Andreas Oertel

Andreas Oertel was born in Germany but has lived most of his life in Manitoba. He holds degrees from the University of Manitoba and the British Columbia Institute of Technology and has a lifelong passion for archaeology, ancient civilizations, and writing, especially for young people. Andreas is the tallest writer in Canada and can often be found exploring  beaches with his metal detector, Lucky.



Today, LitPick is being visited by author Andreas Oertel for an Extra Credit interview! Andreas is the author of The Shenanigans Series. Book three, Trouble at Impact Lake came out in the fall. 

Do you have a solid outline before writing, or do you usually get ideas as you go along?

I usually have a well-formed outline in my head before I begin writing. But it's fun to see where characters/situations take me, so my stories often turn out different than what I first imagined. I think this is because I get a real kick out of throwing more and more problems at my protagonist. And the “meaner” I am to my characters, the more a story tends to deviate from my original vision.


Has someone you knew ever appeared as a character in a book (consciously or subconsciously)?

Yes, most of my characters (except for the villains) are based on people I know or have met. The young characters in my books are inspired by my many nieces and nephews and by the children of friends. My adult characters often have traits similar to friends, family, or people I've met. And the villains in my books are 100% imagined.


What do you do when you get writer's block?

You know, I don't think I've ever had writer's block. Before I start the actual writing, I will have ruminated over a story for weeks or months. So by the time I sit down to write, I'm so excited about the plot and the characters, I can hardly wait to get it all on paper.


If you could live in a book's world, which would you choose?

If I could live in a book's world, I'd chose the world of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy. It's mind-blowing! His fictional realm is an eerie alternate universe of steampunk and time travel and fantasy. And get this: everyone's soul is worn outside their body, in the form of a living animal (called a daemon). Crazy, huh?


What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?

After I read Jurassic Park (back in 1990), I gave the book to my sister and said, "They have to make this into a movie!" And they did. And it was awesome!


If you could have lunch with one other author (dead or alive!), who would it be?

Michael Crichton would be a great author to have lunch with. I loved his books (Jurassic Park, Congo, Timeline, and many more).


Wild Card Question: You say you’ve had a hundred different jobs. Do you use your experiences in these jobs in your writing?

I think I do use my job experiences in my writing, and I suspect it's unavoidable. For example, I can't imagine writing a scene that takes place in a restaurant without considering all the jobs I've had in commercial kitchens. I also believe that because of that varied work experience, I now have access (in my head) to a huge catalogue of possible characters. I may never need a protagonist who moonlights as a rickshaw driver, or a villain who sells vacuum cleaners...but on the other never know.

Andreas, thank you for joining LitPick for a second interview! We are relieved to hear that the villains in your books are not based on people you know or have met!



Author Andreas Oertel joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author! His first book is History in the Faking, which has blossomed into The Shenanigans Series. Book II: Stones of Time is due out in April and Book III: Mystery at Camp Echo is due out in the fall.

How did you get started writing?

I've always read a lot. And often, when I finished a great book, I would sit and think about what the author did. What did he/she do to make me like the characters? How did he/she make the story a page-turner? Why did the author move the plot one way and not another? Anyway, the more I thought about the books I read, the more I wanted to write my own stories. I found that I was no longer satisfied just reading. I wanted to be the person who invented all those interesting people and took them on all those cool adventures.

Who influenced you?

A few of my favorite writers are Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, Dick Francis, Clive Cussler, Wilbur Smith, and Nelson Demille, and I suspect they all influenced me a bit.

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

I don't have a single favorite book, but I love reading action/adventure books. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

I have two pieces of advice that I often share with anyone who's considering becoming an author.

1)  Don't Give Up

Writing, like any other skill, takes practice, practice, practice. If you can learn how to play the piano or throw a football, you can learn how to write. The first story you finish may not be a bestseller, but if you really want to be published, you'll keep working at it. And trust me, your writing will improve.

2)  Don't Try To Be Perfect (at first)

Never try to be perfect with your first draft. Just write your story and have fun. Don’t worry about grammar, typos, or anything else. Just write it all down. If you try to make every sentence and every paragraph and every page perfect as you’re writing, it'll slow you down and you’ll get discouraged. And you may even forget the awesome adventure you sat down to create. So spill your guts and complete that first draft. It’s a lot of fun polishing and fine-tuning a story, but you have to have something to edit first. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I'm happy writing anywhere. I get so into my characters and their problems, I have no trouble tuning-out all the distractions around me. My trusty netbook/computer usually goes where I go, which allows me to write at home, in a hotel room, on a plane...anywhere.

What else would you like to tell us?

I was born in Germany, but I've lived most of my life in Canada. I've travelled all over and had a hundred different jobs -- everything from rickshaw driver to health inspector -- but my favorite occupation is writing. I live with my wife Diane next to the Lee River, which is a little bit east of back-of-beyond, in Manitoba, Canada. And if you're ever strolling along a beach and see a lanky man with a metal detector, that's probably me -- still a kid at heart, and still dreaming of finding meteorites, lost treasures, and...

Andreas, thank you for spending six minutes with LitPick! We are looking forward to The Shenanigans Series Book II: Stones of Time coming out soon!


Andreas Oertel

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