About the book:In the sleepy town of Bratislava, in 1933, Greta Weissensteiner falls for Wilhelm Winkelmeier, a bookseller from Berlin. The couple and their families are increasingly challenged by the disintegration of the multi-cultural society of Czechoslovakia. The story unfolds further as war comes to all of Central Europe, with its torment, destruction and unpredictability – even after the fighting has stopped. The Luck of the Weissensteiners is historical fiction.
Interview with Christoph FischerWelcome, Christoph. Congratulations on your debut book, The Luck of the Weissensteiners, being a Top 10 Indie Book on theindietribe.com. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I started writing only a few years ago; I never had an inclination or ideas until then. What started off as an experimental short story, primarily written to see if I could do it at all, ended up as a complete, although still unpublished, novel. After that, I could not stop writing as new ideas keep flooding in.
Why is the first novel you wrote still unpublished?
I did not have the guts to publish until I had almost written seven novels. The first one still needs work, as many first novels are often experimental. At my current output rate it will be with you hot from the press in autumn 2014.
Excellent. Tell us about your two-computer writing system!
That was implemented during the editing for The Luck of the Weissensteiners, which involved several editors.
To keep one master document at all times, I used one laptop to view the suggested changes and one laptop or computer to then work on said master copy.
What do you like best about writing?
I enjoy most that I never quite know what is going to happen to my characters. I begin with set ideas for plot and characters, but it all takes on a life of its own, and it is like I am being told a story, so I am eager to return to the desk to write and find out more every day.
What’s your least favorite thing?
I would have said that editing and proof reading is my least favorite part of the experience, but over time I have come to appreciate the art of fine tuning and polishing and no longer see it just as necessary evil but as a creative and rewarding process. (I still prefer writing drafts, though.)
I love the title of your book. How did you come up with The Luck of the Weissensteiners?
The name Weissensteiner is ‘borrowed with permission’ from a dear friend of mine. I always thought it was a great name. The part about “Luck” just came into my mind, and the more I thought about it, the more I loved it. Whatever muse whispered it into my ear, I would heartily like to thank. It was spontaneous, not planned or constructed.
The plot is loosely based on my grandmother who lived in Czechoslovakia until the end of World War II. She and her sister (Greta and Wilma) lived together in Germany until their death in the 1980s. Greta divorced her husband in the 1930s while pregnant with my father.
When deciding to tell their story, I read a lot about the times and the history and from many different stories and historical anecdotes a vague idea started to form.
While writing, I kept going back to the history books and the Internet to double check that what I had written was historically correct, and that often brought in more new ideas.
Do you have imaginary friends? When do they talk to you? Do they tell you what to write or do you poke them with a Q-tip?
Don’t tell anyone, but I do imagine a Jewish scholar with a great sense of humor dictating me those stories, maybe that is why I have so many Jewish characters in my books, despite me being a gentile. His name is Avram, and he pokes my right toe when he is ready.
Your secret is safe with me and my imaginary friends...and maybe a few readers. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
Not at all. I tend to write novels with an ensemble cast because I like to shine light on a situation from different perspectives. Some characters are known to me from the start, others pop up out of necessity and become very central--it is the beauty of writing for me, the many surprises.
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
In my new book Sebastian, there is an elderly couple who have a love-hate relationship after many years of marriage. I enjoyed writing their arguments.
In The Luck of the Weissensteiners, my favorite character is the Countess. Despite her aristocratic background, she has a liberal mind and an appetite for art and extravagance. I also loved Johanna, the mean and selfish woman who eventually discovers her softer side.
What would your main character say about you?
Did you really have to make us go through all that drama? Couldn’t have written a comedy, could you?
Are you like any of your characters? How so?
I think I am in each and every one of my characters. I try to see the story from their perspective and for a brief moment become them, otherwise I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting anyone read about them. They are a catalogue of my best and worst parts and of who I would like to be.
I would love to have the jovial kindness of Jonah Weissensteiner, the spirit of The Countess, and the selflessness of many other characters. Maybe creating those characters will help me get there more quickly.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
No doubt, the Countess. Strong, diplomatic, eloquent, big hearted, and extravagant.
With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?
Jonah Weissensteiner, such a lovely and warm father figure.
Tell us about your cover art.
I had what I thought was an excellent black and white idea of mountains and clouds, but a friend of mine, Darren Smith, pointed out how amateurish it looked. Amongst other occupations, he runs a design company. We exchanged a few emails about it, and he skillfully uncovered what I really wanted. He went searching in a photo library and suggested a few options; all of which were excellent. In the end I left him to it, as he clearly knew what he was doing more than I did.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
My friends say that I have terrible taste in music, so I would give you a choice:
"Don’t Give Up," by Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel
"Bulgary Melody," by Deep Forest
"Only Teardrops," by Emmilie de Forest
Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.
Definitely you, Amy. I can make a mean vegan salad. Hello...you still there?
Yes, sadly I am. I started to make my way to your house, but then I thought I'd better finish the interview first. What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I just finished Elsie – Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher 1913 – 1916, on my Kindle.
Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
Satan Wants Me, by Robert Irwin
The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas
The Gift of Rain, by Tan Twan Eng
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
We need to talk about Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
How do you handle criticism of your work?
Surprisingly well. At first, of course, it stings a little, but it is important to hear all opinions on your work. Some of these may well have a point, and that will help me in my further writing. Others are opinions I disagree with and, fortunately only occasionally (so far), someone has a rant and becomes unpleasant, in which case you tell them to redirect their anger where it originally belongs and send them love from the Universe.
I like that attitude. Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
Weird: My sleeping pattern is ruled by the moon.
Nice: I have three dogs who I adore and who I always make time for.
Place: I live near a chicken farm and the noise is surprisingly calming.
Hmmm...I think that last one is kind of weird, too. What books have you read recently and would recommend?
The Judas Kiss, by Angella Graff (urban fantasy)
The Spirit Box, by J.H. Glaze (horror)
Daughters of Iraq, by Revital Shiri-Horovitz (historical fiction)
The Lost Pearl, by Lara Zuberi(literary fiction)
The Warrior, by Ty Patterson (thriller)
Are you sure that's all? Did you maybe forget a great mystery you just read? A humorous southern mystery? I'm sure it was just an oversight. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
California, Arizona, or Capetown.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
What are you working on now?
I am proof reading Sebastian, my next book, and I am editing a Scandinavian war drama set in Finland in the last century.
When will Sebastian be published?
I am going live on May 1st. Check out my Goodreads page for it in the meantime.
And I expect to see you back here in June to tell us more about it!
About the author:Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 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 is his first published work.
Connect with Christoph:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Facebook (Weissensteiners) | Facebook (Sebastian) | Goodreads | Twitter
Buy the book:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble