Ruins of Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany

Visiting the ruins of Hanstein takes us back to medieval times - Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany in 2012 More »

Vietnam War protestors demonstrate - Wichita, KS, 1967.

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Solingen, Germany after the bombing, November 1944. - Stadtarchiv Solingen

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My grandmother Grete with her sisters in the early 1920s in Germany.

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B17 Bomber above German Airfield in WWII

U.S. Bomber flies above German airfield in WWII. More »


Category Archives: History

Hintergrundwissen zum biografischen Roman “Vaterland, wo bist Du?”

cover booklet annette oppenlanderMan liest häufig, wie viele Bücher ein Autor in einem Jahr herausbringt. In manchen Genres schaffen es Schriftsteller, gleich mehrere Bücher pro Jahr zu veröffentlichen. Dagegen war die Entwicklung des biografischen Romans “Vaterland, wo bist Du?” über das Leben meiner Eltern als Kriegskinder und -jugendliche lang und steinig – sie dauerte 15 Jahre. Das liegt nicht nur daran, dass in historischen Erzählungen die Hintergründe, sozusagen die Welt der Geschichte stimmen muss. Mit anderen Worten, man kann sie nicht erfinden, sondern muss sich an die tatsächlichen Gegebenheiten halten und auch die kleinsten Einzelheiten recherchieren.

Hintergrundwissen zum Buch “Vaterland, wo bist Du?” jetzt lesen

Aber es kamen noch andere Umstände dazu. In diesem Zusammenhang werde ich auch gerne danach gefragt, wie authentisch die Geschichte nun wirklich ist. Auch das lässt sich nicht in zwei Sätzen erklären. Deshalb habe ich dazu ein Informationsbüchlein mit dem Titel “Wahrheit oder Fiktion” geschrieben, dass dieser Reise zum Buch auf den Grund geht. Dieses können Sie kostenlos herunterladen.

scouts award mildestDie erste deutsche Auszeichnung: 2020 Skoutz Award Midlist

In den USA hat das Buch in der englischen Ausgabe bereits viele Auszeichnungen erhalten. Jetzt wurde die neue deutsche Fassung auch zum ersten Mal für den Skoutz Award nominiert. Inzwischen ist das Buch aus über 100 historischen Büchern auf der Midlist gelandet. Im Juni werden Leser und Jury gemeinsam entscheiden, ob Vaterland, wo bist Du? es bis auf die Shortlist schafft.




‘How I Got Here’ or The Rocky Road of Becoming an Author

In 2002 I interviewed my parents about their experiences during WWII. They’d been kids, then youths in the post-war era, had met and fallen in love. But that’s not what I want to talk about here, I want to tell you about the first time I realized I loved writing.

A middle aged woman with books on a tableAfter that three-week task of recordings, I went back to the U.S., and little by little wrote down my parents’ memories in longhand. I decided to make a little story out of the horse slaughter, my father had suffered through with his friend, Helmut, as a fifteen-year old. It was a Saturday morning and I was typing on a laptop, finishing the draft, when I took a break. In that moment I noticed how good it felt to write and express myself or rather express what I imagined my characters doing and feeling. This must’ve been sometime in 2004 or 2005. Little by little I added to the stories, studied books about writing, attended classes and conferences.

A First Manuscript

In 2009, I finished the first manuscript of that WWII story, which would later become “Surviving the Fatherland.” But I was nowhere near ready. Of course, I didn’t know it. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. In few industries does it become as obvious as in publishing. With self-publishing there are no longer barriers, just little hurdles of formatting and understanding software. Having mastered that, it takes just minutes and not a cent to publish a book. Any book.

Quality Historical Fiction Takes Time

But that was never my goal. I always wanted to create quality stories. And to do that meant to ‘pay my dues’ and spent an easy 10,000 hours and hundreds of thousands of pages—in actuality a lot more—writing fiction. Which meant many drafts, craft studies, book research, workshops, conferences, pitching, and my wonderful writing groups. It also meant paying professional editors and cover designers.

As Artists we create art because we must – not because we get rich or famous.

Bottom line is that despite the publication of ten plus books with the exception of the year 2017 I earn very little—certainly not enough to make a living. In the end it doesn’t matter. Nothing is more fulfilling than to complete another great novel or to hear from my readers how my book, my story has made a difference. That’s what counts, my friends.

books by annette oppenlanderWhat’s Next

And so I continue researching and writing. For my English language readers I have not yet decided which story to pursue. In the running are

  • the post-WWII biographical novel of my grandfather Willi who spent eight plus years in a Russian gulag
  • the true story about a nun who single-handedly kept the French Army from destroying her beloved cloister (Kloster Säben in Northern Italy)
  • and one or two ideas too fresh to share

Book cover Buch von Annette OppenlanderFor German Readers

My second WWII story, “When They Made Us Leave,” will be published in German in April 2020. “Erzwungene Wege: Historischer Roman” tells the complicated love story of two teens who are send to separate youth camps (Kinderlandverschickung) and must overcome horrendous obstacles to find each other again. This story is based on dozens of eyewitness accounts of participants. The German version ebook can be preordered now.