He’s very active in all areas of social media, a frequent blogger, and a top 500 Amazon reviewer. Like you, I wonder where he finds time to do all of this and publish three best-selling novels. I’ve read two of them and as I said in one of my reviews, his books should be required reading in history classes! He brings a sense of humanity to a difficult time in the world, the events before, of, and after World War II. Believe me, interviewing Christoph is a distinct delight!
A little background – he was born in Germany 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’s a resident. The Luck of The Weissensteiners is his first published work, followed by Sebastian and The Black Eagle Inn, all part of The Three Nations Trilogy.
First question. Have to ask the meaning of The Three Nations Trilogy.
Thanks for your kind introduction Dianne. Your books touch upon the issue of immigrants and tolerance. In fact the US is an immigrant Nation, depending on how far back you go in history. In Europe borders kept changing until much more recently (currently!) and regions which were part of one country suddenly became part of another. Religion, loyalty to a throne, invasion and luck decided the fate of many border regions time and time again. I was brought up a near border and found it always fascinating that, at some point in History, our region and its neighbors had been part of the same Nation/different Nation more than once.
My trilogy covers Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany:
In “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” a misguided and intolerant German and Slovak Nationalism robs other Nations of their freedom before and during WW2.
In “Sebastian” such a suppressed Nationalism forces the tired Union between the Austrian, Hungarian, Croatian, Slovakian Nations apart. The artificial political solutions after WW1 however created new problems for Europe that are said to have led to WW2.
In “The Black Eagle Inn” I tried to show how the Bavarian region sees itself as a Nation of its own and how divided a Nation can be on the inside. Especially after WW2 victims and hangmen still had to live together and were forced to rebuild the shamed Nation together.
Having read your books, I know that a lot of your family history is in them. Please elaborate.
My paternal grandparents got divorced in 1933. In two of my books there are split up scenarios that speculate about the reasons behind this: I never found out exactly what happened.
My grandmother Greta and her sister Wilma were Germans living in Slovakia during WW2 and “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” tells a very similar story to theirs.
My grandfather had one leg amputated (not war related) and his story is part of “Sebastian”, although I transferred it to Vienna and to 1913 for other reasons.
Distant maternal relatives of mine owned a similar business to “The Black Eagle Inn”. The people concerned are long dead and I never properly knew them but a few years ago my cousin published a family chronicle and the contained photographs inspired the story.
When did you decide to become a writer and why did you decide to write in this genre?
It is more like I suddenly wrote books without having had the ambition or the plan to do so. My first (unpublished) novel was inspired by a singular but rather remarkable event. I had just reduced my working hours and as an experiment I sat down to write a short story about a dreadful funeral. While this became a complete novel I was also reading a lot about Czechoslovakia and its history as part of my family research. What I found out was so fascinating to me that the idea for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” and the Trilogy formed.
I don’t see myself exclusively as writer of Historical Fiction and I have a few non historical drafts/ideas on my computer, but history has always intrigued me and I find it can lend the personal and human stories a different dimension.
Do you see yourself continuing to write as a career path?
Definitely. I have a few more stories that I want to tell and much more to learn, which is very exciting. I am no Hemingway but I have had some touching feedback for my novels and as long as there are people out there who enjoy my stories I will keep on writing. I am very lucky to be able to do all this.
Which of your books is your favorite and why? Course that’s kind of like asking which of your dogs you prefer.
“The Luck of the Weissensteiners” was the first one published (first born so to speak) and will always have a special place in my heart. Everything about it was a first: The first review, the first check from Amazon etc.
And characters. Do you have a favorite?
Jonah Weissensteiner is such a warm and kind figure, very similar to my father, so I always have a very soft spot for him. However, I probably loved Johanna the most in that book. She is a nasty character but there are limits as to how far she would go and that makes her intriguing and a challenging and rewarding character to write.
Let’s talk about the future of the industry. Do you think the tendency toward eBook popularity will continue?
