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:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/102874055328774/videos/254215736475802
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkSnRC1pdWM
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1060985923


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The World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin

August 8th, 2019

This year’s World Science Fiction Convention will be held in Dublin. I shall be there. My own program currently includes a concert with my songs, a discussion panel on “Humorous Fantasy” and one on “Satire and the Fantastic”. I’m especially happy about this last topic, because when I had finished my exam at the university, I was offered the option of adding a phd. Topic: Satire and fantasy.

Great topic, which at that time I would have tackled mainly by discussing Flann O’Brien / Miles na Gopaleen. Nobody knew him back then, he had disappeared into the cracks of literary history, but then his oeuvre was translated, and today, when you talk about Irish literature, it’s hard to imagine life without him.

In a nutshell: I didn’t do a doctorate. If I lived in Austria, you might call me Mrs. Magister, but that’s all there is. I didn’t “get it done”. I had to work full time and simply couldn’t manage to work for my dissertation in the evening. There are people who can do that. And there are people who can copy other theses terribly well. I didn’t belong to either of those groups. With the latter, I can pat myself on the back morally, but concerning this particular subject there really wasn’t much to copy back then. Speculative literature was simply not a subject that the university would teach at the time. Anyone who liked SFF, like me, would do well to enjoy it in secret so as not to get the nimbus of a trash lover.

Trash. The word annoys me again and again. Is there literary trash? Sure. There is. But what is rubbish and what is not, can only be defined very imprecisely, may be something different for everyone and certainly is not the apt description of one entire literary genre. A trigger topic for me. I could jump about and stamp my feet – and explain to the people that

a) there are good books and bad books in every literary genre
b) no one suddenly becomes a literary scholar just because he/she calls an entire genre trash
c) the interpretation of literary texts which one has not read at all – indeed never – is no less primitive than the statement “Modern art is only kids’ stuff. Any three-year-old can do it” – again without knowing art.
d) Statements like “books with ghosts, dwarves and devils I simply can’t take seriously at all” include almost all our classics. Faust – hello – what then was at the core of the poodle?

Now I got off topic a little. Back to satire and fantasy.
And back to Dublin. What else am I going to do?

I want to drink coffee at Bewley’s.
I want to do a distillery tour at Jameson’s and drink whiskey.
I want to meet a lot of writers.
I want to hear beautiful Irish music.
I want books … no. I don’t want to buy books. NO books. Do you hear? No more books.
Maybe a hat? – No. No hat either.
Maybe I’ll take a boat trip up the Liffey.

Or I find the street in Dublin that I sometimes have nightmares about without recognizing it. I surely won’t look for it.

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At FeenCon in Bad Godesberg

July 22nd, 2019

The day before yesterday I read at FeenCon. I go there every year if I can. FeenCon in Bad Godesberg was the first bigger event that gave me a reading slot when my first book had just come out and nobody knew me yet.

Once again, it was very nice and I thank the organizers and helpers.

What I was especially happy about was that some people actually came to my reading, although the Orga had scheduled big-names Bernhard Hennen and Wolfgang Hohlbein for the same date and hour. My first reaction to this rather unfortunate concentration of readings had been a loud “Aaaarrrrghhhhhh! And no, that was not meant to be piratical. To compete against Hennen and Hohlbein is not easy for a midlist author.

On Cons you find the fandom and the core readership together. They know each other. People greet you of whom you – embarrassingly enough – don’t find the name in your memory, but you know you know them. Masked and dressed people enrich the scenery and make it colourful.

For quite a while I sat at my publisher’s booth, which was very nice and also had the advantage that I didn’t have to walk around all day on my inured foot. I also didn’t see some people who had said they would be there, but maybe I just missed them in the crowd of stands and fans.

The traditional “Bratwurst” (grilled sausage) was also discovered and eliminated, of course. Not even a WW diet could stop me. Some things are fixed rituals. And there are worse rituals than a freshly barbecued bratwurst. In blasphemous terms, if the church ever wanted to renew itself, I would suggest breaking a fresh roll and putting in a bratwurst instead of offering a wafer. After all, we don’t know what was offered at the Last Supper. Beef sausage is just as possible.

Sorry. Lost my way a bit. Back to the topic.

