Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Escape from the Past: The Duke's Wrath by Annette Oppenlander Excerpt, Interview & Giveaway

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When fifteen-year old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn’t realize that 1) He’s been secretly chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game,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.


Excerpt Two:

“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.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.”


Where are you from?
I grew up in Solingen, Germany, a city known for its cutlery and sharp kitchen knives. After completing a business degree at the University of Cologne I moved to the U.S. for a one-year work assignment. Instead, I met my future husband at a super bowl party and got married a year later. That was in 1987. I’ve been living in different parts of the U.S. ever since.

Tell us your latest news?
I just finished the third book in the Escape from the Past trilogy, called “Escape from the Past: At Witches’ End.” I’m expecting a release date in the fall of 2016. I’m starting a new project this week about a couple of teens growing up during WW2 in Germany. This story is based on true events so I’ll continue to do research along the way.
On the trivial yet important side I’ve just moved into my new home office. Well, it’s a former bedroom with lots of bookshelves, a desk and plenty of calendars. I do have a roommate, my mutt, Mocha, who insisted on having her bed in there.
When and why did you begin writing?
Becoming a writer/author was a process that took several years. In the beginning–the late 90s–I wrote children’s stories for early readers. I didn’t know anything about writing for children, the market nor the submission process, so this went nowhere. In 2002 I interviewed my parents about their lives during WW2 in Germany which led to a number of short stories. I didn’t really imagine writing a novel, let alone several, I merely wanted to preserve the memories for my family.

But I became aware how much I enjoy the writing process. How I felt while I did it. I worked for a PR agency and did lots of business related writing. I’d go home at night and write some more, spent my weekends writing fiction. I grew more and more invested, took classes, read books on craft, attended conferences and joined a critique group. In 2009 I attended a short story class at Indiana University and that’s when the light bulb turned on fully. I’ve known ever since that writing is my passion and I must do it even if publication is light years away.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have considered myself a writer of fiction since completing my first manuscript in 2010 which by the way is still unpublished. I think there is this internal tug of war while you’re in the development stage of becoming a writer. You’re really a writer anytime you write something. But when are you a fulltime or professional writer? When do you make that transition? I still remember saying it out loud and feeling weird when somebody asked me what I did for a living. I’m unsure if it’s a clearer distinction moving from writer to author. When are you an author? When you’ve finished a manuscript and is that why we use the distinction “published” author? To me I became an author when my first book was published. 

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book, “A Different Truth,” tells the story of a sixteen-year old kid who’s banished to a military boarding school where he has to solve the hazing crime of his best friend.

I suppose my husband inspired it because he experienced such a school in the late 1960s. I’ve always been fascinated with the Vietnam War and how the country dealt with the political pressures, taking things in their own hands and affecting real change in the government. They made themselves heard and demonstrated and convinced Nixon to end the war. What happens at the military school is sort of a parallel to the turmoil stirring the nation.

I also was curious about what goes on behind the secretive doors of a boys’ military school. You don’t really know how it is to live in there unless you’ve attended one yourself. So, my husband gave me all this amazing info about the discipline and rules, the hazing and bullying going on between the older and younger boys.

Of course, the story is fiction, but I drew a lot of inspiration from my husband’s experience.

What would you like my readers to know?
I suppose I want them to know I want to create stories that encompass action/adventure, mystery and good old entertainment in a historical setting. I want history to come alive in the minds of the readers. I think that many people including myself grew up with boring history classes, being bombarded with pages and pages of battle dates and political maneuvering.

I want readers to feel the history through my stories and I want them to learn something along the way.

Thank you very much for having me!

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @aoppenlander

Buy Links:



Annette Oppenlander will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Does the game designer get the blame for the quality of the historical past?

    1. Great question, Richard. Actually no. The game designer, however, is a mad scientist and the historical past in the story is real. I don't want to give away the plot, but the book is based on the history of Castle Hanstein in Thuringia, Germany and its most famous knight, Werner von Hanstein.

  2. Great to be here today! I'll be around to answer your questions.

  3. Well you succeeded in one thing. I certainly felt this excerpt. Very fascinating.

  4. Nice Excerpt! I hope to read this book.

  5. Very interested in reading this book, loved the excerpt.

    1. Thank you, Wendy. Glad you enjoyed it! There is more info about the background of the story here: http://www.annetteoppenlander.com/escape-from-the-past-the-dukes-wrath/

  6. I man always looking for new authors to read. I checked out your books and they seem like the kind I enjoy reading

    1. Awesome, Joye. Thank you for checking out my website!

  7. Thank you for informing me about this book.

  8. Enjoyed the blurb and excerpt.
    Jennifer Rote

  9. What is your favorite book of all time? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

    1. Hi Bernie, a good albeit difficult question. I'm going to settle on "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. J.R.R. Tolkien's style is amazing and I think by reading his books many times, he's shaped my appreciation for storytelling.

  10. I really enjoyed the excerpt and the interview. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Really great post, I enjoyed reading it! :)

  12. Enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

  13. I love that you want your book and research to be accurate enough for your readers to learn something. Congrats on finishing your trilogy and your new home office!

  14. Thanks for introducing us to the book. I love time travel fiction.

  15. Thank you for the wonderful post and giveaway!

  16. Great post! I really enjoyed reading the excerpt and the interview! This book sounds like such an interesting read! Totally looking forward to reading this!