Friday, 17 October 2014

Interview with Christoph Fischer with bonus excerpt from his latest novel release, 'Conditions'.

Today, I welcome back my friend and author, Christoph Fischer, the author of several books. Hello Christoph and congratulations on the release of your latest novel, Conditions.

Author Christoph Fischer with one of his beloved dogs.
Christoph, you have written five novels, three of which are historical fiction. This is your second novel that is in the contemporary genre. Is this a permanent transition or will you continue to write historical fiction?

Christoph: I plan to continue writing in both genres. Before I published my first novel I had written the drafts for at least six books, only half of which were historical fiction. I'm planning to release another historical novel next but have also started work on a psychological thriller and a comedy.

Wow! So you're certainly not ruled by genre and I think it's fantastic to be so adept - multi-talented. Tell us then, how difficult was it to switch genres?


Christoph: It was fairly easy. I regard historical fiction as the more difficult to write with a heightened need for verification and double checking of data, continuity etc. However, I was surprised how much of that was still needed when I prepared my contemporary fiction for publication.

Yes, I've heard that very same comment from others. It seems we can't escape the research element at all. You mentioned publication and I know that you self-publish. Tell us what your experience of this has been like so far.

Christoph: Self-publishing is a dynamic and exciting world. It's hard work to promote your own books and doing that with the necessary commitment eats heavily into the time to write more material. I found the community of indie writers a great help and I have made some amazing friends along the way.
There are a lot of time consuming tasks and many new media platforms to explore for which having a publishing house behind me would be very convenient, but I hear that many of the traditional publishers get the authors to do these tasks themselves anyway so I'm happy to 'go it alone'. That way I have complete control over my marketing and sales.

Yes, I've also heard that about the publishing houses. The indie writing community is fantastic and I'm amazed at how everyone is so willing to help new writers; so generous and selfless. 
Tell us what you're reading at the moment.

Christoph: A time of Traitors by David Lawlor and Eyrie by Tim Winton.

Who is your favourite author?

Christoph: There are too many that naming only one seems quite unfair. Christos Tsiolkas and Ian Hutson are the only names that came to my mind immediately but there are plenty of authors for whose next release I cannot wait.

I know, I have several myself and my reading list is always stacked high.
Out of interest, did you miss not having to research history for this book or did you find that it was more of a revelation, allowing the writing to flow more smoothly?

Christoph: I didn't need to research history for this book so there were fewer restrictions but I still found myself doing a fair bit of research. With all writing you need to check facts and at least continuity. It didn't feel as if I had suddenly an abundance of freedom. With my historical fiction I had collected data beforehand and I had fact sheets that provided structure, a 'comfort' that I miss when writing in other genres.

I can empathise with that last statement. Any kind of change can be unsettling but it's great that you worked through it and achieved your goal.
What are the main themes that run throughout your novel, Conditions

Christoph: Mental health, family conflicts, finding yourself, managing tough relationships, co-dependency and friendship.

Some great and very interesting themes there. Mental health is a challenging one to include and if I may say so, a rare one in literary fiction. 
From the synopsis, it mentions how one family member has been cast aside. Conflict within families is a common issue and particular members of the family might indeed feel cast out or even isolated. It's very sad and it's therefore so poignant for you to write about such problems. 
Do you think this novel might attract readers with similar problems?

Christoph: I hope so. Knowing that you are not alone with your problem can be a huge weight off your shoulders. Friends can become your new family. It would be wonderful if the book could attract and comfort such readers.

Do you have any experience of working with or simply knowing people who have a mental illness? 

Christoph: Both. I had two years of work experience in social care when I was 19 and also have had a few friends with mental illnesses or other conditions throughout my life. I guess being the 'only gay in the village' has automatically made me connect with other 'misfits'.

I love your personality and positive attitude (and the humour - 'Little Britain' was great). 
So, much life experience to draw upon there. I read somewhere that whilst this is your latest release, it's also actually the first novel you ever wrote. It seems to be a trait of authors to retain the odd early novel(s) in a drawer somewhere, often never to see the light of day again. But in your case, this one is very much resurrected. What's the story behind this?

