Canterbury Tales – Revisited

March 6th, 2023

Oh dear.

It’s been a long time since I read the Canturbury Tales (a collection of twenty-four stories in verse, written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400). I was still a student of English and history at the time. In the “Tales”, a group of pilgrims each tell a story. An early anthology, so to speak.

Now I’ve picked up the audiobook as a refresher. Listened to “The Knight’s Tale”. Well, there’s a difference between reading and interpreting a literary work at university and simply enjoying it again. Or trying to.

This is now my non-literary summary of “The Knight’s Tale” from my current perspective. And yes, I realise that Mr Chaucer probably found the tale just as ridiculous when writing it, as I do when reading or listening to it.

Theseus, King of Athens (King? Really?) has just defeated the Amazons and taken their queen/commander Hippolyta as his wife. The fact that she might not think that so great is not mentioned in a single word.
A bunch of weeping widows from Thebes (Greece, not Egypt) stop the king and ask for help (not for Hippolyta, of course) because an evil tyrant (i.e. not the good tyrant who captures female army commanders and forces them into marriage) is mean enough to deny their late husbands who have died in battle an honourable burial, preferring to leave the disposal to the dogs.
Bad style. And clearly a reason to wage war on Thebes immediately and leave a few more corpses behind, whose burial presumably no one cares about either.

Two almost dead young men, the Thebans Palamon and Arcite, are nursed back to health and then thrown into the Athenian dungeon to rot for life because they were defending their own city. (Theseus here displays moral concepts reminiscent of Mr Putin).
From there they see Theseus’ sister, the blonde Emelye, and fall madly in love with her. They are both rotting away in the dungeon at that moment, but have nothing better to do than to immediately fight to the death (well, almost) over the question who is more in love with her and thus would have a right to her if… yes, if they weren’t rotting away in the dungeon for life. (Too bad, though maybe not for Emelye)

Then Arcite is pardoned, while Palamon continues to languish in the dungeon (bad), but at least gets to see the blonde Emelye from afar (good). Arcite is freed and returns to Thebes (good), where he languishes away in lovesickness. You remember: the blonde Emelye, whom he may now never see again. (Bad)
He, the nobleman, sneaks back into hostile Athens (stupid) and hires himself out as a servant (the disgrace!) just to be able to continue seeing the blonde Emelye. Due to the class difference, however, no contact is ever made. (Oh courtly love…)
Arcite might be the prototype of the stalker.

Years go by. One day, Palamon manages to escape from his dungeon. He hides himself in a bush in the forest when Arcite laments his great love affliction to this bush. (So faithful.)
Confrontation. The two old friends meet again, and immediately try to clobber each other to death with whatever weapons they can lay their hands on (in a shrubbery). They are interrupted by Theseus and his court riding out to hunt. (The forest probably only has the one bush).

Enlightened as to what this is all about, the wonderful Theseus decides that it’ll much fairer if they ride home free (so nice) and each come back with a fighting force of 100 knights so they can fight it out in style.
At this point, someone could have asked Emelye if she even wants one of those two morons. But of course that doesn’t happen.

The noble contest ensues with 100 fighters on each side. There is a certain amount of bloodshed. Very splendid, the whole thing. Theseus has spared no expense and effort to give the noble slaughter a jolly festive setting.
Meanwhile, Emelye prays to the goddess Diana that she may please PLEASE remain a virgin. Quite understandable, that. But Diana has different plans, especially since Mars and Venus are in the Palamon and Arcite fan clubs respectively. I imagine them with little flags in the front row of the stands.
One of them wins. Believe me, it doesn’t matter who.
The winner gets the presumably totally enthusiastic Emelye, as his wife. Again no one thinks of asking her. And now they live happily ever after.
Who disposes of all the bodies is not mentioned.

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Found in Translation

February 5th, 2023

I should actually finish writing my current novel project. But at the moment I’m having absolutely too much fun translating  my German novel “Weltendiebe” into English. I find it interesting that only now that I’m doing the translation I notice little mistakes in the German text that neither I nor my editor noticed before. Maybe I should always translate my books before I give them to anyone to read. But that would make everything take even longer.

