Hitler’s Time Machine
– An Interview with Author Robert F. Dorr
Elden: I’m here today with Robert F. Dorr, the author of several books and publications. His most recent book is a novel called Hitler’s Time Machine. I wanted to talk to Mr. Dorr to find out a little bit more about his background and what motivated him to write this novel. So, Mr. Dorr, tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started in writing.
Bob: First of all, please call me Bob. I’ve been interested in writing since I was a little kid. I bought a portable typewriter with money from my paper route when I was about 12 years old. I had a letter published in a magazine when I was 13. I had a paid article published in a magazine when I was 15. That was 60 years ago, and I’m still writing.. I have spent more of my life being a full-time author of books, magazine articles, and newspaper columns than I have the two main jobs that I’ve had in my life, which is being in the Air Force and working for the State Department.
Elden: Most of your work has been non-fiction. What led you to shift over into this work of fiction?
Bob: I have always wanted to write a novel. In younger years, when I was aspiring to become the great American writer, my goal was to write a great literary work in the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Thomas Wolfe. And I still have bits and pieces of the great American novel lying around the house. And when I look at them today, they’re really awful. I am not a great literary writer. So, I decided recently that I would like to try to write a popular story that might interest people. I’ve been interested in military history. I’ve written non-fiction books about military history like the book Mission to Berlin. I thought it would be interesting to combine some history with some science fiction with some fantasy with some imaginative variations on the lives of real people like Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Adolf Hitler, and Heinrich Himmler, and other historical figures. I’ve set forth to write an alternate history novel, and that’s what Hitler’s Time Machine is.
Elden: I’ve read the book, I think it’s a really good read. I think it’s worth somebody’s time if they’re interested in a little bit of science fiction and a little bit of military history.
Digging a little bit into the book, without giving too much away, there are a couple of young, female characters who are essentially lead characters in the book. Having young, single females taking on those kinds of roles seems a little bit out of the ordinary for what I understand of that time period. Did you model these characters after anybody you knew or were you just being provocative?
Bob: I guess I was being provocative because I don’t know of a comparable case of a young woman without a lot of previous experience holding a responsible job, being in charge of a project in government. I imagined the situation in which both the Americans and the Germans were trying to develop a time machine. My chief scientist on the German side is Hans Kammler, who was a real person, although he didn’t really do the things that I have him doing. And on the American side, it’s a young woman named Barbara Stafford who has never really held a job until President Roosevelt makes her the head of the American Time Machine Project. There are some reasons in her scientific research that cause that to happen, but it was just an idea that I had.
Certainly there were always women in leadership positions. Oveta Culp Hobby was the head of the Women’s Army Corps, but it was unusual in that era for a young, relatively inexperienced woman to have a really responsible job.
One of the things that I had to be careful about, writing alternate history, but I didn’t want it to be too alternate, so I didn’t change the date when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. It would have been really convenient to my story if I could have, but I didn’t. And I didn’t change the date when the Allies invaded Sicily. I did change the date when Rommel got strafed by a Spitfire, and I did change the date of the Philadelphia Experiment, which is itself fictitious anyway.
One thing that’s fascinating about history is to wonder, “What if…?” What if something had happened to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1908, and he was not able to become president in 1933?
Elden: What is your next writing project? Do you have another novel in mind or in the works?
Bob: I want to find out whether enough people will buy Hitler’s Time Machine that I can at least break even. And if that will happen, I have a sequel in mind. Without giving away too much of the story, there is some room here for World War II to continue in the sequel.
Elden: Well, do you have any upcoming book signings or other events that you’re planning?
Bob: I have several events planned at public libraries in the near future. I give a talk and offer books to people who want to buy them. I’ll be at the Ashburn Public Library on March 2 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. Then, I’ll be at the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna on March 17 at 7:30 PM.
Elden: How can one go about obtaining one of your books, besides attending one of these events?
Bob: Call me or send me an email. My phone number is 703-264-8950. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org..
Elden: Are any of your books available in e-reader versions?
Bob: Yes. I have six books currently in print, five non-fictions plus the novel, Hitler’s Time Machine, and all of them are available as e-books.
Elden: Well, thank you, Bob. I really appreciate the opportunity to meet you and discuss your novel.
Bob: That’s very kind of you. I’m the one who should be thanking you.
Elden: Readers, if any of you are interested in getting a free autographed copy of Hitler’s Time Machine, send an email to email@example.com with the subject “Robert F. Dorr’s Book.” Please include your full name, mailing address, and phone number in the body of the email. I only have fifteen books, so this offer is limited to the first fifteen people to respond. There is a limit of one book per person/mailing address.