Name Christoph Fischer
Age Mid-forties – i.e. ‘my prime’
Where are you from: Born in Southern Germany, now living in rural Britain
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I did my A-levels at an old-fashioned grammar school in Bavaria, moved to Hamburg to become a librarian and ended up in London working for the British Film Institute and British Airways.
I come from a large family and now have three labradoodles as child substitutes with my partner.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My new book “Conditions” will be out on October 16th. It is a contemporary novel about friends, family, mental health and a funeral. I published three historical novels but after my last novel, “Time To Let Go” (a book about Alzheimer’s), was surprisingly popular I decided to follow with another contemporary book.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Five years ago I tried to write a handbook for a workshop and whilst I sat at the computer, I wrote down a short story, just to see if I could write fiction. To my surprise the short story turned into a novel and suddenly I had ideas for another. I wrote a few before I decided to publish one of them, “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” in late 2012.
My new book, “Conditions” will be my fifth published book but it originated from the very first ‘short story’ I wrote and is my ‘original’ first book.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A key scene in “Conditions” is a funeral, which is based on one I personally attended. The family division at a moment of grief shocked me and I always wanted to know more about it, although I never found out. It inspired the central conflict in the book.
On a wider scale, I grew up in an environment where I felt I didn’t fit in and consequently, I always ended up being friends with other misfits; that has influenced the people that populate “Conditions”.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to write the first draft with a plotline in mind but characters and events take on their own life, so I also become part spectator as the story unfolds.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Intuitively. I kept thinking of names but none of them fitted. Then “Conditions” popped into my mind and I liked it. I gradually realized how well it worked.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. I do, but I don’t want to spoil the experience by spelling it out and hitting you over the head with it. Something along the lines of “You’re not alone”
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
“Crime and Punsihment” by Dostoyevsky, “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts, “We Need to Talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver and “The Slap” by Christos Tsiolkas
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
My beta readers Paulette Mahurin, Melodie Ramone, Fran Lewis and my editors (both writers) David Lawlor and Wanda Hartzenberg
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“Americanah” by Chimaamanda Ngozi Adichie and “His Name was Ben” by Paulette Mahurin
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Far too many, Murielle Cyr, S. Rose,, Nichols Sansbury Smith, PC.Zick, Judith Barrow, Travis Luedke, Dianne Harman, Dab10…
Fiona: What are your current projects?
“In Search of a Revolution”, a historical novel set in Scandinavia between 1918 and 1850. It is about two Danish men whose friendship is tested by war, politics and love.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My partner Ryan whose patience and kindness puts most of us to shame.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I am starting to see it a bit like that but I am enjoying the experience so much that I know I will always write, even if I ever grow tired of publishing and marketing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I learned a lot from feedback, critical reviews and from continuously writing, so part of me is always tempted to go back over old material with an editing pen. However, I am not sure I would change more than minor details. I know if someone edited one of my favorite books I might be quite upset about it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Martha was petit 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.
Martha on the Bus
On the bus she couldn’t resist her curiosity and opened the text from Clive, bracing herself for another huge blow. Had he taken the house off the market yet again or was it going to be some regular abuse he often sent her when he was out drunk with his mates?
“I miss you!”
Martha head was throbbing. Was this a hoax… a sick joke? What on earth was he playing at?
She wanted to reply “I miss you, too” which would have been wrong … probably. And what if it was his girlfriend playing a prank?
She shouldn’t reply at all. Ignore it. Leave him be. She opened her book and tried to focus on it. She couldn’t retain a single word she was reading. “I miss you!” “I miss you!” echoed over and over in her head.
When was she ever going to beat her addiction to him? It was ridiculous to think that only half an hour ago a semi-naked hunk had woken her up and it had not stirred her sexual appetite, yet a text from her abusive ex-husband did. When was the whole nightmare ever going to end – one way or another? What did he want now? She had to know, so she put the book down, got her phone out and started to compose a text. “Dear Clive…” She deleted the ‘dear’ in case it would make the text sound too familiar or make her sound too soft. “What do you want?” she tried, then she deleted that as well. She didn’t want to appear too aggressive in case it would trigger a nasty reply.