It’s complicated to adequately translate things into English that only exist in Germany. “Lastenausgleich” ( life support for for people who had lost everthing during the war) was a term I could explain but not translate directly. Or anything to do with the school system, because school systems in the UK and also in the US are so completely different that it is difficult to just translate. A simple translation would be confusing. Again, you have to explain rather than translate. A “Gymnasium” is not a place to do sports in, but a type of school. “Abitur” is probably more closely related to (British) A-levels or (Irish) Leaving Cert than to a highschool graduation. “Mittelschule” is not middleschool but a type of vocational school for students between 12 and 16. School grades are counted from 1 (very good) to 6 (insufficient) . (2=good, 3=satisfacotry, 4=just sufficient, 5=showing deficiencies) . There is also a point system of 1- 15 points. Here 15-13  points (=very good) to zero points (insufficient) .

But it is fun! And I still like the book and think it’s a shame it hasn’t found a wider readership. In English, I will selfpublish it via Amazon KDP, sometime this year. Until then, I still have to find an English title that fits: “Weltendiebe” means “World Thieves” which sounds a little clumsy in English . Finding a better title won’t be easy. I’ll gladly take your suggestoins.  We also have to redo the cover, although I hope we can use parts of the German design because I  rather like it.

“Weltendiebe”  (World Thieves)
The early 1950s in Germany are not the time and place where you would expect a dimensional break.
Neither is today, though. Anne’s grandma never talked about the horrific things that happened to her in 1952. And that’s bad. Because now Anne knows nothing about the danger that is already lurking right behind her back. From beyond time, disaster creeps into her life.

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2023 – readings and other events

January 22nd, 2023

The new year has started and I am in the process of organising readings for this year. There are a few events that I’d like to go to. At some of them I have read many times before. Some are new. Some would interest me, but are rather too far away and difficult to organise.

Most readings at fantasy events (festivals or conventions) tend to be unpaid. Some organisers offer accommodation or even a travel allowance. But that has become rare. So you have to think very carefully about whether or where you want to go. As always with advertising measures, you have to weigh up the positive effects against the possible costs. When I still had a day job, I was more relaxed about that.

Then you also have to decide whether you want to “just” read somewhere or perhaps also offer a book table. Of course, the latter is never free of charge. Moreover, you have to sit at your table from beginning to end. Because of the books, you can’t take the train or other public transport, but have to go by car. I hate having to drive long distances.

So I have to think carefully about what I shall do. I love to read to an audience. I love to captivate my listeners.

FeenCon 2010Sitting at a book table and for hours on end is rather less fun. But even that has its moments, because of all the nice people come to me to me. It’s always nice to have a little chat with (potential) readers.

Well. And then, of course, people should buy the books. Preferably by the dozen.

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Fantasy – Stealing from History by Jacey Bedford

November 23rd, 2022

I was never very good at history in school. Maybe it was the dry way it was delivered, or maybe I simply wasn’t ready for it. We never seemed to take history as a whole. We always ended up studying specific periods which were not connected to the period immediately before or after. So school history was a series of snapshots, not a continuous stream. Louis XI of France followed by the industrial revolution is a big disconnect.

My interest in history came long after school. It started with local history. The village where I live is not really old. There’s a farm with a door lintel dated 1642, but most of the houses, and the mill that provided work, date from around 1800. The mill had a water wheel which was fed from a mill pond, which in turn was topped up by an upstream pond which was (still is) the first industrial use of water on the river Dearne. The water then runs down the valley to a second mill in the next village, owned by the same people. And suddenly the industrial revolution makes more sense. I like history now.

I began writing in my teens, though the world will be very relieved to note that my first book (all six chapters of it) never saw publication. It was a teen dystopia peopled by characters who were thinly disguised versions of my favourite pop stars.

I never chose writing science fiction and fantasy. The genre chose me. It was what I read, so writing it seemed natural. Writers who have a massive best seller with their first book are few and far between. My first published book (Empire of Dust, a space opera) came out in 2014 but I wrote it back in 1998, so my overnight success took sixteen years. I now have seven books available, all published by DAW in the USA even though I’m a British writer. They consist of two trilogies, (one is science fiction and the other is historical fantasy) and the most recent book is another historical fantasy – this time a stand-alone called The Amber Crown.

I enjoy stealing from history, though I’m not averse to changing things to suit my story. My Rowankind trilogy (Winterwood, Silverwolf, and Rowankind) is set in Britain in 1800 – 1802 and follows history with a few alterations. Britain is at war with France. Napoleon is rampaging through Europe. King George III is going steadily mad (though I have a magical reason for that). There’s a servant-race, called the rowankind who were once helpmeets of the fae, but, for some reason no one seems to remember, they were called into the world of humans and are stuck. Witchcraft is strictly regulated and any practising witch who is not registered is summarily executed.

That’s just the background, the story is about Ross (Rossalinde) Tremayne, an unregistered witch, who captains her own privateer vessel with the help of a bunch of barely-reformed pirates and the jealous ghost of her dead husband. A deathbed visit to her estranged mother leaves her with a half-brother she didn’t know about, and a task she doesn’t want. The story continues on through all three books, but Winterwood can be read as a standalone.

People ask me if it’s difficult switching genres between science fiction and fantasy, but I don’t find it so. My books are character-led. I’m writing about people and it doesn’t really matter whether they are on a two-masted schooner in the middle of the Atlantic, or a star-spanning space ship out on the galactic rim. I like to mix adventure and mystery with a little romance and characters who are (I hope) real in the mind of my readers.

My most recent book, The Amber Crown also steals from history, though I’ve taken a lot of liberties. Rather than being set in Britain, it’s set in a fictional Baltic country called Zavonia, which is an analogue of Latvia/Lithuania with a lot of Polish influence in costume. I have, for instance, incorporated the Polish Winged Cavalry, hussars who went into battle with huge iron wings strapped to their backs, and who were the pre-eminent cavalry of Europe for the best part of 200 years. My writers’ group thought it unbelievable and thought I’d invented it, but it was real.

Again, The Amber Crown is really about the characters and it’s told through three viewpoints. Valdas is the captain of the king’s bodyguard who is in deep trouble when the king is killed. (That’s not a spoiler, it happens on the first page.) He’s accused of the murder and goes on the run, determined to find the real killer. Mirza is the witch-healer of a band of travelling refugees who is given the task of helping Valdas by the ghost of his dead king. Lind is the clever assassin who is beginning to regret taking the job, especially since the person who hired him seems to be a practitioner of magic. The three start out separately and come together to confront an adversary steeped in blood magic.

I’m a visual writer. My books play out in my head like a sprawling full-colour movie (though I don’t cast my characters from known actors). I have a lot of Pinterest boards which hold images from which I take inspiration. If you take a look here:  you’ll find boards for Georgian history, which helped me to visualise the world of Winterwood, and boards dedicated to the ‘Baltic story, general research, costume, and even a board for the Polish Winged Hussars.

You can catch up with me at my website  There’s more information about the book, and about my short stories, plus a link to my blog, and a contact page where you can sign up to my mailing list. Don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with spam. I’m always happy to hear from readers, writers and reviewers.

I’d like to thank Ju for inviting me to write for this fine blog.

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My next novel

February 6th, 2022

You’re never quite finished. Not really. But in fact I have now finished writing my new novel and have edited and re-edited and cut it several times. Since I have a tendency to write very long books, but have been told that only a shorter book has any chance of being published by a publisher (Tolkien – despair!), I have put the sword to the manuscript.

I did three levels of shortened manuscript. Some of it really hurt. A reader would probably not miss what is now not mentioned, because they don’t know that it used to be there. Nevertheless, as the author I do miss some nice sentences or even chapters.

The first beta reader criticized that there was too little background ambience. Of course, that’s always the first thing that gets cut, because cutting bits of the plot might make the story illogical.
Now I have four different versions of the manuscript:

1. original
2. shortened once
3. shortened twice
4. very, very, very short – by my standards.

Only the 4th version meets the requirements completely. So if the publisher wants it that way, it will be this nibbled version that the readership will see. If I have to publish it myself, it will be the once shortened version.
We shall see. I’m hoping for a publisher.

So keep your fingers crossed!

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Reading in Berlin

November 14th, 2021

This weekend I’ll be in Berlin. I have a reading there on Friday evening at Kulturbremse, Jagowstr. 29 in Berlin Moabit. I’m sharing the reading with Bernhard Stäber. The organiser has called it the “Welten” (=Worlds) reading, because our books each have the word “Welten” in the title.

Ju Honisch „Weltendiebe“

In the cellar of an old villa in Munich there is an interdimensional weak spot. Every few decades, nefarious world-jumpers seek to open it from the outside to steal into our world. The last opening happened in 1952, and just now it has been opened again.

Anne’s grandmother is horrified when she finds out that her granddaughter works in the very house where she experienced unbelievably terrible things back then. She remembers, but won’t speak.

So Anne has no idea how dangerous the men are who suddenly appear in her life. Only when her sister Ev disappears and ominous strangers pursue Anne does it become clear that there is more behind Granny’s silence than the odd mood of an old woman.

Anne is determined to find her sister again, even if she doesn’t know where. She only knows: jumping into a strange, alien world is a sacrilege that is punishable by death in every dimension. The enforcers of dimensional integrity know no mercy.


Bernhard Stäber „Wächter der Weltenschlange

After the death of her mother, 17-year-old Malin spends the summer holidays with her younger brother Rune at their grandfather’s house in southern Norway. When Rune takes his boat out on Lake Seljord despite a storm warning, fate takes its course: Rune capsizes and is rescued by the water spirit Nyk ‑ but at a high price. He must bring the last egg of the world serpent Jormungand into the Arctic Ocean. Should he fail, he will die. Together, the siblings set out for the North Cape. But their long journey through Norway quickly turns into a deadly chase through the Disen, for ever since the Norns disappeared, the Nine Worlds have been in turmoil. It is said that the serpent in Rune’s egg will cause the world to burn. Torn between their own destiny and that of the world, Malin and Rune have the adventure of a lifetime in the realm of the Norse sagas.

Two very different books. So it won’t be boring!

Of course, we are worried whether the plague will even allow the event to take place. We can thank a certain section of the population, which in my opinion is completely antisocial, for the fact that the number of people falling ill is shooting up like crazy again.

But we haven’t given up yet.


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…and once again in English

October 12th, 2021

One by one I am publishing my books in English. The last one  published was „Jenseits des Karussells“ = „Beyond the Merry-Go-Round“. The book is the continuation of the stories that started with  „Das Obsidianherz“ = “Obsidian Secrets”  continued with with „Salzträume“ = “Dreams of Salt” (in two volumes, as it was too long for one).

“Obsidian Secrets” is set in 1865 in Munich, the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria. King Ludwig II has just been crowned a year earlier and has barely begun to think about building all the wonderful castles we love to visit today – Neuschwanstein, for example. King Ludwig II is pretty much the most romantic but also the most controversial king Bavaria has ever had, and to this day people argue about whether his early demise in Lake Starnberg some 20 years later was an accident, murder or suicide. But His Majesty only appears once in the prologue of “Obsidian Secrets” and is only mentioned occasionally thereafter.

Salzträume“ = “Dreams of Salt”  is set in the same year in autumn, however in the mountains in Austria, which was ruled by Emperor Franz-Josef at the time. In Germany, everyone knows the Sissy movies, which show a romanticised picture of the love and life of Kaiserin Elisabeth. She, too, is not one of the main characters in the book, but – like King Ludwig in “Obsidian Secrets” – appears once briefly in the plot. Otherwise, there are those heroes and heroines who survived the “Obsidian Secrets” and a new heroine, an Austrian lady: courageous, intelligent and strong in character, but stuck in a really unfortunate situation. There is no lack of magic and fey either. They are distributed among the respective sides, and not everything that seems nice, is so. Treachery and crime make life and survival difficult for our warriors.

So now: “Jenseits des Karussells”   = “Beyond the Merry-Go-Round“. in English. Here the story returns to Munich. Two years have passed and the disastrous war of 1866 has changed everything. Bavaria and Austria lost the decisive battle against Prussia, and one of our heroes from “Das Obsidianherz” = “Obsidian Secrets” and “Salzträume” = “Dreams of Salt” is now also a maimed veteran. The real heroine of the book, however, is a young woman who does not realise that she is in any way special. Others, however, know it and plan to take advantage of this, regardless whether she can survive this or not. Then we also have a young painter, a junior magician who has started studying at the Arcane Lodge, a couple of inconspicuous ladies meeting for magical coffee klatsches in Munich, and – last but not least – a very peculiar ginger cat.

Currently I am working on the English version of “Wings of Stone”. Unfortunately, I’m making rather slow progress here. When the book was published in German back then, the publisher insisted on shortening it massively. Now that I’m republishing the book, I’d like to put at least some of the cuts back in. Not all of them. But one or two sentences or thoughts and the odd explanatory reference to what happened before in the other books. In any case, it is tedious work to first compare the old German manuscript with the abridged German manuscript and then to transfer everything again into the English manuscript. That will take a while.

At the same time, I am working on a new project that will also belong to this series, but is set 20 years later. More about that soon.

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About Cons and Witches

October 7th, 2021

Part of an author’s life is spent at conventions: weekend gatherings of like-minded people. These wonderful folks can then belong to the book industry, the fantasy and SF fandom or – in this case – filk (singer-songwriter ballads on themes of fantasy, science fiction, horror and whatever a filker can think of). Yes. I confess it freely. I am a filker.

Last weekend’s con was dedicated to filk and I met up with a group of friends and hobby musicians) in Wernigerode for music and lots of cosy chatting. After the long pandemic with nothing but online meetings, it was nice to actually see and cuddle “real people” in person again. We were all vaccinated, of course, and did a covid test every morning. The hygiene rules were good. So was the general mood.
Since I tore a tendon in my hand some time ago, I unfortunately couldn’t play this year. Normally I come armed with a guitar and a collection of tin and low whistles. And with my approx. 280 self-written songs. I once counted them and was amazed at the amount I had written and composed in the course of 30 years. Of course, only a small part is in the permanent repertoire. This time, I had to sing acapella, so the selection of suitable songs was even smaller.
But of course I didn’t just sing, I also did a reading. I presented four scenes from “Weltendiebe” to my audience, and since they all laughed or applauded at the right places, it must have gone down really well. Yes, “Weltendiebe” is funny. Not exclusively so – but it has its moments. The book has serious parts and humourous parts.

The nice thing about cons is that you have an audience of “dedicated fans”. Anyone who shows up at a con is already an enthusiastic fantasy reader and doesn’t need to be convinced of the merits of the genre. So you have a friendly audience that looks forward to meeting the authors and enjoys listening. What more could you want?
After the con, I took the steam train (Harzer Schmalspur Bahn) up the Brocken mountain . Despite the place being famous for it, I didn’t see any witches dancing there – naked or otherwise but there were plenty of them in the souvenir shops, invariably equipped with broomsticks.

However, the Brocken is not only known for its dancing witches, but also for the fact that before the fall of the Iron Curtain there was a large spy station towards the West there. The old technology can now be admired in a museum. After the border was opened, demonstrators climbed the Brocken and courageously sang in front of the fence. The area was still a Soviet restricted zone at the time. That could have ended badly, but it had a happy ending. The Russians opened the gates. And soon the Mountain of Witches opened up to tourists.

Hurray for the witches!

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Saar Online Book Fair

June 24th, 2021

The Saar Online Book Fair is over. What has remained is a reading from the book “Elgar Eisbär und die Zivilisation” with a short interview afterwards.

The book fair was well organised, even though I probably didn’t use or even find all the options for interaction. My little avatar bravely trudged through the rooms, but only found some people for a conversation once.

The events and readings were interesting. As I am a big Ben Aaronovitch fan, I was particularly pleased to watch his contribution. It was also nice to see Tad Williams again, whom I had met once at a living room reading at Friedberg.
If you want to listen to my reading, please follow the links:



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New challenges – old haunts

June 13th, 2021

When I stopped working in my day job, I had assumed that I would now write one novel after another. Indeed, my creativity would know no bounds.

Reality tends to catch up with you and life intervenes. I spent the first period of the pandemic prostrate on the sofa. Then I started editing my English manuscripts to market them myself. These are available so far

Eventually, I found that I spent more time “marketing” than writing.

I HATE marketing. I have no talent for blowing my own trumpet. Indeed, I’d be glad if I possessed said trumpet. Now, of course, you can say that I need not have chosen to be a self-publisher, I could have a publishing company do this work for me, couldn’t I. Well, no. What can I say? The big publishing houses I have worked with hate marketing as much as I do. At least, that’s what you might think when you look at their rather meagre efforts.

But marketing or no marketing: Finally. I’m writing again. A third of the new novel is already finished, and I have gone “back to the roots” and have relocated to my beloved 19th century. Over twenty years have passed since “Das Obsidanherz”  (Obsidian Secrets) and “Salzträume” (Dreams of Salt). The new book is set in England, but really only because I have a heroine who wants to study at university. Germany wasn’t yet ready for so radical an idea as female higher educaion at that time.

My heroine’s name is Elinnor, and her destination is Cambridge. But then everything turns out quite differently – as things do. Authors can be merciless. Poor Elinnor.

I’ll give you two little teasers:


He entered the room carrying a tea tray.
“There you are,” he said like a benevolent mother. “Time for tea.”
“Biscuits?” asked Brother Iacobeus.
“I shall bring them in presently.”

“Thank you!” said Father Hyacinth who was a polite man and never forgot his manners even when torturing someone.


“You were not quick enough!” he scolded the skeleton. “And perhaps you were not determined enough. Or your era lacked suitable virgins to sacrifice, though I do not truly believe that. Fifty percent of mankind is female, and all of them are born as virgins.”

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Ju Honisch



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