Monday, November 21, 2022

Q&A with Michael Kenneth Smith



Michael Kenneth Smith is the author of the new historical novel All Is Fair, which is set during World War II. His other books include The Postwoman.


Q: What inspired you to write All Is Fair, and how did you create your character Jan Orlinski?


A: The European theater in WWII is a subject I have studied for many years. The Polish fighter pilots helped win the Battle of Britain and little has been written about them. The Polish 303 squadron, in particular, were very effective against the German Luftwaffe and I thought a story of one of those young pilots might shed some light on what they did.


The plight of the young Orlinski, who despised the Germans for what they did to his home country, is a loss of innocence story in which he finds out his life after the war was not going to be what he had envisioned.


Q: How did you research the novel, and did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: Orlinski flies several different fighters, both French and British. Learning each of the plane’s capabilities and characteristics was very interesting. For each plane he flew, I downloaded an image of the cockpit and instrument panel so I could more accurately describe exactly what was required when Orlinski flew, whether in a dogfight or crash landing in the English Channel.


During his capture and interrogation by the Germans, the conditions and methods represented in the novel are typical and accurate.


Q: What did you see as the right balance between fiction and history as you wrote the book?

A: The book is about the story as mentioned and that story is the driving force of the novel. Dropping the story into the historical timeline gives the reader a sense of the time.


There are four or five intense scenes where Orlinski is maneuvering to best his German counterpart. While these scenes were fun to write, I worried they might bore the reader, especially a reader more interested in the romance than the war. I limited these scenes so hopefully there is a balance. So far, none of the reviewers have said the scenes were repetitive or boring.


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: Of course the title is part of the old saying, “All is fair in love and war.” Near the end of the book, Orlinski finds out that he has been betrayed. That betrayal was a direct result of conditions and demands caused by the war and people do not act and respond the way they would normally.


To put it another way, during situations where love is at stake or during war, people are not bound by rules of fair play. “All Is Fair” seemed like a perfect description of the novel.


Q: What are you working on now?

A: Several things. First of all, the next novel might be a sequel to All Is Fair wherein Sophie, riddled with guilt, tries to redeem herself by becoming a spy for East Germany as a double agent for Britain. Overtime, Orlinsky finds out she is a spy but not a double agent because of the secrecy involved and their relationship becomes even more stressed than before.


Secondly, there is an interest in making a previous book, The Postwoman, into a film. There is some historical indication that the Postwoman may have been a lesbian, so I am rewriting parts of the book to illustrate.


Q: Anything else we should know?

A: This book, All Is Fair, was very enjoyable to write, maybe more so than any of my other books. Why? Because the main character was so interesting and talented. His ability to play piano made him different from the other pilots. He was always able to extricate himself from ticklish situations.


Finishing the novel was almost a letdown emotionally. I’m 80 years old and when I wake in the morning I can’t wait to sit down and write because, most of the time, I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when my fingers start to prance over the keyboard.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment