Thursday, May 23, 2013

Featured Author: Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was here in April to talk about his first novel, The Luck of the Weissensteiners. Christoph is a great supporter of indie authors, and I'm happy to have him back to tell us about his newest release, Sebastian, a historical fiction novel.

About the book:

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.

Interview with Christoph Fischer:

Welcome back, Christoph. Tell us about Sebastian.

Sebastian is based on an image I have always had about my grandfather, whom I unfortunately never met. He was alive much later than the setting of Sebastian, but his story is that of my protagonist, a young man with an amputated leg, an injury that is not war related, and someone who has to rise to the challenge that a war brings to his life.

A friend of my father had a wooden leg and I was scared stiff of it when I was younger. My grandparents divorced in 1933 and he re-married. He and his family lived on the other side of the Berlin Wall and we never met any of them until the late eighties, by which time my grandfather sadly had already passed on. I only learned a little about him from my aunt, who adored him.

Much of the details she gave me about his life and his rather philosophical and wonderful outlook on life have found its way into the actual grandfather figure in the book, Oscar.

Do you think you're like any of your characters?

I am afraid in this book I am not like anyone at all, but many of the characters have small parts of me. I was a bookworm like Sebastian is as a child, and I shared some of his insecurities in my early twenties. 
I used to go to séances and see Spirit Mediums just like Mathilde Glueck, and I have an interest in Psychology like her mother Theresa Glueck.
I am a hard worker like Ingeborg, maybe that is a Germanic connection….

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Well, as Northern European I am often told I am too stuck up, often even viciously referred to as the character ‘Monica’ in the TV series “Friends.” I would go for Eva, the Hungarian help, because she has such a relaxed attitude towards life and work, yet achieves so much so easily. I could do with a dose of that….apparently.

A lot of my other characters have a hard lot in my book, and I would rather not swap with them.

Understandable. Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

The scene when Sebastian’s mother does or does not (I can’t tell you which, you have to read the book yourself) find out that her husband has an affair with one of the assistants. It was so much fun to write, I just could not make up my mind whether her husband should get away with it or not. That whole sequence was great fun from a writer’s point of view.

As a reader of my own novel I enjoy the scenes between the Glueck women and Vera, Sebastian’s mother, as they try to cheer Vera up and make her their pet project, the whims of rich women trying to chase away their boredom.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck on an island?

You, Amy, because you ask such fun questions!
Many celebrities have a bad reputation for off-screen behavior, but I will “settle” for:
Tina Fey – to keep you company with the jokes
Ewan MacGregor – an adventurer with charisma
Barbara Streisand – to entertain us with her singing and tales about Hollywood
Ola Rapace (Swedish James Bond actor) or Robert Downey Jr., to go hunt and gather for us.

Cool. I'm totally there--and honored to be one of your five. You were serious, right? Who are your favorite authors? (Besides me, of course.)

You, Amy, I learned from my mistake. Only you.

Nice try, buddy. But I'm not buying it! So...try again.

Well maybe Ty Patterson, Paulette Mahurin, Suneeta Misra, and Bernice L. Rocque.

I'm crushed. Just kidding. How long is your to-be-read pile?

It is endless. The kindle is deceptive as to how many books are hiding on the next page in the inventory. I also have a huge pile of paperbacks, secretly stashed away in the loft. I bring them in from my trips into town and my partner does not know that I spent half the grocery budget on such luxury, particularly when I never get round to reading them all. Please don’t tell on me.

Your secret is safe with me. You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Laura Linney, that woman can read the local telephone directory and I would listen.

Your two published books are historical fiction. Do you ever see yourself writing in another genre?

Yes, absolutely. I have a few books in draft form waiting to be edited and they are not historical at all. Temporary issues are just as important, and I have written about mental health, Alzheimer's, and escapism. I just need to find the time to tighten them up and publish them.

Maybe your manuscript on Alzheimer's should meet my manuscript on Alzheimer's. It's quite a subject. Tell me some of your favorite quotes.

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds... Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You

"You don’t expect the Spanish Inquisition." -- Monty Python

I would have to agree with all of those. Good choices. Where’s home for you?

Home is currently near Bath in Wiltshire, UK. I am still sentimentally attached to my home town in Bavaria but my family itself is spread across the continent and due to the vast amount of travelling in my last day job, I am shamefully lazy in making the effort and going there more often.

Because my family was not ‘proper’ German or Bavarian, I have developed a slight sense of homelessness. After 7 years with my partner in Wiltshire I am settled in the relationship but location wise I could move to somewhere in Wales or even to Goose Pimple Junction tomorrow.

Wow. You just put Goose Pimple Junction in the same category as Wales. That's so cool. I

think I could live either of those places too.

Okay...tell us about the puppies!

Aw, yes. They are our third litter of Labradoodles. We have three adult girls, Molly, Greta and Wilma. Molly had 9 and 12 and has retired from birthing. Greta was never inclined to have ‘relations,’ and Wilma, our youngest ‘adult’ just had 6 gorgeous, charming heart breakers.

They are 8 weeks old at the moment and an absolute delight. All different colours and playful characters, they will soon have to leave the family and make other people happy.

And that they will. I have a Labradoodle, and they're great dogs. In fact, this picture of your Molly looks like my Cooper. I wonder if she could teach him to read.
Your last meal would be…Haloumi Cheese and Spinach Curry

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It is an epic book of 900 pages, I have read it several  times, and I enjoyed it every single time. It would provide the maximum benefit from only one book.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

That is a tough call. Can I go 50/50 on that one?


I love the peace and quiet of a good library but also the buzz of a great bookstore.

You just won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

I am not very materialistic. I think I would hire people to market my books and those of others I think are really good, maybe even found an independent publishing house. Know any authors looking to publish? ;-)

I would be your first query. I hope you win the lottery! You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Sunbathe in a hammock in the garden and read. Maybe a book set in Goose Pimple Junction?

Excellent. If you could be any fictional character for one day, who would you be?

Maybe a character in a Murakami novel, they seem to have great and bizarre adventures.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Dogs. I used to be scared of them, now I wouldn’t want to live without them.

You have very literary dogs! If only they could write reviews...

What would your dream office look like?

Spacious with lots of clear surfaces (will never last) and a great view of the countryside. Dogs resting at my feet (also never lasts) and several assistants.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Playing with the puppies, spending time with the older dogs, reading in the bath tub, watching silly TV (currently hooked on the 1970s show “Soap”), going to the gym and sitting in the garden.

All worthy past times. Okay, spill it...what are you currently working on?

Another historical novel, set in Denmark, Finland, and Lapland, about a group of idealists during the Finnish Civil War, when Finland broke away from Russia during the revolution.

Sounds great. You will be back to tell us about it, right? I want first dibs!

About the author:

Christoph Fischer was brought up near the Austrian border in Bavaria and has since lived in Hamburg, London, Brighton and Bath. He always loved books and one of his first jobs was in a library. Sebastian is his second book and is part of the Three Nations Trilogy. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012 and has a thematic connection but no direct link to the plot of Sebastian.

Since becoming an author, Christoph has begun to support other authors and has joined several internet author groups.

Connect with Christoph:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |  

Buy the book!
Amazon US | Kindle | Amazon UK | Kindle |