For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features Andreas Oertel, a writer from Lac du Bonnet. He was born in Germany, but has lived most of his life in Manitoba. Fifteen years ago, he moved to Lac du Bonnet with his wife. They both enjoy living in the area and look forward to retiring here.
His books of fiction are very popular with middle grade readers. Five of them have been published – History in the Faking, Stones of Time, Trouble at Impact Lake, Panama Pursuit, and Prisoner of Warren. His first book, History in the Faking, was nominated for a Silver Birch Award and a Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award.
Oertel always wanted to be a writer. His interest began in his late teens and this passion has never left him. Although he is basically self-taught, over the years, he has read dozens of books on the craft of writing. And he is constantly writing and re-writing. He admits his early attempts at fiction were pretty bad and he accumulated dozens of rejection letters. But he didn’t let that stop him. He says, “I was determined, so I kept at it — reading, studying, writing, and submitting my work to publishers.”
Throughout the year, he does many school visits and readings, but hasn’t done any formal instructing. His advice to aspiring writers: read fiction, read books on writing, and practice, practice, practice.
He says, “When you sit down to write your first story, don’t become obsessed with perfecting the first draft. In other words, don’t stress about grammar, typos, and sentence structure. If you try to make every sentence and every paragraph and every page perfect, you’ll get bogged down and discouraged. So spill your guts and complete that first draft. It’s satisfying to edit and fine-tune a story, but you have to finish the story first.”