Author Interview: Michael Mangual, Author of Shattered Citadel

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual


Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Since the review of his short stories were so wildly popular, I thought it would be a good idea to interview Mr. Mangual. I hope you enjoy this interview with the author, as it was exceptionally interesting!

IB: What made you want to start SC?

MM: Well it was collection of reasons. SC started when I was a kid around 12 years of age. I would draw pictures of monsters and eventually I would make back stories to them. That developed into the original SC which I called “space wars.” It wasn’t very original or good but as I grew I changed the storyline and would fill entire journals with pictures and stories based on it. At school my classmates would look through my books and after I heard for the millionth time that I “should make a book” I started focusing more on “dark crusade (the new name I gave it before SC).” I really liked the attention I got from my classmates and random strangers about it so I worked on it cause of that selfish desire. After i went to Valley Forge Military College my attitude changed, I still liked the attention, but I worked on SC to be like a warning to mankind and highlight the best qualities of us like honor, self sacrifice and love.

IB: Why did you make it a warning?

MM: A warning in the sense that I’m a huge student of history and we as a people tend to fall into the same reckless patterns of rise and fall. I know I’m not in any position to change the world but I’m hoping that some random guy reading SC will go “maybe we should focus on our national debt,” “maybe we should stop tyrants before they rise,” etc. I try to do it in an entertaining way but like most media today there is always a hidden message inside.

IB: Ah I see. I can sympathize with that immensely.
Have any other works of fiction (or non-fiction) helped to give you inspiration for the events, tech, or races you explore in your stories?

MM: SC definitely has numerous sources of influence. The obvious being in my opinion “Starship Troopers” by Heinlein and “The Lord of the Rings” series by Tolkien. I take the sense of realism, focus on character and even the way the federation is run from Starship. From Tolkien I take his enormous attention to detail. I love how he creates his own languages, cultures, bloodlines and full history. I’m doing the same with SC, putting detail into everything down to name every ship in the fleet. The only other book today that puts the same attention to detail is the “game of thrones” series and look how successful that is also. Some minor influences to my work is the HALO universe, Battlestar Galactica tv series, Exo Squad TV series, and all the ww2 non-fiction books I’ve ever read. From all these fictions I take the sense of action driven by character and epic scope. I like the emotions behind people put in “hopeless” situations. The WW2 books give me a lot of my ideas for stories and even acts of violence because a lot of the stuff I’ve written is based on real events that honestly RL is more diabolical then anything that can be written.

IB: You get a lot of hate mail and angry comments on your stories and videos. You’re often accused of racism, fascism, and nationalism, why do you think this is?

MM: Due to the highly controversial topics I write and make videos about. It’s bound to happen no matter what I do. I’ve learned to accept and now relish it. I think it validates my work and controversy leads to more renown.

IB: That’s a very good way of looking at it. Many other authors say that they have their stories planned from the start while other are the opposite, do you have the entire story of Shattered Citadel already outlined in your head or are you just creating as you go along?

MM: I don’t have all of it planned out in my head. I may be a planning kind of author. I have two main SC story arcs, the first being the WWIII story and its immediate post-war years and the second story arc, which I haven’t touched upon much, is from the years of 2450 and beyond to the end of those events all planned out. In between those years I’ve written a historical outline/timeline that is more then 200 pages front and back full of dates and important events to keep me on story. I wrote it on paper a decade ago. It has changed very little since then. I’ve always been a planner and a sucker for detail.

IB: Have you ever planned or thought of writing stories that are in the point of view of your alien creatures at all?

MM: Yes I plan to make a few from the alien POV. I have written one “SC:They Bleed Like Us” that has a few bits in the POV of the two other alien races. Its fascinating to me how outsiders (aliens) would look at our culture, mannerisms, emotions, technology and evolution. In that story I mentioned earlier I had the aliens we were fighting make note how violent we were and reckless our species can be with our own lives and the lives of other humans. It blew their aliens minds how some of us could strap on bombs and sacrifice themselves to kill them. I am taking this from the truth that almost every animal on Earth aside from certain parasitic organisms have an intense survival instinct that prevents this.

IB: Ah yes. I enjoyed that story immensely. Have you any projects or plans for projects outside of SC?

MM: Yes I have other stories I am working on, about seven different universes. One of which is dubbed “Accidental Apocalypse” where in 2012 someone somehow jump started the apocalypse. Mankind has only survived because it was triggered before Hell was ready and in the middle of a civil war. Other projects are in different states of completion.

