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.