The Black Sun FAQ
Where did you get the original inspiration for The Black Sun?
Strangely enough in a very vivid dream. I woke up in a cold sweat having dreamt about the gruesome amputation of an old man's left arm which was somehow linked to a hidden Nazi treasure. I rushed to my desk and jotted down what I could remember - that dream now forms the basis of the first chapter of The Black Sun. By then combining this dream with the story of the Hungarian Gold Train and the bizarre and tragic events at Wewelsburg Castle, The Black Sun began to take shape in my mind.
What is the Black Sun?
The Black Sun is a runic symbol inlaid into the floor of the Hall of the Supreme SS Leaders in the North Tower of Wewelsburg Castle in Northern Westphalia, Germany. Based on a seventh century AD Alamannian sun-wheel, it combines the symbol of the Swastika with the stylised sig-runes made infamous by the SS. It was meant to present in architectural terms the idea of the North Tower as the centre of the Nazi world. This symbol has been reproduced on the cover of The Black Sun with one important difference - the arms face the wrong way (i.e. they go to the left rather than the right). It was a deliberate design decision to subvert the original to indicate that I totally reject everything that the symbol represented. [Click here to read more about the Black Sun and Wewelsburg Castle.]
Can I see the Black Sun for myself?
Yes, although it is only visible through a metal grille. Wewelsburg Castle operates today as a youth hostel and a museum and is open to tourists. It's well worth a visit if you're ever out that way. [Click here to read more about Wewelsburg Castle.]
Are the historical events depicted in the novel true?
Absolutely. All the Tom Kirk novels are based around real events. Not only do I find it interesting to dig into some long forgoten story and weave a present day adventure around it, but I think it also helps make it more real and engaging to the reader. In The Black Sun this ranges from the true story of the Hungarian Gold Train [click here to read more about the amazing story of the Gold Train], to the bizarre account of Himmler's plans to make Wewelsburg Castle the centre of the world, to the frantic race to Berlin by Soviet troops to recover a pricless and deadly treasure for Stalin.
Are you interested in this period of history yourself?
Like many people, I have long been both fascinated and repelled by the Nazi regime and the terrible crimes they committed. The second world war saw humanity at its best and at its absolute worst. I have visited Aushwitz and still cannot really comprehend the scale of what the Nazis did, or the suffering of their victims. To me, understanding how and why the Nazis came to power, ran the Third Reich and committed genocide, is the best possible way to ensure we never let it happen again. Hopefully some of this comes across in The Black Sun.
What surprised you most during the course of your research?
Sadly that, despite the lessons of over sixty years ago, anti-semitic and white-supremacist sentiments and movements appear to be on the rise, with growing political representation and increasing instances of racially motivated attacks on both people and property.
Do all the art works referred to in The Black Sun really exist?
Most of the works that feature in The Black Sun were stolen by the Nazis or the Soviet army in the Second World War. This includes Tarquin and Lucretia by Rubens, Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, Flowers in an Earthenware Jug by van Gogh and Priam's Gold, the treasure recovered by the German archeologist Schliemann from the ruins of Troy. [Click here to find out more about the works of art that feature in The Black Sun.]
Could the Enigma machine have been used as you describe it in The Black Sun?
In principle yes, although I have deliberatly simplified the workings of the machine to make it easier to explain and understand. The Nazis used the Enigma machine in various different incarnations right until the end of the war to encypher their most sensitive military and political communications. [Click here to find out more about the Enigma machine.]
What characters from The Double Eagle re-appear in The Black Sun?
Archie returns as does Dominique, who this time has a much larger part. The only other character who re-appears is Special Agent Paul Viggiano. Viggiano last featured in The Double Eagle as the agent making a poor job of assisting Jennifer Browne (who is mentioned in The Black Sun by name only) in her investigations.
When will Jennifers Browne come back into Tom's life?
If all goes to plan in the third Tom Kirk adventure, titled The Gilded Seal. This will be released in October 2007. [Click here for more details]