Today’s post will focus on a new release by a writer I admire, not only for his great talent as a historical writer, but also for his generosity and willingness to help and encourage other struggling writers. He’s also a devoted dog lover, which puts him topmost on my list of compassionate people.
If I can quote Roger Carcas: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Christoph has managed to integrate his dogs within his writing persona.
I first connected with Christoph Fischer on a Goodreads forum when I embarked on my tumultuous social media journey. Wilma, his Labradoodle, was about to give birth at the time but he promised to review my book, CULLOO, as soon as he could find a spare moment. I didn’t think I’d hear from him again, but he came through with an encouraging review which motivated me to persevere with the overwhelming world of self-publishing.
Christoph is a solid historical writer who gives an emotional punch to all his novels. In his epic saga, The Luck of the Weissensteiners , he chronicles the Holocaust years in wartime Eastern Europe. The drama of his second novel, Sebastian, is set in Austria and depicts life in Vienna in pre-WW1. The Black Eagle Inn (on my to-read list), is the third novel of his Three Nations Trilogy, and describes the political landscape of post-war Germany. The characters in his novels are memorable and well fleshed—their conflicts, romances, and family tragedies tightly woven into the politics and cruel reality of the era.
I will be wrapping my review questions around his newest novel, Time To Let Go. The story deals with the dynamics of a family trying to come to terms with the cruel fact that their once vibrant mother is stricken with Alzheimers’s disease. Christoph’s passion with all things historical makes an about-face in this touching story to examine the opposite side of the spectrum—those who no longer have access to their personal history. It’s an honour to welcome Christoph here, and certainly about time he dropped by considering I’ve been featured on his blog three times now.
It’s wonderful to finally have you here, Christoph. Without giving any of the story away, I’d like to discuss the prevailing issue with ‘control’ shadowing some of your characters in Time to Let Go. Was that ‘writers’ intent’ or a matter of the characters taking over?
Tough question, Murielle.
My partner frequently likens me to the character ‘Monica’ in “Friends”, who “can be fun at organised and pre-planned indoor events”. I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with me and my choice of characters.
But now seriously: I find that many people in real life (and with hence the characters in my books) tend to cope with the stress factors in their lives and with the demands of modern life and its fast pace with neurotic mannerisms and controlling behaviour.
You have a point there; my family has a tendency to completely avoid me when I have a deadline to meet. Your character, Walter, is definitely an over-protective parent. Do you equate his excessive worrying to his controlling nature; i.e. to worry about someone is in fact simply trying to control another person’s life?
I agree that protecting can be controlling. However, I didn’t have that in mind when I wrote Walter. Many family patriarchs that I thought about when giving Walter life in my novel, act in a similar way but out of a sense of responsibility, family tradition and family honour. To me, Walter worries that he has failed in his duties and his actions are born out of a stubborn clinging to the ideas that have proven successful in the past and which he tries to project to a present that has evolved beyond his understanding.
Your description of Biddy’s day-to day battle with Alzheimer’s is so true to life that I found myself reliving my own mother’s painful journey with the same disease. Did you model Biddy on someone close to you?
My dear Aunt Philomena is suffering from the disease and a lot of her wonderful character shines through in Biddy, especially the telephone manners. I have seen her family cope with the responsibilities of caring for her and a lot of my knowledge and experience is from my visits to family and from my visits to the father of a close friend. Biddy is a tribute to my aunt’s best features but I ended up changing more or less everything personal and substituted the events I would have liked to share because it seemed morally wrong to intrude on a real person’s privacy.
Patrick chooses to stay in the background but he’s still a complex character. He shuns the material world to help others, yet his altruism doesn’t extend to his own family. His strict devotion to his cause resembles his brother Henrik’s single-minded focus on making his business prosper. Can you expand on this similarity?
I think that a stubborn and rigid father, such as Walter, to some extent would rub off on all of his children. However hard some of us try to be different from our parents, it is their world views that we learnt from and shaped us. I wanted to focus on Hanna and Walter alone, so her siblings had to be on the periphery of the book. Their disinterest in the family was a given that I had to accommodate. I imagined Henrik as a competitive person who needs the success because he is not getting the recognition at home that he craves. He is the stereotypical older sibling who would ideally take over as the head of the family. He might even have driven Patrick out of the family with this who has no interest in a battle between two alpha males.
I see Patrick driven by admiration. He surrounds himself with music fans and patients who need him and who owe their break-through to his abilities. He, too, cannot win his father’s approval inside the family and stays away but his interests are more varied.
On the lighter side, a few of your chapters have days of the week as titles. Does this have any significance to the story, or are they just titles?
They are primarily just titles, yet I chose them because they signify Walter’s clinging on to daily routines. The titles serve as a frame of reference for readers as seen by Walter. I also included lunch and dinner as titles, which are part of Walter’s running and planning of the days themselves. Every day is a challenge and the table of contents could be seen as how he might record the events in my book in a chronicle. Every day should be the same for him; he gets up at 6am and does the same morning routine. Hanna arrives and suddenly there are extraordinary events that interrupt the flow.
Now that Time to Let Go is completed, do you have another writing project in mind?
Yes, I have three. I have just passed “In Search of a Revolution” to my beta readers, a Scandinavian 20th century war drama which I hope to have ready later in the year. I am also writing on a very first draft of a psychological thriller, called “The Healer”, which is 2/3 done. I also occasionally work on an edit of “Conditions” my very first (un-published) novel about mental health.
Thank you so much for this interview and for your interest in my books.
Thank you for accepting to appear on my blog, Christoph, and good luck with your writing projects.
My review of Time to Let Go can be found at the following: http://www.wattpad.com/47503422-review-time-to-let-go
You can contact Christoph at the links below:
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. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS
On Amazon: http://bookshow.me/B00AFQC4QC
On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/12Rnup8
On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1bua395
On Amazon: http://bookshow.me/B00CLL1UY6
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/pthHZ
On Facebook: http://ow.ly/pthNy
THE BLACK EAGLE INN
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On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/pAX8G
On Amazon: http://bookshow.me/B00FSBW2L6
TIME TO LET GO