From my list on set in alternate histories.
Who am I?
I'm a lot of things. I design games. I study literature and theater. I write novels that are messy fusions of literary and genre fiction. I'm endlessly curious. Each of my books starts with when I hear in my head, the voice of a character asking a question. It's always a silly question, and it's always the one that matters more to them than anything else in the world. "Why does being superintelligent make you evil?" became Soon I Will Be Invincible. "What are people who play video games obsessively really looking for?" became You. Answering the question isn't simple, but of course that's where the fun starts.
Austin's book list on set in alternate histories
Why did Austin love this book?
Flashman does a thing I love, which is to tell the story of another book's least notable character.
Harry Flashman comes from Thomas Hughes's 1850 novel Tom Brown's School Days (the entire basis for the Harry Potter novels), where he's a sub-Draco Malfo figure, a useless bully.
Flashman tells the story of his later years as the Victorian Empire's most cowardly soldier, rattling around British colonies, stumbling through their various atrocities and debacles. I wish the book were even harsher on the Brits, but it's a deeply fun counter-text and a lovely bit of escapism nonetheless.