CLEVELAND, Ohio – Completing “Of: A Tale of How Peter Mueller Came To Be” was one of the biggest items on Steve Luttner’s to-do list, he said.
The former reporter and public relations professional, who worked as a reporter in Ohio for 30 years (including 23 years at The Plain Dealer), waited until his retirement to start writing the novel.
âI wanted to write this book for a long time. I had parts of it in my head, âsaid Luttner. âI thought it would be unfair to write it down while I was still working. For me, anyone only has limited writing capital in a day or a week to write their bestâ¦ I wanted it to be the best they could be.
The novel was an ambitious project for Luttner. With 178 pages, “Of” tells stories from both sides of a family spanning several generations. The book covers over 100 years and three wars (the Franco-Prussian War, WWI, and WWII) and describes the experience of American immigrants.
He leans heavily on Luttner’s love for history and also draws inspiration from some of his own family’s stories, he said. Although fictional, âOfâ was inspired by some of Luttner’s grandparents and great-grandparents.
“Supposedly my great-grandfather on my father’s side – I never met him – won an iron cross in the Franco-Prussian War for saving an artillery piece from the D-Day landings in his hands of the French, “said Luttner. “I’ve never seen any documentation on this, but I’ve always been fascinated by it.”
Luttner asked family members for information about the incident, which he used to kick off the novel in style. Other characters are family-based as well, such as Hungarian coal miner Frank Varga, based on Luttner’s grandfather on the maternal side of the family. Yet Luttner maintains that the book is a work of fiction.
Luttner, who retired in February 2020, said he started writing the novel in April 2020, writing one chapter a day. The whole process – from the first words of the first page to the last rounds of editing – was completed during the pandemic.
âEverything was coming to a halt, and that was perfect for that,â Luttner said. âThe date I chose to retire was just lucky because it really started to touch the fans at that point. The whole summer was a drag because you couldn’t do this or that, and we were so much more ignorant of COVID then than today. You just felt confined. It was perfect for that.
Luttner published the book about a year after he started writing it, in April 2021.
Since the publication of âOf: A Tale of How Peter Mueller Came To Be,â Luttner has continued to write and may pursue another book – although he does so in a much more casual manner, he said.
The author said that writing her novel was a different experience compared to her experience in journalism.
âI really enjoyed writing this book. It was so much fun, âsaid Luttner. âFor the first time in my life, I wasn’t writing for a publisher or a client. I wrote for myself. It was so liberating.
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