30 Nov 2012

The Way I Write

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Most days I sit down as soon as I have walked the dogs in the early morning hours – a compulsive morning person just like my father – and write. The first idea for a story announces itself gradually and suddenly demands to be written down, maybe just in sketches and as a collection of material for specific characters. Then the story begins to tell itself and while the structured part of me wants to hold back and plan the story line and events everything runs away and I have a hard time keeping up with it.
That kind of casual story telling has often caused me grave concern that there are no consistencies in the writing and that nothing will make sense in the end. At page 40, 60 or 80 I stop and go back over the first few chapters. By the end of that rewrite I know where the story is going next and again I have to keep up with it.
At page 120 or 140 the same will happen again and by then I usually am beginning to understand a little more how it all comes together and why I am writing this story in the first place. At that point the idea of a title often is born.
Once the story is finished / has found an ending I go back over it several times, finding mistakes of continuity or other errors. I tend to leave the story like this for a few months before returning to it over and over again.
I feel lucky to be writing in the way I do. Whenever it comes to scenes that need to happen I find myself bored and uncomfortable, preferring the unknown and unexpected to the predictable and planned.

06 Sep 2012

Reviews

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The Luck of the Weissensteiners is an epic saga set in wartime Eastern Europe. It follows the lives of two families – one Jewish, one Catholic – and their entwined survival amidst the backdrop of the second world war; first the fascist then the communist invasion and occupation of Slovakia, and the horror of the consequences of war. The reader is transported to a world of deception, fear, distrust and betrayal, alongside enduring love and family drama. The characters are vividly painted in the mind of the reader as we follow their journey across Europe at a time of unimaginable challenge and trauma. Weissensteiners is a magnificent tale of human survival. I wish I hadn’t read it already so that I may repeat the pleasure of discovering and becoming lost in the story once again.

 

From the moment that Greta Weissensteiner enters the bookstore where Wilhelm Winkelmeier works, and entrances him with her good looks and serious ways, I was hooked. But this is no ordinary romance; in tact 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 Christoph Fischer gives his readers 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. Set in the fascinating area of Bratislava, this is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck. I cared about every one of this novel’s characters and continued to think about them long after I’d finished reading.

— Andrea Steiner, University of California Santa Cruz

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