IB: That sounds very interesting. Now I think I speak for all your fans when I ask, when will the first SC book be completed?

MM: It seems like ive been working on it forever (five years maybe) and thats because I have. This is actually my third attempt at it. the other two being completely scrapped. I am excited about the third one because it’s similar in style to Max Brooks “World War Z” and that format to me fits best in the size and scope of the book. As of late I’ve been so focused on working just to survive that I’ve had no time to work on Shattered Citadel like I would like too. Especially the book. I originally wanted to finish it before the “World War Z” movie came out, but now I am moving back home and I hope that I can finish it before the summer of 2014. Thats my goal. Then I can shop around for a literary agent and a publisher. I do hope that 2014 will be the year I get it done.

IB: Well I’m very excited for the finished product to say the least. Do you have any final comments you’d like to express?

MM: In terms of the future success of SC, I am optimistic, but also grounded in reality. The number of fiction books that are printed and sell no more then 500 copies is staggering, I heard from someone that the number was around 95% in the industry. I won’t quit my day job but I’ll continue to produce new content for myself and my fans. I may not be where I want to be in life and life may have been a struggle for me, but one thing is constant. It brings me great pride and happiness to entertain people via my writings. I love getting my readers feed back both good and bad. I also hope that I’ve instilled through my writings the values I value most of our species to my readers; courage, honor, self sacrifice, and hope where none should be.

On behalf of Interesting Books I would like to extend a hearty thank you to Michael Mangual for this interview. It’s always interesting to pick the brain of an author. Each author has so many different views as to how they do their writing, and what inspires them. Further, as a fan of Mr. Mangual, it was exceptionally exciting to be able to discuss his work on a more personal level. If you are interested in reading Mr. Mangual’s short stories and exploring his universe, please visit http://shatteredcitadel.com/ . Happy reading!

The Shattered Citadel Series by Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Spoilers!

I have found in my experience with stories about war that during battle scenes it is a common incident that the action of a battle leaves me bored and reading faster just to get to a part with real human dialogue and storytelling. Is it odd to say that I have become desensitized to the battlefield in literature? Maybe and maybe not. It is very hard to pack real emotion into a battle scene. This is understandable as any battle in war is barely controlled chaos. How is it possible to pack real emotion and sympathy in something where absolutely nothing is certain and every character essentially becomes faceless as they fight for survival? This week’s review is different from those, in that the author has found a way to humanize (as terrible as it sounds) his battle scenes into something more than a faceless mass of death and destruction.

I was first introduced to the world of Shattered Citadel by Michael Mangual, by a stranger at a Barnes and Noble store who saw me looking over the Alternate History section. I’m thankful he suggested it. Shattered Citadel at this point is a series of short stories that can be found here: http://shatteredcitadel.com/ . They are a work of love from the author, one Michael Mangual who hopes to one day turn this labor of love into a full-fledged book in the same style as The Good War by Studs Terkel and World War Z by Max Brooks. Shattered Citadel is about a future world war (also called the Third Human Civil War) between a Federated Europe, United North America, and India against the hordes of the Chinese Hegemony, a newly born Soviet Union, and a new Muslim Caliphate that is made up of the entire Middle East.

I will not lie many of the stories involve intense scenes of violence which include graphic depictions of genocide, cannibalism, and the unmitigated use of weapons of mass destruction. The world he paints is one that I desperately hope we can avoid. Despite these scenes of intense violence there are also instances of compassion and humanity. Many stories deal with the redemption of characters and champion the sacrifice one person can make out of love for another. While Mr. Mangual is able to make his battle scenes stay interesting he is also able to create real sympathy from the reader for the characters he creates.

This series does not only focus on World War III. Many of Mr. Mangual’s short stories also describe the world afterwards as well as the colonization of the solar system by humans along with Humanity’s first interactions with beings from other planets. These stories I find especially well planned and executed as the alien species are very interesting. One race, the Huellok are described as two headed flesh eaters. The second are the Voorik, large crystalline beings that speak through telepathy in the voices of dead loved ones. Both are very different from the standard aliens we seem to get today, most of which always seem to be overly human. These actually seem otherworldly.

I am genuinely glad to have had this series of short stories introduced to me by a random person in a book store. I have not been disappointed. These series of short stories are great reading for anyone who has an interest in military Sci-Fi.

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual