Annette Oppenlander will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Author Interview: Annette Oppenlander
1. Woohoo! You are a published author. Describe a strong character trait you possess, good or bad, and how it helped you become a published author. I’ll give you two. One is the ability to concentrate which can be good or bad. I’m quite good at “disappearing” into my stories. The house could fall down around me and I wouldn’t notice. The other is tenacity. My writing journey began in the late 1990s with dabbling in children’s books and it’s taken more than 15 years to get to publication.
2. Sometimes an author begins writing a story before they are aware of its genre. Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you? Had you asked me what my least favorite subject was in high school I would have said history. Yet, historical fiction has become my favorite genre. It sort of crept up on me over the years and grown into a fascination of all things historic. So, I guess the genre chose me. By the way, though my first four novels are YA historical, my next one will be straight historical.
3. The plot thickens, or does it? Which one are you, a pantser or a plotter?I’m a pantser. When I begin a story I have an idea about the character and the time period. I also have researched historical characters I want to weave into the story. What actually happens, side characters, romances, plot twists and subplots develop as I write the first draft.
4. Fear 101: As writers it is our duty to make our characters face their fears. Have you ever included one of your own fears in a storyline? I think all writers draw from their own experiences. My subconscious mind cleverly introduces fears I’ve faced such as being publicly embarrassed in front of a group. Max ‘Nerds’ suffers through this kind of fear several times. Having written a number of books now I’m always amazing how a mind works experiences and feelings into the story. I have no idea how it works, but somehow things bubble up from the depth of my brain and flow through my fingertips onto the page.
5. Fear 102: Yes, deadlines are terrifying. Have you conquered the juggling act between writing and the rest of your life? What do you do when it feels like the balls are dropping all around you? I’m not very good at multi-tasking. As a result I on occasion neglect other parts of my life. Especially when I’m about to finish a manuscript I tend to get a little obsessive. My best technique to keep life organized is using daily lists and calendars. And my husband’s questioning look when it’s dinnertime and the stove is empty.
6. Switch positions with one of your main characters in a scene. What is the outcome, disaster or divine intervention? I’m not nearly as brave as my main character, Max. It’d be a disaster if I had to survive in medieval Germany. I’d probably hide and starve. Of course, sometimes Max’s rash behavior sends him into trouble. I’d be a whole lot more careful, but also way too boring.
7. Where is your favorite place to write? Add that one comfort food that you can’t do without. I typically write in my office, an ex-bedroom with lots of book shelves and a desk. I have a really great chair that allows me to sit for many hours. Some people love to write in a coffee shop, but I find that too distracting. You’re talking to a chocoholic, so anything with chocolate works for me and I eat way too much of it on a daily basis.
8. Writing inspirations? My trips provide almost unlimited ideas. I often visit historic areas in Europe, museums and castles. That’s how I came across the ruins of Castle Hanstein in Thuringia and learned about Knight Werner. On a daily basis I draw inspiration from my walks with my mutt, Mocha, an old graying dame. Thirdly, reading offers a constant flow of ideas.
9. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them? I have a number of favorites, but my all-time favorite is J.R.R. Tolkien who I can no longer ask. I’d love to know if he had the “Lord of the Rings” story in his head before he began or if he came up with it as he wrote. I just find it so fascinating how he developed these amazing characters and beings and this convoluted, connected story where every group plays a role. I found it challenging enough to write the “Escape from the Past” trilogy and make sure that I didn’t leave lose ends. His is way more complicated and remains my favorite fantasy read.
10. I’ve gone mad – why don’t you come with me? Some people just don’t understand us writers. Name a quirky, writer-thing you do that friends wish you didn’t. I could talk endlessly about the Middle Ages. Most of my friends don’t share this passion so after a few minutes I see their eyes glaze over. I usually catch myself and we move on to other subjects.
Thank you very much for hosting me!
Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath
by Annette Oppenlander
GENRE: YA historical/sci-fi
When fifteen-year old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn’t realize that 1) He’s been secretly chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: To return home he must decipher the game’s rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever.
Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornet’s nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.
“Mutter, I brought someone.” Bero slumped on the bench, scanning the table. I stood unmoving. Two tallow lamps flickered in earthen pots, barely making a dent into the gloom. The thick mixture of smoke, dust and body odor was worse. Disgusted, I rubbed my nose. It didn’t do any good.
The left side of the ceiling hung so low that I easily touched it with my hand. The other half was hidden by dense smoke. A scrawny fire smoldered in a stone hearth along the back wall. In front of it stood a woman of indefinable age, stirring a cast-iron pot.
“You’re late,” she said without turning. “Next time we eat without you.”
“I told you she’s mad,” said the girl who’d been shelling beans earlier.
“Hush, Adela,” the mother shot back. I looked back and forth between them, struggling to follow the weird speech while identifying the smell emanating from the pot. Nothing came to mind. Despite the terrible stench in the house, my stomach gurgled in anticipation.
“Nay, I was late because of this lad,” Bero said. “He needs shelter for tonight.”
At last, the mother turned around. Even in the gloom I could tell that she was shocked, maybe scared, her eyes blackish pools in the haggard face. She carefully placed the ladle on a stone plate and stepped closer—her eyes now squinting, scrutinizing. I wanted to bolt. A disgusting odor enveloped me. While Bero smelled of earth and pigs, the woman reeked of sweat and something sour. I tried breathing shallow breaths, thinking I should just leave and sleep outside. But then I thought of the rustling in the woods, the evil riders wielding their swords— worse, how clueless I felt.
Annette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging her dog, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories.
“Nearly every place holds some kind of secret, something that makes history come alive. When we scrutinize people and places closely, history is no longer a number, it turns into a story.”
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