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Tony Schumacher on THE BRITISH LION and a War Ravaged London

The British Lion
Tony Schumacher




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November 2015
On Sale: October 27, 2015
Featuring: John Rossett; Ernst Koehler
ISBN: 0062394592
EAN: 9780062394590
Kindle: B00T3DNJR6
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Tony Schumacher:
An Army of One, September 2017
The British Lion, November 2015
The Darkest Hour, October 2014


Fresh Fiction welcomes Tony Schumacher to talk about THE BRITISH LION, the fantastic follow-up to THE DARKEST HOUR.

Clare: Welcome to Fresh Fiction! Crime and science fiction readers have been looking forward to the release of your next alternate history book. I was impressed by THE DARKEST HOUR, in which we found that the Nazis had won the Second World War, and THE BRITISH LION continues the story of life in Britain during the 1940s. What made you select this time period and alternate timeline?

Tony: I sort of feel like I didn’t select the timeline, it kind of chose me! I was looking for the answer to a question I’d asked myself. I realized that the only place I was going to find the answer was on the streets of a war ravaged 1946 London, which was cowed under the Nazi jackboot. I know it sounds crazy, but I had to create that universe, to get to the point where I could be honest in my answer to myself.

I’m very glad I did though!

Clare: These stories contain numerous violent scenes and deaths, but in the context there is really no way around it, is there?

Tony: I’ll be honest, I worry a lot about violence in modern media and writing, and it does sometimes bother me that I’m playing a part in the issue. The problem is that if I’m writing about people like the Nazis, violence is always going to be on the other side of the door. I do try to be realistic in the emotions of the people who have to kill others. They have regrets and consciences, and although the violence is real, I think the aftermath that follows is also. I hope I never become casual about it, because then it’ll just be a cheap thrill in a lazy book.

Clare: What reference sources did you use to establish the political outcomes and public opinions in the story?

Tony: I read and read and read. Honestly, just about everything I could, and can, get my hands on. One of the sad things about the WW2 is that it impacted on so many millions of “ordinary” people as well as notable historical figures. As a result of that, an awful lot of those affected, in an attempt to make sense of what they had lived through and in a warning to those in the future, wrote about their experiences. All of this information gave me a trove to pick my way through. Be it a senior Nazi like Albert Speer, an imprisoned Jew/Spy like Jan Karski, or a simple diary of life in occupied Paris such as Jean Guehenno’s. There is so much stuff out there, and all of it added a little flavour into the world I was creating. The added bonus of working through all of these accounts meant I was able to see the conflict through the eyes of both sexes. I discovered the struggle at home was often as hard as the struggle at the front.

Clare: How did you research the time period generally, with everything from the bitter weather in Europe to makes of vehicles and cookers setting the scene?

Tony: I’m such a bore when it comes to this stuff! Honestly, I can’t watch an old movie without noticing the brand of a cooker, or radio, and writing it down to research it down the line. As for old cars, and trucks, if there is one thing I’ve learned as a writer, it is that people with old vehicles love to talk about them! I find it fascinating, and I think it adds depth to my work if I am comfortable with the places and locations that are in my head when I’m writing. I pore over old maps, and I love using real locations, and matching them with contemporary accounts of the time. The same goes for the weather, thank god for google! You’d be amazed at the stuff that is out there, the hard part is stopping the research and then sitting down to actually write the books!

Clare: London holds particular resonance as we are so familiar with the scenes of Whitehall, Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square. How did you feel about fictionally depicting the city?

Tony: I live in Liverpool, which is about two hundred miles from London, and although I have spent, and I do spend, a lot of time in London working, I still kind of see the city through the eyes of a stunned tourist. I think it is this slight unfamiliarity I have with the place that gives me fresh eyes when I write about it. Do you know that thing when you know something so well that you don’t really ever take a close look? Because it has become so familiar? (I’m not talking about your husband or wife by the way!) Sometimes seeing something with eyes that are unaccustomed to staring, gives you fresh insight, which is why I set the books in London. London is such a romantic city to paint with words as well, it looks good in real life, so it is easy to make it look great on the page.

Clare: Policing is still a major part of the story, with a look inside a 1940s police station and a crime scene investigation. Were you setting out to tell a crime story or an alternate history first?

Tony: Again, I was setting out to answer a question. John Rossett being a British bobby is probably a lot to do with me being an ex-British cop myself. If the answer was going to be honest, I needed the questioner to be pretty close to myself I guess. It was only until a few months after the book was finished that I realised (after people kept pointing it out) just how similar me and Rossett actually were.

