Black thoughts under blue skies

July 10th, 2019

Dystopian literature seems to be booming. It has become easy to imagine a future in which the human world comes to a bitter end. We are so close to this outcome that our present can already sense this future. It whispers in the wind. It poisons the mind.

Of course, I also have ideas for dystopias. Three short stories, which contain different aspects of a truly undesirable development, can be read in my short story collection  “Machtschattenpiele (Power shadow games)”.

Sometimes, however, our reality is so grey and frightening that I don’t like to write that kind of literature anymore. It’s as if reality has long since overtaken the authors’ imagination. So I take my ideas to strange and foreign worlds. Should these worlds break, no one has to die here. Yet, I think that the problems of imaginary worlds also do reflect our situation and our life and give us reason for thought in our decision making. That’s what stories are for. That’s what fairy tales have always been for.

Another 50 years of humanity – that’s what they’ve calculated now. Of course, this is an if-then-conditional. It doesn’t have to happen like this, but IF we do nothing but destroy more and more of our world, THEN we shall soon cease to be able to survive or live the way we do now. By the way, the world as such is not going to end. Not even all animals will die. But we who live in a high-tech environment, will then be a thing of the past. Petrified bones in the dirt.

A few preppers may still endure a few years longer in some bunkers, until finally at some point they will kill each other with their hoarded weapons for the last vital goods.
Of course, it’s also possible that we’ll all be fighting over resources before that, until there may still be resources, but we no longer are there to use them. With the increasing brainless and irresponsible nationalism and jingoism, not only here, but everywhere, one can assume that every country, every region even will come to the conclusion that it is entitled to more than its neighbours.

We can only solve the problem together. None of the “lone decision-makers” has the knowledge anymore to achieve anything on their own. It wouldn’t help either. So we have to ask ourselves what we can all do together. And doing nothing at all means: It’ll be over in 2050. Denial won’t help, neither will noisy tantrums.

I didn’t plan to write anything political. But it had to come out.

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Losing patience

February 26th, 2019

Not everyone may know this, but I wrote my first four books (Das Obsidianherz, Salzträume, Jenseits des Karussells und Schwingen aus Stein) in English and then translated them into German. Of course, I would have liked them to appear in English, but the way things went is trite and frustrating.

The first time I tried to tackle the English-speaking market myself. I wrote to publishers, had myself “recommended” by friends of mine, tried to find an agent in the US and also in England. I cannot say that it was raining letters of refusal, because most of the people/companies I had contacted did not react at all.

Finally, the books were published in German – by Feder & Schwert. Of the four books, two received an award. The publisher now tried to place the books on the English market. Perhaps the answers were less abrasive, as publishers might deal more politely with other publishers – the result remained the same.

Now F&S thought about bringing the books to the English-speaking market itself. That was a wonderful idea. I really should have let them do that. But at this point, life in the guise of my agent intervened, feeling certain that they had far better opportunities to market the manuscripts abroad. What can I say? They were quite, quite wrong. The F&S option then no longer existed, and the other option via an English micro-press failed due to communication difficulties between the publisher and the agency.

So again nothing.

By now, my English manuscripts have been sitting on my computer for over ten years and I can hear them complain. That’s why I’m doing it myself now. The English manuscript of “Obsidian Hearts” is with the editor now to be checked for language. Next, I have to decide whether I want to use the gentleman’s services for the publication itself or if I want to bite my way through this self-publishing business that I never wanted to have to deal with.

I will finance this first English project (Obsidian Hearts) from savings, in the vague hope that the investment will pay off. For a second (also third or fourth) volume I would perhaps try Patreon. But until then I still have a lot of time to decide.

When the time comes, I’d like all my readers to contact their English friends and praise me. Nobody knows me in the English speaking countries. I start from scratch.

It is frustrating.
But it is also exciting.

