There and … ah … back again

July 6th, 2016

I should be ashamed of myself. You had to go far too long without a blog of mine. I tended to be much more diligent there. But I seem to  notice that the days are getting shorter. They used to be 24 hours long, but nowadays they seem to have gone down to some 17 hours per day. I’m lagging behind and eventually I shall find somebody else to blame. Anybody but me.

I have so much to tell you:
Right on time for last Halloween “BISSE” came out as an eBook at  Hockebooks That made me very happy, because many years ago, these short stories signified the beginning of my literary career. They are evil, little ditties, and it helps to have some well-established black humor when reading them. Without the black humour you will just have to be nicely scared. That will also work quite well.

bisse_ecover   final_malicorn_cover_ebook

And last week, the same ebook publishing house published “Die Quellen der Malicorn” (Wells of the Malicorn), which had come out three years ago as a paper version at Heyne (Random House). This paper version is no longer available except from some online retailers. Now there is the e-book version, which was vigorously edited and provided with a much nicer cover.

Now, of course, the background work is starting in earnest: contact literature bloggers, whether you might want to have a guest blog from me. Or whether they’d like to review the book. Of course the publisher will also be active here, but part of the work is mine. The increasing marketing work, which authors have to  do, is stealing writing time. One of the reasons why I did not blog regularly any more.

That will change now. Because everything is getting better. Or so we hope.

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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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Podcast Interview

June 21st, 2015

A little more than a week ago, Andrea Diener came for a visit. When you reach my age, you can sometimes utter this dreaded sentence: “I already knew him/her when she they still went to school.” This is precisely and annoyingly true in Andrea’s case. I got to know Andrea shortly before her high school graduation. We were both active in the Irish culture and music scene in our favourite Irish pub, where I played music and she did Irish dancing.

Well, quite some years have passed since then. Meanwhile, she is a journalist, writes great travel reports and maintains a regular podcast series, in which she interviews a wide variety of people. This time I was the lucky interviewee.

We had a nice evening on my sofa, busy with questions and answers of which the questions were well versed and professional, while I pushed my answers through some nervous trepidation. Most interviews that I have given in the past, were online interviews. Journalists or freelance bloggers send a list of questions and you send back a list of answers. The charm of this procedure is: You have time to think about what you want to say and in precisely what manner you wish to phrase your (hopefully clever) answer.

A microphone in your hand changes that completely. Like a symbol of all too sudden reality you grasp it like the proverbial straw and hope that what you are going to say will not be utter nonsense. And will not be interrupted by a lot of „ahhm” sounds. And a little later, you wonder whether you really got across what you actually wanted to say, and whether the broad grin was noticeable or whether all the people just misunderstood you and now think you claimed to have invented historical fantasy. (Note: I have not invented historical fantasy. I existed well before I wrote my first novel.)

After the interview, Andrea and I rounded off the evening with a glass of one of my favourite whiskies Talisker – the beverage that made it into one of my very first short stories many, many years ago.

And now you can listen to the podcast here. It is in German.

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June 19th, 2015

The finalists for the Deutscher Phantastik Preis (German Award for Speculative Literature = the German “Hugo”) have been posted. Indirectly, I am among the finalists: I wrote one of the stories in “Exotische Welten” (Susanne & Sean O’Connell [Hg] – O’Connell Press), an anthology of short stories. My story combines steampunk elements with classical poetry.

“Im Bilde (=In the picture)” (Mr Jenkins inherits a house in London with a large painting in his study. Through this painting he finds an access to a fabulous kingdom. Against all reason he is seized by a strong desire to go exploring…). The story was inspired by the Coleridge poem “Kubla Khan”.

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea …”

If you liked “Exotische Welten”, please vote for the collection . The final ballot runs from June 20 to July 19.

If you are not familiar with the anthology, then you can learn more about it here .

We would be delighted if you liked our stories. And we would all of us be very happy, if you expressed your opinion by voting for us. Thank you.

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Love and other things

April 22nd, 2015

It’s time for: The LOVE scene. I can no longer put it off in the current book project. Somehow books can’t do without them. Love tends to be an integral part of the plot, at least in my books.Do I like writing love scenes? Not really. This is not because I have squeamish scruples, but rather has to do with the constant concern that one might stray from the extremely narrow path of good taste in favour of too blatant details on one hand or too flowery metaphors&similes on the other.

I still believe that the “pillow talk” between Cérise and Arpad “Das Obsidianherz” was the most successful love scene in all my books. Its first version was very long and it grew more exciting with every sentence I cut from it. What remained were just 25% of the original text. (Somewhere I still have the long version, but I will never ever show it to anyone.)

So now hero and heroine are getting down to business. And right after that: pirates.

By the way, I find many love scenes in books or movies quite unerotic. Again I do not think this is because of my prudishness, but sometimes you really want to close your eyes and complain: “Oh no, not like that!”. Did you ever notice that kissing noises in movies are always dubbed with the exact same squelchy smacking sound? All over the world, they are probably using this one single recording, a universal, DIN/CEN/ISO-certified squidgy slurp.

