I’m happy to welcome Annette Oppenlander back to Reviews and Interviews. Today we’re chatting about the second book in her historical YA action/adventure trilogy, Escape from the Past: The Kid.
You can check out the interview about book 1, Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath.
During this virtual book tour, Annette will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!
Annette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults and anyone who loves stories set in the past. 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.”
Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Annette.
Thank you for hosting me again, Lisa!
Please tell us about your newest release.
In The Kid, book two in the Escape from the Past trilogy, time-traveling gamer, Max, intends to return to his friends in medieval Germany, but mistakenly lands in the Wild West of 1881 New Mexico. Before Billy the Kid can help, Max is taken prisoner by ruthless bandits who think he has a claim for a goldmine. He also meets a beautiful American Indian girl…Well, I don’t want to give away the story.
What inspired you to write this book?
Growing up in Germany, I’ve always been fascinated with the Wild West. I remember watching westerns with my father and reading books about pioneers, American Indians and the gold rush. After I moved to the U.S. I continued reading historical fiction set in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds.
I chose Billy the Kid because I see him as a tragic character who encountered a string of bad luck and was basically set up to fail. He isn’t much older than Max and it’s easy to see how any young man could’ve had Billy’s fate. The second important character is Chief Nana, A Warm Springs Apache warrior, who in the summer of 1881 rode a 3,000 mile vengeance war against the U.S. Army. He was never caught nor were his fifteen or so warriors. The amazing thing about him was his age. He was around eighty years old then and had a bad leg.
Excerpt from Escape from the Past: The Kid:
From my higher vantage point I noticed a dust cloud growing rapidly larger. And from it grew an apparition of terror as I’d never seen.
Two dozen Indians galloped toward us, fanned out like the tip of an arrow. They rode bareback, their faces painted black, red and white, their long oiled hair flowing behind them. They wore leather pants with loin clothes and nothing but beads and feathers around their necks.
“Indians,” I mumbled. I hadn’t even realized I said something except that Wade whipped around and followed my gaze.
“Injuns, Boss,” he shouted. “Looks like Comanches.” He ripped his gun from the saddle holster, the other men following suit.
The next moments were a blur. I felt myself slide off the donkey and race to the wagons for cover. The settlers were scrambling underneath, getting in position. The girl raced to grab the two little kids and shove them under the wagon.
I watched in fascination. As if time had slowed to a crawl, the Indians, shrouded in a dust cloud, drew near. Their faces looked hideous with the war paint, but their cries were what made me tremble with terror. It sounded like something out of this world, eerie whoops that curdled my blood.
I had no weapons. Even if I’d had any, my body was stiff with panic.
What’s the next writing project?
I just finished the third book in the trilogy, Escape from the Past: At Witches’ End which takes Max back to the Middle Ages. The manuscript is currently in editing at the publisher. My current writing project is a story about two teens growing up during WW2 in Germany. It’s a love story based on my family, but it is ultimately a story of forgiveness.
What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
The biggest challenge with this new book set in wartime and postwar Germany is that I know the characters. It’s quite emotional for me to write about my parents who went through hell and barely survived the war. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me twelve years to write their story.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I do a lot of research up front to get a good feel for the era my story is set in. I’ve got to understand the lifestyle of people, their daily habits, the landscape, food, jobs, the way they look at the world. I read several books before I start and research libraries and archives.
While writing I continue to research because I always come across questions along the way. For instance what does a pair of nylon stockings cost in postwar 1952 Germany? Between six and twelve Deutsch Marks, a fortune, considering that my twenty-year old mother only made DM100 a month.
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
My primary writing space is my office. I’m fortunate to have a nice large room and spend most of my time there. On occasion when my back aches or I need a change of scenery I move to the couch. I work with two laptops so I’ve got my big one for the desk and a little Mac for the sofa.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
In historical fiction I love James Alexander Thom who has written a number of books set during the 19th century. My favorite is Follow the River. I’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” many times because I never grow tired of this sweeping tale. Regarding craft, I love Don Maass’s books. They’re all good and if everyone followed his advice, we’d have many more bestselling books. I also enjoy Sarah Waters, Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling. Actually, I could go on for a while…
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Something that readers and reviewers have told me is that my stories appeal to reluctant readers, particularly teen boys who love action/adventure. The first book in the series, Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath has been highly recommended for school and library collections by the Midwest Book Review. Reviews are beginning to trickle in for The Kid so stay tuned.
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Thank you for having me, Lisa.
Thank you for having me, Lisa.