Which if I’m being honest, is a bit worrying!

The crime scene stuff, the life inside of police stations, all of this hasn’t much changed since someone came up with the idea of Police officers. You can pretty much travel the world, and a cop is a cop, and a police station is a police station. There is a smell, a kind of lighting, the way a locker door sounds when it is slammed shut, it’s universal and it is pretty much timeless.

Finally, I don’t really see my book as being an alternative history book. To me, it’s a book about men and women who are in a situation that they are trying their best to get through. It’s about normal people in extraordinary times, which, if you think about it, pretty much sums up all of us.

Clare: This year we celebrated VE Day's 70th anniversary, and for me THE BRITISH LION reminds me why we needed and still need to fight so desperately against any regime built on hatred. Thank you for showing us what could have been a much gloomier outcome. I need to read something more cheerful next; what are you currently reading?

Tony: I always have about four books on the go, and I just realised that every one of them is totally different! I’ve just started a biography of the young Orson Wells by Patrick McGilligan. I find Wells a fascinating character, someone who never stood still in his work (about the only thing we have in common!)

I’m coming to the end of Lee Child’s PERSONAL. He’s a great writer, his text is trimmed to the bone with no excess or waste, any writer of any genre can learn a lot from him. In addition to those two I’m reading an account of a famous robbery/murder that took place in Liverpool in the late forties (THE CAMEO CONSPIRACY by George Skelly). I’m reading this both to get a taste of the city at this time (for a future book of my own), but also because I was acquainted with one of the (wrongly) accused men involved, and I’d chatted to him about the case before he sadly passed away.

Finally (I bet you’re sorry you asked now!) I’m reading a history of a pre- roman tribe in Scotland called THE PICTS Tim Clarkson, which is also fascinating.

How I manage to find time to actually write, I’ve no idea!

Clare: Thank you for speaking with us at Fresh Fiction and I will be looking out for your future books.

Tony: My pleasure, thanks for listening to me ramble on.

About Tony Schumacher

Tony Schumacher is a native of Liverpool, England. He has written for the Guardian and the Huffington Post, and he is a regular contributor to BBC Radio and London's LBC Radio. He has been a policeman, stand-up comedian, bouncer, jeweler, taxi driver, perfume salesman, actor, and garbage collector, among other occupations. He currently lives outside of Liverpool. This is his first novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


In this crackling alternate history thriller set in the years after World War II —the riveting sequel to THE DARKEST HOUR—London detective John Rossett joins forces with his Nazi boss to save the commander’s kidnapped daughter as the Germans race to make the first atomic bomb.

With the end of the war, the victorious Germans now occupy a defeated Great Britain. In London, decorated detective John Henry Rossett, now reporting to the Nazi victors, lies in a hospital bed recovering from gunshot wounds. Desperate to avoid blame over the events that led to the shooting, his boss, Ernst Koehler, covers up the incident. But when Koehler’s wife and daughter are kidnapped by American spies, the terrified German turns to the only man he trusts to help him—a shrewd cop who will do whatever is necessary to get the job done: John Rossett.

Surviving his brush with death, Rossett agrees to save his friend’s daughter. But in a chaotic new world ruled by treachery and betrayal, doing the right thing can get a man killed. Caught between the Nazi SS, the violent British resistance, and Americans with very uncertain loyalties, Rossett must secretly make his way out of London and find Ruth Hartz, a Jewish scientist working in Cambridge. Spared from death because of her intellect and expertise, she is forced to work on developing the atom bomb for Germany. Though she knows it could end any hope of freedom in Europe and maybe even the world, Ruth must finish the project—if she, too, wants to survive.




2 comments posted.

Re: Tony Schumacher on THE BRITISH LION and a War Ravaged London

Although I'm grateful that the War didn't turn out this way,
I'm still looking forward to reading this book!! Just
reading the synopsis was like reading a page-turner, and I
wish I had your book in front of me to start it this week!!
Because my Father fought in WWII, and was almost killed, this
type of book holds a little bit more sentimentality for me as
well. I'm so glad that you took the time to come here, and
let us know about your latest book!! It's on my TBR list,
and I'll be sure to have it on my Fall/Winter reading list!!
Congratulations on what I'm sure is a book that will do very
(Peggy Roberson 8:14am November 24, 2015)

Peggy! Thank you so much for your comment, and forgive me
for not replying sooner.
I really hope you enjoy the book, and on behalf of those
of us who are free, a huge thank you to your Father for
his bravery in standing up in WW2.
Thanks again,
(Tony Schumacher 5:56pm December 8, 2015)

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