16 Feb 2014

Interviewed by Chris Westlake

2 Comments Book Reviews, News

A very happy Sunday to you. The skies are blue even in Birmingham this morning, which really is saying something. Here is a transcript from http://www.chriswestlake.co.uk/

Chris Westlake has been kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to hist me on his blog:

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Today I’m delighted to bring to you my recent interview with historical fiction writer, Christoph Fischer.
I first became aware of Christoph just before Christmas, when I got my hands on the first in book in his Three Nations Trilogy, The Luck of the Weissensteiners. Set in the quiet town of Bratlislava, in Czechoslovakia (the most difficult country in the world to spell) the story begins in 1933, when Jewish girl Greta falls for Wilhem, a bookseller from Berlin. The Luck of the Weissensteiners is the story of two families, one Catholic and one Jewish, struggling against the fascism and horror of World War II.
Nowadays, I always read as a writer. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t. Reading as a writer makes you critical and annoying, and I am critical and annoying enough as it is. On the flipside, though, it does mean that I appreciate good writing more than I used to. One of the things I loved about The Luck of The Weissensteiners is the angle; the viewpoint. Unfortunately we all know too well the brutality of the concentration camps, of the heroes on the front line. This is the story of two ordinary families, brought together initially by love affair. The horrific war is only a backdrop. It brings to the forefront the prejudice and hatred already simmering under the surface. 
But let’s not forget the meticulous attention to detail that Christoph demonstrates. Or the absorbing characters that draw you in….
I hope that the interview tell you more not only about the books but about the man behind the words.
Thank you very much Christoph.
Readers, enjoy…!  

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Could you please describe your upbringing in Germany? How did this affect your views and writing? 
I was the youngest of three children in a Catholic family with strong conservative and also some liberal upbringing. My father’s side of the family was expelled from Czechoslovakia and grated slightly with the Bavarian culture they were forced to live in. It has created a distance between me and Germany in a way which probably shows in all of my three books in one way or another. However, you can take the man out of Germany but…. 

When did you first start writing and how did this develop?
I first started seriously writing three years ago with an idea for a short story, which turned into a novel and then I had another idea. I am currently working on my 5th novel but I have more drafts and ideas coming, so I guess I will be writing for a while yet. When did you first see your name in print? How did this feel? I was away with my then day job and my partner sent me a multimedia message with a picture of the proof copy of my book. That was 14 months ago and it felt absolutely amazing and also a little scary. Why are you passionate about historic fiction? Initially my stories were driven by ancestry research. I take an interest in the history of the 19th and 20th century and my thirst to learn more has helped creating the stories for my books. Currently I am writing about the Finnish Civil War, just because one day I realised how little I knew about Finnish history and found that there was a lot to learn.

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Are you interested in writing any other genres?
I would love to write a comedy or a murder mystery but all my attempts in that direction have not ended in a completed novel yet. I am however writing contemporary fiction, too, and will be publishing a book with a side-plot concerning Alzheimers’ hopefully this spring. 

Who are your literary influences? 
Early influences would be Dostoyevsky, Sartre and Kafka. Later influences include Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas. Recently it’s independent authors such as Paulette Mahurin, Amalie Jahn and Melodie Ramone. 

What drives you more – character or plot?
 51% characters, 49% plot 

There is great attention to detail in your books. How do you go about researching? 
With history I learned that you cannot trust all of your resources. Political colouring and wishful thinking find their way into the books and so I read as many sources, books and online materials as I possibly could until I was sure about everything. I try to live in the story with the characters while I write and so the details become important.

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Do you believe in writers block? If so, how have you overcome it? 
Touch wood, I have been spared that evil yet. With the simultaneous self-promotion of three books it is so hard to find time to write at all that I usually have a backlog of ideas to write down when I get round to it. As with sleepless nights, when it doesn’t happen I just get up and do something else. I never try to force it. 

What piece of writing or writing achievement are you proudest of? 
The epilogue of THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS has got some very good write ups and is something I enjoyed writing very much myself. 

You now live near Bath, United Kingdom. What is the story behind your move? 
The move was pure chance. A student exchange programme brought me to London where I enjoyed a great decade of city life. After a painful relationship breakdown at a time when I lived in Brighton, I decided to make a fresh start and move to a different city, which had to be in a 2 hour radius to London. I always wanted to be close to the West Country of England and to Wales, which I am now. I was lucky the move worked out and I established great new roots quickly.

There are more books in the market than ever. How do you market and publicise your books to stay ahead of the competition
Just be yourself, write as you would like to read a story and do not try to copy anyone to be successful. There are plenty of similar plots and stories but there is only one you. 

What is the greatest compliment a reader could make? 
That the book moved or touched them in one way or another, that it changed their perspective. Those are great compliments, but “good entertainment” is equally flattering.

What is your favourite and least favourite part of the writing process? 
Editing used to be my least favourite part but I have grown quite fond of it since and I enjoy going back to a story and rewriting and pondering about the best word and the wider implication of my editing choices. Marketing is what I like least I guess. I’d love for people to just find the books without them being promised anything, but it is a necessary evil and if you get it right it is hopefully connecting the story to the right readers. 

Could you please summarise your three published works, The Luck of The Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and The Black Eagle Inn. 
THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS is the story of a group of characters of different backgrounds whose life in Czechoslovakia is turned upside down by Hitler’s politics. Love, families and livelihoods are affected in not so obvious ways as we would expect. Vienna before WW1 was often mentioned as a place where different people lived in a safe and more tolerant society. I researched those claims and chose this as setting for SEBASTIAN to examine that claim by picking another set of culturally different characters to witness and be affected by the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. THE BLACK EAGLE INN examines the life of another family, this time in Bavaria after the war. They face new circumstances and modernisation as Germany redefines itself and their own inner demons, regardless of the war.

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What are you currently writing? 
Currently I am writing A TIME TO LET GO, a contemporary coming of age novel about a family dealing with Alzheimers. 

What are your literary ambitions? 
I would like to entertain people with my stories, hopefully change their perspectives or teach them things they had not known. Obviously I would like to have a few bestsellers and awards in the future but for now writing is rewarding enough to see it as a happy hobby.


You discover more about Christoph at

http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

and more about his books at

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

2 Responses to “Interviewed by Chris Westlake”

  1. Paulette says:

    Great interview and photos for a prolific author whose trilogy is doing remarkably well internationally. I’m grateful for the mention. Thank you. Paulette

  2. Jenny Lloyd says:

    Having read and greatly enjoyed The Luck of the Weissensteiners it’s good to know more about the author and his other books are on my to-read list.

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