Time To Let Go – Christoph Fischer author interview

New novel shares family facing challenge of Alzheimer Disease.

Time to let go, book, Christoph FischerI’m pleased to welcome Christoph Fischer to join us again today. Christoph last stopped by in November to talk about The Black Eagle Inn, the third novel in his Three Nations trilogy. He’s left historical fiction for the moment to write his newest novel Time To Let Go, a contemporary novel that centers on a family struggling with Alzheimers.

About Time To Let Go
Following a traumatic incident at work, Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off and leave her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer Disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.

The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

Thanks for joining us, Christoph. Where did the idea for Time To Let Go come from?
The idea came from seeing my aunt and her family dealing with Alzheimers. They are an amazing team. I wondered what it would be like for someone like Walter, the father in my book, a man who needs much more control and stability than the disease allows. A man like Walter would probably have a daughter like stewardess Hanna who spends her life running away from stability. I used to work for an airline, so it was only a matter of time before I would write a plot like hers.

Prior to now, you’ve written historical fiction. What were the challenges in switching from writing history to writing a contemporary story?
In historical fiction I had a solid, known, and non-negotiable framework that dictated some of the plot through the outer circumstances. A law passed, an invasion took place, whether it suited my ideas for the story or not. Confronting my characters with the political and historical events often made it easier to let them develop naturally.

In contemporary or literary fiction you have to make all of this happen yourself and invent significant occasions, so you need to really think what will challenge, change or affect a person in your book. At the same time, it allowed more time for the reflection and character exploration that would have been in the way of my epic war dramas.
 The research for Time To Let Go was not quite as punishing as for the historical novels I have written but there was still much more of it than I had anticipated when I started writing.

What similarities are there in writing the two genres?
In contemporary fiction you are not nailed down to an exact date for the story, but you still have some time-specific parameters, for example technology like cell phones, Internet, etc. Your freedom of invention is limited, and when dealing with a particular issue, such as air travel or Alzheimers, you also need to do some research to validate the facts and story. 
 Both sub-genres are character- and plot-driven to varying degrees and of course both can allow plenty of time for introspection.

What research did you have to do to write about Alzheimers disease?
I wrote down anecdotes which I had heard from friends and acquaintances and the experiences I had personally with my aunt and two other sufferers from the disease. I read Fran Lewis’s “Because We Care” that taught me more about the exact stages of the disease and the associated issues.
I began to ask questions of the carers and realized that all three patients were in a similar stage of the disease when I had met them, a fairly early stage. I only got to see my aunt in the later stages, too.
 I also did a lot of research and reading online; there is a vast amount of information and material available. 
 Despite all the research, I made a deliberate decision not to make the book into a dramatized documentary on the subject and deleted a lot of the disease specifics from my early drafts of the novel. Every patient is affected differently and so is every family. There is not enough space in one novel to chronicle all of the stages. Beta readers however suggested that I had gone too far with my cuts and so I brought some specifics back in.

Your books all focus on family dynamics. Why do you find this theme so intriguing?
Much of my earliest socializing was done within the circles of our wider family. My mother was one of six children, and I was the youngest of eleven cousins. I can draw from plenty of experience, because we are still very close.
 My father’s side of the family was minimalist in comparison and separated by Stalin’s Iron Curtain, which gave me two separate experiences of family life. You cannot chose your family, so those ties interest me more than voluntary relationships, like friends and partners.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading this story?
I hope that readers will be inspired to reflect on their own lives and the choices we all have to make. I hope it will make them understand more about the disease and the circumstances for the affected families and maybe make them think ‘what if that happened to me?’ I hope they will come to like the characters as much as I did while writing them and enjoy reading the book.

How did you choose your title Time To Let Go?
Every one of us, at some stage in our life – or even all through their lives – holds on to something we need to let go of. Be that control, fear, anger, clinginess, illusions … the list is endless. Often, when a crisis happens, it serves as catalyst for people to let some of these issues go. In my book, many of the characters have things they need to let go of to lead a happier life, but they need to find out which these things are and whether it really is the right time for them to do so.

Thought provoking, Christoph. I’m already considering what it may be time for me to let go of. 

What about you, readers? How do the themes in Christoph’s book resonate with you? What are you ready to let go of?

Christoph Fischer, author

Christoph Fischer & Molly

Biography:  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 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

Find Time To Let Go:

Find Christoph:

The Three Nation’s Trilogy:

The “invisible divide” that splinters families and nations

What makes a family? What makes a nation? What holds them together? What tears them apart? My guest today, author Christoph Fischer, explores those ideas in his books, The Three Nations Trilogy.b3-front-sm

I recently read “The Black Eagle Inn,” the third book in Fischer’s trilogy. This book is an intriguing family saga, tracing one Bavarian family from before WWII into the 1970s. Click to read my review.

Christoph and I met through Facebook discussions of indie publishing and writing historical fiction. I’m pleased to have him here today, sharing how the stories in his trilogy developed. Read on!

Family, history and story lines – Christoph Fischer

Writing The Three Nations Trilogy has been an interesting journey for me. I took some actual family stories of which I had only vague knowledge and basic data and placed them in appropriate historical settings. During my research I imagined what it would have been like for my ancestors and their friends and that is how the stories came alive.

My grandmother, originally from Bratislava, cooked differently than Bavarian cuisine. She and my father used odd words and they had a strange accent compared to the locals. On Sundays, we listened to music by Smetana or Slovak folk dance music and although I was born in Bavaria, spoke ( my slightly odd version of) the regional accent and wore Lederhosen, I always felt a little out of place. I always knew that this invisible divide would be a central theme for my books.

The failed marriage of my grandparents in Brno in the 1930s and my grandmother’s subsequent life served as the starting point. When I did my research on Slovakia for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners,” I was naively surprised to find racial hatred at that time someplace outside of Germany. Slovakia even joined the Axis powers, even if it was partially motivated to do so to rid itself of the Czech ‘dominance.’

The blame for all of this was put on the clumsy dissection of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the Great War. Czechs and Slovaks were thrown into a political Union to keep the German minority in those areas under control. Eye witnesses and history texts often talk nostalgically about the golden Hapsburg era and and life in Vienna before WWI, where members of new emerging or would-be nations were living in harmony and peace.

This nostalgic idea needed to be examined more closely and so I did some research and chose exactly that Vienna as the setting for “Sebastian,” the second book in the Trilogy. In “Sebastian,” I told the story of my grandparents’ divorce from my grandfather’s perspective.

Whatever books I read, the supposedly golden era of racial and religious tolerance seemed more glitter and lip service than reality. The Empire had broken and the individual pieces wanted out. Vienna’s upper class lived in a dream world, protected from reality. After the war, a severed Austria had to find a new place in a new Europe. I wanted to portray the positive side of this new beginning. There were missed opportunities and errors made but at least a redundant structure was finally let go. I published “Sebastian” after “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” to show the moment in history isolated with its (sadly) unfulfilled potential.

In “The Black Eagle Inn,” I finally turned to my Bavarian heritage and the myth that some areas of Germany were almost unaffected by fighting, bombing and Nazi terror. It is true that there were pockets of land in the Reich that remained untouched while the Allied armies engaged in a desperate race for glory to Berlin.

Distant relatives of mine had a farm and a restaurant business. I once went to a wedding there and I as in awe of this huge ’empire.’ This became the focal point in the last part of the Three Nations Trilogy. This time there is an ethnically homogenous cast, all members of the German nation and yet they, too, have divisions and eventually need to let go of their strict concept of the ‘Nation’ they want it to be and let it evolve in order to stay strong.

Health problems exempted some from military service and many were too old or too young to fight. Strong Catholic affiliation supports the claim of many that they were not involved with the Nazis at all. But how would they live with the culprits of the war, their neighbours, the murderers and spies?

After WWII, Germany became a divided Nation, formally through politics but also internally. How could the entire Nation, the new generation live with the shame and rebuild the country – and rebuild it right?

What makes a nation? Loyalty to a throne, borders, religion, customs, language, shared history? Everyone needs to decide that for themselves. You may experience unity with others through shared national, racial or religious identity, but exclusivity and division will not build a lasting nation.

There is huge danger when the national aspect of one’s identity is over emphasised, as was the case in WWII. Remember the Christmas truce football games been French and German soldiers during WWI? Nationalism and the dubious reasons for the war were easily forgotten. The men felt unified because they shared the same reality of trenches and shells.

author picture Small

Christoph Fischer

Biography:

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 resides today. ‘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.

Here are all the places you can find Christoph and his books:

Facebook  Website

Amazon Blog

“The Luck of the Weissensteiners”: Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook Trailer  B&N 

“Sebastian”: Amazon  Goodreads Facebook Trailer B&N 

“The Black Eagle Inn”: Facebook  Goodreads  Amazon

Trailer