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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Enchanted nights at Linn Castle – reading

September 20th, 2021

On September 18, I did a reading at Burg Linn. It was the first “real” reading with an actual audience instead of a digital one. I enjoyed it. The audience seemed to enjoy it, too. Bernhard Hennen moderated the event and had me tell some of my adventures from my time in Ireland. So I didn’t just read, but also told some anecdotes.

Before the reading, the nice man from the city of Krefeld showed me around the castle. It is a beautiful old castle with a moat and everything you could wish for. The reading took place in the upper knights’ hall. The ambience is wonderful between the old walls and tapestries. The readings of the “Verwunschene Nächte = Enchanted Nights” take place here every two to four weeks.

The reading was well attended, which made me very happy. That is not a matter of course during a pandemic. I hope very much that I will be invited to come to the Enchanted Nights again. To have real people again as an audience and not just as a nickname on the right edge of the PC monitor – if at all – was wonderful. Of course I am grateful that there were online readings last year and thank everyone who organised them. But nothing compared to the event at Linn Castle.

For the overnight stay, they put me up in the guest room in the 19th century hunting lodge. I had the little castle all to myself, so to speak, and felt like the lady of the manor.
The Krefeld district of Linn around the castle is also old and idyllic. Beautiful old cottages and quaint little streets and lanes. I was happy to be allowed to park next to the castle, otherwise it would have been difficult. Late medieval and early modern alleys managed wonderfully without parking spaces.

By the way, I read from “Weltendiebe” and “Elgar Eisbär“.

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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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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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“Weltendiebe” – my new book

May 24th, 2021

Weltendiebe“ (Thieves of the Worlds) has been published (so far in German only). It took me some time before I could bring myself to selfpublish it at BoD. But: neither I nor the book are getting any younger. Does that sound a bit frustrated? That may well be so.

I write books because I love writing books. Because writing fulfils and defines me. When I started out, I had no idea about the “book biz”, the book industry, which is just that: a frig*ing industry. I wrote stories because that was what I wanted to do. Because the story and its heroines and heroes were itching inside my soul and wanted to get out. I had the strength to give them life and that felt wonderful.

Very quickly I found out: The fact that you have written an exciting book does not mean that someone wants to publish it. Two different approaches collide here: the author writes a book with heart and soul that she thinks is interesting and entertaining. (Thank you Verlag Feder & Schwert for publishing my first books!)

The typical publisher has other concerns:

  1.  Is the book similar to a bestseller of the last ten years? In that case it could be published.
  2.  Is it simplistic enough for dumb readers to like? Publishers always assume readers are unintelligent. Authors don’t think that. They know their readership have brains and hearts.
  3.  Is the book thin enough to keep the production costs nice and low?
  4.  And finally, is the author perhaps a celebrity, already famous or – even better – infamous in film and television? (In that case it does not matter if the book is bad.)

None of my books have ever met these four critera.

Weltendiebe” is not similar to any book I know – be it a bestseller or not. Sorry. I have no time for authors who deliberately write copies of bestsellers, e.g. the hundredth school of magic. But of course it’s perfect for the typical situation in a bookshop. Mum, grandma or auntie (optionally also dad, grandpa or uncle) come into the shop quoting the time worn phrase: “My daughter/granddaughter/niece likes XXX. Have you got something similar?”

In the case of “Weltendiebe” they would have to ask: “Don’t you have an Urban Fantasy novel set in the here and now, but also in the early 50s – with war orphans and widows and stifling hypocritical morals. And can you please also include one or two post-apocalyptical characters who – coming from a cruel world – act as ruthlessly in our own.”

No one will ask that. And since I’m not a bestselling author, no one will ask, “Don’t you have anything new by Ju Honisch?” just as people ask: “Don’t you have anything new by Stephen King?”

That’s a shame. And it’s the reason why I self-published this book.

Here’s what it’s about:

From a distant future, a world thief leaps into the here and now. In his brutal post-apocalyptical world, knowledge and technology have been lost. Both commodities he wants to steal in our time. To do so, he seeks knowledgeable people whom he wants to abduct.

Anne has no idea that the entrance from another dimension lies in the cellar of her workplace. To Anne’s grandmother, however, terrible things happened back in 1952 in this very house. She remembers, but she keeps silent – until Anne’s younger sister disappears without a trace.

Using dimensional breaches for travel is a sacrilege, and so a murderous pursuer follows the first intruder into our world. His task is to preserve the integrity of the spheres, no matter the cost – even if the lives of the people in this world should have to be sacrificed for this aim.

Anne is determined to find her sister again, but she doesn’t know where to go. All she knows is that jumping from one dimension to another is a crime punishable by death – both here and there.

1952 – Now – Sometime in Somewhere

Here is a preview by my former publisher and current editor, the wonderful Oliver Hoffman, who back then had the courage to publish my first books even though they did not meet any of the above mentioned  industry criteria.

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“Call it a Knight” – Short Stories

May 13th, 2021

Too late again.

I should have told you about “Call it a Knight” long ago: my first English-language short story collection. About the title: Yes, there is a knight in one of the stories. He is quite dead. To find out if he stays that way, you would have to buy the book and read it.

Over the years I have written a vast number of short stories. It’s an unprofitable job. But what ever is profitable? (I’ve never been good at actually making money doing the things I love to do. I wish it were different.)

Two volumes of German short stories have been published:

In addition, I have been involved in – probably far too many – anthology projects. Anyway: the number of short stories that have sprung from my brain is quite large.

In my constant effort to attract an English-speaking readership for my books as well, I have now “unleashed” the first English-language short story collation. It is a colourful mix of stories from the German books and anthologies. I’m sure there will be more volumes, because I still have so many short stories that want to see more of the world.

The series title for my English short stories is “Stories with a Twist”, because that’s what they are: stories with an unexpected “twist”, a sudden resolution that is quite different from what you might have thought possible.

Call it a Knight” Book 1 of “Stories with a Twist”

 

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My books available in English

February 14th, 2021

When I wrote my first novel, I did write it in English. Some people have asked me why. Actually, there was no particular reason for this, except that I like writing in English. I’m a bit funnier in English than in German. That may be because language also shapes the soul. Language is more powerful than you might think. This is one of the reasons why there are so many discussions about gendering or non-gendering, the use of words that no longer correspond to the zeitgeist or ethical norms, and so on.

But that’s not what I want to talk about here. When I couldn’t sell my first (English) book on the English market, my agent at the time recommended that I translate it. It was then published in German and called “Das Obsidianherz“. Three more books of the same series followed, all initially written in English and only then translated into German ((„Salzträume“, „Jenseits des Karussells“ and „Schwingen aus Stein“ – “Dreams of Salt”, “Beyond the Merry-go-round” and “Wings of Stone” ).

 

Now the original English manuscripts were living a sad and unfulfilled life on my computer. Both Feder & Schwert, my first publisher, and my agent – and finally me – tried to sell the books to the English market. But unfortunately, while the other direction works – English-language books are published in German publishing houses in translations – getting anything into the English market as a German author proved impossible. English-language publishers only take German books when these have crossed the bestseller threshold on the German market.

So I finally started publishing the books myself, as a self-publisher via Amazon KDP. The first novel is also already available. „Obsidian Secrets

it’s called, because simply translating “Das Obsidianherz” into English proved impossible, because various people had already come up with that title. So “Obsidian Secrets” can now be ordered, both as an e-book and as a rather voluminous paperback.

The next, two-volume book “Salzträume” or “Dreams of Salt” is also already edited and will be uploaded soon. Here is a preview of the covers.

Also in the pipeline is the first short story collection, still without a final title and currently with the editor. This will be a compilation of short stories by me, either from my two short story collections “Bisse” or “Machtschattenspiele” or from one of the many anthologies to which I have contributed.

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Stay home and read a book

May 2nd, 2020

So. Since I don’t want to start each one of my entries with an excuse for not having posted anything for such a long time, I’ll start without further ado.

My polar bear was to be presented at Leipzig Book Fair, which unfortunately didn’t take place due to Covid19. “Elgar Polar Bear and Civilisation” . This somewhat episodic book describes the adventures of polar bear Elgar whose ice floe completely melted from under his furry posterior, and who – since he does not want to die out yet –has come to live in our human civilisation. In his endeavour to learn more about civilised urban life he watches and comments our civilisation from his ursine perspective.

   

I have been asked whether this is fantasy since it pretty much consists of satirical elements.

Well, it is satire,  and it is speculative fiction. Science fiction and  fantasy have always been close to satire. For these genres, you have to know reality in order to determine the strangeness, the otherness and its possible more or less hidden reflection on your own time and space. It is also not  new to have an “outsider” describe a civilization from their point of view. There is “Stranger in a strange land” by Heinlein or “Letters from the Chinese past” by Rosendorfer. Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” certainly belongs to this group. Perhaps one can even add Tacitus’ “Germania”, as this fellow never had been in Germania and wrote his moralizing work less as a study of the Teutonic tribal life and more as a moral stimulus to a Roman civilisation that seemed to him just a trifle depraved.

But back to Elgar Polar Bear. Elgar is no longer small and cute. Both the polar bear and the manuscript are a bit older. The first chapter of Elgar was once spontaneously written on Livejournal. The rest was written later and adapted to the here and now. It was published too early to bite those people in the ass that ignore the dangers of a worldwide pandemic which remains blithely unimpressed when some social cowards wave their weapons about.

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