Yes, I think so. Their practicality is a winner, they are environmentally friendly and new e-readers are becoming increasingly user friendly and sophisticated.
I am a technophobe at heart and resisted and resented cell/ mobile phones and kindles with a vengeance. I succumbed in both cases due to necessity. I still don’t like my phone but I love my kindle. As a former librarian this is quite a statement.
To shift gears, you must read constantly to be one of Amazon’s top 500 reviewers. How did that come about and was it a conscious decision?
I am an avid reader and ended up on that list without trying. I know some reviewers on Amazon are quite competitive but I don’t have time for that. I am pleased that it lends the reviews an air of gravity but my reviews are just one opinion and the laurel is probably Amazon’s way of saying that I should get a life.
How many hours a day do you spend reading?
That depends on how much time I need for writing and marketing of my books. It used to be up to 6 hours. In my last job I had a lot of spare time on trains, planes and in hotel rooms. That habit or addiction still needs to be fed and I still steal myself away from the computer and read 2 -3 hours a day.
I’ve noticed you review books in a number of different genres. How do you choose the books you review?
I follow several book promotion publications and websites, I spot many finds on my Twitter feed and in Facebook groups, in posts on blogs I follow and I tend to read books by authors I already know. I get approached a lot via my website but that is a tiny fraction. I am curious, so I have tried new genres over the last year and find myself developing new tastes.
Since you’ve published three books and the series is called The Three Nations Trilogy, are you planning on starting another series? If so, will it portray the time period of the Trilogy? Please tell us about your upcoming books.
I have more historical novels in draft form but the connections are not that obvious. There is a Finnish theme in my upcoming novels and a mental health theme so there is always the temptation and possibility to link them via a trilogy. I will only do that if it fits naturally.
My next book, “A Time to Let Go”, is contemporary novel set in Britain and concerns a family (with Finnish ancestors) whose dynamics are challenged by the mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. That book is currently in the last stages of editing.
I am currently working on a Scandinavian/ Baltic War drama between 1918 and 1950, so here the time period caught up with me again. Since I have my eye on a few more theatres of war, this could well become part of a New Trilogy.
What advice do you have to beginning authors? To those who are planning to self-publish?
Join independent author groups. The information you need is out there and there is a large supportive online community of indie writers that will help you. Don’t be discouraged and follow your dream but work hard on everything: editing, formatting and marketing. It is necessary and worth it.
And Christoph, this is just for me. Your dogs are with you in almost every photo. I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your dogs!
All three are labradoodles – currently a very fashionable breed and most loveable family pets. [They were intended to be allergy free guide dogs when they were first bred in Australia in the 1980s.]
Nine years ago I met my partner Ryan and we didn’t get off on the right foot initially: He just came out of a complicated relationship and I was irrationally scared of dogs.
Molly, the apricot colored dog was only 18 months old, very lively and scary to me. Greta, the dark brown one, was 1 yo and very aloof, even though I immediately loved her for her teddy bear like looks. I overcame my fears gradually because of my feelings for Ryan but he and I were not a couple and I began to meet him only to borrow the dogs for walks. Eventually he changed his mind and we became one happy family. We treat our dogs like children which I am sure is very annoying to other people. Well, tough.
Molly had two litters, 9 and 12 lovely puppies. Then we got Wilma, the cappuccino coloured baby of the family. She had 6 puppies a year ago.
Thanks, Christoph. Is there anything you’d like to add to this?
I really need to return the compliments and tell your readers what an asset you are to the writing and writer’s community. Thank you for inviting me on your blog.
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 Amazon: http://bookshow.me/B00AFQC4QC
On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/12Rnup8
On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1bua395
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 Amazon: http://bookshow.me/B00CLL1UY6
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/pthHZ
On Facebook: http://ow.ly/pthNy
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: http://ow.ly/pAX3y
On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/pAX8G
On Amazon: http://bookshow.me/B00FSBW2L6