Background To The Bear’s Claws

To mark the release of our new book The Bear’s Claws, here’s a little something from Russell Phillips on the alternate history he created so we could justify a Soviet army marching west…

Background to The Bear’s Claws

During the Cold War, many in the West thought that Warsaw Pact forces might invade West Germany at any time. That never happened, so when we came to write The Bear’s Claws, we needed to find some reason for the war to take place. It’s never directly explained in the book, but for those that are interested, here’s a little background.

The North Atlantic Treaty: Article Five

The first part of the hook is article five of the NATO treaty. This states that an attack against any one or more of the signatories in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against them all. In that case, all the member nations would assist the attacked nation to defend itself.

It’s important to note that this only applies in Europe, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean north of the Tropic of Cancer. In our book, the invasion of West Germany happens during the Falklands War. Since the Falklands are much further south than the area covered by the NATO treaty, the UK government couldn’t invoke article five to secure assistance from their NATO allies in fighting Argentina.

Only the initial attack needs to be in Europe, North America or the North Atlantic. Once article five had been invoked, NATO forces could find themselves fighting elsewhere. This is why NATO forces operated in Afghanistan, after the US invoked article five following the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001.

The Sinking of HMS Ariadne

After Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, Admiral Jorge Anaya, part of the ruling military junta in Argentina, sent four men to Spain to sink a British ship in Gibraltar harbour. In reality, the operation was foiled when the men were arrested by Spanish police. In our alternative history, the attack succeeded, and the frigate HMS Ariadne was sunk on the 3rd of May 1982.

Gibraltar is in the area covered by the NATO treaty, and so the UK government took the opportunity to invoke article five. When the task force sailed to the South Atlantic to re-take the Falkland Islands, the land forces were all British, as was the bulk of the naval forces. But in this alternative history, an American aircraft carrier was included, and they also provided B-52 bomber support. Other NATO allies provided naval assets. Argentina responded by calling on other South American countries for support, characterising the conflict as the old colonial powers trying to re-establish their empires.

War in Western Europe

NATO land forces in Western Europe were not directly affected, since the British forces sent south were not intended for deployment there. The reduction in naval forces available to North Atlantic convoys would mean reduced escorts for any convoys reinforcing Western Europe, however. The Soviet Union, recognising this, and that the Western powers would have to fight a war on two fronts, took advantage of the situation and invaded West Germany.

Of course, we’ll never really know what would have happened if the Argentinians had succeeded in sinking a British ship in Gibraltar harbour. It’s entirely possible that the UK would not have invoked article five, preferring to fight alone in the Falklands. But it did allow us to base our fictional war on real events that could have had a much bigger impact.

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To see how that fictional war plays out, check out The Bear’s Claws, available at all good e-book stores and as a print book via Amazon.

Bartenders Save Humanity – a guest post from Paul Krueger

Following on from my post yesterday about his book Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, today I’m delighted to share a guest post from author Paul Krueger in which he talks bartending, magic and creating a world where getting drunk gives you superpowers. Over to you Paul…

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By now, I’ve had to quick-pitch Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge to a great many people. Over time, I’ve worn its concept down to a simple phrase I can throw out with rote fluency: “it’s about a secret society of bartenders who fight demons using alcohol magic.” The story is also about Chicago, and one’s relationship with their job, and the plight of the millennial college graduate in a post-Recession world, but the booze magic bit is always what seems to pique the most interest.

I read a lot of different types of books, but urban fantasy will always be my comfort zone. I find something fascinating about the idea of pulling up the floorboards of our world to catch a glimpse of something bigger, scarier, and more wondrous just past the edge of what we know. But so much of the genre is crowded with magical law enforcement: cops, private eyes, and government spooks, all patrolling the night with badges and wands. When I sat down to write an urban fantasy of my own, I knew I wanted to highlight a different class of worker entirely: the women and men who work in food service.

Last Call’s magic system came directly from the years I spent working in New York City restaurants. I was a barista, not a bartender, but the impetus was the same: find a way to showcase service industry professionals for the superheroes they are. It led me to creating a world where getting drunk literally gives you superpowers, instead of just making you feel like you had them. And it also literalized the idea that service jobs like bartending are deeply, deeply important, and that the people who do them are important, too.

Cocktails lent themselves to this idea enormously. Their preparation has a ritualistic air to it, though professionals and enthusiasts will debate the particulars of it until the end of time. And the fact that alcohol consumption tends to be an evening activity gave me a stronger tie to the conventions of urban fantasy, whose best bits take place at night more often than not. And on top of that, it gave me an excellent excuse to take an in-depth approach to my research.

But again, that magic system was just supposed to be a vehicle. The idea was always to democratize magic, and put it in the hands of people who were looked down on. It was supposed to be a skill anyone could learn, if they were curious enough, or brave enough, or humble enough to submit themselves to the service of others. All that might seem a bit high-minded for what was essentially just a silly idea I took way too seriously. But the truth is, people who work in food service are already superheroes.

 

 

Paul Krueger is the debut author of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, published by Quirk Books, available from all good books stores in paperback, priced $14.99 (US) and £11.99 (UK). For more information, please visit www.quirkbooks.com, or follow Paul on Twitter @notlikeFreddy.