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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My three cents worth …

December 11th, 2014

What is a troll? No, I’m not talking about the naked giants from the Hobbit movie. I am talking about the people who annoy us online with their malevolent, disparaging opinions based on cluelessness, spiteful frustration and zero relevance. Those we call trolls.

There are trolls to be found in online (book) reviews. They are some few people who basically only ever write bad reviews, and who do not stop at disparaging the medium (book, film, etc.), but also launch massive personal attacks on the authors and media makers and on all those who have the audacity to like what they dislike.

It is perfectly all right not to like a book or a movie. We cannot all like the same things. We also do not necessarily all have to like Tolkien. And it is equally acceptable to say so and state the reason for your dislike.

Massive attacks on the creative minds behind – whatever – medium plus on those who confess to like the creative product will, however, put the reviewer very much in the proximity of trolldom.

Mr. Frank (Spiegel Online) seems very close to overstepping this troll borderline line in his critique about the last Hobbit movie. He not only criticizes the movie – I have not seen the movie, so I cannot comment on that, maybe it is bad? – but he goes on criticizing everything and everyone who might somehow lurk and work in the “vicinity”, including those creative in the area as much as those who like the products of this genre. One full scale round of kicks in the shins. We are all stupid. He is the only one who is wise.

That tends to be the overall problem with trolls. It’s never about the actual opinion but basically all about self-manifestation. But should one really use one’s considerable media clout to flaunt one’s somewhat dusty 70s culturally highbrow ego and offend large groups of the population in order to portray oneself as a kind of aloof and windswept King of Culture?

Fairy tales and legends have always existed. They belong to humanity. Archetypes are fixed in our thinking and feeling. Mr. Frank surely knows the word.

Yes, fantasy – or rather speculative fiction – is entertainment. But entertainment is not necessarily objectionable as such. Mankind has always been entertained, has run competitions, told stories and made music. All this is entertainment. Only in Puritanism and comparably rigid religious or ideological systems is this a “sin”. Escapism is the derogatory term used in modern parlance. Everything is escapist. But let’s face it, even driving an SUV in a big city is already escapism, since you will not need your four-wheel-drive to brave the wilderness of suburbia.

In the 70s there was a literary theory of Christian Enzensberger (not Hans-Magnus, that was his brother), the theory of sense deficit. To give a very simple and short explanation, this was the approach that EVERY kind of literature only served to embellish and mask the absurdity of the world through fiction. With this approach practically ALL literature would be escapist.

But declaring escapism to be the sole purpose of speculative literature has already been chewed over many times and rightly disappeared into oblivion – particularly since the works and contents of speculative literature have evolved their own academic study field in which the researching academics actually know what they are talking about. Escapism – my goodness, does one really have to go back that far to find some ammunition for self-complimenting literary bigotry?

They say that we, the “fantasy fans”, cannot distinguish between reality and unreality. But we can. We can because we know BOTH. It is the unimaginative “realists” that generally tend to fall for religious / ideological extremist groups, because they take the ludicrous at face value and have no experience with the reception of the fictitious. It is the “fantastic” that fine-tunes our sense of reality.

Last but not least let me say a word about the LARPERS – so much disliked by Mr Frank: I much prefer people playing fairytales with plastic swords for recreation on the odd weekend to those who want to beat reality into shape with the right-wing slogans and oh so real baseball bats.

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Lovelybooks Leserpreis

November 6th, 2014

Since I have joined Lovelybooks (the German equivalent of Goodreads), my books may be nominated for the Lovelybooks award. If you liked “Die Quellen der Malicorn” or “Schwingen aus Stein”, then I would be happy if you could nominate the book. This is where you have to go. Thank you!
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Meissen Literary Festival

June 8th, 2014

Meissen is a wonderful town, mostly famous for its porcelain manufacture which started out in 1710 at the somewhat brutal instigation of Augustus the Strong (Elector of Saxony and King of Poland). The city also has a marvellous literary festival. Four years ago, I did a reading there. The sun was shining just as brilliantly down on the late medieval buildings which are lined up in perfect historical harmony all the way up to the cathedral hill. Quaint and wonderful. The town looks a bit like the best effort of a mad modeller to whom you would like to give the advice not to overdo it because real towns just aren’t that pretty. You’d be wrong, though.

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Our reading was set at the Meissner Obscurum. This is a medieval dungeon-like vaulted cellar and the venue for quite some events. Two vaults invite the horror-fans to stay and enjoy. The larger room was the location for the readings, stylishly arranged in candle light and next to a cut off hand. The other room houses the bar and a nice morgue slab with cut off limbs and an ancient foot pedal driven dentist drill. Fluffy toy rats are livening up the ceiling right above you. And Aunty Kaethe is sitting in an old wicker wheelchair thinking back to those enlightened times when she was more than just a bare skeleton. Well, not totally bare, she is wearing a nice hat which would look well on any (preferably female) steampunker.
skelett_t-kaethe-klein arm-klein

The original schedule included for readings by three Olivers and myself. Unfortunately one of the Olivers got sick and I had to make to with the remaining two.

