Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer

@PCZick

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. I’m pleased to welcome back Christoph Fischer to my blog. Christoph writes historical fiction and recently published the third book in his Three Nations Trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn. The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and The Black Eagle Inn are set in Europe during either World War I, World War II, or the post-war period. They offer a unique view of wars that pulled apart countries, cultures, and religions. Christoph uses the individual stories to narrate his historical perspective.542568_135806279903679_1569303214_nSebastian_Cover_for_Kindleb3-front-sm

Welcome to Author Wednesday, Christoph. It’s always a pleasure to have you drop by for a chat. You’ve written a trilogy so I wonder about the similar messages and themes you used in all three books. What message are you trying to convey to your readers?

I try to write about new historical aspects, but also the human factor and how people deal with the trials of their lives. I hope that the importance of families, love, and tolerance shine through my pages. My motivation to write stories derives from a fascination with my chosen subjects, such as a particular era of history, Alzheimer’s, or mental health. I want to pass on what I have learned in the process, and I hope that what was new or intriguing to me will also be that to my readers.

Those are very important themes to express. To get to this point, who or what has the most influence on your writing?

The influences on my writing are more or less in this order: The reviewers and their invaluable feedback; my editors whose critiques can never be tough enough to help me improve; literature teachers in my past whose encouraging words saw me through waves of self-doubt; and great writers whose amazing books make me both jealous and ambitious.

You’ve stated you do have common themes throughout all of your books. What motivated you to write about those things?

I lost both of my parents when I was fairly young, and I guess that is why I am so prone to write about large families rather than about lovers. I had a huge support network at the time and that shows in the set-up of my stories.

Losing your parents at a young age is certainly something that left a mark on your life. You’ve chosen to use that in a positive way through your writing, which is admirable. Is there a broader message you’re expressing since the plots of all three books are in the context of the larger world that have created the individual angst and triumph.

In the widest sense, I am writing about the concept of Nations in my three books. Being a German from the Sudetenland made my father a bit of a foreigner in the eyes of some, and with my odd accent in Bavaria, I felt like that, too. After twenty years of living in the UK, I am branded a German there, but I don’t feel as if I belong to either of the Nations completely. In the first two books, it is the drawing of new borders, establishment of new governments, and blatant racism that help create new and bigger or smaller nations—multi-ethnic or not. In the third book, The Black Eagle Inn, I focus on the personal and how people choose to draw their own borders, and the foundations for all policies that exclude. Above all, it is about how a Nation can and must change.

I was very curious to learn more about post-war Germany, something not covered in our history lessons, yet a most important lesson for a country with such shame and guilt to deal with. I was trying to put into context the many contradictory experiences and comments (racist, chauvinist, or humble and riddled with guilt) which I had picked up in my childhood. By putting myself and my characters through the research and the writing experience, I hope I have come up with something that has interest and relevance for others, too.

What I love about the two books I’ve read is the knowledge I gained about the wars and the individual stories that you created. We don’t understand the impact of the global actions until we look at the individuals who live it. Do you have a favourite character that you created?

I love almost all of my characters, and all for different and valid reasons. Right now, I am thinking of Markus in The Black Eagle Inn. Initially, he is a misguided and selfish gay man who gradually becomes more aware. I was often asked if he is me, and I always rejected the idea because I never did what he does in the book. On longer reflection however, he served as a great tool of reflection on my life. I left a small town because I could not see myself living a gay life in a small and potentially judgmental environment. Like him I chose the safety of a big city instead of fighting in my corner, and like him, I too had irresponsible phases in my life. I thought that Markus was not a character I had put my heart in when I wrote him, but the longer I am reading him, the more he is growing on me.

I’m sure Markus came through your subconsicious in some ways. I always say that a little bit of me exists in all of my characters. What is the best thing said about any of your books by a reviewer?

“I loved Sebastian. A truly inspiring read for anyone!”

The best reviews are short and sweet. What is the one sentence pitch for The Black Eagle Inn?

A great family saga set in post war Germany about political and religious division, revenge, reformation, and redemption.

Those are some of my favorite themes in my books, too. What is the best thing that someone could say about The Black Eagle Inn?

A gripping family saga with an interesting setting of post-war Germany with great characters and some fascinating historical facts and insight.

How was the book conceived in your imagination?

A scene in the Oscar-nominated German film, The Bader Meinhoff Complex, stuck to my mind. It showed the hate of some of these post-war born terrorists towards their parents. I started to imagine life in post-war Germany:  the guilty and the innocent living together, the bystanders, the blind witnesses and their offspring. Since much has been written about the Nuremberg Trials, I focused on the people not directly involved but were not totally innocent either. Then the first few characters came to life and soon the story followed.

Who would play you in a film about your life?

Ewan McGregor, please.

Good choice. What are you reading right now?

The Changeling by Christopher Shields, a fantasy story about Fae.

How did you come up with the title The Black Eagle Inn?

The Black Eagle Inn is a restaurant and hotel business in my book. When I remembered that there is a Black Eagle emblem on the official German Flag and also an Eagle on the speaker’s desk in the German parliament, this “accidental symbolism” seemed the perfect choice for a title. The bird theme began on the cover of Book 1(The Luck of the Weissensteiners) and continues in this saga of a blackened bird rising from the ashes.

I’m looking forward to reading it. Is there a book or an author that acts as standard bearer for your writing?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is one of my all-time favorite books with great multifaceted and developing characters. I wonder with all of my characters if they could be part of his books. Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) has a bite and raw honesty that I also aspire too in my books.

Christoph, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you for writing such important historical pieces.

922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_oAbout 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 still resides today. Besides the Three Nations Trilogy, he has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.

 

 

Links

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

New Release from Christoph Fischer

@PCZick

Today I am pleased to announce the publication of Christoph Fischer‘s book, The Black Eagle Inn, the third book in his Three Nations Trilogy. b3-full bookI reviewed the first book in the series, The Luck of the Weissensteiners, earlier this year. I’m currently reading the second book, Sebastian and plan to review it soon. He writes historical novels and provides a perspective unique to me and what I was taught in my history classes in the United States. I love stepping out of the box and discovering how other nations, religions, cultures, and individuals viewed the two World Wars of the Twentieth Century. His books provide a history lesson, but before the dip into simply a world history textbook, he adds the characters who lived through those wars.

Watch for another interview with Christoph on Author Wednesday, October 30.

Here’s what Christoph Fischer has to say about his new release, The Black Eagle Inn.

Why I wrote The Black Eagle Inn

Early feedback to my third book in the Three Nations Trilogy stated that it would probably be of most interest for people with a German heritage. As author I had to ask myself: Could this novel hold relevance and interest for other people and non-German readers?  The answer is yes.

I was born in Germany twenty-five years after the end of the war. Our history lessons at school ended with the year 1945. One of the most urgent and important questions remained unanswered for me: How did a country with so much shame and horror in its past recover and move forward? How could it? I don’t think anything can ever make up for what has happened, and nobody can forgive or atone for the collective guilt. But can the new generation ever deservedly rid itself of the stigma the previous generation has brought to the country?

Apart from the actual family story in my book, I hope a great point of interest will be the way different characters carry on with their life and develop their philosophies, outlooks, and politics. De-nazification, restructuring of a political landscape, and implementation of new state leaders are issues the book touches upon. Only ten years after the end of the war, a wave of Italian and Turkish Immigrants filled the hole in the German employment market, but how did the nation respond to those foreigners (named Gastarbeiter)? Ten years after that, a new right wing party formed and threatened to tip the political balance and bring new shame to the nation.

The sixties brought the Bader Meinhoff Complex, student revolts, and many family conflicts instigated by the generation born after World War II. Many of them were disillusioned with politics and turned violent. It took a new generation of politicians to instigate a modernization of German society.

The year of my birth, Chancellor Willy Brand famously fell on his knees in Warsaw, humbly honouring a monument for the victims of Warsaw Uprising, an important symbolic gesture after previous governments tried too hastily to move on from the dark past.  My book, The Black Eagle Inn, covers a lot of ground about post war Germany and should be interesting for those whose knowledge of Germany also ends with 1945. We know about the Nuremberg Trials and the Nazis on the run in South America, but what about the little man, guilty or not? What does he do with this broken country?

I grew up with the first generation of children of mixed marriages and Gastarbeiter families, and I experienced them being treated badly by some but also very welcoming by others. I grew up in times of a United Europe, exchange students, and pop music from Italy, France, Britain, and America. For me, other nations and cultures were never anything but an exciting cultural enrichment, and I adored the people in my generation who had a similar vision and worked hard to make such a mentality part of a modern Germany.

Of the three books in the Three Nations Trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn is the one that is closest to my own life experience, although I was born around the time the story ends. While all three books deal with family sagas vaguely similar to some of my ancestors, this story takes place in an environment and times that I know almost first hand. Yet, there were an awful lot of facts that I only learned about while researching the foundations for the book. I hope it helps to understand more about the path of the German people from its past to the current state.