“Why do you…”, no she had to delete that also. He would say that was passive aggressive again. God, she had no chance with that man. She typed: “????”
That was good. He could make of that what he wanted. After all, his text had not only come like a bolt from the blue, it had been inconclusive… a testing of the waters, without giving anything away himself. She would, as usual, come running and open her heart to him, and he could then decide if he wanted her or not without having made one single promise.
Could he really be thinking about her? Did he want her back? Had his little child girlfriend become too boring or bored herself? Was it like Elaine had foretold?
Clive had volatile moods and could easily change his mind again and make her look like a fool if her reply was too positive. Her “????” was good, it did not give anything away and, maybe this once, she could have the upper hand in this relationship. She pressed send and immediately regretted it, tormented by worry and fear. She stared at her phone waiting for an instant reply – despite her better knowledge of Clive’s elusive phone manners.
She got to the end of her journey and changed onto another bus. Still no reply. She worried now that she’d made a fool of herself. If he had texted her last night while being drunk, he probably didn’t even remember sending the message. She should have ignored it after all. What an idiot she was when it came to dealing with this man.
By the time Martha got home she was in a hysterics over it. Of course there were no more texts from Clive. Instead there was a message on her home answer machine from the estate agent saying that there was going to be an extra viewing later that day and could she make sure the place was as presentable as possible. She had left the place in as good a state as she could, all she could do now was to take her bag and hide it under the bed. Probably best to leave the flat for the afternoon. A hysterical owner was not going to help sell the place – if it ever came to that. Then again, she’d only just arrived and it would be great to be at home at least for a little while. She would be careful not to make a mess and just have a quick coffee in the kitchen.
Her mobile phone bleeped twice, telling her she had a text message. Her heart started to race.
“Having lots of fun in the woods. No need to worry. Sorry for not txtg earlier. Love Emma and Jo.”
At last, word from her daughters. If this constant waiting for a message from Clive was going to continue Martha might well have a heart attack by the end of the day. She scolded herself for not really caring much about the message from the girls. She usually would have been worried about them the whole morning. Today, all she could think of was Clive. What a bad mother she had become.
Ruth and Sarah
“Don’t you think it’s comforting that Henry died a happy and loved man?” Sarah asked.
“I find Charles too annoying to think he made Henry happy. His tendency to talk and talk… mainly about himself – I question whether he has the ability to love anybody but himself; at least not the way I wanted Henry to be loved,” Ruth said, turning back to the window. “You think too much of him.”
“I’m not idealising Charles,” Sarah said. “I just didn’t find him as difficult as you obviously did. I considered him more of an eccentric than a nuisance. I don’t want everybody on this planet to be the same and predictable. He had a lot of character. If the price for that is a little madness as you call it, then that is a good bargain in my books!” Sarah said. “How did it happen anyway? His mother I mean, how did she die?”
“No idea,” Ruth answered. “It said in the newspaper that she died after a long illness, so I guess it was either her blood disease or maybe cancer? I can ask around if you want to know. I really don’t think you should take too much interest in it, you’ll get carried away. Are you not angry at Charles at all?” asked Ruth.
“I never really was that angry with him. Everything that happened must have been a tremendous shock for Charles. He’s such a sensitive soul. First Henry dying so sudden and then he got burnt and needed to go into hospital,” Sarah had to fight back tears which she didn’t want Ruth to see. She stood up and walked towards the bookshelves until she realised that she was in front of her secret chocolate stash and, feeling self-conscious, she quickly returned to her seat.
“We’ve been through this before,” Ruth said with surprising warmth and implied understanding but still standing with her back to her mother.
She was staring over the estate… the estate that would be hers one day.
