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M.R. Dowsing lives in London, where he writes for the music magazines R2 and Bucketfull Of Brains, performs original songs under the name Hungry Dog Brand, and puts on a regular music night called Dogfishtrombone. He holds a BA in Studies In Contemporary Writing. By day he works as a bookseller.

The Assassination Of Adolf Hitler is his first novel. He quit his bookselling job in order to have time to research it properly and, luckily, managed to get his job back a year later before starvation set in. He hopes to be able to quit again soon in order to complete a sequel.

His first name is Martin.

Your book has a fascinating premise. How did you come up with the idea? 

I don’t actually remember what triggered the idea, but I do remember that around five or six years ago something made me think that it was strange that no-one had used the idea of travelling back in time to kill Hitler as the basis for a novel. It seemed like an obvious winner to me, so I filed it away in my head and kept my mouth shut about it. Every now and again I would give it some thought and, at first, I began to feel that perhaps it was not so strange that it hadn’t been done, because it was quite a problematic concept; it could involve years of research to do it well, and there were so many different directions it could spin off into… Eventually, though, I felt that I was beginning to see a way in which it could be contained somewhat and, three or four years after I first had the idea, I finally talked myself into writing it. 

I’ve very recently found out that Stephen Fry used a similar premise in Making History, a book that I was unaware of, but it seems like a completely different approach to mine, so I don’t think it’s a problem. 

Time-travel and Hitler is an interesting combination. Does that make your novel a historical fantasy?  

I suppose you could call it that. I think of it as a historical thriller which happens to use a science fiction device. 

What type of research did you have to do for the novel? 

Lots of research about Hitler and the beginnings of the Nazi party, in particular. Quite dark stuff, some of it, and it was a bit of a relief when the book was finished and I could read about other things. Also, quite a bit of general research on the periods in question. Some of the research was quite enjoyable, though – I enjoyed my visits to the British Library to look at old maps and such. I also visited quite a few of the locations used in the novel, which was both interesting and valuable. I had to keep thinking about what would have been there when the story was set and what wouldn’t. One trip was a bit rough though – the weather was brutal and I came down with the worst cold I’ve ever had so that I couldn’t even sleep at nights! 

How long did it take you to write it? 

Well, I should point out that I left my day job as a bookseller in order to write it. If I’d been working as well, it would have taken much, much longer – if it had have happened at all. I forced myself to write a thousand words a day and, after about three months, I had something like a first draft. I then spent another three months rewriting it over and over again and adding detail. After this, I still occasionally went back into it and changed a few things. 

Did you plot the book in advance? If yes, how did you go about it? 

I actually just had what might be called the “arc” of the story in my head, and then just worked it out as I went along. I think if I had have planned it all out in advance I would have ended up deviating considerably from the plan anyway. I think in some ways you have to follow the characters and discover what the story is yourself rather than writing characters to fit into a pre-conceived plan. 

What was the most difficult aspect of writing the book? 

Probably making the time travel aspect work. It gave me headaches and I’m still not satisfied with it! I read a book called How To Build A Time Machine by Paul Davies, which is about how a real time machine might work. I realised that I couldn’t possibly use any of it or I would get bogged down in scientific gobbledegook.  

What is your favorite scene in the novel? 

I’m not sure I have a favourite scene as such, but I think the section set in Munich is the best part. I have a favourite character, Steiner, who was created on the spur of the moment. I still feel like I want to find out more about him, so I’m hoping to feature him more prominently in a future book. 

Tell us about your main character and what makes him compelling. 

Michael Lear is a well-intentioned man who has suffered a personal tragedy in the loss of his parents. In some ways he’s very well suited to the task of going in back in time to kill Hitler but, in other ways, he’s completely the wrong kind of person. This means that during the course of the story he has to become a different person, and adapt to strange and unexpected situations very quickly. 

I understand you also write for magazines. What is a typical writing day for you and how do you balance your two types of writing? 

Well, I’m back working as a bookseller again now and I don’t have time to write every day. I have to steal hours when I can. Reviewing music for a magazine means that I receive a bunch of CDs through the post, often only a week or so before the deadline, and I’ve somehow got to get my head around all this stuff enough to write something intelligent about it. I think you have to listen to an album at least twice before you can do that – more would be better, but it’s not always possible. I’ve actually just spent most of my Saturday banging out reviews for R2 magazine. I’m not complaining though, as the standard of the music has been very high. 