The book is by no means a glorification of the German nation. As much as I love my place of origin I am happy where I live now. By having written a somewhat political book about post-war Germany, I hope to paint a more balanced and more complex picture about its past and its people. Like every country in the world Germany should remain a work in progress of continuous development and improvement.

Christoph and Molly

Christoph and Molly

 

Christoph’s Background: 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 is still a resident today. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012; Sebastian in May 2013. The final book in the Three Nations Trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn was published in October 2013. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.

Book Review Friday – The Luck of the Weissensteiners (Book 1 of The Three Nations Trilogy)

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I interviewed Christoph Fischer in June on Author Wednesday. Today I review his novel The Luck of the Weissensteiners.542568_135806279903679_1569303214_n

 

History of the twentieth century was one of my major areas of study in college. However, the history I studied presented an ethnocentric view of World War II. Of course, I know about Hitler’s rise to power, and the major steps he took in Europe prior to our entry into the war. I understood the political and social ramifications. I understood the uneasy alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. But I only knew of these histories from the perspective of the first, isolationist United States, and then, as the full-speed ahead entry into the war heroes who saved the world from the evil Axis powers.

Reading Christoph Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners presented another view of that period through the camera lens of people living in Eastern Europe. The book shows people from all the different perspectives before, during, and after the war. It’s an eye-opening read to learn that the United States wasn’t the center of this war. In the lives of these ordinary folks, the United States played an almost peripheral role.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners exposes how the Eastern Europeans reacted with a wide range of attitudes and actions as the war tore apart families and friends and allowed no trust to exist in all the varied relationships. There may have been a world war taking place on the larger stage, but for the characters in Fischer’s novel, it is a civil war being fought, and the lines are blurred and often changing, depending on who’s in charge.

Jews and Gentiles fall in love and marry, which creates a problem when Hitler’s master plan begins to take effect, even in countries where he’s not invaded. . .yet. The propaganda used to smear the very genes of Jews causes one husband to question the moral integrity of his wife. He buys the line of inherently weak genes so much he even takes their son away – a son who is Aryan in looks, leaving behind his Jewish wife and their unborn child. The atmosphere of fear changes people, oftentimes not for the better.

Through it, all one family stands strong.

This book’s retelling of the history of this period in Europe is personalized through the characters that represent a cross section of the lives impacted by the atrocities of war. Jews, Gentiles, Germans, Slovakians, lesbians, and traitors all point to one direction. War never makes much sense when the individual lives of its victims are examined. Neither side wins when people are persecuted for their religion, political beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientations.

It’s a sad commentary on the human condition when a people are forced to hide their identities behind forged passports, and then forced to throw away the forgeries to appease the winning side. When it comes down to it in the aftermath of the war and the liberation of Europe, all individuals are suspect, and mankind is taken down a notch.

Christoph Fischer has written an important book for its historical perspective. He personified the vagaries of war through the fictional characters. At times, it reads like a history book, but before it bogs down into a lesson in civics, he comes back to the individuals experiencing the actual effects of the persecution.

As always, we study and examine the past so we don’t forget it. As long as genocide exists in the world, we must do as Fischer has done in his novel – remind us, and remind us again, that our faith, our color, our language, and our life choices should matter not a wit. In the end, it’s our integrity and how we treat others that matters the most.

Thank you, Christoph, for writing this important book to remind us never to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer

typewriter.jpg

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today, I’m happy to interview Christoph Fischer, an author and fellow blogger and reviewer. Christoph is a great supporter of the Indie Author, and he’s introduced me to many wonderful books and authors over the past year. He writes historical fiction. He’s published the first two novels in his Three Nations Trilogy, The Luck of the Weissensteiners and most recently, Sebastian. He’s working on the third book in the series, The Farm in Heimkirchen (working title).

542568_135806279903679_1569303214_n

Sebastian_Cover_for_Kindle

Hello, Christoph. Welcome to Author Wednesday. I’m curious how you might describe yourself in third person. Write a paragraph as if you were a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.

Christoph Fischer is a new author who has taken on an ambitious project of writing three historical novels set in different nations to discuss the subjects of Nation and identity. In his first installment, The Luck of The Weissensteiners, he takes us to Slovakia in the 1930s and sheds light on complex political situation while telling the story of one Jewish family from 1933 until 1946. In Sebastian, he moves back in time to the Vienna of 1913 and tells how a different family in a different era is confronted with similar themes, albeit under less extreme circumstances. As a German expat living in the UK and having family roots in Eastern Europe, Fischer’s own experiences clearly add to the tone of his writing.

My inspiration for my books often comes from others who’ve inspired me. Who has most influenced your writing and why?