Christoph: I didn't have the courage to publish for years and so I managed to pile up several 'drafts' of novels in my drawers; that's put me in the lucky position to be able to choose how to move forward. My last novel, Time to Let Go, was a bit of a surprise success for me so it seemed a good idea to release another contemporary novel on the back of that popularity before publishing my next historical work. I enjoy both genres and would not want to be branded as doing only one or the other.

I was hesitant with Conditions because first books can be more for the writer than for the reader. I had to take out quite a few parts which had nothing to do with the story. I feel however that it was the right time to 'let the book go'.

That's very interesting to know and I understand what you mean about first books. Generally they're about testing the water; the practice run. But you have shown that it's still possible with some re-writing and good editing that those first early attempts can actually shine.
Tell us what you're working on at the moment?

Christoph: I'm working on In Search of a Revolution, a war drama set in Finland between 1918 and 1950. Finnish history of that time is a hugely fascinating subject. I have recently finished the first draft for a psychological thriller and so must exercise discipline to stay focused and not to get side-tracked by that.

Wow! You sound as if you're a prolific writer - you'll be grabbing the record from Enid Blyton at this rate. Finnish history is something I have no knowledge of at all so it will be very interesting to me. 
Finally, may we take a peek into your typical writing day?

Christoph: There are few typical 'only writing' days since I spend a lot of time marketing as well. I get up very early and walk my dogs. If I don't, they will lobby hard for me to do so and distract me. During the walk I often get good ideas and clear my head from not writing related issues. I sit down on the computer when I'm back and start writing. This is interrupted throughout the day by hours dedicated to Facebook, Twitter and blog activities. If things go well I forget everything, even to eat, and were it not for the youngest dog demanding ball playing time, I might be stuck on the computer all day.
On a good day I write 8 pages of new material. On a bad day I manage to edit half a page of what I have already written, having to go back to my sources and check timelines or data. When 'the muse is not with me' I find myself something else to do, such as reading a book or tidying up.

Well, it all sounds like writing utopia to me. And you've shown us that even you have bad, less productive days. It's normal and I'm no exception. Writing is a very solitary business but the best thing I've found is that the online writing community is absolutely fantastic. Resources are plenty and so are the writers, many if not all are so approachable, willing to help where they can and overall, friendly and a great bunch of people. 

Thank you for being my guest here today, Christoph. It's always fascinating to hear how other authors work and to be offered a glimpse into their daily lives. Always a pleasure to catch up with you and I wish you the very best of success with this, your latest novel, Conditions. Have a fantastic weekend.


