For Destiny’s story, I wanted to do something similar, hence the whole European / NATO feel of my story. Being stationed in overseas and frequenting places like Ramstein Airbase just made me want to be able to create a story around these cool places in my daily life, so in book two I’ve tried to do my best to bring in the cultural stuff from living and working in Europe into the story. Agents Beth Kurwoski and Ryan Moss end up flying into Ramstein Airbase in a C-17 Globemaster III before flying out of Naples, Italy in a V-22 Marine Osprey. Klaus Krüger, a German Ukkodian who is essential in helping Beth and Ryan in get several groups of Ukkodians together, is a fun character taken directly from a nice German I used to work with at the Army Corps of Engineers. His first name is Klaus. Klaus in many ways is built from this interesting man, which helps to breathe life into this character. Klaus (when you say that you have to use a hard “K” sounds that drags out like Kkkloous) happens to get three young Polish men to join him for the adventure. Again, due to my wife’s heritage and our yearly visits to her family in Poland, I felt like I was able to see these characters easily. The three men are named Janusz Lipowski, Ivan Bartkowski and Kai Yurek, which all are based on people I’ve met. Both the Germans and Poles have an interesting history when it comes to swords. An example is Klaus’s five foot long Zweihänder sword.
For the Italians I went for more of a Matrix theme. One of the interesting things I discovered in some of my research is that many Italian martial arts work with different ages from Italy’s past. The two Italians are named Marco Bruno and Fabio Lombard. Marco is more of a Roman Style fighter, while Fabio is a swordsman/fencer. Whenever I think of Italians I think of fine leather and stylish clothing. To get the right feel I watched scenes from the Matrix series to get the feel of what I was looking for. I think they turned out pretty awesome.
Lastly, I decided to go with Greeks for my last group of Ukkodians. I wanted to do something like a Spartan style fighting warrior, but after researching their culture I didn’t feel like that would be the right thing to do. Although Greeks love their Spartan past, modern day Greeks love the freedom fighters that freed their country from the Byzantine Empire. This is huge to the Greeks. Even in today’s day and age you’ll see Greek men dressed on Sunday in this honored uniform and their Honor Guards dressed in the typical battle dress from that time period. Even cooler is the fact that these Maniots freedom fighters were basically Dorians, the decedents of the Spartans, and have been the backbone of country, fighting off invader after invader while the rest of the country fell around them. Truly an awesome history and something that will be a lot of fun for my story, the only problem is that I hate the traditional outfits the Greek fighters wear. Here is a link for those who don’t know about the Evzones uniforms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evzones
Sigh … I’m sure white tights, silk skirts, garter belts and pomp-pomp shoes were cool in the early 1800’s, but I have to say I’m not a fan of the outfits. None the less, the Greeks are such a cool people that I just have to go with them as they are. Helpful since the story is actually occurring on a Greek island. I do try to have fun with the story with this in a respectful way. Picture how modern day Marines and Special Ops units from anywhere else in the world would react to such a uniform. While many would ridicule the Greek uniforms, surprisingly enough many Special Ops operators worth their salt know just how deadly these Greek fighters really are. Anyway, in the story two of the main Ukkodian Greeks are Colonel Thanos Karaiskakis and Sergeant Stelios Anagnostakos who have a squad of six additional Greek warriors.
This doesn’t mean the story is going to be only about foreign fighters. The primary force that I’m pulling into the story is the U.S. Sixth Fleet and Task Force 60, which has a U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit assigned for ground and air assaults. Still the Ukkodians play major roles in the story and will be a huge part of book three and four.
On a more personal note, one of the things I constantly am dealing with is the differences between my home state of Florida and living in Germany. Surprisingly enough, the thing that stands out to me the most is the differences in the weather. I won’t even mention the whole “not having any descent beaches” nearby to go to. Going surfing on the weekends with my two Labradors or just simply taking a walk after work during the week and looking for sea-glass was two of my favorite pastimes that I simply have learned to live without. The weather on the other hand, is another matter altogether.
Right now the temperature is ranging from the low forties to the hundreds, mostly ending up towards the high nineties to one hundred ranges. Although this sounds severe, especially when most offices and houses do not have air conditioning, this typically only lasts for a month to a month and a half, before it once again turns cold and rainy. Although cold and rainy is perfect for writing, it’s lacking in the whole “sunshine” department, which is why I feel guilty complaining about the hot weather. Still it’s freaking hot! I guess I’ll have to pop open a cold strawberry beer to deal with the heat. Luckily the beer here is some of the best in the world, at least to my limited palette.