Time to Let Go…But Not of This Book!
It’s time for another interview. I mean Barbara Walters IS finally retiring and someone has to take her place, right?
I read another book. I know. I know. How does such a busy retired person find the time?
I amaze myself.
The book’s title captured my attention: Time to Let Go. You can’t get much more Buddhist than that. Well, you can, but it’s a great start.
This isn’t a book about Buddhism, though. Far from it. The author, Christoph Fischer, isn’t one of your go-to-Buddhist sages, but he sure is a prolific writer, having written 3 very successful books. Don’t take my word for it, check this out. Although, you could take my word for it.
I’m a very trustworthy gal.
Here is his brief synopsis of the book.
“The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonanes on a journey of self discovery and redemption.”
I don’t think I’m giving too much away to say that one of the central crises involves Alzheimer’s Disease. You kind of need to know that for the interview to make sense…well, as much sense as any of my interviews make…
Let’s get on with it. Christoph has been sitting here so patiently.
He’s a very polite guy.
Lorna: Welcome to my humble blog for the second time. Are you sure you want to do this?
Christoph: Of course! It’s always fun seeing what you’ll do.
Lorna: Like a baboon at the zoo?
Lorna: Just kidding! I’ll try to behave myself. [Taking on serious Barbara Walters interview voice] You’ve written three novels, all examining the personal consequences of the two world wars on various individuals and families in Europe. What prompted you to break away from both the historical fiction genre and a subject with which you are now so familiar?
Christoph: I don’t regard myself as someone who writes primarily historical fiction. I write about the things that fascinate and interest me. In the sequence of my writing, as opposed to publishing, The Trilogy books were numbers 2, 5 and 6. “Time to Let Go” was number 3 and my yet unpublished drafts 1, 4 and 8 are not historical either.
Lorna: Oh. And just when I thought I knew who you are as a writer…You’re kinda messing with my interview mojo from the start. Let me try this question and see what happens. If I start crying, ignore me. It’s a coping strategy. Not a great one, but, hey, I’m highly sensitive. Here goes…You explain at the end of the book that you have no personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease except for a brief stay with friends whose families are coping with it. How did you manage to capture the complex emotions of both the afflicted and the care givers without living through the heartbreak of this devastating disease for years?
Christoph: I was lucky that the people I was staying with were very open and in touch with their feelings. Once sensitized to the problems, I spoke to other people who had relatives with the disease. The rest is imagination, projection and helpful feedback from readers of the draft.
Lorna: That was better. I bet you’re empathizing with my sensitivity right now.
Christoph: Yes. I’m sorry my first answer rattled you. I certainly didn’t mean to make you cry.
Lorna: [dabbing eyes with tissue] I’m fine. Really. I just don’t handle surprises well. [Blowing nose] Moving on…You seem to be a well-adjusted, kind, young-ish man. What were the challenges and surprises of writing from scattered and troubled Hanna’s point of view? From 80 year-old rigid and cranky Walter’s point of view?
Christoph: I worked for an airline and I am roughly the same age as Hanna. I know plenty of characters like her and I carried the same conflicts as she does: wanting an exciting life and being grounded at the same time. Walter is the personified extreme of being grounded, which very much reflects my life as it is now, but I also modeled him on a distant acquaintance of mine. I found writing both of these characters almost scarily easy to write with an abundance of ideas and viewpoints.
Lorna: So, you think you know what it’s like to be a woman, huh? Well, don’t get me started, Mister! Actually, you did a great job with her character. What surprised you most in writing this novel?
Christoph: The ending. When I began, I had a totally different idea of how the story should pan out but as I worked through it I realized that it would never have worked.
Lorna: Isn’t it odd how the story tells you where to go–kind of like certain people in your life do from time to time tell you where to go…. Just sayin’. What delighted you most about writing this novel?
Christoph: Being free of a historical time frame and writing about a life like my own was a bit of a welcome relief. Not having to worry about minor details and their accuracy in every scene was liberating, I admit. Not that I didn’t enjoy that when writing the Trilogy books, but for a change it was a nice and delightful experience.
Lorna: Yeah. It’s great to make up shizzle. [Tries to “high five” Christoph but misses] Um, most authors come away from a project with some kind of lesson they learned about themselves as writers or as human beings. Did you come away with any such lesson? If so, what was it?
Christoph: I would say I learned a bit about letting go. The writing certainly had something cathartic about it for me. I wrote a lot of myself into Walter and Hanna, both good and bad, and realized that I am less than either of them than I had thought. However, I share some of their central conflicts and when they both ‘let go’ I literally felt their relief personally and let go myself. The lesson therefore is: it feels great to let go, have the confidence of your convictions and do it!
Lorna: Ha! Now do you see why I’m a Buddhist? I’m still working on letting go, mostly because there’s always more crap coming my way. Ducking is something I need to do more of. You might want to think about that, too. Again, just sayin’. There’s one line in the book that, for me, sums up everything. Is there a line like that for you? Or a passage? If so, please share it. For me it’s: “What kind of stuff was she made of, Hanna wondered.” It’s the central question underlying all the angst and turmoil in life—theirs and ours!
Christoph: You picked a very good sentence. I have a passage but it is at the very end and would give away the ending, so I could only whisper it to you. Here is a short passage that I think has a lot to do with it, though:
“I have one more thing to say, too,” Patrick said as she opened the door. “Hanna, remember that you can do whatever you want. The doing is never going to be a problem for you, it is just the decision making.”
Hanna shook her head and closed the door behind her. She realized he had done the same with the family a long time ago.”
I feel it sums up the family dynamics very well: they work together well as a team, but they waste their time arguing and can shut each other out.
Lorna: Families can be “sticky wickets” can’t they? Don’t get me started on that one either…Tell us something fun about yourself that we would never know otherwise.
Christoph: I used to spin the decks as DJ in Hamburg when I was 20, well, it was more like very cheesy German pop from the 70s, and my Nordic employers nick-named me Christel von der Post (because of my Alpine origins). That name stuck for the entire time I lived in Hamburg.
Lorna: You should do a You Tube video of you busting a move DJ-‘ing. That would be a hoot! What’s next for you? Let us in on the ground floor of your next project.
Christoph: It is back to the historical war epics for me: in 1918 a young Danish communist decides to fight in the Finnish Civil War, gets stuck up there and lives through the Winter War with Russia, WW2 and the Continuation War. It explores another, lesser known area of the war, but it is also the story of two friends with opposing political views who both need to grow up.
Lorna: And you wondered why I had you tagged as a writer of historical fiction!
Thanks, Christoph, for enduring a who-knows-what-will-happen interview. I’ll be posting a review of this 5-star, thought-provoking book, Time to Let Go, in an upcoming post.
~ by Lorna's Voice on May 17, 2014.
Posted in Author Interview, Humor
Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Barbara Walters, Christoph Fischer, family dynamics, Fiction, Helping writers get their work noticed, personal crises, unconventional interview, warning this is a long post, writers and writing