Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Interview with Christoph Fischer

Today, my guest is Christoph Fischer, an author whom I met on GoodReads. Aside from crafting well-written books, Christoph is very active in the writing community, and is a prolific reviewer in his spare time.

About Christoph:

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

Do you have specific genres that you review, and what is your favorite one? 

I review all genres generally, it depends whether I get approached or whether I chose to review the book myself. I warn authors of fantasy and horror that my appreciation and understanding is probably not that good. I prefer Literary and historical fiction but if I limited myself to those genres alone I might find that boring and I always welcome a challenge.

On average, how many books do you review each month?

On average I review about 20 – 25 books a months. My actual number of reviews can be higher as I also review a lot of short stories.

Do you accept unsolicited review requests, or do you only review books you select yourself?

Yes I accept some unsolicited review requests but I always check out the book before committing myself. A poor choice would only lead to a disappointing review.

Considering the recent surge of self-published books on the market, what is your experience with self-published titles?

My experience with self-published titles is surprisingly good. Yes, there are some authors who could do with a better editor but their numbers are very few. When I read professionally published books I am often shocked that many of them contain the same kind of mistakes, despite the money spent on proof reading etc.

As a reviewer, you have to state your honest opinions. Do you publish all reviews regardless of the rating?

No. I don’t publish reviews lower than 3 stars, unless the writer specifically asks me to. I found several trolls and other rather unkind reviewers on amazon who would happily rate a book with one star on the basis of one spelling mistake, even if they have not read the rest of the book. In an environment where such hostile activity takes place I prefer to stay on the positive side of the spectrum. I highlight the good I find in books and the observant reader of my reviews can spot by my omissions which areas may not have sparked my enthusiasm.

Is there any particular book or author that set the benchmark for you in a specific genre?

Almost too many to mention individually, but here are some recent reading highlights:
Three days of Rain by Christine Hughes, Literary Fiction
Free Fall by Amber Lea Easton, Memoir
Unexpected Gifts by S.L. Mallery, Historical Fiction
The Steward, by Christopher Shields, Fantasy
Every Silver Lining has Its Cloud by Scott Stevens, Non Fiction.

What was the catalyst for you to become a reviewer, and what keeps you going?

My local book shop asked me to recommend some of the books I was buying from them and so I got into the habit of making notes. When I found independent writers on Goodreads in almost desperate search for reviewers I began to offer them my help. What keeps me going is my belief in those books. Independent writers do not have the money or powerful support of established publishing houses and yet so many of them deserve our attention just as much.

In your opinion, do you find the new titles original and creatively executed, or do you see more of a repeat of the same (think Hollywood's surge in remakes)?

In a way people have written stories or produced theatre plays for at least several thousands of years. I doubt that the basics of any new book or story can be truly innovative. Our world has changed and scientific, psychological and technological progress allow for creative variations of those themes in fiction. However, innovation is not the only criteria to mark a good book that stands out. A powerful main character, a good story, a new or different perspective or a different kind of wow factor can distinguish a book from its peers, without it having to be ground breaking (as Hollywood calls many of its films and not always justified in my view). Also, amongst some very bad ones there are also some very good remakes.

Out of all the books you've read, are there any particular books or characters that stayed on your mind?

“Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts has deeply affected me with a controversial ex-con as protagonist who redeems himself in India. “The Slap” by Christos Tsiolkas has one story with 8 different perspectives which shed different lights on one singular incident. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver with its raw to the bone honesty remains one of the literary highlights of my life.

As far as independent writers are concerned “The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap” by Paulette Mahurin was an amazing find with a most likeable Lesbian heroine in the Midwest in 1895. “The Bridge of Death” by MCV Egan, a fictionalised investigation of a crashed plane and its mysterious passengers just before the beginning of WWII made me wonder about what had happened for a long time after I finished the book. “Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton overwhelmed me with its story about a woman surviving her husband’s suicide.

You can see, I really like books and could go on for some time.

What is the one review you are the most proud of, and why?

I don’t think I have any particular reviews I am proud of. I write about my feelings about the book and don’t like to draw the attention away from the book onto me by being particularly witty and I don’t pride myself for having analysed the book correctly. Some authors have thanked me for a review, which of course was very rewarding, but the thing to be proud of is primarily the book itself, which was not written by me.

You can find more about Christoph, his reviews, and his work here:
Christoph's Reviews
Christoph's Blog

Please show your support for my guests by visiting their links or leaving a comment. If you would like to see someone interviewed here,  drop me a line.

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