– Oliver Graute read from „Wahre Märchen 2“ (True fairy tales)
– Oliver Plaschka read from „Kristallpalast“ (The Crystal Palace)
– And I from „Schwingen aus Stein“ (Wings of Stone)

cover-kristallpalast lesung_olli_klein

I don’t think I have ever read in a more horror inspiring setting. It was great fun. And what’s more: the place was packed. They had to turn people away because the dungeon could not hold any more people – not even if we could have arranged them on the slab which we rather used as the book selling platform. Morgue slab, black velvet and good fantasy books – that was truly stylish.

Another nice thing that happened was that I met someone I’d met years ago at a filk con. C. invited me for breakfast the next day and we had a lovely time chatting. It’s great to get reminded that the world is a) a small place and b) full of wonderful people. (Comment from the Olivers: And who is she? –The Lord Mayor’s wife. – And how do you know her? – Filk. – Oh. Filk.)

The journey back was a bit of a drag because my train was delayed by one and a half hours. But what the heck? I had a lovely time. And I do hope they’ll invite me again to Meissen some day.

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Dungeons and Readings

May 27th, 2014

Last year, the Meissen Literature Festival had to be cancelled due to flooding. East Germany and parts of Eastern Bavaria were submerged in rather too much water in places where water was not at all welcome.

This year the festival will (hopefully!) be held again. And I’ll be reading there again. I last read in Meissen four years ago, but I remember how pretty and nice everything was. I am sure it still is. This time it is even more thrilling, because this time, Feder & Schwert Publishing has been granted a special event, the “Fantasy Night of Feder & Schwert”: Oliver Plaschka, Oliver Hoffmann, Oliver Graute and I read from our novels. – And even though my name is not Oliver, I shall be there. The Fantasy Night will be held on Friday, 06 June 2014. The entire festival runs from Thursday to Monday.

I am particularly thrilled with the location, the Meissner Obscurum, a vaulted cellar – well “a real dungeon”, which will certainly provide a wonderful setting for works of speculative fiction. So come and listen – and have fun at this very special evening.

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News

May 18th, 2014

Last weekend I was invited to read in Ilmenau at the local Technical University. Phantopia organised this. They are a quite wonderful club that invites authors regularly and spoils them rotten. It was my second reading there. And again it was thoroughly enjoyable. I went home happy, fed and with some lovely gifts and I hope to be able to read there again someday. Simply wonderful hosts!

Fresh out of the – well, not press but pixel machine – is the e-book “Exotische Welten” (Exotic Worlds) published by O’Connellpress. It’s a wonderful collection of very different stories that fit this topic, from SF to fantasy. My story takes the reader into late 19th century London and from there into a world that is a poem in every sense of the word. Here you can order the e-book directly . It is, of course, in German.

And in June we expect the release of the next story book. It is called ” Wahre Märchen 2 ” (True Fairy Tales 2) and is a wonderful photo book with photographs by Annie Bertram showing a world of dark gothic romanicism. These deep and eerie photographs set the stage for a collection of modern fairy tales by Markus Heitz, Christian von Aster, Julia Becker, Oliver Graute, Diana Kinne, Lea Melcher, Iris Meyer, Björn Springorum, Isa Theobald, Rona Walter – and me. Images and stories intertwine to make this book a work of art. I’d like to say something like that never happened before, but it is already the second volume of this project. Whoever loves the dark romance of our time – this book is just right for you.

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Nominated for the Seraph

January 8th, 2014

A hearty “Hurrah!” to all the heroes of my latest book. Ladies and gentlemen (and murderers), wandering through the dark forest – with giant wolves, evil fanatics, confused birds and dead killers for such a long time was worth the effort. I bet Magister Sutton is pouring himself a celebratory beer just now.
Why?
“Schwingen aus Stein” has made ​​it onto the longlist!
What longlist?
Today, the “Phantastische Akademie e. V., der Verein zur Förderung deutschsprachiger, phantastischer Literatur” (= Fantasy Academy, the Association for the Promotion of German, speculative literature), announced their longlist for the this year’s SERAPH award the ceremony of which is to be held at Leipzig Book Fair in 2014.
“Schwingen aus Stein” has been nominated.

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Guestblog

January 6th, 2014

Wolves. Monsters. Legendary beasts.
Phantanews kindly invited me to write a blog entry. And I am finding my way through the lupine labyrinth. This is about werewolves and my new novel “Schwingen aus Stein” which might or might not have such beasties …(Wings of Stone). The blog entry is in German.

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Interview

January 3rd, 2014

Darkstar’s Fantasy News has interviewed me about my new novel “Schwingen aus Stein” (Wings of Stone) which is available in German now. If you’d like to know more about courageous heroines being chased by nasty bigoted villains and wolfish monsters in 1867, you can read the interview here. The interview is in German.

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For older blog entries …

January 1st, 2014

… please visit the archive of my previous blog at Livejournal:

http://juhonisch.livejournal.com/2013/

You can find “older news” back until 2010 for your reading pleasure.

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