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Sunshine and snow

January 31st, 2019

Today, on my way to work, I drove right into a beautiful sunrise. Blood red sky and bright pink clouds from the heating plant chimney.
I would have liked to take a picture. But of course: on other days I’m stuck at every traffic light and could just pull up my mobile phone. Today however: excellently phased traffic lgihts and not one stop. The mobile phone stayed in my pocket. Law abinding person and so on.
Meanwhile the sky has turned grey again.

Eos: How nice of you to take me with you in your car today.
Helios: You’re welcome. Are you sitting comfortably in front? Pretty color, that.
Eos: Yes. Isn’t it?
Helios: And every little cloud individually pink. You are so talented, little sister.
Eos: I have a sense for details. And always too little time. Before he comes.
Helios: Who?
Eos: St. Peter. The one from the grumpy and morose competition. There he is now.
St. Peter: Get out of here! The weather is MY duty.
Eos: And what have you planned for today?
St. Peter: I think a uniform mid-gray with occasional sleet will be just right.
Helios: And how shall I shine through the clouds?
St. Peter: No shining for you. Otherwise someone will never believe in you, God forbid.
Eos: Does he?
St. Peter: He delegated that. Lean management and stuff.
Eos: And you?
St. Peter: I’m responsible for the weather. In addition, I am the key master.
Helios: Bouncer for the harp club.
St. Peter (angry): It is a responsible position!
Helios: We keep a dog for that. He can do that just as well.
Eos: Zerberosi-love. So sweet.
St. Peter: Oh? With pink clouds?
Eos: Especially for you he would fart pink clouds. Before he tears you apart.
St. Peter: Now beat it! Off you go! Exit heathens!
Helios: Weatherman and bouncer. and to think such a one  is responsible for the climate.
St. Peter: I’m not responsible for the climate. Only for the weather. Not for the climate. We have outsourced that.
Helios: To whom?
St. Peter: To the humans.
Helios: Are you – quite – mad?
Eos: That does explain a lot.
St. Peter: All a question of faith.
Eos: Global warming is not a question of faith! If the seas rise and people drown, they will not be spared if they simply do not believe in it.
Helios: And in summer I have to work overtime again. And – St. Peter – do get off my chariot.
Eos: The rainy saint – free rider of the sun god.
St. Peter: Miss Eos, I resent that. And now stop throwing all that pink about. That colour is sexually connoted and thus evil.
Eos: Shall I show you what has such a sexual connotation, you sin-dodging spoilsport? Shall I show it to you? (Lifts her Greecian skirt and shows her  posterior towards the saint)
St. Peter (firmly shuts his eyes ): Holy Mother of God and all the helpers in need!

Down on earth, the snowflakes condense into a blizzard.

 

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Annual Three Wise Men tale

January 6th, 2019

Mrs. Melchior: You want to follow a star? A star? Shouldn’t stars be faster than you – on foot?
Mr. Melchior: We have camels.
Mrs. Melchior: Oh, and they are faster than stars? Hardly.
Mr Melchior: This goes beyond your understanding, woman!
Mrs. Melchior: Whenever you can’t think of a reasonable answer, this suddenly goes beyond my understanding. Beyond my understanding my foot! Be reasonable! Stars wander all across the sky in one night. Can your camel do that?
Mr. Melchior: You don’t know anything about camels either.
Mrs. Melchior: You don’t say! I run this caravanserai here – while you only look at the stars at night and sleep during the day. Melchior’s caravanserai it is called! And who does all the work? I do!
Mr. Melchior: Astronomy is essential. Something important is going to happen surely ! [exit Melchior]
Mrs. Kaspar [enters]: Now who has come up with this stupid idea again?
Mrs. Melchior: Not me. You may be sure of that.
Mrs. Kaspar: My oh so wise husband wants to follow a star. An effing star!
Mrs. Melchior: So does mine.
Mrs. Kaspar: Then I’m sure we’ll soon see …
Mrs. Balthasar [enters]: An important child is born, he says. [points to her round belly]. That didn’t go unnoticed, I tell him. And what does he say? He is not talking about our child! Not our baby! Can anyone just be more important right now?
Mrs. Melchior: Sit down, love.
Mrs Kaspar: What a stupid idea!
Mrs Melchior: Anybody for cookies?
Mrs Balthasar: Yes, please. And would  you have some pickled dates?
Mrs Kaspar: He wants to pay homage, he says. He doesn’t know yet to whom, when or where, but he definitely wants to pay homage.
Mrs. Balthasar: Mine too. Quite adamant about this homage thing. As if he couldn’t pay homage here, too. We have enough gods. And stars.
Mrs. Melchior: And wives.
Mrs. Kaspar: He wants to take presents with him! As if we had something to give away!
Mrs. Balthasar: Mine too. I could not get him to see sense. You don’t even know to whom you want to give presents, I said. And what does he say? A little child! I beg you! A little child! We already have five, and soon the sixth will be born!
Mrs Melchior: Mine said, a king. That means it can’t be ours. Since the last tax audit, my husband would not voluntarily pay anything to the king. Not even homage, if he can avoid it.
Mrs Kaspar: Mine said that it is about the Prophesied One. Don’t read so much fantasy, I told him. In bad fantasy there is always a Prophesied One. Who prophesied the guy?, I asked him. He did not know. And what’s he prophesied for, I asked. He didn’t know either.
Mrs. Balthasar: They don’t know anything.
Mrs. Melchior: They want to go west. Now, the road to India would certainly be more lucrative. Normally you can’t them to move their lazy asses from their divans, and now they want to go west. That’s where the Romans are, I said. You do not want to meet them! Nobody voluntarily messes with the Romans! Military sponges.
Mrs Kaspar: Mine wants to take his sword along.
Mrs. Balthasar: Does he know how to wield it?
Mrs Kaspar: When he took it off the wall, I first dusted it off. And he cut his finger. And whined loudly.
Mrs. Melchior: Mine wanted to take gold, incense and myrrh! For a child?, I asked him. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give him a set of good nappies, something to wear and something to eat? He could take some date porridge preseve! Children like that! Gold! He must be off his mind.
Mrs. Balthasar: They want to split it up. One brings gold, one myrrh, one incense.
Mrs. Melchior:Well, it certainly couldn’t get any more expensive! He could take free vouchers for this caravanserai with him! The Prophesied One would then have something to look forward to when he grows up. Maybe he will like travelling.
Mrs. Balthasar: Men! Spending a fortune for this homage thingy! But whenever I want to get a new caftan …
Mrs Kaspar: I had a terrible dream.
Mrs. Melchior: Don’t you start with prophecies now!
Mrs. Balthasar: What did you dream?
Mrs. Kaspar: I dreamt that they had been kidnapped and caught in a golden shrine far, far northwest.
Mrs. Melchior: With the barbarians?
Mrs. Balthasar: Or with the Romans?
Mrs Kaspar: I don’t know. Could be both.
Mrs. Melchior: You really think our husbands will get a golden shrine? Will it be valuable?
Mrs. Kaspar: Anyway, I will certainly not pay homage to them in Barbaria!
Mrs Melchior: We will have to organise this – if we cannot make them see sense. So: we’ll pack some sensible baby presents. And I put some of the men together as a protective posse. In a caravanserai there are always a few hardened would-be warriors looking for a job. We shall also tell them to avoid the Romans at all costs. And that goes for this Herod, too. You don’t hear anything good from him either. And we should make sure they don’t take anything along that the next band of robbers would not steal from them at the first oportunity.
Mrs. Balthasar: Do you hear that? I think they’re riding off right now.
Mrs. Melchior: Oh, dear. And without a plan or a map, I bet you.
Mrs. Kaspar: And without a protection posse.
Mrs. Melchior: Without joining a westbound caravan.
Mrs. Balthasar: It should surprise me if they had packed as much as a change of underwear.
….
Mrs. Melchior: I’ll make some tea.
Mrs. Melchior + Mrs. Kaspar + Mrs. Balthasar: Men!

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ADventBLOCKER

December 23rd, 2018

“What does Christmas mean?” asked Sven.
“Father Christmas is coming” said the father without looking up from his cell phone.
“No, Christ is born as a child,” Grandma said.
“And which one of them is right, now?” asked Sven.
“Then who is Santa?” Marie-Louise asked. She was only a little older than Sven but invariably thought she had to present her more detailed knowledge.
“He’s called Satan,” corrected Grandma, whose view of the world was resolutely un-American.
“He’s not called Satan at all!”
“Santa and Satan are not the same, despite the anagram,” corrected Father and began to look up the definitions on Wikipedia. “I’ll show you right away.” His clumsy fingers slid over the smartphone and he frowned as if he had to thread a rope through the eye of a needle.
“And what’s that about St. Nicolaus and his Krampus,” asked Maximilian-Alexander, who as a teenager felt too old to believe in such things. “What kind of strange relationship do those two have? One wears long dresses and funny hats, and the other likes to whip children.”
“You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself,” scolded Aunt Edeltraut. “What an ugly thing to say!”
“But it is weird, isn’t it?” Maximilian-Alexander triumphed. Whenever Aunt Edeltraut said he should feel ashamed, it was an unmistakable sign that he had somehow – won.
“It’s Catholic,” Aunt Edeltraut explained. Uncle Eberhard was swallowing mulled wine and coughed in a decidedly unchristian way. “You just be quiet,” hissed Aunt Edeltraut. “If it were up to you we would all be heathens!”
“What kind of heathens?” asked Anna-Kathrin. She studied sociology and ethnology at university and liked to question everything. “European pagans? Asatru? Wicca? Or something more non-European? Buddhism is quite en vogue.”
Father had just found Satan and started googling Asatru and Wicca. “I’ll get it in a second,” he said. Nobody believed him.
“So what does Christmas mean now?” Sven asked impatiently.
“We are just explaining it to you! It’s not so simple.”
“And we shouldn’t forget the cowboys and the cheering wing-bearers either,” Maximilian-Alexander threw in. He had developed an unerring insdtinct for when a comment was particularly unsuitable. In fact, he had developed this kind of communication into an art form.
“At Nuremberg Christmas market, the Christ Child is female,” lectured Anna-Kathrin. “Pre-Christian roots can be recognized there – Mother Goddess and so on. Christmas is pre-Christian to a rather considerable extent. Solstice rites and evergreens. This does not really have anything to do with an oriental patriarchal religion which was annexed by the Romans, suitably polished and honed down by some council to make it adaptable for Roman thinking and since then has been operated as a kind of trademark protection scheme.”
“Trademark protection?” Uncle Eberhard asked.
“Like the Coca-Cola logo. Never change anything so that customers can identify with the brand. And burn those who violate trademark law.”
“Do you write Wicca with ck or with double k?” father asked.
“Christmas has nothing to do with Coca-Cola,” Grandma disagreed.
“Santa Claus does,” Marie-Louise explained. “He always arrives in a Coca-Cola truck.”
“I thought he came in a sleigh?” Uncle Eberhard asked innocently. “With raindrops.”
“Reindeer, Uncle Eberhard, reindeer.”
“With red noses. Maybe a political statement?” Uncle Eberhard sometimes sounded as if he should love to be Maximilian-Alexander once in a while. Aunt Edeltraut then usually looked as if she suffered from constipation.
“Santa comes by sleigh and down the chimney!”
“Difficult business with central heating, ” Maximilian-Alexander murmured. “With the diameter of modern heating pipes, he would have to have the shape of a very long, thin sausage. In a red casing and with fluffy ends.”
“You’re all stupid,” Marie-Louise complained.
And Grandma nodded: “That’s right, my child. Very stupid.”
“And what is Christmas now?” Sven asked again, who would have preferred a simple sentence to an elaborate riddle.
The door went.
“That will be Karin. She had to work late today. IWith her working for social …”
Sven’s mother came into the room and ushered two strangers in who looked around a little nervously. They carried full plastic bags as luggage and wore cheap Santa hats . They didn’t look particularly clean.
“Meet Martha and Werner. They will celebrate Christmas with us.”
The room went very quiet.
“They have no one else, and it’s cold outside,” mother explained to a number of faces showing signs of complete non-comprehension.
“But Karin …”, the father coughed, “dear me … it is Christm…”
“Exactly,” the mother said.
Aunt Edeltraut stood up. “Eberhard, I think we should go now … it is getting late …”
“Great,” Maximilian-Alexander said. “Then I don’t need to get any additional chairs. Sit down, folks. Have a biscuit!”
“Really Karin!” Aunt Edeltraut smiled thinly. “You always have to exaggerate. And at Christmas, too! Christmas belongs to the family!”
“It belongs to us?” asked Sven. “It’s all ours? Then I would like the one with the truck.”
“I think you have not quite understood, my boy,” corrected Aunt Edeltraut, who had sat down again and now took another biscuit before it was eaten by someone undeserving.
“Neither have you, Aunt Edeltraut, neither have you,” grinned Maximilian-Alexander.
“And now we shall all sing a jolly Christmas carol,” Grandma said. The quiet time if the year was rarely as quiet as after such a request.
Still, it was a very nice Christmas – even without the truck.

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New Stories

September 6th, 2016

So what’s new? I have done some readings, had a really great time at Feen Con in Bad Godesberg. I was at the FEST of Fantasy. There, too, I read from my stories. The FEST is always quite wonderful. Unfortunately, this year it was a bit rainy.

A new book has just been published: an anthology of short stories, called “Funtastik” to which I contributed a story. funtastik-cover The aim of the anthology was to present the funny side of fantasy. The stories are quite varied. After all, we all have a different sense of humor.

Another short story will appear soon. unfortunately I am not allowed to tell you any  more details. Soon, I promise.

My new novel “Seelenspalter” (=Splitter of Souls) will come out in Droemer Knaur early next year. It has a really nice cover, do take a look. It will be the first of hopefully many books of my new series called “Klingenwelt” (Blade World) And what is it about?

seelenspalter-cover

Seelenspalter can bei preordered here.

Maleni is harmless. Taryah is deadly. Together, however, they are but one single person, trained, moulded and soul sliced by the Assassin Order of the Xyi. Without ever being seen, this order guides the fortunes of the war torn Eight Realms of Predorenn. Taryah is a courtesan and hired blade without a conscience. Maleni is a nice, young woman who, while running away from her last deed, meets Umbert and Elgor, both of them travelling blacksmiths. Their knowledge is ancient and magical. They have their very own plans with Maleni who does not suspect this. Maleni must now fight against bloodthirsty pursuers, against the best killers of Eight Realms and against her own inner fighter. She cannot trust anyone, not even herself – and certainly not the mysterious fighter who shows up sometimes, only to disappear again into thin air.

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There and … ah … back again

July 6th, 2016

I should be ashamed of myself. You had to go far too long without a blog of mine. I tended to be much more diligent there. But I seem to  notice that the days are getting shorter. They used to be 24 hours long, but nowadays they seem to have gone down to some 17 hours per day. I’m lagging behind and eventually I shall find somebody else to blame. Anybody but me.

I have so much to tell you:
Right on time for last Halloween “BISSE” came out as an eBook at  Hockebooks http://www.hockebooks.de/ebook/bisse. That made me very happy, because many years ago, these short stories signified the beginning of my literary career. They are evil, little ditties, and it helps to have some well-established black humor when reading them. Without the black humour you will just have to be nicely scared. That will also work quite well.

bisse_ecover   final_malicorn_cover_ebook

And last week, the same ebook publishing house published “Die Quellen der Malicorn” (Wells of the Malicorn) http://www.hockebooks.de/ebook/die-quellen-der-malicorn, which had come out three years ago as a paper version at Heyne (Random House). This paper version is no longer available except from some online retailers. Now there is the e-book version, which was vigorously edited and provided with a much nicer cover.

Now, of course, the background work is starting in earnest: contact literature bloggers, whether you might want to have a guest blog from me. Or whether they’d like to review the book. Of course the publisher will also be active here, but part of the work is mine. The increasing marketing work, which authors have to  do, is stealing writing time. One of the reasons why I did not blog regularly any more.

That will change now. Because everything is getting better. Or so we hope.

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Podcast Interview

June 21st, 2015

A little more than a week ago, Andrea Diener came for a visit. When you reach my age, you can sometimes utter this dreaded sentence: “I already knew him/her when she they still went to school.” This is precisely and annoyingly true in Andrea’s case. I got to know Andrea shortly before her high school graduation. We were both active in the Irish culture and music scene in our favourite Irish pub, where I played music and she did Irish dancing.

Well, quite some years have passed since then. Meanwhile, she is a journalist, writes great travel reports and maintains a regular podcast series, in which she interviews a wide variety of people. This time I was the lucky interviewee.

We had a nice evening on my sofa, busy with questions and answers of which the questions were well versed and professional, while I pushed my answers through some nervous trepidation. Most interviews that I have given in the past, were online interviews. Journalists or freelance bloggers send a list of questions and you send back a list of answers. The charm of this procedure is: You have time to think about what you want to say and in precisely what manner you wish to phrase your (hopefully clever) answer.

A microphone in your hand changes that completely. Like a symbol of all too sudden reality you grasp it like the proverbial straw and hope that what you are going to say will not be utter nonsense. And will not be interrupted by a lot of „ahhm” sounds. And a little later, you wonder whether you really got across what you actually wanted to say, and whether the broad grin was noticeable or whether all the people just misunderstood you and now think you claimed to have invented historical fantasy. (Note: I have not invented historical fantasy. I existed well before I wrote my first novel.)

After the interview, Andrea and I rounded off the evening with a glass of one of my favourite whiskies Talisker – the beverage that made it into one of my very first short stories many, many years ago.

And now you can listen to the podcast here. It is in German.

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Nominated!

June 19th, 2015

The finalists for the Deutscher Phantastik Preis (German Award for Speculative Literature = the German “Hugo”) have been posted. Indirectly, I am among the finalists: I wrote one of the stories in “Exotische Welten” (Susanne & Sean O’Connell [Hg] – O’Connell Press), an anthology of short stories. My story combines steampunk elements with classical poetry.

“Im Bilde (=In the picture)” (Mr Jenkins inherits a house in London with a large painting in his study. Through this painting he finds an access to a fabulous kingdom. Against all reason he is seized by a strong desire to go exploring…). The story was inspired by the Coleridge poem “Kubla Khan”.

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea …”

If you liked “Exotische Welten”, please vote for the collection . The final ballot runs from June 20 to July 19.

If you are not familiar with the anthology, then you can learn more about it here .

We would be delighted if you liked our stories. And we would all of us be very happy, if you expressed your opinion by voting for us. Thank you.

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Group reading

January 12th, 2015

“Schwingen aus Stein” (Wings of Stone), my last novel, won a SERAPH at the Leipzig Bookfair last spring. This was a great honour and brought me a whole number of readings at interesting places before interesting people last year. I should like to thank the organisers and the listeners!

The book turned out to be a little tardy in gathering attention otherwise: a few more reviews would be nice. I am paging the ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere here who do such an excellent – and usually unpaid – job of reviewing those books that do not come with the advertising budget of the mainstream bestseller list.

So now we venture forth into this year with a new group reading of the book starting January 16. I shall take part in the event and I would be delighted if a great many people would join this. Those of you who have the novel sitting on the bedside table waiting to be read or simply want to purchase it because Father Christmas was remiss in his duty to bring it – you now have the opportunity to read the book together with a nice group of people, to discuss it, voice your opinion or get my answers to specific questions. I’ll be there. And this is where you’ll find me. – The book and the discussion will be in German.

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