With my lasted novel, the WW2-era occult/action MAN WITH THE IRON HEART, now released on Amazon, I wanted to talk about some of the driving forces behind its creation. Before we get to the heart of things, here is rundown on the novel itself:
MAN WITH THE IRON HEART: In May of 1942, Scottish soldier, Ian MacAndrew, parachutes into the heart of Nazi-occupied Prague on a mission whose success could alter the course of World War 2 itself. MacAndrew and his men are set to kill Reinhart Heydrich, the man best known as “The Butcher of Prague.” When things go from bad to worse, the veteran soldier finds himself thrust into a battle of myth and legend itself. With the marble-skinned warrior, Donner Grimm at his side, MacAndrew must face off against necromancers, Nazi berserkers, and the power of the demons known as the Jotnar, all vying to bring about Ragnarok and the end of humanity.
Nazis, Norse Gods, and Lovecraftian monsters: what more could you ask for in an action-adventure novel set in the midst of World War 2? “Man With the Iron Heart” is perfect for fans of Hellboy, Indiana Jones, Supernatural, or Inglourious Basterds.
Sounds like fun, eh? Well, you can find it on Amazon right now for the Kindle…go check it out. I’ll wait.
Wolfenstein 3D: Since back in the late 70s, I have been a video gamer. Pong, various Ataris, Collecovision, Commodore 64, PC, Mac…all the way up to today’s XBoxOne and PS4. One of the games that stuck with me was Wolfenstein 3d and its hero, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz. I’d just purchased a new PC back in 1992 (after a straight through drive from New York City to Houston) and the first game I found for it was the shareware version of Wolfenstein 3D. The game blew me away. I’d never seen anything like this precursor to the first-person shooter, and the fact that I could shoot Nazis (in full color!) sealed the deal for me. Me writing MAN WITH THE IRON HEART is my way of fulfilling the unrealized dream of being asked to write a Wolfenstein novelization.
2000AD: Growing up in the 70s and 80s, my four main areas of geekiness were: Star Wars, Comic Books, Dungeons & Dragons, and live-action Japanese Superhero TV. My most consistent comic book “friend” was the weekly 2000AD progs from the UK. The artists and writers of 2000AD opened my world up quite a bit to new art styles and a more subtle form of humor/satire/commentary that always seemed to be hidden in the most unsubtly of tales. There was almost always a level of intelligence found just under the surface of my favorite 2000AD stories…an intelligence that has been universally missed by American creators who have tried their hand at 2000AD characters. That level of intelligence and cheekiness is something I’m always striving for, even if I’m as hamfisted as every other US writer.
HP Lovecraft: Known for mind-numbing terrors from beyond and the tendency to over-write the simplest of things, Lovecraft has done more for horror and fantasy in modern times than just about any other author. He has also done more damage to the genres than anyone. For me, his work fits in nicely with that of Douglas Adams. Both are absolutely ridiculous and amazing and fun…if taken with the correct attitude. Lovecraft’s creations and the idea of insane, ridiculous terror coming from a loss of control have always been an inspiring force for my own imagination.
Hellboy: Creatures from beyond, big action set-pieces, ties to World War 2, and a protagonist with a mysterious, unearthly origin. Sound familiar? Even if I am not be actively swiping Mignola’s Hellboy, it does seem to be wedged firmly into my subconscious. As another illegitimate child of Lovecraft, Robert Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, Mike Mignola’s work has my eternal love.
Indiana Jones: How can someone write an over-the-top action-adventure piece set in (or around) World War 2 and not look to the Indiana Jones films (and awesome point-and-click games from LucasArts)? However, beyond the set pieces and action, the character of Indy himself was a major factor in the red-haired, Scottish veteran, Ian MacAndrew. Like Indy, Ian is a normal guy in in an extraordinary situation. And, like Indy, he’s on the road to the wrong side of his prime. He fights hard and kicks-ass, but you know he’s going to feel–and complain–about it the next morning. That human side of Indiana Jones was as important to Ian MacAndrew as the running, the shooting, or the fighting.
Gordon Rennie: If I had to pick a writer whose work has been the single biggest influence on me (outside of Douglas Adams or Chris Claremont), it is Gordon Rennie. Rennie’s work has covered just about every genre out there and his comic-format work is simply amazing. His stories for 2000AD (Caballistics, Inc., Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Missionary Man, and Glimmer Rats to name a few), his novels for Warhammer, and the video games he’s written, have set a standard of intelligence, high quality, and fun that is the bar I aim for (and generally fall well-short of). The two of his projects that I am constantly recommending fans check out are Necronauts and Department of Monsterology. Necronauts is “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” done better. That fact he’s Scottish just makes it all more magnificent.
Inglourious Basterds: Now, this should really be Quentin Tarantino AND Robert Rodriguez, but I’m going to focus on the WW2 film by Tarantino specifically. Tarantino’s film is about something that I’ve mentioned a few times in this post: ridiculous fun. The movie is dumb. The movie is silly. The movie is over-the-top. The movie is violent. Putting those four things together and mixing them up is a guaranteed recipe for taking my money. It’s a mix that defines Tarantino (and Rodriguez) for me. They say “fuck it, let’s have blow shit up and have some fun,” and no excuses are made.
While those are the biggest influences on my new novel, MAN WITH THE IRON HEART (available now from Amazon for the Kindle!), there are many more. Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison’s Zenith (superheroes meet Lovecraft!), Douglas Adams (as I’ve mentioned), the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne, the original Highlander film, Brandon Lee’s Crow, Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers. The list of things that inspires me is as big as a phone book–and the list of things I blatantly swipe from almost as big.
My hope with the new novel–and all of my work, really–is that my readers have as much fun with the stuff as I do. Have fun and don’t be afraid to be a little ridiculous.
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius