‘Fatherland for an action-movie age’ – Daily Telegraph
In 2000, I was living in Rio de Janeiro. One afternoon I went to the beach and began reading Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, arguably the most famous what-if-the-Nazis-won-the-war novel.
On page 17 of my edition was the following line, ‘And then he thought about Africa, and the Nazi experiment there. And his blood stopped in his veins.’ Then, a few pages later: ‘As to the final solution of the African Problem, we have almost achieved our objectives…’ These two passing references sowed the seed to what became The Afrika Reich. I began speculating about what a Nazi Africa would look like; eventually that speculation led to researching the possibility and I found the Nazis had drawn up substantial plans for the continent.
Two years later I had written the first version of the book – a nightmarish, hallugenic story of a man travelling up the River Congo to find Walter Hochburg, messianic architect of the Africa Reich. At over a quarter of a million words it began in the Congo and ended in the death camps of the Sahara, with a major subplot set in Madagascar, where Europe’s Jews had been exiled. Heavily influenced by Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, it proved a bit too much for publishers and was rejected by everyone.
The idea, however, refused to let go of me. So when several years later my agent suggested I write a thriller I returned to the concept and completely re-imagined it as a more conventional page-turner. In writing The Afrika Reich, I harked back to the men-on-a-mission stories of my youth (Where Eagles Dare and The Wild Geese were big influences) as well as giving it a contemporary political edge and a sprinkling of the fantastic realism that captivates my imagination.
The book went on to be an international bestseller and a critical hit. It was chosen as one of the ‘Books of the Year, 2011’ in the Express and Economist.