Escape from the Past: The Kid
by Annette Oppenlander
GENRE: YA historical/sci-fi
Time-traveling gamer, Max, embarks on a harrowing journey through the Wild West of 1881! After a huge fight with his parents, Max tries to return to his love and his best friend, Bero, in medieval Germany. Instead he lands in 1881 New Mexico. Struggling to get his bearings and coming to terms with Dr. Stuler’s evil computer game misleading him, he runs into Billy the Kid. To his amazement Billy isn’t at all the ruthless killer history made him out to be. Trouble brews when a dying Warm Springs Apache gives Max a huge gold nugget to help his sister, Ela, escape from Fort Sumner. Shopping for supplies Max attracts the attention of ruthless bandits. Before Max can ask the Kid’s help, he and Ela are forced to embark on a journey to find his imaginary goldmine. This is book 2 in the Escape from the Past trilogy.
My chest began to throb without warning, then tighten. Had it been this painful last time? Ten months had passed since I’d last played. I smiled despite the pain. I couldn’t wait to sneak up on Bero. Hug Juliana. The pressure on my body increased. She’d be mad, of course, but then she’d kiss me. Maybe we could sneak into the barn tonight.
The weight on my lungs grew. Breathing stopped. My vision filled with the red haze of oxygen deprivation. I tried to gulp, but my ribs were glued to my sides. I was stuck…and terrified. The fog turned gray…then black. Like last time, I managed to stand, but my legs and feet stood rooted like the giant oaks in Hanstein’s forest.
My heart pounded in my neck, the only sign I was still alive. The fog deepened. Why was this taking so long? Still the pressure held as if I’d been thrown under a boulder. I was dying.
I’d made a huge mistake.
It’s easy to forget fear. Stuff happens and you get distracted. After a while all you remember are the good things. Now that I was unable to move, unable to do anything, I remembered the way I’d felt the first time I landed in the game. I’d felt terror.
And terror was back now in full force, squeezing my middle and poking at my heart. As the pressure lifted and the fog cleared, the sense of impending doom gripped me with such force that I fell forward. I’d made a horrible mistake.
Stumbling, I stubbed my toes and suppressing a shout. In the near darkness, a rock or cliff rose wide as a house and three stories high. I only saw its outline, a black edge against the starry sky above.
The whistling I’d heard earlier definitely came from between the giant rocks. The air was filled with the scent of grasses, grit and something like sage. Had I returned in the summer?
Behind me the area appeared more open. Maybe I was down near the river and Luanda’s house. Should I move in the dark or wait? I’d get lost, wandering off in the wrong direction. A cold wind dug under my shirt and nipped at my skin. I tugged my sweater closer around me when I saw something glowing on the ground like a huge red eye.
“Not a move, Boy,” the voice hissed. “Or I’ll blow a hole through your gut.”
Welcome Annette Oppenlander! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
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.
I’ve been married for 28 years and have fraternal twins (24) and a son (27). My roommate is an old mutt, Mocha, a pooch we adopted from the Humane Society 11 years ago.
Is “Escape from the Past: The Kid” a single title, or part of a series?
“The Kid” is book two in the “Escape from the Past” trilogy about a nerdy gamer who mistakenly time-travels through an experimental computer game and lands in the Wild West of 1881 New Mexico.
What were your inspirations for the story?
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 where he must overcome many horrific challenges.
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, Native Americans 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 you can easily 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.
Please share your setting for “Escape from the Past: The Kid.” Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
“The Kid” is set in the Wild West of 1881 New Mexico. It starts somewhere east of Fort Sumner where Billy the Kid was hiding during that summer and continues west and southwest to the Black Range in the Gila Wilderness.
In April 2015 I went on two-week research trip to follow in the footsteps of Max, my protagonist. Modern Fort Sumner is in a different spot from the original fort, but I was able to walk the land, visit Billy’s grave, see the Pecos River and study a lot of artifacts in the museums, including Billy’s letters to Governor Wallace. I then drove west across the Rio Grande into the mountains, off-roaded through some pretty rough terrain to get a feel for the land in the Black Mountains. I also visited the old mining town, Chloride, Silver City and Lincoln where Billy used to hang out.
To me the wide-open land is the most amazing. The sky seems to go on forever and the landscape is so wild and massive even today.
When did the writing bug first bite?
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 grew 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. I finished the first manuscript in 2010. The first two books were published in 2015.
Who are your favorite authors, book/series?
Some of my favorites are J.R.R. Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, of course, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, James Alexander Thom’s historical books often set in the Wild West and among Native Americans. I also like Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games and a whole slew of lesser known authors, mostly writing historical fiction.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
The people I just mentioned would make a nice group. Plus I’d invite Stephen King and Donald Maass to talk about writing craft.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I’m truly bilingual, speaking/writing English and German and having lived in both countries for twenty plus years. I’m a decent fly-fisher woman and on occasion out-fish men. I’m a chocoholic and can sniff out chocolate wherever I go. Just kidding on the last part.
What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?
I’d tell an aspiring author to be patient and set aside doubt. I think all writers, even the most gifted ones, have doubts whether their stories are any good. But while we may struggle with doubt about our ability to craft a compelling tale, in the end, we must continue writing. Many people give up too early because doubt overtakes them. Believe in your work and put in the time and energy, read, go to conferences, participate in critique groups, confident you’ll succeed in the end. Follow your passion.
Thank you very much for having me!
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.”
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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Annette Oppenlander will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.