Our final author interview for Issue 2 is with William Knight, author of ‘Son of Flanders’, a World War I murder mystery set in the trenches of the Western Front.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m currently a student in Upstate New York, studying European History with a mind towards teaching. In my spare time I’m a bartender.
What attracts you to historical fiction?
I’ve always loved history. When I first started at University I was a Criminal Justice major. After the first History class I took, I changed my major that very day. And reading fiction that takes place during an actual historical event is an amazing experience. Unlike history books which provide the backdrop to a historical era, fiction allows you to delve deeply into the subject, almost a worm’s eye view.
Is this your first story about WW1?
The first one I attempted to get published. The first that I wrote was a horror story, that didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped. The war itself was such a horrific event, that adding supernatural elements to the plot felt a bit extraneous. I was thrilled when I discovered Alt Hist as the genre is currently suffering for publications and the care and attention to detail put into the magazine by the editor, Mark Lord, has made this a truly enjoyable experience.
How did you get the idea for the story?
Like many of my ideas, I often find it hard to trace the genesis. I’ve always wanted to write a story set during the war, and one day I traced an outline that became Son of Flanders.
Your story gives a vivid portrayal of the trenches. How do you think soldiers were able to cope with the conditions they faced?
By a remarkable feat of inner strength. The shelling was continuous, 24 hours a day. And the conditions were absolutely abhorable. One soldier described finding a fellow Tommy stuck in a shell hole during the Passchendaele campaign. They were unable to extricate him from the mud, and had to watch as he slowly drowned. And also through their sense of humor. It often comes through the pages when I read memoirs from the time period.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on another story set during the First World War. Just a fascinating subject, with so much to explore.
William has had stories published in Electric Velocipede, Space and Time Magazine, and Necrotic Tissue. His website is www.williamknight1.blogspot.com.
Don’t forget to check out William’s story ‘Son of Flanders’ in the second issue of Alt Hist.