Monday, October 10, 2016

Interview with Annette Oppenlander, Author of Escape From The Past

Escape from the Past – The Duke’s Wrath By Annette Oppenlander
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction – Medieval Book
Summary When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he's sneaking a preview of an unpublished computer game, he doesn't realize that 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him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 hornets' nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.



Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Follow on Facebook, and on Twitter @aoppenlander  The author is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card  to one lucky reader.
 Author Biography 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 shares her knowledge through writing workshops and indulges her old mutt, Mocha. In her spare time she travels around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories. The mother of three ‘former’ teens, Annette lives with her husband in Bloomington, Ind.

Interview With the Author

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Annette a few questions about her thought process on this novel. 





How did you come up with Max's character and his traits?

In 2012 I visited the ruins of Castle Hanstein in Thuringia, Germany. It’s an amazing place high up on a mountaintop with breathtaking views of the valleys. As I walked through the old torn buildings the voices in my head began to chatter. I know how that sounds, but it was this conviction that I had to write about the castle. Inside one of the rooms I read about a famous knight who’d lived there in the late Middle Ages and feuded with a duke over a beautiful woman.

At the time I was often annoyed by my boys who are avid gamers and don’t mind spending all night in front of their computers. Somehow putting a gamer into the story made sense. So I think Max grew out of a combination of my own kids, reading many YAs, watching teens at school and during sports and so on. I’m never quite clear on how a story brews inside my brain, flows through my fingers onto the page.


What is your favorite trait off of Max?
I think what I love most about Max is that he wants to do the right thing. He often fails at it, but deep down he’s a romantic with a great heart.

What personality trait of Max do you like the least?

Being so impulsive. If he’d take his time and think things through he’d avoid a lot of the issues he brings onto himself. But then he’s a teen, so what can I say.

How do you think the story would differ if you had chosen for Max to be a girl instead of a boy?

If I’d chosen a girl I would’ve made her a tomboy. I’m not much for princesses and beauty queens because I think it sends the wrong message and when I write a novel with a female protagonist I want to empower girls. I think a girl’s character would be cool as well though I think it wouldn’t work with the ‘gamer’ angle. Few girls are into computer gaming and so the premise of the book would have to be different.

Who is your favorite character in Escape from the Past?
That would be Max ‘Nerds,’ a slightly hapless gamer who lives in a foreign country, whose parents are divorced and who isn’t quite sure where he belongs inside and out. Max lands in medieval Germany and is now faced with insurmountable problems. Yet, he rises above, his inner convictions leading him on the right path, albeit a few detours, while he makes some terrific friends. He’s really brave and doesn’t mind making a fool of himself if it’s for the greater good. I love that about him.

When did you know that Escape from the Past would be a trilogy?

I knew from the start I wanted to write multiple books. I had way more story to address than I could fit into one book. The idea was to send Max into the past several times and in the present day portions of the book tie up the evil computer game issue. Once I had finished book one I decided to make it a trilogy. I guess I grow tired of my characters after spending so much time with them. There was a natural growth in maturity in Max and Bero and Juliana and it worked out perfectly through the three stories.

Will we be seeing Max again or possibly Max's child in another story?
You’ll meet Max in THE KID (book two) and AT WITCHES’ END (book three). Readers can also download the FREE intro to the trilogy, ESCAPE FROM THE PAST: GAME OF LIFE. It provides a brief glimpse into Max’s life before he gets involved with the game and has to fight for his life. You can download GAME OF LIFE on Amazon or Smashwords in any e-format.

If you had to survive in the Middle Ages and you could take one item with you from present day, what would it be and why?
Boy, that’s a tough question. Life in the Middle Ages was difficult even for lords. The average age of a peasant was 29 and the average age of a lord 40 years. There was so much disease, lack of hygiene, etc. I think I’d take along a book with holistic medical information to help treat illness.

What is the one thing you despise about medieval living?

To me the unfairness of the feudal system is the worst part. The wide majority of people, peasants, had hardly enough to eat despite working from dawn to dusk. They were so poor and so ill-informed, they were stuck in a horrible life without enough energy to make a change. Of course, we still have the system of lords and serfs today. In some countries people still live like in medieval times. In other countries, the system isn’t quite as extreme, but it is still the same system. Well, I better not open this can of worms.

Which author most influenced your writing style?
I don’t think I can pinpoint one author. They say you should read a lot. Well, I always loved reading, lugging home books from the library by the dozens. And so over time I think all these voices, authors and stories melt into your own style. 

What's the last book you read?
I just finished TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE and am currently reading GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?

I want to express how thankful I am for their interest in my stories and that I strive to make it worth their while to continue reading my books.

And I would like to thank Annette for  her time and being a good sport in giving this interview.  I always enjoy getting a bit of insight in an author's mind.

Check out her novel Escape From the Past Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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