Monday, October 14, 2013

In the Spotlight: Christoph Fischer

Iyana had the chance to interview Christoph Fischer. Here are his responses to Iyana's questions.

  1. What inspired you to write “The Black Eagle Inn”?
The book is loosely based on stories and tales from wider family members and acquaintances in the generations before me. I was also fascinated by the idea of how a nation could possibly redeem itself after the Holocaust? How do people and their attitude change?  I was born in 1970. In only 25 years how could a country evolve from a suicidal monster to a modern state? Film and television and what people said and how they felt during the 70s inspired the lives and characters of my protagonists.
I live in the UK and not a week goes by without someone mentioning WWII in a conversation with me. As I am also frequently confronted with semi-comical stereotypes of Nazi-esque Germans I wondered more and more about the milestones in post-war German history and how they transformed the nation to the way that I knew it.

  1. Who is your favourite character in the book? Tell us more about it.
I’m afraid I love almost all of my characters, the good ones and the bad. I believe we all have good and bad in us, and many of my characters redeem themselves over the course of the book, despite a dark past. I can’t spoil the book for you by mentioning names, but some of the older generation make a fantastic transformation and I loved them for it.

If I have to choose one (so unfair!) then Maria would be the obvious choice because she is always cheerful and happy - until she has to stand up for herself. Then she goes all the way, brave and honourable, despite her path being difficult and new.

  1. What is the biggest challenge for you in writing this book?
Sticking to the time line in this book was very difficult. Choosing characters and their exact age to fit with the relevant political changes was not a problem in my previous books, which covered a much shorter time span.

  1. How do you pick your titles?
That varies. I always liked the family name of a very close friend of mine and the idea for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” came to me while I was writing a scene in the book where luck was a rather questionable term for what was happening.
“Sebastian” is a wonderful name in my opinion and has some family connection. It is meant to honour one of my grandfathers, who I think could have lived in Vienna of that time, very happily.
“The Black Eagle Inn” was originally titled “The Farm in Heimkirchen”. The accidentally named restaurant however turned out to be more prominent in the story and the name has a symbolic meaning because of the Eagle on the flag of the Federal Republic of Germany.

  1. What is your current project?
My current project is a book about Alzheimers: how it impacts on the partner and the daughter of the woman suffering from the disease - at a time when their life undergoes some unexpected drama and unwanted attention. It is contemporary and a little more quirky. The working title for the book is “A Time to Let Go”.

  1. If you would write a different genre you have never written, what would it be?
I have a half ready draft in my drawer for a humorous murder mystery. With all the heavy drama that oozes out of my pen I would love to make people laugh for a change, but I have serious doubts I can get them to. Maybe if I threatened them with a gun.

  1. If you interviewed yourself, what question would you ask, and what would you answer?
What was your main message with this book?

I have an ambiguous relationship with Germany, not having lived there for half of my life. I agree with some of the stereotypes and criticisms but get defensive and hurt by others. Like any society or country, Germany is a work in progress and I tried to portray the struggle within and to show to the people outside how I perceive the on-going move forward.
After having written one book on the terrors that came from WWII, and one that showed the world before it, it seemed the appropriate way to finish the trilogy.

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 Goodreads:

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.

On Goodreads:
On Facebook:

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.

On Facebook:
On Goodreads:

Short Biography:

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 resident today. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; 'Sebastian' in May 2013.He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.


1 comment:

  1. This interview is fabulous! I really enjoyed learning about Chris and where he got his inspiration. I like that he got ideas from his family stories. Books about this time period are always fascinating for me, so I have added these to my list. Thanks for sharing! :)