“You lost a son,” she said, “I lost my brother and David lost a brother-in-law. We all knew Henry forever, Charles knew him for a year at the most. I thought it was disgraceful the way he played the widower and tried to get all the sympathy for himself. That was not gentlemanly, it was self-centred and annoying.”
“Yes, I know he can be self-centred, but I believe that he truly loved Henry, regardless of how long they’d been a couple. I found at least a dozen framed snap shots of Charles in Henry’s desk after he’d died. He wasn’t good at expressing his feelings but those pictures told their own story. Henry loved doing everything the right way and to manage the estate well. I am sure he loved ‘managing’ Charles and, like myself, he must have loved the life force of that man brought to our home. All grief is self-pity. You can’t tell Charles how much he’s entitled to, especially when their affection was so obviously genuine. Don’t you remember that night when they danced cheek to cheek in the party room? Wasn’t that so romantic?”
“Oh mother you can be so incredibly naïve,” she said laughing gently. “They were drunk, that’s all it was. I thought it was rather common, if I’m honest with you. The way Henry threw half of his tuxedo on the floor. They were drunk and full of lust, not love. Gay men have such an incredible sexual appetite, and your son was no exception, I’m sure. That’s why they bear the brunt of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a very good gay friend at my stables and have nothing against them as a group. You still have to be honest and call a spade a spade,” Ruth said with conviction.
“You can be so mean and cynical!” countered her mother.
“And you can be so naïve it hurts to watch.” Ruth turned slowly towards Sarah and put her hand on her arm.
“If you send word to Charles then you need to be sure of the consequences, because he’ll come here running and stick his feet under our table as he did before. If you are fine with that, please go ahead. I want nothing to do with it. I’m still upset with him about the legal matters.” She gave her mother an imploring look. “Forgive my honesty. I mean to protect you, too.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Continuity, not the big things like the time line and general events, but the tiny little details you make up while focusing on a different matter. Hair color of a secondary character, car type, etc.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas, both for their raw honesty and uncompromising writing.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet, but I did go to the London Book Fair this year and am planning to attend a few more in the future, now that I know how it all works.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All my covers were designed by Daz Smith of nethed.com and I must say he is a wizard.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
“Conditions” was my first book and had all the usual ‘first book’ errors, such as repetition and over-emphasizing my points, or including viewpoints that have nothing to do with the story.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I found myself in almost all the characters I wrote, in one way or another. In that respect writing is a sometimes uncomfortable look in the mirror but it can also be liberating and very cathartic. I learned a lot of personal lessons.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. Write as much as you can because only practice makes perfect. And don’t get knocked down by criticism. Take from it what helps and keep going.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Reviews are important to writers. If you have taken the time to read a book, consider leaving a comment on the website where you bought it. Independent writers in particular live from word of mouth and benefit from any fuss made about them. Remember that we do not have a big PR machine behind us, so if you liked a book you can make a big difference by just writing a few lines about it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was called Konrad and was about a boy who came out of a tin. Apart from that, I grew up with Enid Blyton, Astrid Lindgren and Ottfried Preussler.
Grown up books: “The Idiot” by Dostoyevsky and “Heimatmuseum” by Siegfried Lenz.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Comedy TV, such as: Scrubs, Friends and Six Feet Under.
My friends. Writers: Ian Hutson, Duncan Whitehead and Aaron David.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
Swedish author Henning Mankell seems a fascinating character with all the theatre and charity work he is doing aside his writing.
Dead: My grandfather on my father’s side, who lived on the other side of the iron curtain and whom I never got to meet.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Walking my dogs, cycling, running, travelling and films.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Dexter, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Macrobiotic Vegan Tofu Salads (or Haribo and Pizza on naughty days) / Blue and Red / Cheesy Pop or atmospheric chill out music
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Sports professional, location scout, dog whisperer
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
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 Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1bua395
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.
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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.
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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.
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On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/BtKs7
On Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TTLG
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.
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On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NZ1VTBU
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/C0Ziw
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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