What if the history you know isn’t what actually happened? What if there are other more mystical means for certain events? Breach creates an alternate history novel that tells us the Berlin Wall is a magical barrier, not just a physical one. It also explores some of the gender dynamics we battle still. I had the chance to ask author W.L. Goodwater some questions about Breach among other things. 

Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

I live on the coast in California with my wife and son. We don’t really get actual seasons out here, but that works out well for me as I hate wearing anything but sandals. My day job is as a software engineer designing user interfaces, and I also coach a high school fencing team – go Earwigs! (Yes, that is really their mascot).

Geek Girl Pen Pals is a community that lives online but also in the world of snail mail. Friends are paired to become pen pals based on their top five geek loves. What are your top five geek loves?

  • The Good Place
  • Pixar movies
  • The Muppets
  • 30 Rock
  • Josh Groban

What inspired you to write Breach?

Breach owes a lot to reading John le Carré and watching Agent Carter, though I honestly woke up one morning with the concept of merging a Cold War spy thriller with magic in my head. From there, it took a while to nail down the plot, but once I had my main character figured out – a young magical researcher named Karen – everything else settled in place pretty quickly.

How long had the idea been mulling around your head before deciding to write?

As soon as I had the idea for mixing Cold War espionage with fantasy I knew I had to write it. I immediately bought a bunch of books on the Cold War and Berlin for inspiration and reference and then got to work.

I loved the concept of a well-known historical artifact being changed into something more (the magical barrier rather than a mundane wall). Are you a big history buff? What inspired the Cold War setting for the book?

I’ve always enjoyed history, though I admit that before Breach, I didn’t know that much about the Cold War era, so the research phase was a lot of fun. The best book I read was Frederick Taylor’s The Berlin Wall: A World Divided. It really brought that world to life. Berlin’s situation after WWII was so unique in human history and so fraught with conflict that it was easy to find another story to tell there.

If you could dream cast Breach into a film or television adaptation, who would be your ideal Jim? Karen?

As I mentioned earlier, I know I got a lot of inspiration for Breach and for Karen herself from Marvel’s Agent Carter series, so as long as she can manage an American accent, I’d vote for Hayley Atwell for Karen all the way. And I’ve always seen Jim as a bit of a lovable goofball, and no one does lovable goofball as well as Chris Pratt.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Do you have a favorite author, series, book?

My favorite book of all time is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. His writing is just so stark and beautiful, even as the story is so bleak. My favorite fantasy writer is Guy Gavriel Kay; Tigana and The Lions of al-Rassan are incredible, heart-breaking books. We actually share an editor at Penguin Random House, which is the coolest thing ever.

What’s your favorite thing about writing? Is there a “best” part of the process?

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t like to write, but loves having written. It can be a struggle to get the words out, but it is very rewarding when it is done. And while it is painful, the editing process might be most satisfying of all, as you can feel the book improving with every fix.

What’s next for you? And while I’m certainly looking forward to more in the Cold War Magic world, are there any other projects to look out for?

I have a hard time working on more than one project at a time and right now I am focused on the sequel to Breach, set to come out in November 2019. Once that book is finished, we’ll have to see if we continue in the world of Cold War Magic or try out something new.

Might we see other historical periods rewritten with magic at play?

The Cold War spanned so many evocative decades that there’s so much to play with just in that setting, but there are lots of other fun places and times just itching for their own stories: the American Revolution, the Wild West, WWI, the 20’s – I’d love to write something for all of them.

cover of Breach by WL Goodwater

About Breach

The first novel in a new Cold War fantasy series, where the Berlin Wall is made entirely of magic. When a breach unexpectedly appears in the wall, spies from both sides swarm to the city as World War III threatens to spark.

After the War, the Wall brought an uneasy peace. When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now, after ten years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable…the Wall is failing. While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to either stop the crisis, or take advantage of it. Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and determine if it can be fixed. Instead, she discovers that the truth is elusive in this divided city–and that even magic itself has its own agenda.