Saturday 2 March 2019

#HistoricalFiction author, Dominic Fielder, is talking about how he created the characters for his fabulous book series The King’s Germans. Check out Dominic’s fabulous #NewRelease — The King of Dunkirk @Kings_Germans

Creating Characters for the King’s Germans: playing for keeps
By Dominic Fielder

I’m sure that most people have had an idea for a character in a story. After all, it’s one of the first questions we ask of children when they write in school. What’s your story about and who is in it? I write this having attempted to inspire the occasional bout of written or oral storytelling in a classroom. For characters to be, to exist, we as readers must want to know all about them.
That is one of the main reasons why the single point of view story sells. We can immerse ourselves, identify with that person on the page, share their pain and hopefully their victory.

At least we could until George R.R. Martin came along and made killing off his main characters a past time.

I’m going to commit some form of heresy in saying that I’ve not read the books and only watched the series up to the Red Wedding, then it just became too painful. But what Martin has said subsequently on the death of main characters struck a chord with me “When my characters are in danger, I want you to be afraid to turn the page (and to do that) you need to show right from the beginning that you're playing for keeps.”

For me, in wanting to write the story of the King’s German Legion, I knew that multiple perspectives would be needed. At that time, I had my eye more on the war in Portugal and Spain. In thinking about that basic question of ‘What’s the story about?’, the obvious answer was the soldiers. Men, women and families who had fled Hanover in 1803. And in considering the next question of ‘Why did they flee?’, it became necessary, not to start the story in 1808, or 1803, but at the outbreak of war in 1793.
And that creates the next challenge for a writer and the reader. If a story arc is planned from 1793 to 1815, how can you expect to follow a single character all the way through this. The short answer is that you can’t. As I write this, it’s my intention that some of the King’s Germans from The Black Lions of Flanders and The King of Dunkirk will be present at the battle of Waterloo. Who they are and which side they will be fighting on, is still a mystery, even to me.
Can multiple character point of views work? I very much hope so, as it’s the style that I’ve chosen to write in. Mary Anne Yarde very graciously described my attempts in the first book “Like a master puppeteer, Fielder has a firm control of a large cast of characters.”

I’m still learning my trade but I’m inspired by a man like Balzac, who is the master of characterisation.  Graham Robb wrote in a biography that ‘Balzac's characters were as real to him as if he were observing them in the outside world’.  It’s said that Balzac had around four thousand fully fleshed out characters.

I’ve no plans to visit that staggering number, but I know that the current cast, the first quartet of stories, will not wholly be the soldiers in the King’s German Legion on the 18th June 1815.
So, who is there in the current crop that you might like? Sebastian Krombach: young, idealistic but quietly determined. His close friends are the Pinsk brothers, Tomas and Henry: tall gangling farm-hands turned soldiers when there were simply to many mouths to feed at home. Added to that is Andreas Reifener, forced to enlist in a deal between a priest, a city burgher and a baker. Reifener happens to be a reasonable cook and an excellent opportunist. Aided by Sergeant Winckler, a man not averse to making a profit but very averse to the chances of being killed, Reifener becomes the conduit for shady business transactions much against Krombach’s sense of fair play. Though such niceties are the least of Krombach’s problems. The King’s Germans are at war with themselves. Winckler must stave off the authoritarian Corporal Gauner, a brute of a man who takes an instant dislike to Krombach.
All of these men serve in Second Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Hanoverian Regiment: a company without a captain and a battalion without a commander. Captain Werner Brandt, a man ready to quit the army, finds himself convinced to stay when the new colonel, Jacob Neuberg arrives. Neuberg faces revolt from without the ranks of his own officers as his promotion has come at the cost of battalion tradition and the slighted Major Volgraf, who was expecting to be made commander, is a man with powerful friends. Added to this mixture is Erich von Bomm, Brandt’s closest friend. With a dubious reputation as a rake and having fought three duels over misunderstandings, the King’s Germans are at best a dysfunctional family.
These are the King’s Germans at the very start of the Black Lions of Flanders. By the time we catch up with them in The King of Dunkirk, they have experienced their first taste of battle and an uneasy truce has been thrashed out in both Brandt’s Company (Second Company) and between the officers. In other posts on this blog tour, I will write about how minor characters have a habit of wanting to make their story heard, at least they do to me. For now though, I’d like to leave you with Krombach, feeling particularly moral, Reifener at his most opportunistic and the Pinsk brothers adding some light relief. This is the lull before the storm. The redcoats know that tomorrow or the day after, they will go into battle.
Playing for keeps is about to become very real.

The King of Dunkirk
The King’s Germans Book #2

May 1793: The French border.

Valenciennes, Paris then home! Every common soldier knows the popular 
refrain so why can’t the commanders see sense? 

The protracted siege of Valenciennes exposes the mistrust between the 
allies. National interests triumph over military logic. The King’s Germans 
find themselves marching north to the coast, not east to Paris. Dunkirk has 
become a royal prize, an open secret smuggled to the French, who set a trap 
for the Duke of York’s army. 

Lieutenant Erich von Bomm and Captain Werner Brandt find themselves in 
the thick of the action as the 14th Nationals, the Black Lions, seek their 
revenge. In the chaos of battle, Sebastian Krombach, working alongside 
Major Trevethan, the engineer tasked with capturing Dunkirk, must make a 
dreadful choice: to guide a battalion of Foot Guards to safety across the 
Great Moor or carry a message that might save the life of a friend. 

The King’s Germans and the Black Lions do battle to determine who shall  be crowned the King of Dunkirk. 


