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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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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Black thoughts under blue skies

July 10th, 2019

Dystopian literature seems to be booming. It has become easy to imagine a future in which the human world comes to a bitter end. We are so close to this outcome that our present can already sense this future. It whispers in the wind. It poisons the mind.

Of course, I also have ideas for dystopias. Three short stories, which contain different aspects of a truly undesirable development, can be read in my short story collection  “Machtschattenpiele (Power shadow games)”.

Sometimes, however, our reality is so grey and frightening that I don’t like to write that kind of literature anymore. It’s as if reality has long since overtaken the authors’ imagination. So I take my ideas to strange and foreign worlds. Should these worlds break, no one has to die here. Yet, I think that the problems of imaginary worlds also do reflect our situation and our life and give us reason for thought in our decision making. That’s what stories are for. That’s what fairy tales have always been for.

Another 50 years of humanity – that’s what they’ve calculated now. Of course, this is an if-then-conditional. It doesn’t have to happen like this, but IF we do nothing but destroy more and more of our world, THEN we shall soon cease to be able to survive or live the way we do now. By the way, the world as such is not going to end. Not even all animals will die. But we who live in a high-tech environment, will then be a thing of the past. Petrified bones in the dirt.

A few preppers may still endure a few years longer in some bunkers, until finally at some point they will kill each other with their hoarded weapons for the last vital goods.
Of course, it’s also possible that we’ll all be fighting over resources before that, until there may still be resources, but we no longer are there to use them. With the increasing brainless and irresponsible nationalism and jingoism, not only here, but everywhere, one can assume that every country, every region even will come to the conclusion that it is entitled to more than its neighbours.

We can only solve the problem together. None of the “lone decision-makers” has the knowledge anymore to achieve anything on their own. It wouldn’t help either. So we have to ask ourselves what we can all do together. And doing nothing at all means: It’ll be over in 2050. Denial won’t help, neither will noisy tantrums.

I didn’t plan to write anything political. But it had to come out.

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Losing patience

February 26th, 2019

Not everyone may know this, but I wrote my first four books (Das Obsidianherz, Salzträume, Jenseits des Karussells und Schwingen aus Stein) in English and then translated them into German. Of course, I would have liked them to appear in English, but the way things went is trite and frustrating.

The first time I tried to tackle the English-speaking market myself. I wrote to publishers, had myself “recommended” by friends of mine, tried to find an agent in the US and also in England. I cannot say that it was raining letters of refusal, because most of the people/companies I had contacted did not react at all.

Finally, the books were published in German – by Feder & Schwert. Of the four books, two received an award. The publisher now tried to place the books on the English market. Perhaps the answers were less abrasive, as publishers might deal more politely with other publishers – the result remained the same.

Now F&S thought about bringing the books to the English-speaking market itself. That was a wonderful idea. I really should have let them do that. But at this point, life in the guise of my agent intervened, feeling certain that they had far better opportunities to market the manuscripts abroad. What can I say? They were quite, quite wrong. The F&S option then no longer existed, and the other option via an English micro-press failed due to communication difficulties between the publisher and the agency.

So again nothing.

By now, my English manuscripts have been sitting on my computer for over ten years and I can hear them complain. That’s why I’m doing it myself now. The English manuscript of “Obsidian Hearts” is with the editor now to be checked for language. Next, I have to decide whether I want to use the gentleman’s services for the publication itself or if I want to bite my way through this self-publishing business that I never wanted to have to deal with.

I will finance this first English project (Obsidian Hearts) from savings, in the vague hope that the investment will pay off. For a second (also third or fourth) volume I would perhaps try Patreon. But until then I still have a lot of time to decide.

When the time comes, I’d like all my readers to contact their English friends and praise me. Nobody knows me in the English speaking countries. I start from scratch.

It is frustrating.
But it is also exciting.

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Sunshine and snow

January 31st, 2019

Today, on my way to work, I drove right into a beautiful sunrise. Blood red sky and bright pink clouds from the heating plant chimney.
I would have liked to take a picture. But of course: on other days I’m stuck at every traffic light and could just pull up my mobile phone. Today however: excellently phased traffic lgihts and not one stop. The mobile phone stayed in my pocket. Law abinding person and so on.
Meanwhile the sky has turned grey again.

Eos: How nice of you to take me with you in your car today.
Helios: You’re welcome. Are you sitting comfortably in front? Pretty color, that.
Eos: Yes. Isn’t it?
Helios: And every little cloud individually pink. You are so talented, little sister.
Eos: I have a sense for details. And always too little time. Before he comes.
Helios: Who?
Eos: St. Peter. The one from the grumpy and morose competition. There he is now.
St. Peter: Get out of here! The weather is MY duty.
Eos: And what have you planned for today?
St. Peter: I think a uniform mid-gray with occasional sleet will be just right.
Helios: And how shall I shine through the clouds?
St. Peter: No shining for you. Otherwise someone will never believe in you, God forbid.
Eos: Does he?
St. Peter: He delegated that. Lean management and stuff.
Eos: And you?
St. Peter: I’m responsible for the weather. In addition, I am the key master.
Helios: Bouncer for the harp club.
St. Peter (angry): It is a responsible position!
Helios: We keep a dog for that. He can do that just as well.
Eos: Zerberosi-love. So sweet.
St. Peter: Oh? With pink clouds?
Eos: Especially for you he would fart pink clouds. Before he tears you apart.
St. Peter: Now beat it! Off you go! Exit heathens!
Helios: Weatherman and bouncer. and to think such a one  is responsible for the climate.
St. Peter: I’m not responsible for the climate. Only for the weather. Not for the climate. We have outsourced that.
Helios: To whom?
St. Peter: To the humans.
Helios: Are you – quite – mad?
Eos: That does explain a lot.
St. Peter: All a question of faith.
Eos: Global warming is not a question of faith! If the seas rise and people drown, they will not be spared if they simply do not believe in it.
Helios: And in summer I have to work overtime again. And – St. Peter – do get off my chariot.
Eos: The rainy saint – free rider of the sun god.
St. Peter: Miss Eos, I resent that. And now stop throwing all that pink about. That colour is sexually connoted and thus evil.
Eos: Shall I show you what has such a sexual connotation, you sin-dodging spoilsport? Shall I show it to you? (Lifts her Greecian skirt and shows her  posterior towards the saint)
St. Peter (firmly shuts his eyes ): Holy Mother of God and all the helpers in need!

Down on earth, the snowflakes condense into a blizzard.

 

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