New novel shares family facing challenge of Alzheimer Disease.
I’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?
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:
- On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Time-To-Let-Go/257989361049799?ref=hl
- On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21947533-time-to-let-go
- On Amazon: http://bookShow.me/B00K9G8M8W
- On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl
- On his website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/
- On his blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/
- On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer
- On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
- On Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks
The Three Nation’s Trilogy: