How Research can turn into Inspiration
It is an absolute pleasure to invite fellow author, Christoph Fischer as a guest writer on my blog. It was several years ago, I was lucky enough to meet him and we got to know each other by networking, mostly via Facebook. I have read and reviewed his book, the Luck of the Weissensteiners, a passionate wartime drama of a jewish family’s under the threat of the Nazis. I was curious to know how he might have researched his novels.
Over to you, Christoph
Most of my research starts out as regular reading, un-related to writing. For example, while digging up information about my family’s roots in Slovakia, I first had the idea for my novel “The Luck of the Weissensteiners”. Suddenly the reading became more involved and I started to make fact sheets for locations and dates to use while writing the novel. I made a timeline for all the big background events, read novels that were set at the same time and tried to get hold of eye witness reports, so as to know as many details about the history as humanly possible.
I’m very nervous about being “caught out” by historians and always make sure that I have information from two independent sources before using it in my work, preferably one printed and one on the internet.
Even for my mystery books I try to check all the facts as not to distract expert readers with a silly error. For my medical thriller “The Healer” I consulted a friend who is a Doctor to make sure that my descriptions of all procedures were accurate.
I’m consoled by a story from Ian McEwan who spent months shadowing a surgeon for “Saturday”, only to find that the car he assigned to his character in the novel came as automatic only, and not as gear driven as he had mentioned in the novel. It gets to show how many traps there are for a writer.
Yes, I can identify with that! I’ve made similar mistakes myself so it is definitely worth checking these things out – so on to the next topic:
How has the research process shaped your latest novel?
With my latest novel, “Ludwika”, things were a little different. Friends of mine asked me to help them to find out more about their Polish mother’s time in Nazi Germany. Since they didn’t speak German, my sister and I had to conduct the search for them. We had contact with archives and eye witnesses who were still alive. I got drawn into reading books about the time and places and searching Wikipedia pages. What had happened in Poland during the war, beside the death camps and the Warsaw Ghetto? I wanted to know for myself.
Ludwika’s was a real story, so I had no intention to use it for a book. However, Ludwika and her story, the mystery behind what we didn’t know about her, and the tragedy of that we did know, gradually formed a narrative and a character that I couldn’t leave alone.
So I did the same as with “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” and composed fact sheets, time lines and began writing.
Research is like solving a puzzle.
It is incredible how writing can draw you into a different world and the book sounds really intriguing. So can you tell us more about it?
Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany
It’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival.
“This is the best kind of fiction—it’s based on the real life. Ludwika’s story highlights the magnitude of human suffering caused by WWII, transcending multiple generations and many nations.
WWII left no one unscarred, and Ludwika’s life illustrates this tragic fact. But she also reminds us how bright the human spirit can shine when darkness falls in that unrelenting way it does during wartime.
This book was a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion, skilfully told by Mr. Fischer, who brought something fresh and new to a topic about which thousands of stories have already been told.”
You can download, the book on Amazon here: http://bookShow.me/B018UTHX7A
And finally, a little 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 moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. In 1993 he moved to the UK and now lives in Llandeilo in West Wales. He and his partner have several Labradoodles to complete their family.
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. His first historical novel, ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’, was published in November 2012 and downloaded over 60,000 times on Amazon. He has released several more historical novels, including “In Search of A Revolution” and “Ludwika”. He also wrote some contemporary family dramas and thrillers, most notably “Time to Let Go” and “The Healer”.
Useful Links and Social Networks
A very big thanks goes out to Christoph for sharing this with me and I wish him the very best with his future writing projects.