Seeburg: 21st May 1793
Years of selling at fairs and festivals had not been wasted: Reifener was making a small fortune. He stood on the back of one of the Corps supply wagons addressing the growing crowd of redcoats. Either side of him two lanky soldiers toiled, passing out pairs of Flanders clogs to redcoats who had handed over a thaler to the baker turned shoe seller.
“Ten pairs left, three small, seven mediums; who wants them? You’re out of luck if you’ve got big feet. Might make you popular with the ladies but you will have to make do with the army’s boots until the next delivery!”
Krombach witnessed the scene with disbelief. He had left the Pinsk brothers for an hour while he had joined the line of soldiers at the blacksmith’s and now they were taking part in some form of open profiteering. A few moments later and Reifener was turning over empty crates.
“All gone, sorry boys; nothing now until next week.”
A press of disgruntled soldiers hurled insults in the direction of the baker’s boy turned soldier but most knew Reifener’s worth lay beyond the delicious meals he could concoct and his network within the Twenty. Reifener had become the conduit for goods and contraband, a fact that Krombach had chosen to overlook. Even Volgraf had conducted business with the privateer redcoat in the last few days and Sergeant Gauner had been chosen by the Major to settle the terms of trade.
“What the hell is going on?”
Krombach had pushed through the thinning ranks and reached the wagon. Reifener defaulted to a wide grin bordering on the look of a village fool, unaware of the cares of the world.
“Just selling some clogs. Our boots are falling apart so a friend got hold of some of these and asked me to sell them. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
“A friend? Selling from a back of a Corps Wagon? Glad the Provosts didn’t catch you!”
“…gave them a couple of pairs first. They seemed quite happy; said they had more pressing matters to attend to.”
“And your friend, does he work for the Commissary General now?”
Reifener began some tuneless whistling through a broad smile, punctured by gurgles of laughter. Krombach turned his attention to the Pinsk brothers, both helping to stack the empty crates, ready for the return trip.
“And as for you two, what are you doing getting involved in all this?”
“It’s all above board…well sort of. Don’t be so sour ‘Bastion, besides two weeks’ pay for two hours work.” Henry spoke working swiftly, casting glances across the sea of heads that populated the Hanoverian camp.
“And,” said Tomas, “we saved you a pair.” He held a thick wooden clog on either side of his face. “Look what you’ve done to my poor ears. I’ve had to listen to you droning on for hours about those boots of yours. Besides it’s the fashion of the season for every soldier of taste and quality,” aping his most aristocratic air while gently throwing each of the shoes in the general direction of Krombach’s head.
“They’re comfortable ‘Bastion and compliments of our ‘friend’,” Reifener added, as if that resolved the discussion.
There was little doubt that the friend was Sergeant-Major Winckler, now attached to the British Commissary General’s office. ‘Old Boots’ selling new shoes; Winckler rarely missed a trick.
“Cheer up, Krombach. I’ve almost missed your high moral standpoint on all matters; almost,” Tomas quipped and jumped down from the wagon followed by Henry. Both wore regulation white trousers, rolled up to the calf, resplendent with new wooden clogs.
“Just like we used to wear on the farm, comfortable as you like,” Henry clapped Krombach on the shoulders, “you can thank me later.”
A track ran through the middle of the sea of canvas tents heading straight for the wagon and either side the sea of redcoats parted. Company Sergeant-Major Roner strode through the mass of men, his eyes fixed on the four figures around the wagon.
“Andreas now might be a good time to disappear,” Henry said, through the side of his mouth.
Reifener had already spotted the potential danger and questions that might provoke uncomfortable answers. With considerable skill, he released the brake and the pair of heavy horses jolted forward, onto the cobbled track. Roner’s eyes followed the passage of the wagon and then resumed their fixed gaze at Krombach, sandwiched between the tall brothers. He halted; the soldiers around him stopped, eyes avoiding direct contact with the sergeant.
“Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, hear my words! Form up for parade and Holy blessing at three o’clock.”
He paused to turn and then stopped, observing sixty or seventy soldiers, each with trousers rolled up, proudly displaying new Flanders clogs.
“And get those ‘things’ off your feet. You are soldiers, not peasants!” Roner stared coldly at the Pinsk brothers and Krombach before turning again and marching back towards the headquarters tent of 2nd Battalion.
“Oh great,” Krombach shook his head. “The only man who has more clout within the Company than Gauner now thinks we are despoiling his men. Can this day get any worse?”
“Well look on the brighter side,” Henry offered, “parade and religious service means only one thing; we won’t be sat on our arses this time tomorrow, we are headed for the front.”
“And that is supposed to make me feel better?”
“Yes. Why not? This time tomorrow you could be dead so none of this will really matter.”
The three exchanged grim smiles and parted; Tomas loped off in the direction of the 1st Grenadiers and Krombach and Henry Pinsk returned to their canvas home to prepare their kit and Reifener’s, hoping that he would return before the hour was up.  

Dominic Fielder

The King’s Germans is a project that has been many years in the making. Currently I manage to juggle writing and research around a crowded work and family life. The Black Lions of Flanders (set in 1793) is the first in the King’s Germans’ series, which will follow an array of characters through to the final book in Waterloo. The King of Dunkirk will soon be released and I hope that the response to that is as encouraging as the reviews of Black Lions have been.
While I’m self-published now, I have an excellent support team that help me to produce what I hope is a story with professional feel, and that readers would want to read more than once. My family back-ground is in paperback book sales, so I’m very keen to ensure that the paperback design is something that I would be proud to put on my bookshelf.

I live in just outside of Tavistock, in Devon where I enjoy walking on the moors and the occasional horse-riding excursion as both inspiration and relaxation.

Connect with Dominic on: Facebook • Twitter Goodreads.

No comments:

Post a Comment

See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx