I welcome back Christoph Fischer, who is one of my favorite Indie Authors. What I love most about Christoph is his fearlessness in tackling difficult subjects in his novels. From the Holocaust to Alzheimers and now to mental illness, Christoph provides us with fiction to make us think and talk about those things we’d rather ignore, much to the detriment of the individual and society. His new release Conditions gives voice to the shame and secretiveness surrounding mental illness. The reality of ignoring diseases of the mind ends up making victims of more than just the person suffering from it.
Synopsis of Conditions
When Charles’ and Tony’s mother dies, the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly because 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 on 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.
Christoph, thank you so much for stopping by today. Let’s talk about your new book. What messages or themes did you try to convey in Conditions?
My messages are common place:
You can choose your friends but not your family.
You’re not alone with your problems.
It’s OK to be different.
These are very important. What led you to chose them?
I grew up feeling different and consequently always associated with other ‘misfits’ and have – amongst others – befriended people with mental health issues. Conditions was my first novel, but fifth published, and therefore, a selection of oddball characters was a given. The funeral, the focal point for the story, is based on a situation I encountered personally, and which stayed with me for years after. It seemed the perfect scenario on which to center the story.
I didn’t realize this was your first novel. That’s interesting. I’m glad you finally came back to it. You mention an “oddball” assortment of characters in this book, so do you have a favorite one?
It has to be Elaine. A selfless psychic hairdresser with a Mother Earth caring nature and a relentless amount of time and energy for others. I know several people just like her, and I’m always amazed at how much these people get out of their lives by giving. These people inspire me greatly, and I feel Elaine has come together very well in this book. I have plans for a sequel in which she will feature even more.
She sounds like someone I’d love to meet. I know you also write historical fiction, but are you going to continue with contemporary works?
Although I love writing historical novels and my next book will be another one of those, it’s liberating to write contemporary fiction without restraints of historic facts and peculiarities of the times. My last book, Time To Let Go, was my first contemporary novel and was a bit of a surprise hit, so I’m definitely going to continue with both genres.
How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?
It came to me intuitively quite early. I’d been searching for a title once I was past the forty-page mark and realized it would be a complete novel. When the word Conditions came to my mind it felt right, and I saw how well it fit.
What is the best thing someone could say about this book?
That it has interesting and relatable characters and a positive message despite some moments of sadness and thoughtfulness.
Who is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?
There are a few antagonists in the book, a money grabbing sister-in-law for one. I hate arguments and disliked writing those scenes. I was asked by my beta readers and editors to tone them down since I painted the “baddies” too harshly. I prefer to write balanced characters but that does not always work.
Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.
There is a party scene after the funeral. I went to my fair share of funerals in my youth and found them often oddly comforting and cheerful. Once the hard part is over people console each other and you are left with hope and acceptance. That often leads to laughter and in my book there is some of that.
If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose and why.
Christos Tsiolkas and Henning Mankell. They both are involved in a lot of projects and seem to have a perpetual drive of creativity and community.
What are you working on these days?
My next book is a historical novel about Finland, starting with its Civil War in 1918 and ending post World War II in 1950. It is about two Danish friends whose relationship is tested by war, politics, and love interests.
Thank you so much for stopping by today, Christoph. It’s always a pleasure when you visit.
About Christoph Fischer: Christoph 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. Conditions was released in September 2014.
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