The fandom is family. Of course, I know that when one day I shall sit on a bench in an old people’s home, in the early stages of fossilization, this family will probably not come to visit to have a chat with me or to help me get to the potty. Still, the feeling is: family. Not that I don’t have a family. I have a very nice one. Wonderful cousins. And their children and grandchildren are also great people.

So fandom is a kind of extra family. Or a family of common ground. An environment in which you see people in a T-shirt adorned with a Dalek and the line: “Oh, R2D2, I loved him in Star Trek” and in which you know that everyone here understands the joke. I’d have to explain that to my colleagues at work. And then they still wouldn’t find it funny, but rather peculiar.

Maybe that’s what we are: peculiar. Merriam Webster defines “peculiar” with “distinctive”, different from the usual or normal, special, particular, odd, curious, eccentric, unusual. All these definitions are fine by me.

So, big hugs to you, my peculiar friends! Come to my readings!


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July 4th, 2015

FeenCon is on this weekend. Also this weekend: WetzCon.

FeenCon is the annual roleplaying convention in Bad Godesberg, with a renaissance fair in the park, where I always had readings in recent years. It’s a great con. Wetzcon is the official con of the SFCD /, the German Science Fiction Club.

I will not manage to visit either of the Cons this year. On the one hand I feel very, very sorry about this because I always enjoyed going to FeenCon every year. And the WetzCon would certainly be great, too. I like Science Fiction just as much as I like fantasy and actually perceive the entire speculative fiction genre rather as one unity with ever-increasing interstitial subgenres. But I know that at least some of the older gentlemen of the SFCD tend not to agree with me there. Why do I know that? Well, some of the lads are very … explicit about their predilections and pet hates.

Anyway, I will show my face at neither of the Cons this year. The problem is, I just can not be everywhere. From a marketing point of view, it would make sense to go to both. But then I need my weekends for writing. And basically we had planned to be far away on vacation around this time. When that did not work out, it was just too late to rearrange things.

But when I look at the temperatures, I am very glad that I do not have to go anywhere today.

Nevertheless, I’m going to miss my “Con-family”. I hope the con visitors spare a thought for me and drink something cold to my health – even water would do. And I also hope they cover their heads with wide brimmed hats, so they do not get pierced by the sun god!

If I were at FeenCon, I would read “Cinderella” from “True Fairy Tale 2: Eleven classic fairy tale in a new guise“. If I were to read at WetzCon, then it would be one of my science fiction stories of “Bisse – 17 Extraordinary Stories”.

Still, I miss the cons: my friends and colleagues, my readers and listeners. All are far away.
I feel a little torn. But the heat glues everything together again.

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RPC – Role Play Convention

July 3rd, 2015

Of course one should write reports right after an event and not months later. But with my two jobs and quite a few additional obligations this does not always work. I could, of course, quote John Wayne’s “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.” But in fact, I never particularly liked John Wayne, and in any case I find the axiom wrong. Not being able to apologize for when you messed up to me always seems much more to be a sign of weakness. Admitting a fault calls for more strength than not admitting it.

So, I should have written about the RPC in Cologne and the WGT in Leipzig long ago. Sorry to be late. On both events I was present and read from “Schwingen aus Stein” and from “Wahre Märchen 2: Elf klassische Märchen in neuem Gewand”. Both events were a lot of fun.

So here’s a brief report of the RPC – Role Play Convention on. The event is a successful hybrid between trade fair (with dealers’ tables), hobby meeting, role play convention, costumers’ meeting and renaissance fair; and probably a lot more. I was almost a little sorry that I did not show up in costume. With all the wonderful costumes there, I did feel a little mundane and unimaginative between all those splendidly rigged out people.

In fact, the event is also a little like a family reunion. You can hardly walk ten feet without running into old friends. And despite the absolutely hopless organisation by KölnMesse – no stand numbers anywhere – one did eventually find everything after a long search. I know the KölnMesse from my day job. When it comes to industrial fairs, it is generally far better organized. Thankfully, RPC visitors are imaginative and used to quests into the unknown.

There is plenty to do on the RPC. For me, of course, the readings were the most important thing – especially since I had two of them. There was one reading after the other – two entire days of author readings Of course, one could also have listened to one band after the other the whole day, or could have indulged in actual sword practice. My husband drifted off to find the figure painters. He got stuck, and because of this you will find no picture of me reading. So you’ll have to believe me that it was a good reading, although conditions were difficult because of the noise level in the hall. Fortunately, the reading stage was equipped with headsets so we could contribute our share to the din.