Is there a second novel in the works? 

There’s a second novel in my head which I have made a few notes for, but it’s not really “in the works” yet. 

Where can we find you on the web?

http://mrdowsing.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/MrDowsing

https://twitter.com/MRDowsing

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6538086.M_R_Dowsing

http://www.myspace.com/hungrydogbrand (for my music). 

The book, which is eBook only at the moment, is available from Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony Reader Store and more.

 

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Hitler’s Silver Box is a compelling, exciting thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.

In a two-story Georgian house in one of Chicago’s affluent suburbs, Max Bloomberg, an old bookseller, is brutally killed. Before murdering him, the killers burn his holy books and ask him for ‘the box.’ The old man refuses to give them any information. However, unbeknown to them, he’s left his secret journal to his nephew.

Enters Dr. Bruce Starkman, Chief ER Resident at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. Bruce is crushed when he learns about his beloved uncle’s unexpected murder. Although Bruce would like to accept the murder as an unfortunate turn of fate, he soon becomes suspicious. Why was Uncle Max, an orthodox Jew, cremated? Uncle Max would never have allowed cremation. Why was his bookstore vandalized? And why is a black Chevy following Bruce lately? The situation gets more complicated when he inherits a large sum of money and property from his uncle, suddenly making him a suspect.

Thus begins Bruce’s search for the journal, and once he discovers it, the reader is transported to 1945 when Max was 23 years old and a prisoner at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Tension escalates, innocent people are killed, and together with Miriam, a beautiful and extremely smart Israeli woman with military training, Bruce travels to Paris and the Czech Republic. It quickly becomes evident to Bruce that he must outwit the neo-Nazis and find the silver box his uncle built—and the secret document hidden within it—if he is to save the world from an imminent Nazi resurgence.

The premise is ambitious, the stakes are high. Hitler’s Silver Box is a well-written novel full of non-stop action and suspense. The story is written from multiple points of view separated by chapters. From the beginning, I was hooked. The pace is quick and the scenes full of tension. There’s a lot of dialogue and little exposition, thus propelling the action further. I especially found Max’s journal engrossing and compelling, distressing and shocking. The horror of Max’s story touched me at a profound level. It is one of those tales not easily forgotten. The journal adds depth and another dimension to the book. I also liked how the voice, pace and tone in the journal are different from the rest of the novel. The protagonist, Bruce Starkman, is sympathetic and I really enjoyed all his ‘medical’ insights; it’s obvious the author is a medical doctor himself. Miriam, with her quick tongue, adds a lot of color and spunk to the scenes and I wish she had appeared much earlier in the story. I didn’t care much about Bruce’s ex-girlfriend, who’s quite active in the beginning, though keeping in mind what happens to her, I suspect why the author didn’t make her too likable.

In short, Hitler’s Silver Box is a fast-moving, entertaining read and one of those books that would make a good film. Recommended.

Article first published as Book Review: Hitler’s Silver Box by Allen Malnak on Blogcritics.

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A board-certified internist, Dr. Allen Malnak served as chief of medicine at Fort Sill, OK, and was medical director of a number of organizations, including the Emergency Department of Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital. During his long medical career in the Chicago area, he was also a clinical investigator in liver disease as well as an assistant clinical professor at the Stritch School of Medicine, and a practicing internist. Following retirement, he and his wife Patricia moved to Bonita Springs, Florida. His interest in the Holocaust was sparked by the fact that all the men, women and children of his father’s large Lithuanian family were sent to a death camp by the Nazis and murdered.

Thanks for this interview and congratulations on the release of your suspense thriller, Hitler’s Silver Box. What compelled you to write this story?

When my father came to America in 1906 at age 16, he had only one distant relative in this country. He left behind in Kovno, Lithuania a large family, including his parents, eight brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. They ranged in age from the elderly to babies. 

Dad died of natural causes during the Second World War and immediately following the war, my late brother Lewis and I began to try to track down our father’s European family. I was just 16 when the war ended. We wrote letters to everyone we could think of and after about a year received a detailed reply from the International Red Cross. Nazi records as well as witness reports indicated that all members of dad’s family had been murdered either in or near Kovno or after transfer to a death camp. Every man, woman and child! 

