Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Christoph Fischer - Ludwika is featured in the HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES Christoph Fischer book: Ludwika.

UK Author Christoph Fischer writes Historical Fiction.

Click this link to VOTE NOW for Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Historical Fiction entry for Ludwika by Christoph Fischer


A Polish Woman's Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany

Author: Christoph Fischer

Barnes and Noble

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.

Excerpt from Ludwika

Chapter 1
October 1939

There was a loaded silence over Przedbor√≥w. On a sunny October’s afternoon the Polish village and its surroundings should have been heaving with harvesting activities and Ludwika Gierz should have been looking after the livestock, followed closely around by her five-year-old daughter Irena and maybe some other kids whose parents couldn’t look after them during the busy season.

Children liked Ludwika for her cheerful attitude, the many songs she knew and the enthusiastic way she would sing them. She didn’t need to ‘look after’ the little ones to keep them under control like other parents did. She could keep doing her chores and often even found a voluntary helping hand from her following, which made her the perfect nanny. She was 22, playful and always in good spirits. Her infectious mood made her the pied piper of the village and commanded children’s attention effortlessly. Other parents were in awe and frequently took advantage of this talent.

Today, the streets of the sleepy border village were almost deserted. Many had fled from the area during the recent German invasion and had tried their luck further east, only to witness the entire country fall into the hands of the aggressors a few weeks later.

This being harvest time, farmers couldn’t as easily abandon their homes to seek safety with relatives in houses away from the border, and so many stayed. They thought the country would only need to defend its borders for a short time until the allied powers, who had guaranteed to protect it, could mobilise their troops and counter attack the German army. A multi-fronted war and foreign troops on its own soil invading from France would soon make Hitler see sense and withdraw. That had been the hope.

Initial Polish resilience faltered with the border regions being overrun. Ludwika’s father had disappeared with the retreating troops and she hadn’t heard a word from him since. The Germans had annexed large parts of the country and behaved every bit as barbaric as had been feared. Civilians were shot on even the suspicion of resistance and many were arrested, never to be seen again. The hopes for a British bombardment of German cities and an attack by the French turned out to be false and when Russia began to invade Poland from the East, the fate of the nation seemed sealed.

By now, the entire Polish Army had been defeated and disarmed, yet, Ludwika had no way of knowing whether her father had been killed, interned or deported. There were rumours that some soldiers had escaped and were part of a resistance movement. Few of those who had left for safety at the beginning of the war had managed to return to Przedbor√≥w since; the Germans wouldn’t allow them enter what was now part of the Reich. The villagers who had stayed behind had to endure random acts of violence by their occupiers, many were evicted from their homes to make space for the occupying forces, and the rest had to try and keep the farms going with the severely reduced manpower.

Not knowing about their father was torturous and were it not for her daughter Irena, Ludwika would have broken down a long time ago.

Ludwika felt young but she had replaced her mother as the leader of the female pack. The Gierz women were attractive and three of her sisters had married and left the home already.

Ludwika, her youngest sister Stasia and her mother Agnieska had to work the farm on their own for now, which they did with dedication and a sense of duty for the family and the country.

Without her father or other helpers it was impossible to do everything; the women had to make tough decisions. The most important thing had been to keep the animals alive. Theoretically, her father could defeat the pessimists by returning any day and it might not be too late then to borrow farm machinery and empty some of the fields. However, as more time passed without word from him or the other men of the village, and with no sign of political improvement, the pressure mounted to rescue as much of the crop as they could.

Ludwika and her sister began harvesting the wheat. It was exhausting having to do such a big field with only scythes but it was the best that they could do. Ludwika had seen Karol Wojick, one of the neighbouring farmers hide parts of his machinery in a shed in the woods before he had joined the defence. Many of those who had decided to flee the invasion had taken as much of their valuables with them as possible and hidden the rest in the hope of retrieving them later. This had created a shortage of material and, coupled with the reduced manpower, made the farming work so much harder.

“We’ll never get it all to safety like this,” Stasia said, looking with frustration at her scythe and throwing it on the ground. “If the rain comes it will all go to waste.”

Ludwika understood.

