Eric Flint accidentally created the 1632 Universe in 2000. He thought he was writing a single novel. He was very, very wrong. Approximately 25 million words, seventy books, nearly two hundred writers, and a new publishing company wrong. In short, he created the most successful alternate history universe in publishing history when he thought he was creating a single novel. It is so successful that he was able to create a publishing company based on it, although Ring of Fire Press does publish tons of non-1632 books. (The” Ring of Fire” is the name for the event that sent Grantville back to 1632.) The first book, 1632 by Eric Flint, is available as a free Kindle download. I started writing in his universe in January 2021 and by the end of the year had two short stories and one novel published, with a second novel submitted for publication. Works in progress include two short stories and a third novel. That’s a bit over 150,000 words I’ve written in 2021. Whew! Looking at it makes me tired.
What is the 1632 universe? The town of Grantville is flung back through time and space from the year 2000 in West Virginia to Thuringia, Germany in the year 1631, during the middle of the thirty years war. The series explores how the presences of this small American town of very average people impacts the entire world. In the approximately twenty years since then, Eric has opened up his universe and let other writers contribute. It’s important to note that anything published is considered canon and other writers cannot go against it unless they can give a solid reason for it. For example, there is no mention in the early years of the series of large stashes of fabric, yarn, or other crafting supplies. Having them suddenly appear five years after the Ring of Fire wouldn’t make sense. However, in Mrs. Flannery’s Flowers, the police chief specifically asks people to keep quiet if they have a large stash (the term crafters usually use) of crafting materials to avoid a spate of robberies.
The first two stories I had published in the 1632 Universe were in the Grantville Gazette, issues 95 and 96. The Gazette is a professional online magazine started in 2007 that publishes an issue every other month. These two stories became part of my first book in the series, Mrs. Flannery’s Flowers. The cover of issue 95 features an image based on my story. It’s Krystal on the front porch, drinking a soda, right when the Ring of Fire happens.
Mrs. Flannery’s Flowers is about coming to terms with loss. For Krystal Reed, it’s the loss of most of her family when they are left up-time. For Irene Flannery, town curmudgeon, it’s about the losses she experienced in life. With loss comes new beginnings. Down-timer Nils Jorgensen starts a new fashion empire. Krystal becomes one of the first down-time trained RNs.
My upcoming book, tentatively entitled Grantville Gourmets, is pretty focused on food with a heaping helping of holidays. The Grantville Cooking Club starts in September 1631. The Cooking Club really takes off when they start doing a cooking show on TV. The show finds ways to combine up-time and down-time cooking, such as by finding substitutions for ingredients and new ways to cook meals. They also discuss topics like how up-timers handle cooking fires and, of course, hygiene and sanitation. (These are big topics down-time; once they discover that following the up-timer guidelines, people really do live longer and get sick less, there is a big push for hygiene and sanitation.)
Up-timers know that food shortages are a huge issue in any war and that their town will definitely have problems with food shortages. One of their goals is to get calorie-dense and nutritionally-dense foods such as potatoes and beans, which are both viewed as animal fodder and not human food. One way they do this is by introducing foods at the holidays, starting with potato chips, then mashed potatoes, and eventually potato pancakes, also known as latkes.