School of the Ages


indie author interview: Jeff Provine, Alternate Historian

Posted by Matt Posner on February 3, 2013 at 12:10 PM

This is an interview for Kindle All-Stars 2: Carnival of Cryptids. Seven authors -- seven gripping, suspenseful stories about mysterious and unknown beasts and their deadliness to man -- the Carnival of Cryptids tale itself by bestselling independent author Bernard Schaffer -- and all proceeds to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Here's alternate history buff Jeff Provine.

I'm happy to welcome you to my website to talk about your participation in Kindle All-Stars 2. After a few necessary questions, I'll get on to some interesting ones.


Necessary questions


Tell us your name and where you're from and where you are now and what you do when you aren't writing.


I'm Jeff Provine, raised up on a Land Run farm in northwest Oklahoma, where it just feels right to see twenty miles in every direction. Now I live in Norman, Oklahoma, where I teach college Composition courses as well as a course on the history of comics and comic books. In my free time, I keep up with my webcomic, The Academy (now in its ninth year), blog about Alternate History on This Day in Alternate History, and lead ghost tours around the University of Oklahoma, telling tales of spooky things in the campus's past. 2012 was a big year involving getting married, buying a house, and remodeling said house with hardwood floors, fresh paint, and new bathroom fixtures.


Tell us about some of your publications besides Kindle All-Stars 2.


A few years back I wrote Celestial Voyages, a trilogy of steampunk books set in a world where a British shipping magnate unveils his interplanetary spaceship in 1900 told from the journals of Curtis Matricks, an Ohio farmboy who holds an uncanny ability in astronomy. It has all the engineering prowess of Jules Verne and the speculative anthropology of HG Wells as the Earthlings come into contact with primitive ant-men under the Moon's surface, walking trees from Venus who hold "knowledge is power" literally, and the green men of Mars, a decaying and turbulent world.


OMG, those books sound totally awesome!


I also have an ebook, Dawn on the Infinity. Dawn is a fourteen-year-old girl who is kidnapped by a crew of inter-reality pirates using her as a pawn in a scheme to steal a power generator from another world. After fighting them tooth and nail, she discovers they are actually refugees from a militaristic bureaucracy and determines to help them escape. It's a mix of fantasy and sci-fi with spaceship battles, vampires, fairies, hackers, trolls, zombies, and robots, and nothing is as it seems.


How did you find out about Kindle All-Stars?

I read about it first on Joshua Unruh's Twitter. His great encouragement pushed me to write up my own story and submit. Writing for charity is a great idea, and one I follow as well with my OU ghost tours with all proceeds going to the Children's Advocacy Centers in Oklahoma.


Joshua Unruh is a contributor to Kindle All-Stars:  Resistance Front, the first volume. He remains close to KAS, and we all hope to see him as a contributor to future volumes!


Interesting questions


In the following imaginary scenario of trust and triumph, a publisher calls you and offers you a generous sum of money to write a sequel to a book or continue a series by another author. What book or series, by what author, and why?


My initial reaction is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. It's a rich world filled with wonder, and I would love to explore it further. We hear mentions of Middle Eastern wizards preferring flying carpets to brooms and that American wizards don't play Quidditch, but we rarely see anything outside of the UK. Harry's gone on in his policing career, and there are whole new worlds waiting and full of adventure.


What is a book you absolutely hate, and why? If you don't hate any books, make up a book you hate and describe that.

The Historian, a novel about hunting Dracula, was a book that drove me nuts. It was really interesting to see all the research and a new perspective on vampires, but the story dragged on and on and on and on and on... bleh! If only it'd been bad, I could have put it down, but I just couldn't.


I mostly enjoyed Kostova's book myself, with its travelogue-like aspect of moving through Eastern Europe, but I thought the ending was a real letdown.

What is your favorite phrase or expression in a language other than English, what does it mean, and why do you like it?

I love the Greek concept of "arête," which translates roughly as "virtue" or "human potential" but means more literally "all the stuff that makes you awesome." We in English quantize and question what is "good" so much , it's refreshing to see a concept that combines anything cool, such as fame, money, looks, math skills, whatever, with wholesome morality. The importance of moral compass is a great notion that gives power to meekness and strength to gentleness.


Write a quatrain that contains your name somewhere in it.

Jeff dreamed he could fly

And then awoke

To ask himself "Why,

Is this world just a yoke?"



Suddenly you have a new girl child and a new boy child to name. Your spouse will like whatever name you pick. What names do you give them and why?


Robert John and Olivia Lane. The boy comes from my middle name and my father's first name, hopefully starting a theme to continue as the boy has his own son, John Jeffrey. My wife's maiden name is Oliphant with her mother's maiden name of Lane, combining the two. Family naming is nifty.


Choose one of these characters from literature and describe what would happen if your protagonist fought that character: Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Elizabeth Bennett, Huckleberry Finn, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.


My protagonist, Paulo, being a river boat captain, would most likely cross paths with Huckleberry Finn, the muscle of the Tom/Huck team. Paulo is mixed race European Spaniard and native Brazilian, and I think Huck would look beyond the racial difficulties of the day. Since they have to fight, Huck would most likely win in a straight-on fight with the meeker Paulo, but Paulo is crafty and not above using secrets and fighting dirty.


Pick two cryptids and describe in a sentence or two their battle to the death.


The waters surge as Nessie and Bigfoot fight to end it all. She is large, and her fins drown him, but not before his vicious canines tear deep into her flesh, ending her life shortly after his.


Thanks for being part of this interview.


Thanks for having me!

Categories: None