tends to get lost in all the macroscopic shuffling of armies.* Also, as I stated in my Character Writer of the Week speech, I feel the major players like Hitler and Canaris can best be appreciated through the eyes of smaller characters.* Also, the resistance figures (Albert Loessner, Fr. Martin Kappel, etc.) give me the opportunity to portray a facet of German opinion that is usually drowned out by the crimes of National Socialism.*
canonized: Aside from these perspectives , you also add your own twist to the historical timelines , doing some actions either differently or at a different time which affects the flow of not only the game but also of the historical process by which it unfolds . Tell us a little bit about the key points you decided to deviate from and why ?
TheHyphenated1: Really there is a single point of deviation, and that is the attack on the Berghof on New Year's Eve, 1935.* From, that you have a ripple effect of the trauma of the assassination attempt and the relief at having survived it as leading Hitler to conceive a strategic grab for Belgium four years early.* At present that seems to have backfired, but the death of Dr. Morell in the attack has left Hitler considerably more reasonable than he was historically, and in a better position to bounce back from reversals.* There are dozens if not hundreds of smaller deviations already, but they all stem from that single point of divergence.* As to the "why", seeing that this is an AAR forum, this particular alternate history is the one that best lent itself to the game and the story I'm trying to tell with it.
canonized: Considering you're a new writer , could you tell us perhaps some of the biggest challenges of writing this opus of yours and some of your greatest triumphs ?
TheHyphenated1: Being rather intent on historical accuracy, I've sometimes had a hard time figuring out how to make something plausibly "work", but so far I've always managed in the end.* I would say the other principal challenge is simply making things accessible to readers.* Being that Weltkriegschaft is essentially a novel in novelette style, the prose is far denser than many people are used to, which I'm afraid may scare off some potential readers.* With that in mind, I try to keep the action moving forward, keep the updates of manageable size and keep them coming about every other day.* Also, the fact that it is "yet another Germany AAR" may subject it to a certain prejudice, but I think that's usually overcome as soon as people start reading.* On the whole, the readers have responded very positively, which gives me the incentive to go full steam ahead! As to triumphs, I would say the first battle scene sticks out in my mind.* I had gone through eighteen installments of political maneuvering, war planning and skullduggery, and advanced only 25 days of AAR time.* Then in one fell swoop, the floodgates opened as the assault-pioneers of Sturmabteilung Brauer fought a desperate marathon battle to capture the strongest fortress in the world.* Heady stuff, as you can imagine.
canonized: Indeed your work has gotten pretty lengthy ! Especially as a new writer , this is a marvelous achievement ! Without giving too much away could you give your readers a little preview of the future ?
TheHyphenated1: Thank you!* Alright, here are a few teasers.* 1) In the not-too-distant future, Fr. Martin Kappel will leave Germany on a desperate mission. 2) The LZ 129 Hindenburg shall make an appearance carrying a national hero of sorts.*** 3) The title of Chapter III is The Lion's Den.* 4) Jumping way ahead, the title of Chapter X is Downfall.*
canonized*(6:45:33*PM): and lastly from this section , could you tell us any future AAR plans you'd have ? for any other game perhaps ?
TheHyphenated1: As far as future AAR plans, that's really too soon to say.* Weltkriegschaft will take years, and after that I'll have to see what strikes my fancy.* Gosh, by that time I'm sure there will be a few new Paradox games out that we haven't even heard of yet!* One thing I can say with a good deal of certainty, is that I probably won't be writing another HoI2 AAR after Weltkriegschaft.
canonized: And that’s all for our programme today ! We’d like to thank TheHyphenated1 for being on the show and we’d also like to thank the audience for tuning in once again ! Please stop by the thread during the week to find out who will be on the chopping block next and we all hope you have a good evening ! That’s all for You’ve Been Canonized this time , see you next time , and in the meantime , stay tuned for more Timelines: Fair , Balanced , and Unafraid !