Bonus Excerpt from Conditions by Author Christoph Fischer

Martha was petite and fragile looking with bleach blonde hair, very light skin and lots of freckles. She seemed lost in her overly large black dress. When she saw it was a stranger answering the door she trembled, mumbling a barely audible greeting. Charles quickly stuck his head out of the kitchen and shouted:
“Martha, this is my friend Simon.”
She looked puzzled.
“Remember, I said there’d be someone from Torquay. The orchid guy?”
She nodded slightly, hesitantly stepped into the hallway and looked searchingly around.
“Talk to each other while I’m making dinner,” Charles ordered them. “I’ll be out soon. Go, sit in the living room!”
Martha shrugged and gave a little grin, then stood there waiting for Simon to do something.
“You have been here before, haven’t you?” he asked surprised at her lack of initiative.
“Yes, of course,” she said, continuing to stand until he started to walk. Only then did she move towards the living room, following his lead. She sat down on the sofa, put her handbag on the floor and folded her hands over her knees. She remained that way, without saying a further word, her gaze averted towards the floor. Simon sat down on the other sofa and tried to think of the right thing to say, but was stumped. Although she was as shy as Charles had predicted, there was something quite forceful underneath that exterior that didn’t sit comfortable with him. An unspoken pressure surrounded that woman and tensed up the atmosphere. She, too, had very attractive features, he thought. A hint of Meg Ryan maybe, if only her face was more relaxed.
“Can I get you a drink?” he eventually asked, grateful that something had finally sprung to mind.
“No thank you,” she said, her voice cracking halfway through the first syllable. He noticed that her eyes were melancholic and seemed to be continually searching for something. She smiled and shrugged as if to apologise for it. Only then did Simon remember being told about her drinking problem and felt the sting of embarrassment. To add to his discomfort Martha now seemed to have lost some of her initial shyness and looked expectantly at him. The mounting pressure began to feel very uncomfortable.
He remembered her story vaguely from one of Charles’s long monologues. Martha and Charles had met in hospital after his accident at the estate while she was being treated for nasty bruises and fractures - souvenirs from a recent fight with her latest abusive husband. The memory made him even more self-conscious as to what to speak to her about.
“How was the journey?” Simon had finally thought to ask.
“Alright,” she said, repeating her grin and shrug routine.
“Are you still living in…” Simon paused, realising that he couldn’t remember the name of the town.
“I’m still in the same place that I lived in with my ex-husband Clive,” she said eagerly. She had moved to the front of the seat and was leaning towards him. “It has to be sold to complete the divorce settlement and the sale is taking its time,” she added.
“Sorry to hear that,” he said, surprised by her sudden change of attitude.
“Like our marriage, the sale has turned into a tedious and painful affair,” she said, giggling slightly.
“I see,” Simon said, feeling embarrassed by the sudden intimacy. “I hadn’t meant to ask that, of course.”
“I don’t mind talking about it,” she said. “I’m in AA and there we share everything. Clive and I worked at the same firm and nothing about the split has ever been secret. Everyone knows my story and in parts I find that quite liberating. Charles probably mentioned the saga to you. At least he probably told you why I don’t drink,” she added.
Simon was stunned into silence by her forwardness.
“You don’t have to get embarrassed,” she assured him.
“I am embarrassed,” he said, to which she just shrugged her shoulders.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners (Three Nations Trilogy Book 1)
In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles in with the Winkelmeier clan just as the developments in Germany start to make waves in Europe and re-draws the visible and invisible borders. The political climate in the multifaceted cultural jigsaw puzzle of disintegrating Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and the families. The story follows them through the war with its predictable and also its unexpected turns and events and the equally hard times after.
But this is no ordinary romance; in fact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story. What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. This is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck.

On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/12Rnup8

Sebastian (Three Nations Trilogy Book 2)
Sebastian is the story of a young man who has his leg amputated before World War I. When his father is drafted to the war it falls on to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty and hopefully find love.
Sebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the ‘golden days’ of pre-war Vienna and the timed of the war and the end of the Monarchy while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dear.
Fischer convincingly describes life in Vienna during the war, how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the Monarchy, the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an era.
As in the first part of the trilogy, “The Luck of The Weissensteiners” we are confronted again with themes of identity, Nationality and borders. The step back in time made from Book 1 and the change of location from Slovakia to Austria enables the reader to see the parallels and the differences deliberately out of the sequential order. This helps to see one not as the consequence of the other, but to experience them as the momentary reality as it must have felt for the people at the time.

On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/pthHZ
On Facebook: http://ow.ly/pthNy
The Black Eagle Inn (Three Nations Trilogy Book 3)
The Black Eagle Inn is an old established Restaurant and Farm business in the sleepy Bavarian countryside outside of Heimkirchen. Childless Anna Hinterberger has fought hard to make it her own and keep it running through WWII. Religion and rivalry divide her family as one of her nephews, Markus has got her heart and another nephew, Lukas got her ear. Her husband Herbert is still missing and for the wider family life in post-war Germany also has some unexpected challenges in store.
Once again Fischer tells a family saga with war in the far background and weaves the political and religious into the personal. Being the third in the Three Nations Trilogy this book offers another perspective on war, its impact on people and the themes of nations and identity.

On Facebook: http://ow.ly/pAX3y
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/pAX8G

Time To Let Go
Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.
Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems, nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.
The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

On Facebook: http://ow.ly/BtKtQ
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/BtKs7

Conditions
When Charles and Tony's mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family. 
The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside.
Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast. 
Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

On Facebook: http://ow.ly/C0ZqX
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/C0Ziw

Short Biography:
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; 'Sebastian' in May 2013 and 'The Black Eagle Inn' in October 2013. In May 2014 he published his first contemporary novel "Time To Let Go" in May. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.


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