I’d like to thank Jenai for allowing me to share the background story of my novel, “Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath.” For this novel, inspiration firmly hit me in the forehead.
In 2012 a friend of mine suggested I visit the ruins of Castle Hanstein near Kassel, Germany. It was a beautiful day and I couldn’t believe my eyes when we drove up the mountain to park our car.
Castle Hanstein floats majestically above the valleys, its walls fused to the red rock it sits on. We climbed the rest of the way on foot, but once I stepped into the inner bailey and through the portcullis I knew I had found an amazing place. Most of the walls, six to nine feet thick, are broken and half torn down, thanks to the Swedes visiting during the 30-year war. However, you get a feel for the rooms, most windows still showing built-in stone seats. The great hall, recreated to house weddings and other events, is now situated in a different spot, but it is easy to imagine lords and ladies meeting here.
One of the towers was restored and used to serve as an observation point for the former East German military. Castle Hanstein is situated very close to the border between Thuringia and Hesse. You can still climb all the way to the top through an ever more narrow winding stone staircase. The view is breathtaking with gently sloped hills and valleys, farmland, the occasional church tower of a quaint village. It’s like looking at a painting. Wedged between two valleys flows the river, Werra which takes on an important role in my book.
Off to the side of the staircase I came across a kemenate, French for chimney room, meaning a room heatable by a fireplace. In the Middle Ages such rooms typically were occupied by the ladies and their small children. On the wall I found a short description of Werner von Hanstein, a knight who’d lived here in the late 15th century. For eight years he’d feuded with a duke over a beautiful woman.
After walking through the ruins, then reading about about Werner I was hooked. I knew I had to write a story about this castle.
The second part to the story came dealing with my two now adult sons. Both boys were and are avid gamers and at times it seriously bothered me, seeing them spend umpteen hours in front of the PC. So, maybe it was just natural that I imagined one of them being sucked into the game.
I hope you’ll enjoy gamer Max’s adventure in medieval Germany.
Escape from the Past:
The Duke’s Wrath
by Annette Oppenlander
Paperback: 299 pages
Publisher: Lodestone Books (July 31, 2015)
About the book:
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 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.
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