Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview: König's Fire by Marc Schooley

The Story:

The Nazis have established a torture center in a mine at the heart of a Romanian forest. Here they interrogate prisoners and, sometimes, throw them into the furnace at the heart of the mine.

Only now, the primeval forest is rising against them, unleashing a preternatural army to besiege the great iron gate of the mine. The fearsome guards become terrified prisoners and the furnace itself burns with hungry anger against them.

Sascha König, a man they called Nebuchadnezzar,
is their only hope. He is master of the furnace. All along, he has been Hitler’s ardent servant. But now...König is wrestling with demons of his own, and the Master of all fires is calling him to Himself through the haunting eyes of a little gypsy girl König did not save.

The Interview:

Marc kindly agreed to talk to us today about the international aspects of this novel. Let's make him welcome!

- What made you decide on the setting for this novel? How did you come up with the idea?

Marc: The manner in which this question is worded seems to entail that I have a choice in the matter. I don’t, outside of picking Romania instead of Transylvania, the German dark forest, or a similar substitute. The setting appeared to me one night around 9:34 when I was playing dominoes at my Grandmother’s house. From there it was only a matter of determining a suitable location where Nazis might inhabit a dark forest during WWII, that also had mountains.
So much less stress this way, allowing the ideas to happen rather than attempting to create them or manipulate them: no storyboards, outlines, fretting over this or that with regard to the setting.
- Have you been to Romania? What is your impression of it today, from any sources, and how does that impression influence the story?

Marc: I had serendipitous encounter at the WestMan Bible Conference with Dr. Emil Silvestru, who is Romanian, I believe, who confirmed my general impression of the setting of Ploiesti, and even the presence there of Nazis in WWII. He indicated that there were indeed strange “goings-on” from the Nazis at that time, and his confirmation led to a greater confidence in writing the remainder of the book.
The part of Romania I wrote about is rural and forested. Very dark. A perfect influence on the story as it literally took on a life of its own.

- How far did you delve into the German psyche? Do you think your characters are a good mirror of it?

Marc: I didn’t, for the most part. I wanted “everyman” characters. Philosophy, and to a lesser extent theology, is a major strain of German thought, however. Sascha König is a good mirror of that discipline. Overall, there are Nietzschean undercurrents in the book, so in that sense, it could be thought of as German.

- How did the setting influence the plot - would it have worked out different had you set it elsewhere?

Marc: The setting itself represents two of the main characters: the Nachthaus and the forest. I could envision many ways to do this book elsewhere—in fact, if the book has any connection to reality at all, and I think it does, any setting would work—and the plot should work out nearly the same. It’s meant to be universally human. I sure am fond of this particular setting, though...

- In your mind, what are the most important cultural aspects of the story?

Marc: The cultural universality of sin and the universal cultural tendency to pretend as if we’re not sinners and to act and reason as though we’re not. Daydreaming is seeing the world as it is not...

- How far would you say König’s Bavarian background influences his decision-making?

Marc: König’s Bavarian background is lush and green, which is the opposite of the austere and rocky mine he finds himself in. It’s more of a contrast rather than an influence, for, as he discovers, there’s really no difference in so far as the backgrounds.
This begins to weigh on him as the book progresses. In a way, the Nachthaus was a blessing to him because he was sound asleep and comfortable in sin in Bavaria. His Bavaria is a cultivated green, rather than the wild greenness of the Romanian forest.

- Anything else you’d like to add?

Marc: Thanks for the opportunity to respond...

My thanks to Marc for the interview!


  1. I just ordered this book. I am looking forward to reading it. It really sounds interesting.

  2. Thanks for the fun interview, Grace and Marc!

  3. Do you speak German, Marc? If not, how much research did you do with the language? If so, how did you learn? Class? Relatives?

  4. This was a genuine pleasure. Thanks so much to Grace (ninja) Bridges, and to the International Christian Writers. Much appreciated.

    Chris-thanks a million. I hope you enjoy it.

    I enjoyed it as well, Valerie. CD, I'm glad to see the thumbs up, as you were instrumental in this book's success. Wouldn't have made it without your expertise.

    Diane, or more properly, Di, I know enough German to get myself embarrassed around a fluent speaker like Grace. I picked up a smattering from my German grandfather, a bit from philosophy/theology, and received a ton of assistance in the book from Jeff. No schadenfreude, please, Grace. :)