What I noticed particularly was the large increase of Steampunk costumers – something that makes me particularly happy because I feel very much at home in this scene. Wonderful costumes! I hope that I’ll get another chance next year to read at the RPC. Of course, the next year’s book will be no Steampunk but will rather belong in the classic fantasy field – although there will be no orcs or dwarfs or elves or dragons, because they are busy in other stories.

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November 9th, 2014

I write. I sing. Write songs. And sometimes – very rarely – I paint. But that is just for relaxation really.
I two weeks’ time I shall read at Dreieich Con. And together with a good friend I shall have a stand at the con. Now, she is the real artist. Jela. I am merely a colour punk. So if you come to Dreieich con and still need some nice little Christmas presents, come to Jela.

Oh, and I shall have my CDs on sale and books (signed) – and for the first time – paintings.

Dreieich Con, 22. – 23 November, Samstag 17:00 – 18:00 Uhr, Stadtbücherei Dreieich, Bürgerhaus Dreieich-Sprendlingen, Fichtestr. 50, 63303 Dreieich.


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Once and future readings

October 1st, 2014

I went to two readings last month. The first one took place at Fark Convention , a wonderfully nerdy event in an old mine near Saarbrücken. I can only recommend it to everyone. There was role playing, a post-apocalyptic camp with impressive homemade end of time cars, much Steampunk, much costuming, a humungous dealers’ area and of course: readings. And it was all for a good cause, too. The event managed to make – and donate over € 20,000 to a children’s hospice. So not just fun, but help for those who need it. What could be better?


I was scheduled for two readings. I read from my novel “Schwingen aus Stein” and also from my “Cinderella” interpretation published in the photopraphic + short story project “Wahre Märchen 2” (True Fairy Tales). I had a nice, interested audience both times.


This is unfortunately not always the case. Only two weeks later a reading scored 2:0. Two authors – zero audience. That too can happen to writers sometimes, and one may be miffed about it, but if it turns out that there had been no advertising done for the event, then it can hardly be surprising. If no one knows that will be reading somewhere, no one will show up. Obviously.

The next reading will certainly not lack an audience. It will take place at this year’s BuCon (Frankfurt Book Fair convention). On Book Fair Saturday at 12:00 a.m., you can come and hear me read.

In any case, I strongly recommend this entire event. It’s been going and growing for many years, and it is the meeting point of pretty much all the German fantasy-authors, bloggers, critics, specialist publishers, etc. In the evening, the Deutsche Phantastik Preis (German Speculative Fiction Award – comparable to the Hugo) is awarded to the deserving winners, and you can enjoy an awards ceremony that could not be more unlike the Oscar night. And I mean that with a wink and a smile.

This time I’m not nominated. But I have already been awarded the SERAPH in March. Two awards for the same book would probably be immodest. And, dear me, we can’t allow that.

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Loncon 3

August 29th, 2014

LonCon is over and both memories and souvenirs are good

– met lots of friends
– met interesting new people
– listened to enlightening discussions
– listened to wonderful concerts
– was part of – hopefully – enlightening discussions wonderful concerts
– two new books
– one new hat
and on the down side_
– con crud.

I reviewed the event in “Zauberspiegel. The article is in German.

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LonCon – The World Science Fiction Convention

August 8th, 2014

Next week I shall be at Loncon. That’s the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention, held in London this time. And as the venue is so relatively easy to reach – the last ones were in Texas or Japan or Australia etc. – I very much wanted to be there. I’m looking forward to this immensely and have been quietly bouncing with anticipation for weeks.

Since the World Con is programmed by the input of the writing scene and the active fandom I have several “gigs” or engagements where I will sit not only sit in the audience but will actively contribute to the show. One concert (with Katy, my duo partner), a “Kaffeeklatsch” (which is a friendly meeting between writers and readers who want to get to know a certain writer personally) and three so-called “panels”. The latter are a kind of talk show for a specific topic with three or four guests and a moderator or talk-master.

Here you can see where I am going to be.

Do come!

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Ju Honisch



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