German writers such as Siegfried Lenz and Stefan Zweig certainly left their mark on me. More recently, Lionel Shriver, Christos Tsiolkas, and Richard Zimler are authors whose work I absolutely adore.

Lately, I have been reading more independent writers and have learned about style and plotting from Paulette Mahurin, Bernice L. Rocque, Revital Shiri-Horowitz, and Angella Graff.

Are you planning to continue writing in historical fiction?

The books in my Three Nations Trilogy are all historical novels, and I have already written another historical novel since. History is a huge field and choosing a different time or place creates a challenge for the writer and adds an extra interest to a story, so I am rather fond of the idea of writing some more in the future.

I am however interested in a lot of other subjects too, where a contemporary setting is more apt. I have drafts of novels about Alzheimer’s and mental health, which might be classified as literary fiction (such a big word, I hardly dare use it). They are set in modern times because general awareness of these issues would not have been well developed in previous times.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

It is impossible to rank or compare reviews or compliments. An in-depth analysis and intellectual applause in my view is no better than a simple “I loved it!” if the reader really means it. Here is one excerpt from one review for The Luck of the Weissensteiners.

Ethnic disrespect, hate, and violence have gone on for centuries in central and eastern Europe. Until reading this book, though, I did not understand how finely differentiated these forces were.”

I chose this quote because it was rewarding to see a reader so engaged that they felt their perspective had changed a little.

I agree with your philosophy on reviews. When the reviewer really understands, it’s an important review. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

Every review only reflects one person’s perception of a book. What is great to one reader is off putting to the next. It is all about finding your target audience. My books would not go down well in a sci-fi reading group.  Also, read the bad reviews for critically acclaimed novels on Amazon and you will find that every single author gets bad press as well. You cannot please everyone. Try to see through the parts that are hurtful and use the criticism as a chance to improve.

Excellent advice, Christoph. Now let’s talk a bit about your latest release. What is the message conveyed in Sebastian?

The message I try to convey in Sebastian is that nobody should be or feel second best, and that you should always try to be your best and be content with that. The uncertain times intensified the insecurities of many of my characters; Sebastian has lost a limb and has even more confidence issues to fight.

Explain how Sebastian was conceived in your imagination.

The book is loosely based on my grandfather who had lost one leg in similar circumstances to Sebastian in the 1930s. He and my grandmother divorced while she was pregnant with my father. I never got to know why or how, and I never met him before he died. He, his new family and my father’s older sister were stuck on the other side of the Berlin Wall. I knew one side of the story, but in the 1990s my aunt told me another version of events. Between those two stories my imagination ran wild.

My father had a friend who had lost a leg in the war and as a child I was both fascinated by him and scared of him. I wondered how he would find love with such a “handicap.” When I heard that my grandfather had the same misfortune but had married twice, easily it got me thinking and that became a central part of this book.

As a gay man who grew up in a very Catholic area of Germany, I brought a lot of my own self-esteem issues to the character Sebastian; the loving picture that my aunt drew about my grandfather found itself into the character of Sebastian’s grandfather, Oscar, in the book.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Sebastian.

My favorite scene in the book is an argument between Sebastian’s grandparents. It is one of the more humorous scenes, and I hope it shows the difficult relationship between an unlikely couple who are nevertheless in love with each other and need each other and end up having silly but for others often entertaining rows.

I love this next question because I often wonder about it myself. If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose and why.

I have met a lot of other authors online and never seen them in person. M.C.V. Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths seems like a very interesting and multi-facetted character, and I would love to fly her over the Atlantic for dinner. The other person I would love to meet is Paulette Mahurin, another great and acclaimed Indie Author friend whose writing (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)  I find very inspiring. 

Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is one of my all-time favourites. His love for India, his exploration of guilt and redemption and his excellent characters get me to read the book at least once a year.

author pictureAbout Christoph Fischer – 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, which has led to his interest in the concept of Nations, individuals, and communal culture, some of the central themes of The Three Nations Trilogy.
He moved to Hamburg, London, Brighton, and Bath, where he is still a resident today.
The Luck of The Weissensteiners  is his first book and was published in November 2012.
Sebastian in May 2013.He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.

Author Website

http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

His Book Recommendations:

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Christoph Fischer on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/TheLuckOfTheWeissensteiners?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sebastian/489427467776001?ref=hl

My profile on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16177343-the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17834808-sebastian

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133796&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292311&sr=8-2&keywords=luck+of+the+weissensteiners

http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Three…

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133835&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292346&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Thr…

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners-christoph-fischer/1113932211?ean=9781481130332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sebastian-mr-christoph-fischer/1115243053?ean=9781484156001