M. Z. Urlocker's latest update for The Man from Mittelwerk

Mar 29, 2019

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d give everyone an update on how work is progressing on the novel. Some people have mentioned to me that they’ve been so busy they haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. That’s ok, I haven’t finished writing it.

In February, I received detailed feedback from the publisher on the draft manuscript that I had submitted. This is what’s known in publishing as an “editorial letter.” This was an extensive (20 page) and thoughtful critique with many good ideas. The good news is that almost all of the input is actionable. The bad news is there are many months of writing and re-writing required in order to incorporate these ideas and create a truly top-notch novel. 

The publisher asked me to create a new outline which strengthens the characters and gives more of the historical context of some events during and following World War II. In particular, I have been researching the liberation of the Mittelwerk slave labor manufacturing facility by the 104th Infantry Division of the Army and Operation Paperclip, the US Government program to recruit German scientists to the US after the war. Both of these elements feature in the background of the novel. 

So that’s been the focus for the past month. I’m glad to report that the new outline is complete. It’s quite a detailed document (approximately 35 pages) which describes all the characters and every scene. While it’s still the same noir detective murder mystery, there is a more ambitious middle section and an overall faster pace.

I’ll be reviewing this new outline with the publisher in the coming weeks, and no doubt there will be some back and forth as we try to determine the best way to tell what has become a more complex story. 

In the meantime, it’s been a long winter in Northern Michigan. The snow is finally starting to melt, but I’ll keep the snow tires on for a few more weeks, just in case. Thank you everyone who supported this creative project. I’ll keep you posted on progress in the coming months. 

PS. For those who are curious about Operation Paperclip, the US government program to recruit German scientists to the US after WWII, I highly recommend the book of that name by Annie Jacobsen. She provides a detailed account of many famous scientist and doctors who were recruited to the US, including Wernher von Braun, who was instrumental in developing the Saturn V rockets which powered the Apollo mission to the moon. He also ran the underground slave labor factory which made V-2 rockets at Mittelwerk and was both a Nazi party member and a Sturmbannfuhrer in the SS.