2ß23 – readings and other events

January 22nd, 2023

The new year has started and I am in the process of organising readings for this year. There are a few events that I’d like to go to. At some of them I have read many times before. Some are new. Some would interest me, but are rather too far away and difficult to organise.

Most readings at fantasy events (festivals or conventions) tend to be unpaid. Some organisers offer accommodation or even a travel allowance. But that has become rare. So you have to think very carefully about whether or where you want to go. As always with advertising measures, you have to weigh up the positive effects against the possible costs. When I still had a day job, I was more relaxed about that.

Then you also have to decide whether you want to “just” read somewhere or perhaps also offer a book table. Of course, the latter is never free of charge. Moreover, you have to sit at your table from beginning to end. Because of the books, you can’t take the train or other public transport, but have to go by car. I hate having to drive long distances.

So I have to think carefully about what I shall do. I love to read to an audience. I love to captivate my listeners.

FeenCon 2010Sitting at a book table and for hours on end is rather less fun. But even that has its moments, because of all the nice people come to me to me. It’s always nice to have a little chat with (potential) readers.

Well. And then, of course, people should buy the books. Preferably by the dozen.

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Fantasy – Stealing from History by Jacey Bedford

November 23rd, 2022

I was never very good at history in school. Maybe it was the dry way it was delivered, or maybe I simply wasn’t ready for it. We never seemed to take history as a whole. We always ended up studying specific periods which were not connected to the period immediately before or after. So school history was a series of snapshots, not a continuous stream. Louis XI of France followed by the industrial revolution is a big disconnect.

My interest in history came long after school. It started with local history. The village where I live is not really old. There’s a farm with a door lintel dated 1642, but most of the houses, and the mill that provided work, date from around 1800. The mill had a water wheel which was fed from a mill pond, which in turn was topped up by an upstream pond which was (still is) the first industrial use of water on the river Dearne. The water then runs down the valley to a second mill in the next village, owned by the same people. And suddenly the industrial revolution makes more sense. I like history now.

I began writing in my teens, though the world will be very relieved to note that my first book (all six chapters of it) never saw publication. It was a teen dystopia peopled by characters who were thinly disguised versions of my favourite pop stars.

I never chose writing science fiction and fantasy. The genre chose me. It was what I read, so writing it seemed natural. Writers who have a massive best seller with their first book are few and far between. My first published book (Empire of Dust, a space opera) came out in 2014 but I wrote it back in 1998, so my overnight success took sixteen years. I now have seven books available, all published by DAW in the USA even though I’m a British writer. They consist of two trilogies, (one is science fiction and the other is historical fantasy) and the most recent book is another historical fantasy – this time a stand-alone called The Amber Crown.

I enjoy stealing from history, though I’m not averse to changing things to suit my story. My Rowankind trilogy (Winterwood, Silverwolf, and Rowankind) is set in Britain in 1800 – 1802 and follows history with a few alterations. Britain is at war with France. Napoleon is rampaging through Europe. King George III is going steadily mad (though I have a magical reason for that). There’s a servant-race, called the rowankind who were once helpmeets of the fae, but, for some reason no one seems to remember, they were called into the world of humans and are stuck. Witchcraft is strictly regulated and any practising witch who is not registered is summarily executed.

That’s just the background, the story is about Ross (Rossalinde) Tremayne, an unregistered witch, who captains her own privateer vessel with the help of a bunch of barely-reformed pirates and the jealous ghost of her dead husband. A deathbed visit to her estranged mother leaves her with a half-brother she didn’t know about, and a task she doesn’t want. The story continues on through all three books, but Winterwood can be read as a standalone.

People ask me if it’s difficult switching genres between science fiction and fantasy, but I don’t find it so. My books are character-led. I’m writing about people and it doesn’t really matter whether they are on a two-masted schooner in the middle of the Atlantic, or a star-spanning space ship out on the galactic rim. I like to mix adventure and mystery with a little romance and characters who are (I hope) real in the mind of my readers.

My most recent book, The Amber Crown also steals from history, though I’ve taken a lot of liberties. Rather than being set in Britain, it’s set in a fictional Baltic country called Zavonia, which is an analogue of Latvia/Lithuania with a lot of Polish influence in costume. I have, for instance, incorporated the Polish Winged Cavalry, hussars who went into battle with huge iron wings strapped to their backs, and who were the pre-eminent cavalry of Europe for the best part of 200 years. My writers’ group thought it unbelievable and thought I’d invented it, but it was real.

Again, The Amber Crown is really about the characters and it’s told through three viewpoints. Valdas is the captain of the king’s bodyguard who is in deep trouble when the king is killed. (That’s not a spoiler, it happens on the first page.) He’s accused of the murder and goes on the run, determined to find the real killer. Mirza is the witch-healer of a band of travelling refugees who is given the task of helping Valdas by the ghost of his dead king. Lind is the clever assassin who is beginning to regret taking the job, especially since the person who hired him seems to be a practitioner of magic. The three start out separately and come together to confront an adversary steeped in blood magic.

I’m a visual writer. My books play out in my head like a sprawling full-colour movie (though I don’t cast my characters from known actors). I have a lot of Pinterest boards which hold images from which I take inspiration. If you take a look here:  you’ll find boards for Georgian history, which helped me to visualise the world of Winterwood, and boards dedicated to the ‘Baltic story, general research, costume, and even a board for the Polish Winged Hussars.

You can catch up with me at my website  There’s more information about the book, and about my short stories, plus a link to my blog, and a contact page where you can sign up to my mailing list. Don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with spam. I’m always happy to hear from readers, writers and reviewers.

I’d like to thank Ju for inviting me to write for this fine blog.

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My next novel

February 6th, 2022

You’re never quite finished. Not really. But in fact I have now finished writing my new novel and have edited and re-edited and cut it several times. Since I have a tendency to write very long books, but have been told that only a shorter book has any chance of being published by a publisher (Tolkien – despair!), I have put the sword to the manuscript.

I did three levels of shortened manuscript. Some of it really hurt. A reader would probably not miss what is now not mentioned, because they don’t know that it used to be there. Nevertheless, as the author I do miss some nice sentences or even chapters.

The first beta reader criticized that there was too little background ambience. Of course, that’s always the first thing that gets cut, because cutting bits of the plot might make the story illogical.
Now I have four different versions of the manuscript:

1. original
2. shortened once
3. shortened twice
4. very, very, very short – by my standards.

Only the 4th version meets the requirements completely. So if the publisher wants it that way, it will be this nibbled version that the readership will see. If I have to publish it myself, it will be the once shortened version.
We shall see. I’m hoping for a publisher.

So keep your fingers crossed!

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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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