How did this story come about?
It really started when I wrote my thesis on Isaac Newton’s theory of light for my teacher’s training college many years ago. I always like to think in “what if” terms when regarding alternative history.
Can you talk about how you chose which characteristics of the real people you chose to highlight and why you chose what you did to change about each of them?
I tried to keep as close to their real characteristics as possible. However, I needed a woman, so I chose to change one of Newton’s antagonists in real life. Hooke wouldn’t do, he was too brutal, so I chose Leibniz. Poor Halley, who really helped Newton, I had to change him into an alien, since he was the one who had travelled the most.
There is something so appealing about alternative histories: Do you have any favorites by other writers?
No, not really among other authors. I like to read history and science, and use that directly in my own writing. That inspires me more than reading other authors.
Your website (toragreve.se) hints at a rich and adventurous life: What are your thoughts about the benefits/challenges for a writer of having such a diverse set of interests and activities?
It is absolutely essential. How could I write about damp jungles with dangerous animals if I hadn’t experienced them myself? Somehow I’m always writing about real things, but in my own twisted way.
Any news/projects you want to tell us about?
I continue writing my fantasy series in Swedish about the Sirius Solar System (it has a site in English, siriussolarsystem.se), which will consist of at least five books. Two have been published; the third will come this autumn. They are really art projects, with a program of tapestries and fantasy.
In addition, I have at least two projects of alternative history going: One is about the European moon probe Smart-1 being sent up by an electromagnetic accelerator situated in a secret tunnel in Gaustatoppen Mountain in Norway in 1903 instead of 2003. By that time, Norway was colonized by Sweden. Well, I know, a mass accelerator overcoming Earth’s gravitation would be very expensive. The financing is part of the plot. When I first started to write about that, as a short story presented in a Swedish steampunk anthology, I didn’t know that tunnel really existed. It was a secret for many years, until NATO decided to give it up, and I had the opportunity to being catapulted up to the summit of Gaustatoppen in a cable car inside it last year. The editor of the anthology told me to extend the short story into a novel. It is almost finished now. The second project is about a civilization resembling Earth’s in the 1950s. I have placed Washington DC in Rio de Janeiro. It’s about what would happen if we were contacted by benevolent extraterrestrials from a Type 3 civilization who only want to help us. That turns out to be just as bad as aliens who want to wipe us out. Just remember Western civilization confronting native people in different parts of the world, wanting to baptize them.
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