Robert was born in Maribor, Yugoslavia, at a time when the Communist regime carried a powerful influence. His father, an electrical engineer, wished no part of the communist system and moved his family, initially to West Germany, and several years later, to Canada. Robert’s father ensured that he maintain his German language, an asset that would prove beneficial many years later.
Robert embarked on a career with the Winnipeg Police Service, spanning twenty eight years. It’s fair to say that he developed his craft writing reports, crown briefs and other documents, although his passion lay in translation and historical fiction.
Once retired, Robert took to the challenge by translating a prolific German author, Karl May, into modern English. He started with The Prussian Lieutenant, followed up with The Marabout’s Secret and just completed Buried Secrets.
What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?
I particularly enjoy murder mysteries, historical fiction and biographies. I’ve read PD James, Anne Perry, Dick Francis, and just recently finished Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louis Zamperini, entitled Unbroken.
What genres do you write in?
I’m partial to historical fiction, which is where I got my start. Karl May wrote extensively in the genre of historical fiction.
Tell us about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?
My most recent release (translation), Buried Secrets, is the third installment in The Hussar’s Love series by Karl May. It takes place in the 1870s, and was penned by May in the late 1880s in serial format. Although I’ve written most of my adult life, I’ve recently discovered a skill for translating.
What are you working on now?
I’ve spent the last two years researching and writing a WWII mystery/thriller, entitled, Stealth. It takes place in the last stages of the war. Although Hitler knows he’s lost the war, he is desperate to send the Allies one final message. Using a prototype aircraft, the Horten bomber, he intends on sending a ‘special’ package to London, one that Churchill won’t soon forget. The story has elements of history, but it also has that human element, pitting a ruthless Gestapo officer against an American pilot, determined to thwart their effort.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes place? What does your work space look like?
I’m much more organized than I used to be. For example, I used to get an idea, make a few notes, and then simply run with it. That might work for small projects, but when it comes to working on a full-length novel, say 100,000 words or more, you have to have structure. Now I spend far more time outlining the plot, developing a comprehensive list of characters, complete with physical description, bio history and psyche profile.
This doesn’t mean that I confine myself to going from start to finish, with no inclusions or changes until I’ve completed the manuscript. As a writer, you have to have the freedom to jump back to a previous setting or scene, insert a new character (if that person enhances the story) or modify a scene, even deleting one.
In terms of habits or quirks, I really work on being open to new ideas, not limiting myself to what has worked in the past, or for other writers. In many aspects, I guess you could say I’m more traditional in my writing regiment. I write at home on my lap top, rarely in a coffee shop. I also find that I’m most productive in the morning. I also know of writers who start writing late at night until the wee hours. It might work for them, but not for me.
What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?
For me, the easiest is getting started. Once I’ve developed the story outline and list of characters, I get going with gusto. But then, when I run out of steam, or get side-tracked by the countless things around us (bills, maintaining a home, not feeling well, family commitments, not to mention work –most of us have day jobs), I find that I’ve lost the initial inspiration and it now becomes more like work. Uggh! (Robert grimaces)
What was the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?
As I’ve already mentioned, getting started on a new project carries with it the excitement of a new work, exploring characters and how the story will unfold. All the drama is just waiting to happen. That’s the part that, in my opinion, all of us look forward to.
Of course. The first time your book is proudly displayed on a table in a bookstore. You gaze at the finished product in wonder, remembering all the hard work that went into it. But then, one or two weeks later, your pride and joy is relegated to a less prominent spot on a shelf, replaced by the latest New York Times bestseller. But at least you had your moment of fame. (laughs)
I should mention that one of my favourite accomplishments and fondest memories as a writer, was collaborating with my father on his memoir. I choose the title: POW #74324 (his actual number!) My father, John Stermscheg, was a prisoner of WWII, captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Stalag IIIC. Fortunately he survived, and I felt privileged to be able to write his biography. It was my way of honoring him. I was grinning from ear to ear when I presented him with the first copy, coinciding with his 90th birthday.
That’s great. Thanks for sharing your insights.
Robert Stermscheg lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. You can find his titles on Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo. A softcover version of his titles is available at Chapters, Indigo as well as McNally-Robinson.
For more information, visit his website. www.robertstermscheg.com