Saturday, October 19, 2013

Featured Author: Christoph Fischer

I'm very happy to have the talented Christoph Fischer back today to talk about his third book in the Three Nations Trilogy. On the market for less than a week, the historical fiction/family saga The Black Eagle Inn is already an Amazon best seller. Christoph is a three-time A Blue Million Books guest. He's been here to talk about the first book, The Luck of the Weissensteiners and the second, Sebastian. You can read those interviews here (first book) and here (the second).

What reviewers are saying:

-A comprehensive, entertaining historical novel that does not hold back any punches.
-Brilliant historical fiction: fascinating and entertaining.
-Simply a masterpiece.

About the book: 

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.

Interview with Christoph Fischer 

Christoph, you get frequent flier points for being such a good friend to A Blue Million Books. I'm happy to have you back. Can you briefly catch us up with your Three Nations Trilogy and give us your elevator speech for The Black Eagle Inn?

In The Luck of the Weissensteiners, I showed the terror that was WWII and its effect on one particular area and ‘nation’ in Central Europe. In Sebastian, I went to a happier time before WWI to show the issues of nations and identity then. In The Black Eagle Inn, war is in the past and the people who find themselves in Western Germany have to pick up the remains from the ashes and form a new nation.

What’s the inspiration for your characters?

I got some inspiration from life and real people that I have met over the years, from Bavarian and German stereotypes and characters, from comments I overheard on a bus or a train, from stories I picked up and some from the characters themselves as they began to form their life in my book.

You just retired from your “day job.” Are you happy with your decision to retire?

Yes, totally. A lot of it is to do with the changes at the old work place, but I am also happy to have more time for my family when they need me.

Do you have a routine for writing?

When the muse drives me I just sit down and write. All I need to do is walk the dogs first or else Molly will kick my hands of the keyboards and demand attention.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

In my little office space, preferably starting very early in the morning, when it is quiet.

Where’s home for you?

I just returned from a trip to my ‘home’ town in Germany. Now I am back in the UK, home from home if you so will, and despite the lovely time I had ‘back home’ and despite the many things that make me feel like an ‘alien’ in the UK, when we got out of the channel tunnel I felt I was home.

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So…what are your five favorite books and your five body parts you’d most like not to lose?

The Books: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng, and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

Body Parts: Head (never bodes well to lose it); Heart (been my partner’s for so long, I’d hate to transfer it now); Voice (how else would I be telling people about my books or tell my dogs to give me back that tennis ball); Hands (writing, preparing food); Legs (jogging and running away from danger).

You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?

Tofu salad.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

Definitely a library, there’d be no commercial pressure to sell anything.

Where is your favorite library and what do you love about it?

My home town library in Bavaria. I used to work there, I know the staff, and they stock my books. Tons of others.

Give us an update on your dogs!

Wilma had six puppies in February and turned out to be a great young mother. Two of the puppies, Ianto and Molly Junior, are living in the vicinity, and we get to see them often. In two years’ time we will see if Wilma wants to have another go at motherhood. Molly senior will be 9 in November and Greta is most happy at this time of the year for her love of Conkers.

Um...what exactly is Conkers?

They fall from trees like chestnuts. Brown and shiny, once out of the shell. We call Greta conker bonkers when she gets hold of one.

Ah! I see. There's no easy way to segue from dogs and Conkers to publishing, so I'll just get to it. Why did you decide to self-publish?

I was put off by the difficulties to even get an agent to take your calls. As much as I can see why that is, it did not seem a trust-inspiring start. I also hear how new authors are required to do much of their own marketing and publicity work. It seemed easier to do it myself and see where that would lead me.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish?

I am very happy with the decision. I was fortunate enough to have an Academic partner, a designer friend, and an editor friend who were willing to work with me. I also met a few great writers who have functioned as beta readers for my books and helped me find my foot in the world of FB, Twitter and blogging. Self-publishing is hard work, but it is also great fun.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

My partner did all the formatting, and together with Deborah Wall he did the editing.
Read my interview with Debra here.

Design artist Daz Smith.

Do you have any advice for an author who is getting ready to self-publish?

Make sure to do the best you can in terms of formatting, editing and design. People will judge you on formalities, regardless of how good your book is. But also, don’t let anyone discourage you to follow your dream (big symphonic sound track).

What marketing or promotion ideas have worked best for you?

Facebook, blogging and Twitter in combination. Since I got seriously involved on Twitter (and it was hard work to get going) my sales have doubled.

In your last interview here, you quoted Neil Gaiman as one of your favorite quotes: “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.” Can you tell us one of your secret worlds?

I just told you about those secret worlds in my books.
Okay. I do occasionally meditate and one of my ‘happy places’ I retreat to is a dark green mossy area next to a wild mountain stream, bearing both Bavarian and Irish features, if that makes sense.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

If he is anything like me, he’d just take a hammer and smash my head. No need to beat around the bush.

What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!

A German kinder bar.

What are you working on now?

A Time to Let Go, a novel about a family in contemporary England. The mother has Alzheimers and the rigid father and the chaotic daughter fight over how to handle the illness.

Excellent. And you will be back to tell us more about it--right?

Guest Post

Politics in The Black Eagle Inn

by Christoph Fischer

To write about any Nation and its generational renewal party politics are difficult to avoid, even more so in the case of Germany where for 12 years one party dictated world history. In one plotline of the book I have gone deep into the rivalry between the two main parties in post-war Germany, which exists to this day.

I must apologise for any perceived bias and any offensive remarks against either of the parties portrayed. Party politics at the time were more differentiated than I could afford to showcase them in this book. The fictional party affiliation of some of my characters in the book was determined by certain ideas they stand for and which of the actual parties at the time would have fitted their profile the most.

In my view politicians of every party can be corrupt as they can be idealists. By no means would I like to imply that I favour the politicians of one party of another. My book is not a manifesto for political ideas per se but for humanitarian ideas that should be the foundation for any type of politics.

Politics can also be a frustrating and hard business and I applaud all of the idealists who go into politics and struggle hard for their visions and beliefs. I do not have the endurance for it myself and would like to thank those who have done so and who selflessly help to form and shape Germany into a modern state that has learnt from its past.

About the author:

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.

Connect with Christoph:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Facebook/Black Eagle Inn
Goodreads | Goodreads/Black Eagle Inn | Twitter |

Buy the books:
Amazon Author page  | The Black Eagle Inn on Amazon