Welcome to The Great Undead War Blog Tour! My thanks to Graeme for having me on today.
As I mentioned in my last installment at John Scalzi’s 'Whatever', my name’s Joseph Nassise and I’m celebrating the release of my new novel from HarperVoyager, 'By the Blood of Heroes', which is the first book in the Great Undead War series combining an alternate World War One with steampunk and zombies. I’ll be touring all month talking a bit about the book and the writing process I went through to create it. Since we’ve already talked about the villain of the story, the Baron Manfred von Richthofen, today I want to focus on his opposite, our hero, Captain Michael “Madman” Burke.
The very first thing we discover about Burke is the fact that he has a mechanical hand.
“Burke set aside the trench knife he’d been using to clean the mud out of the clockwork mechanism that powered his left hand and closed the access panel with a firm push.”
The stage is immediately set – this is no ordinary individual and the war in which he is engaged is no ordinary war. Burke lost his hand during the Battle of Passchendaele (which you can read about in the prequel story, The Sharp End, if you’re interested), an event that normally would have gotten him invalidated out and sent home. In the aftermath of the battle, however, he has a chance meeting with Nicolai Tesla and winds up testing one of the great scientist’s latest inventions – a mechanical hand. This keeps him in the trenches and therefore available for selection when those in charge need someone to lead the rescue squad in their efforts to bring Major Freeman back out from behind enemy lines.
The next thing we learn is that Burke volunteered – and that he did so for an unusual reason.
“In the end he’d enlisted, not out of some misguided sense of duty or vain quest for glory, but simply to try and feel something again.”
In other words, like so many of the rest of us, Burke’s carrying some baggage from events earlier in his life. Baggage that will impact the choices and decisions he’s about to make as leader of the rescue squad. Baggage that can have some serious consequences for the man he’s assigned to rescue as well.
After all, there’s a reason he’s earned the nickname “Madman Burke”, even if it’s one he’s not particularly comfortable with.
I had a great time walking with Burke on his road of discovery during the writing of this novel and I hope you all enjoy him as a character as much as I have.
Check out By the Blood of Heroes to see Madman Burke and his Marauders in action against the Kaiser's zombie hordes!