My guest today is a multi-talented man who enjoys writing historical and science fiction. Please help me welcome Michael Powell! Let’s take a gander at his bio and then move on to the fun stuff, shall we?
Michael Powell was a Choral Exhibitioner at Christ Church Oxford and intended to become a professional singer but became a computer programmer to pay the bills in the meantime. Over the years, he alternated between the two careers. He authored a number of successful software products and, at the same time, performed professionally as a soloist in concerts and operatic performances around the UK and abroad.
In the 1980s he was commissioned to write articles for the UK national and specialist press on software-related subjects and wrote two books about Contracting (one largely written during rehearsals for Britten’s “Rape of Lucretia” at the Aldeburgh Festival).
In 1993 he met his wife, Kerstin. They bought a boat in Greece and have visited most of the Greek islands and the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
During their travels, they discovered the island of Leros where they bought a house in 2014. He became fascinated with the wartime history of the island which inspired him to write his first novel, “Four’s Destiny” and the sequel “Cheese and Chalk”.
His eclectic lifestyle has enabled him to continue to pursue his various careers wherever he happens to be.
Betty: When did you become a writer?
Michael: During the 1980s.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Michael: Immediately as a journalist, but you never stop working on your skills (such as they are).
Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?
Michael: Max Hastings, Iain Banks, Louis de Bernières
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Michael: I was temporarily unemployed when a company I had established was taken over and I was forced to step down. That prompted me to write a satirical piece for a computer magazine, which led to more regular commissions.
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Michael: Journalism about IT-related subjects.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Michael: Fiction – some historical, some science fiction. Because I am interested in people’s experiences in conflict and in where science and technology are leading.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Michael: I just did it. Press sub editors helped.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Michael: I’d still like to find out how to market my work!
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Michael: Initially a number of journalists with whom I was in contact during my work in software products companies.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Michael: I live much of the year in the Greek island of Leros, where each year there is a commemoration of a little-known World War II battle. That led me to think about the young men who fought on both sides who were brought together and destroyed by this cataclysm. English, Italians, Greeks and Germans fought and died here for very little benefit. I pictured one young man from each of these nations and wondered in what circumstances they could have met before the war and how their different lives would have been led until that fateful event.
“Four’s Destiny” melds real historical events in the period 1912-1943 with a fictional account of the short lives of four young men caught up in the maelstrom of war. At its core is the Greek Dodecanese island of Leros, the site of a largely unknown battle in World War II. The destinies of the four overlap tragically in that battle as the Italian nation overthrows Mussolini and casts in its lot with the Allies against the Nazis.
Rolf Muller led his squadron of Ju88 dive bombers from the German controlled airfield in Megara on the Greek mainland towards the Dodecanese Islands. “A different target today, lads,” he told his crew. “We’re finished with Kos, now we’re going after Leros. It’s only a small island, but it’s bristling with guns and we’ve got to close it down.”
The twin-engined planes droned across the Aegean, passing areas already under German control. A further group of islands, laid out in a north-south line, materialised out of the haze on the eastern horizon, shimmering in the bright sunshine. Below them, the sea, gently ruffled by the mild winds which blew at that time of year, remained calm and peaceful.
“There it is!” said Rolf, indicating an island which looked as if it had been squeezed between a giant’s fingers to create two deep bays on each side, with narrow peninsulas in between. Dropping down to a lower height, he led the approach to the south-western bay, skimming tall, rugged hills until a deep inlet appeared below. “We’re in luck!” he cried as he spotted two warships at anchor, “two targets in sight.”
He took his plane soaring up high above the bay and tilted it over to set it into a steep dive, aiming at one of the ships. As he did so, he saw puffs of smoke appear from the guns of the other vessel. His target was not yet responding and, coming closer, he saw men running to their stations, like panicking ants. “Too late, my friends” he thought grimly.
Sounds like a fascinating and haunting story, Michael. What a situation to find yourself in, too. Thanks for sharing it with us!
Thanks for reading! Happy Holidays!
Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
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