1- You're best known for the Ethan Gage Adventures, a series that's part historical fiction, part Indiana Jones. Tell us about the latest installment, The Emerald Storm.
Ethan is an American hero – a gambler, sharpshooter, treasure hunter, and Franklin “electrician” – caught up in the Napoleonic Wars and ancient archaeological mysteries. In “The Emerald Storm,” his attempt to set up his new family for life by selling a famed emerald snatched from the Pasha of Tripoli leads in short order to the kidnapping of his son, an early experiment with glided flight, and the slave revolt in Haiti in 1803. Ethan and his wife Astiza are caught up in the rebellion and on the trail of lost Aztec artifacts. Battle, voodoo, seduction, a diving bell, a hurricane: it’s all in a day’s work. Did the Aztecs know something that could help Napoleon leap the English Channel?
2- What is it about historical adventure that appeals to you?
I love stories set in colorful times when the world was still more mysterious. Life in Napoleon’s era was like grand opera, with magnificent clothes, beautiful ships, glorious charges, and abject poverty, disease, and ignorance. In the old days, the well-to-do dressed better, and smelled worse, than we do. There was no social security, lives could rise and fall in an instant, and everyone was on the make. Courage, sex, and corruption were paths to power. This was the dawn of the scientific, industrial, and political revolutions. And I can research personalities and incidents more bizarre than I could ever make up. Truth is truly stranger than fiction. I also like to inject humor, and history provides a lot of it.
3- You do a lot of traveling when you research the Ethan Gage books. Have you been anywhere interesting lately or do you have any cool trips in the works?
As a former journalist, I need to see the places I’m writing about, and research makes a wonderful excuse to travel. “The Emerald Storm” took me to the Caribbean, including a historic English seaport on Antigua and the French isle of Martinique that has an ocean rock that the British captured and actually christened as a naval ship. The next two books in the series are taking me to France, England, and the Czech Republic. You never know what you’ll stumble across. A urinal in the historic dockyard of Portsmouth had a poster above it explaining what sailors in Nelson’s day used for toilet paper. That vital information got into my next book.
4- What's next in the Ethan Gage series?
“The Barbed Crown,” coming in May, revolves around the real-life story of Napoleon’s attempt to invade England, his coronation as emperor, and attempts to overthrow him by conspiracy. It involves a number of real-life personalities and climaxes at the naval battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Nelson died. But it also embroils Ethan with fictional characters that carry over into the next novel after that, including a mysterious comtesse and gigantic policeman. Oh, and one of my hero’s most terrifying foes? The London banker entrusted with investment of his money. With the 2008-2009 market crash, I figured many readers have been there.
5- Many authors are taking advantage of the new digital publishing "wave" by publishing things like short story "companion pieces' to their main series, or some of their older works. Do you have any plans in that regard?
I retrieved the rights to my first three novels and published them electronically on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites. “Ice Reich” is a World War II thriller set in Antarctica, “Getting Back” a dystopian adventure set in the Australian Outback, and “Dark Winter” a claustrophobic thriller set at the South Pole. I’m intrigued at the idea of doing digital publishing original works, in non-fiction as well as fiction, but haven’t added to my novels yet. Golly-gosh: When I started my writing career, my first newspaper was still using lead type and typewriters went clackety-clack! I do my best to keep up, while periodically reeling from future shock. Technology moved slower in Napoleon’s day. No wonder I like it back then.
6- Where can our readers find you online?
My website is www.williamdietrich.com. I’m also on Facebook, easily findable as William Dietrich, author.