“Keep your heart up,” she said. “Look what we’ve managed already. We can be proud.”

She pointed at the wheat they had cut.

“We need to get it off the field, too,” Stasia added, close to tears.

“Don’t worry,” Ludwika said, trying to stay optimistic. Her sister was right, though. Something needed to be done soon. Yet, as much as she tried, she couldn’t come up with any good solution. Then it hit her – the farm equipment Wojick had hidden in the woods.

“I’ve got an idea,” she said and told her sister about the shed.

“You’re crossing a line,” Stasia warned her when she heard the plan. Her voice, however, carried more admiration for Ludwika’s audacity than it did gloom or worry.

“Sooner or later the ‘szkopy’ will find the shed and take away what’s in it,” Ludwika replied defiant.

Stasia giggled at her sister using such a bad word for the Germans. Even though they were alone, she looked carefully around to see if any of the ‘castrated rams’ could hear them.

“Better it got some use before then,” Ludwika said, serious despite the joke.

“We promised mother not to take any risks,” Stasia said, although her warning sounded half-hearted.

“You know I have to do it,” Ludwika said and Stasia nodded. “There is so much wheat,” Ludwika pointed out. “We can’t let it go to waste. We’ve got no alternative. Collecting it by hand would take too long; and you said yourself that the next rain will ruin it all. We have no choice and the Wojicks aren’t using it, are they?”

Stasia grabbed the scythe and bent down to cut more wheat.

“I’ll be waiting for you with the bushels,” she said.

Stasia was always so full of energy and optimism and Ludwika was grateful that the brief moment of weakness had been overcome.

“Be careful,” her sister added without turning around. “We all need you.” “I will,” Ludwika replied, although she didn’t know if being careful was going to be enough.

It hadn’t been difficult to break the lock of Wojick’s shed and even less difficult to get the old tractor going that she found there. Her brother Franz had borrowed it often in the past. He had drowned in the river two years ago. The memory of his passing still stung Ludwika; she missed him more than ever. But thanks to watching him closely when he used the tractor, she would be able to bring the bushels off the field and into the safety of their family farm…

Author Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Website: Christoph Fischer Books
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Twitter: @CFFBooks
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Author Description: 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 now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline.

Author's Book List
Conditioned - Conditions Series Book 2
CONDITIONED dives back into the world of gardener Charles, his friends and the state of his mental health – one year on. We meet loner Simon and his battle with the outside world, co-dependent Martha and her abusive husband Clive, neurotic poet Catherine on the verge of getting married, Tony, who finds his strange brother Charles a challenge, psychic Elaine looking for a new direction in life and quirky widow Sarah Roseberg who has a go at sorting out all of their problems.

CONDITIONS aimed to sensitise readers and make them think about tolerance and acceptance. CONDITIONED wants readers to look beyond their attitude towards Conditions and examine what we all do and what we can do to overcome our challenges. The sequel is another snapshot of this circle of friends. Some will have improved their lives, others will not.

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KOBO Store

The Gamblers
Ben is an insecure accountant obsessed with statistics, gambling and beating the odds. When he wins sixty-four million in the lottery he finds himself challenged by the possibilities that his new wealth brings.

He soon falls under the influence of charismatic Russian gambler Mirco, whom he meets on a holiday in New York. He also falls in love with a stewardess, Wendy, but now that Ben’s rich he finds it hard to trust anyone. As both relationships become more dubious, Ben needs to make some difficult decisions and figure out who’s really his friend and who’s just in it for the money.

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In Search of A Revolution
In 1918 young Zacharias Nielsen boards a ship in Copenhagen to join the Red Guards in the Finnish Civil War. Encouraged by an idolised teacher with communist leanings, he follows the call for help from his Nordic Comrades, despite his privileged background.

His best friend, Ansgar, has opposing political ideals to Zacharias but, for his own personal reasons, finds himself soon stuck in the Scandinavian North with Zacharias and Raisa, a Finnish nurse who helps them in their new life.

Through the years that follow the brotherly war the trio see the political landscape in Finland and Europe change as Communists and Fascists try to make their mark and attempt to change the world order.

