Earlier this month, I blogged about a novel based on the Beyond the Blue Horizon series, which relates the adventures of Otto Kerchner, a Wisconsin farm boy who learns to fly, serves in the ETO, is badly burned and comes home to a changes post-war America. A number of readers told me that the found Mata, Otto’s sister, an interesting character, so I started a novel telling his story from her point of view. And so Mata’s Story was born.
I made the writing my contribution to National Novel Writing Month (or, as the hip kids call it, NaNoWriMo), with the intention of achieving the project’s goal of 50,000 words. That didn’t happen–I fell far short with 12,733 words, but I made a good start on the book. Now I want to turn to On the Wings of Faith, Book 5 in the Beyond the Blue Horizon series, which stands at about 23,00 words, and return to Mata’s Story every month until it’s done in September, 2015. I hope you’ll follow this blog with its periodic updates of a writer’s progress. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Way of Introduction
So many readers have asked me how I came to write the story of Otto Kerchner, war hero, father to a wonderful family, successful businessman and patriot throughout his life, and the answer is, I almost didn’t.
I went to meet Major Kerchner at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-In last year at Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, about a four-hour drive from Pioneer Lake where he lives, near the airport he has been associated with for so long. I wanted to interview him for a book I wanted to write about his life, but he steadfastly and politely refused to give me any more information than was contained in public records. My project would have dried up had it not been for his sister Mata. She had accompanied him to Osh Kosh that year, and I think she had grown a little bored sitting by while Otto was chatting, signing autographs, and flying off (literally) for various demonstrations and joy rides. So she talked to me through the long hours underneath the tent and on walks through the Wisconsin meadows. She was 90 then, and still firm of mind and strong of body. Over those five days and in months of talks by phone and in person, she told me all I needed to know about Otto for my book—and in so doing, she told her own story. Here it is.