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The daily chores of a writer

April 14th, 2015

Patrick Süßmeier, a literary blogger who writes about speculative fiction, has asked a number of German SF/F authors about their “normal day”. A number of us already described their workday to him. I did – and so did Anja Bagus, Sandra Baumgärtner, Nadine d’Arachart, & Sarah Wedler, Markus Heitz, Ann-Kathrin Karschnick, Piper Marou, Henning Mützlitz, Nicole Schuhmacher. The list is stille growing.
So if you’d like to know what the gory details of writing are about, you can find the answer here.

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Group reading

January 12th, 2015

“Schwingen aus Stein” (Wings of Stone), my last novel, won a SERAPH at the Leipzig Bookfair last spring. This was a great honour and brought me a whole number of readings at interesting places before interesting people last year. I should like to thank the organisers and the listeners!

The book turned out to be a little tardy in gathering attention otherwise: a few more reviews would be nice. I am paging the ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere here who do such an excellent – and usually unpaid – job of reviewing those books that do not come with the advertising budget of the mainstream bestseller list.

So now we venture forth into this year with a new group reading of the book starting January 16. I shall take part in the event and I would be delighted if a great many people would join this. Those of you who have the novel sitting on the bedside table waiting to be read or simply want to purchase it because Father Christmas was remiss in his duty to bring it – you now have the opportunity to read the book together with a nice group of people, to discuss it, voice your opinion or get my answers to specific questions. I’ll be there. And this is where you’ll find me. – The book and the discussion will be in German.

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My three cents worth …

December 11th, 2014

What is a troll? No, I’m not talking about the naked giants from the Hobbit movie. I am talking about the people who annoy us online with their malevolent, disparaging opinions based on cluelessness, spiteful frustration and zero relevance. Those we call trolls.

There are trolls to be found in online (book) reviews. They are some few people who basically only ever write bad reviews, and who do not stop at disparaging the medium (book, film, etc.), but also launch massive personal attacks on the authors and media makers and on all those who have the audacity to like what they dislike.

It is perfectly all right not to like a book or a movie. We cannot all like the same things. We also do not necessarily all have to like Tolkien. And it is equally acceptable to say so and state the reason for your dislike.

Massive attacks on the creative minds behind – whatever – medium plus on those who confess to like the creative product will, however, put the reviewer very much in the proximity of trolldom.

Mr. Frank (Spiegel Online) seems very close to overstepping this troll borderline line in his critique about the last Hobbit movie. He not only criticizes the movie – I have not seen the movie, so I cannot comment on that, maybe it is bad? – but he goes on criticizing everything and everyone who might somehow lurk and work in the “vicinity”, including those creative in the area as much as those who like the products of this genre. One full scale round of kicks in the shins. We are all stupid. He is the only one who is wise.

That tends to be the overall problem with trolls. It’s never about the actual opinion but basically all about self-manifestation. But should one really use one’s considerable media clout to flaunt one’s somewhat dusty 70s culturally highbrow ego and offend large groups of the population in order to portray oneself as a kind of aloof and windswept King of Culture?

Fairy tales and legends have always existed. They belong to humanity. Archetypes are fixed in our thinking and feeling. Mr. Frank surely knows the word.

Yes, fantasy – or rather speculative fiction – is entertainment. But entertainment is not necessarily objectionable as such. Mankind has always been entertained, has run competitions, told stories and made music. All this is entertainment. Only in Puritanism and comparably rigid religious or ideological systems is this a “sin”. Escapism is the derogatory term used in modern parlance. Everything is escapist. But let’s face it, even driving an SUV in a big city is already escapism, since you will not need your four-wheel-drive to brave the wilderness of suburbia.

In the 70s there was a literary theory of Christian Enzensberger (not Hans-Magnus, that was his brother), the theory of sense deficit. To give a very simple and short explanation, this was the approach that EVERY kind of literature only served to embellish and mask the absurdity of the world through fiction. With this approach practically ALL literature would be escapist.

But declaring escapism to be the sole purpose of speculative literature has already been chewed over many times and rightly disappeared into oblivion – particularly since the works and contents of speculative literature have evolved their own academic study field in which the researching academics actually know what they are talking about. Escapism – my goodness, does one really have to go back that far to find some ammunition for self-complimenting literary bigotry?

They say that we, the “fantasy fans”, cannot distinguish between reality and unreality. But we can. We can because we know BOTH. It is the unimaginative “realists” that generally tend to fall for religious / ideological extremist groups, because they take the ludicrous at face value and have no experience with the reception of the fictitious. It is the “fantastic” that fine-tunes our sense of reality.

Last but not least let me say a word about the LARPERS – so much disliked by Mr Frank: I much prefer people playing fairytales with plastic swords for recreation on the odd weekend to those who want to beat reality into shape with the right-wing slogans and oh so real baseball bats.

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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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