Our heroes must find their own personal and ideological place in these turbulent times as friendship, honour, idealism and love triangles bring out some personal truths.

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The Healer
When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her. Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons. casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her. Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?

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Conditions - Conditions Series Book 1
When Charles and Tony’s mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family.

The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside.

Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast.

Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

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Barnes and Noble

Time to Let Go
Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.

Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves 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 Alzheimers' 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.

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KOBO Store

The Black Eagle Inn - The Three Nations Trilogy Book 3
How does a Nation recover from its collective shame, how does it rebuild itself into a modern state and deal with its horrendous past and the difficult path ahead? Restructuring of the political landscape & the influence of religion are strong themes in this historical family saga & post war drama set in Germany 1940 - 1976.

The Black Eagle Inn is an old established restaurant and part of a family farm business in the sleepy Bavarian countryside outside of Heimkirchen. Childless Anna Stockmann has fought hard to make it her own and keep it running through WWII. The family is divided by rivalry between family members since her own youth but at the heart of this story one of Anna’s nephews, Markus, owns her heart and another nephew, Lukas, owns her ear, while her husband Herbert is still missing-in-action.

Religion dictates life in Heimkirchen's enclosed Catholic community that was almost unaffected by the fighting in the war. Anna’s brother Hans-Ulrich is involved in the church as well as in post war party politics. He finds that the new generation, his own off spring, are not functioning as well as the older one would like. Bitter conflicts arise in the new forming Germany and the family members all need to decide how to respond to the challenges ahead.

This is war fiction without immediate war, it is literary history about Germany after the Nazi rule with gay, racial, religious and feminist themes, describing the way one family experiences the forward move of a shamed Nation.

Fischer tells a great family saga with war in the far background and weaves the political and religious into the personal with belated or indirect impact of war on people.

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KOBO Store

Sebastian - The Three Nations Trilogy - Volume 2
Sebastian is the story of a young man who, due to an unfortunate accident, has his leg amputated shortly before World War I. When his father is drafted to the war it falls to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty, and hopefully find love. Sebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the ‘golden days’ of pre-war Vienna, the time of war and the end of the Monarchy, while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dear. Fischer brilliantly describes life in Vienna during the war years; how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the monarchic system , the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an era. As in the first book of the trilogy, “The Luck of The Weissensteiners” we are confronted again with themes of identity, nationality and borders. The step back in time from Book 1 and the change of location from Slovakia to Austria enables the reader to see the parallels and the differences deliberately out of sequential order, so as not to see one as the consequence of the other, but to experience them as the reality it must have felt like for people at the time.

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KOBO Store

The Luck of the Weissensteiners - The Three Nations Trilogy - Volume 1
In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles in with the Winkelmeier clan just as the developments in Germany start to make waves in Europe. The political climate in the multifaceted cultural jigsaw puzzle of disintegrating Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and the families.

The story follows their lot through the war with its predictable and also its unexpected turns and events and the equally hard times after. From the moment that Greta Weissensteiner enters the bookstore where Wilhelm Winkelmeier works, and entrances him with her good looks and serious ways, I was hooked. But this is no ordinary romance; in tact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story.

What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance Christoph Fischer gives his readers to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences.

Set in the fascinating area of Bratislava, this is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck. I cared about every one of this novel's characters and continued to think about them long after I'd finished reading. -- Andrea Steiner, University of California Santa Cruz

The Luck of the Weissensteiners is an epic saga set in wartime Eastern Europe. It follows the lives of two families - one Jewish, one Catholic - and their entwined survival amidst the backdrop of the second world war; first the fascist then the communist invasion and occupation of Slovakia, and the horror of the consequences of war. The reader is transported to a world of deception, fear, distrust and betrayal, alongside enduring love and family drama. The characters are vividly painted in the mind of the reader as we follow their journey across Europe at a time of unimaginable challenge and trauma. Weissensteiners is a magnificent tale of human survival. I wish I hadn't read it already so that I may repeat the pleasure of discovering and becoming lost in the story once again.

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KOBO Store

Click this link to VOTE NOW for Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Historical Fiction entry for Ludwika by Christoph Fischer

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