So, one entire side of my family was destroyed by the Nazis. Of course, I became interested in the Holocaust and began reading articles about it even during my high school and college years. During my internship at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, I read a short book, Doctors of Infamy, which covered many horrendous medical experiments performed on concentration camp prisoners by Nazi physicians. The book was so disturbing that after reading it, I tossed it into a garbage can. My next book on the subject was Elie Weisel’s NIGHT.  I then became occupied with my professional career as well as with my growing family for many years. When I reached the age of forty, I decided I owed it to my dead family members to engage in a real study of that terrible time. I then spent perhaps two or three years of my limited free time reading every book I could find on the Holocaust. 

Years later, I retired from the practice and teaching of internal medicine, and my wife and I moved to Bonita Springs Florida. I noticed in the Naples Daily News an article describing a course in writing fiction being held at the Naples Philharmonic. The teacher was Hollis Alpert a well known novelist, biographer, short story editor as well as a movie critic. 

I took classes with Hollis for a couple of years. He would give us assignments, often listing several subjects that we should use as the basis of a short story. He would critique each story and at the next weekly session read some of them to the class. 

One topic I picked was titled “A Silver Box.” For some reason, I decided to write it about a concentration camp prisoner at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who was forced by a Nazi colonel to make a silver box which would be a present for Adolph Hitler. 

After reading the story in class, afterwards, Hollis suggested that this story could be expanded into a novel, and that started the process that eventually lead to Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel

What parts of the novel are actual historical facts? 

While Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel is a work of fiction, it’s loosely based on the fact that during the Second World War, Nazi scientists worked up to the war’s end on a multitude of secret weapons on which Hitler pinned his hopes for a last ditch victory. 

These weapon systems ranged from very long range rockets that could be fired from underground bases to alternative physics, robotic warriors, new energy sources, radical germ warfare and of course, nuclear weapons. 

In the novel, the facts were modified to suggest that many objects which were later called UFOs were also developed by Nazi scientists in concealed locations, and various secret laboratories were set up around the world including in areas of both Arctic and Antarctic wastes where explorers had never trekked. 

What was your writing process like while working on this novel? Did you have a disciplined schedule? 

Because of various acute and chronic illnesses, I could not keep to a writing schedule. I followed the mantra of “write—rewrite—get it right.” Unlike many expert suggestions, I constantly re-edited my previous work, then edited it again and again.

From conception to typing ‘The End,’ how long did it take you?

About ten years.

The story takes the reader from Chicago to Paris to the Czech Republic. Did you travel to Europe as part of the research?

I have visited many countries in Europe and Paris is my favorite city in the world. I had many plans to visit the Czech Republic, but like Max in the book, health problems kept canceling the plans.

What was the hardest part of writing Hitler’s Silver Box?

Dialogue and careful descriptions were difficult crafts to understand and learn, but the hardest part was describing the conditions that Max went through in the concentration camp using the “particular” silver, the provenance of which nearly drove him and me mad. The dramatic ER scenes were easier because they were based on my personal experiences. Since like Bruce in the novel, I also have claustrophobia in tunnels, writing that scene caused me some discomfort.

What’s in the horizon for Allen Malnak?

If my health holds up, I just might write a sequel to Hitler’s Silver Box. If the Spielberg types come sniffin; around to make the novel into a movie, well I just might be forced to interview Charlize Theron to see if she’s “hot” enough to play Sari.

Any last words to my readers?

The incidents that pushed me to finish Hitler’s Silver Box were linked to the website of one of our local newspapers. Two anonymous neo-Nazis constantly spewed their racist, ant-Semitic slurs, bragging about their continued worship of Adolph Hitler and the murderous Waffen SS, while denying every aspect of the Holocaust.

I’ll close with a quote from a novelist, Jerry Ahern, who reviewed my book for “Gun World Magazine.”  

“Future generations have serious responsibilities, chief among these not to repeat past mistakes. Sadly, these days, there are still those who, out of ignorance or foul intentions, somehow revere the scourge that was National Socialism. That’s why, it’s good for the rest of us to get reminded from time to time, at least, how truly despicable the Nazis were.”

Read more about the author and Hitler’s Silver Box:  

http://naples.floridaweekly.com/news/2012-01-12/PDF/Page_080.pdf

http://naples.floridaweekly.com/news/2012-01-12/PDF/Page_081.pdf

Website: www.hitlerssilverbox.com

Purchase from Amazon.

This article originally appeared in Blogcritics.

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