Annual Three Wise Men tale

January 6th, 2019

Mrs. Melchior: You want to follow a star? A star? Shouldn’t stars be faster than you – on foot?
Mr. Melchior: We have camels.
Mrs. Melchior: Oh, and they are faster than stars? Hardly.
Mr Melchior: This goes beyond your understanding, woman!
Mrs. Melchior: Whenever you can’t think of a reasonable answer, this suddenly goes beyond my understanding. Beyond my understanding my foot! Be reasonable! Stars wander all across the sky in one night. Can your camel do that?
Mr. Melchior: You don’t know anything about camels either.
Mrs. Melchior: You don’t say! I run this caravanserai here – while you only look at the stars at night and sleep during the day. Melchior’s caravanserai it is called! And who does all the work? I do!
Mr. Melchior: Astronomy is essential. Something important is going to happen surely ! [exit Melchior]
Mrs. Kaspar [enters]: Now who has come up with this stupid idea again?
Mrs. Melchior: Not me. You may be sure of that.
Mrs. Kaspar: My oh so wise husband wants to follow a star. An effing star!
Mrs. Melchior: So does mine.
Mrs. Kaspar: Then I’m sure we’ll soon see …
Mrs. Balthasar [enters]: An important child is born, he says. [points to her round belly]. That didn’t go unnoticed, I tell him. And what does he say? He is not talking about our child! Not our baby! Can anyone just be more important right now?
Mrs. Melchior: Sit down, love.
Mrs Kaspar: What a stupid idea!
Mrs Melchior: Anybody for cookies?
Mrs Balthasar: Yes, please. And would  you have some pickled dates?
Mrs Kaspar: He wants to pay homage, he says. He doesn’t know yet to whom, when or where, but he definitely wants to pay homage.
Mrs. Balthasar: Mine too. Quite adamant about this homage thing. As if he couldn’t pay homage here, too. We have enough gods. And stars.
Mrs. Melchior: And wives.
Mrs. Kaspar: He wants to take presents with him! As if we had something to give away!
Mrs. Balthasar: Mine too. I could not get him to see sense. You don’t even know to whom you want to give presents, I said. And what does he say? A little child! I beg you! A little child! We already have five, and soon the sixth will be born!
Mrs Melchior: Mine said, a king. That means it can’t be ours. Since the last tax audit, my husband would not voluntarily pay anything to the king. Not even homage, if he can avoid it.
Mrs Kaspar: Mine said that it is about the Prophesied One. Don’t read so much fantasy, I told him. In bad fantasy there is always a Prophesied One. Who prophesied the guy?, I asked him. He did not know. And what’s he prophesied for, I asked. He didn’t know either.
Mrs. Balthasar: They don’t know anything.
Mrs. Melchior: They want to go west. Now, the road to India would certainly be more lucrative. Normally you can’t them to move their lazy asses from their divans, and now they want to go west. That’s where the Romans are, I said. You do not want to meet them! Nobody voluntarily messes with the Romans! Military sponges.
Mrs Kaspar: Mine wants to take his sword along.
Mrs. Balthasar: Does he know how to wield it?
Mrs Kaspar: When he took it off the wall, I first dusted it off. And he cut his finger. And whined loudly.
Mrs. Melchior: Mine wanted to take gold, incense and myrrh! For a child?, I asked him. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give him a set of good nappies, something to wear and something to eat? He could take some date porridge preseve! Children like that! Gold! He must be off his mind.
Mrs. Balthasar: They want to split it up. One brings gold, one myrrh, one incense.
Mrs. Melchior:Well, it certainly couldn’t get any more expensive! He could take free vouchers for this caravanserai with him! The Prophesied One would then have something to look forward to when he grows up. Maybe he will like travelling.
Mrs. Balthasar: Men! Spending a fortune for this homage thingy! But whenever I want to get a new caftan …
Mrs Kaspar: I had a terrible dream.
Mrs. Melchior: Don’t you start with prophecies now!
Mrs. Balthasar: What did you dream?
Mrs. Kaspar: I dreamt that they had been kidnapped and caught in a golden shrine far, far northwest.
Mrs. Melchior: With the barbarians?
Mrs. Balthasar: Or with the Romans?
Mrs Kaspar: I don’t know. Could be both.
Mrs. Melchior: You really think our husbands will get a golden shrine? Will it be valuable?
Mrs. Kaspar: Anyway, I will certainly not pay homage to them in Barbaria!
Mrs Melchior: We will have to organise this – if we cannot make them see sense. So: we’ll pack some sensible baby presents. And I put some of the men together as a protective posse. In a caravanserai there are always a few hardened would-be warriors looking for a job. We shall also tell them to avoid the Romans at all costs. And that goes for this Herod, too. You don’t hear anything good from him either. And we should make sure they don’t take anything along that the next band of robbers would not steal from them at the first oportunity.
Mrs. Balthasar: Do you hear that? I think they’re riding off right now.
Mrs. Melchior: Oh, dear. And without a plan or a map, I bet you.
Mrs. Kaspar: And without a protection posse.
Mrs. Melchior: Without joining a westbound caravan.
Mrs. Balthasar: It should surprise me if they had packed as much as a change of underwear.
Mrs. Melchior: I’ll make some tea.
Mrs. Melchior + Mrs. Kaspar + Mrs. Balthasar: Men!

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December 23rd, 2018

“What does Christmas mean?” asked Sven.
“Father Christmas is coming” said the father without looking up from his cell phone.
“No, Christ is born as a child,” Grandma said.
“And which one of them is right, now?” asked Sven.
“Then who is Santa?” Marie-Louise asked. She was only a little older than Sven but invariably thought she had to present her more detailed knowledge.
“He’s called Satan,” corrected Grandma, whose view of the world was resolutely un-American.
“He’s not called Satan at all!”
“Santa and Satan are not the same, despite the anagram,” corrected Father and began to look up the definitions on Wikipedia. “I’ll show you right away.” His clumsy fingers slid over the smartphone and he frowned as if he had to thread a rope through the eye of a needle.
“And what’s that about St. Nicolaus and his Krampus,” asked Maximilian-Alexander, who as a teenager felt too old to believe in such things. “What kind of strange relationship do those two have? One wears long dresses and funny hats, and the other likes to whip children.”
“You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself,” scolded Aunt Edeltraut. “What an ugly thing to say!”
“But it is weird, isn’t it?” Maximilian-Alexander triumphed. Whenever Aunt Edeltraut said he should feel ashamed, it was an unmistakable sign that he had somehow – won.
“It’s Catholic,” Aunt Edeltraut explained. Uncle Eberhard was swallowing mulled wine and coughed in a decidedly unchristian way. “You just be quiet,” hissed Aunt Edeltraut. “If it were up to you we would all be heathens!”
“What kind of heathens?” asked Anna-Kathrin. She studied sociology and ethnology at university and liked to question everything. “European pagans? Asatru? Wicca? Or something more non-European? Buddhism is quite en vogue.”
Father had just found Satan and started googling Asatru and Wicca. “I’ll get it in a second,” he said. Nobody believed him.
“So what does Christmas mean now?” Sven asked impatiently.
“We are just explaining it to you! It’s not so simple.”
“And we shouldn’t forget the cowboys and the cheering wing-bearers either,” Maximilian-Alexander threw in. He had developed an unerring insdtinct for when a comment was particularly unsuitable. In fact, he had developed this kind of communication into an art form.
“At Nuremberg Christmas market, the Christ Child is female,” lectured Anna-Kathrin. “Pre-Christian roots can be recognized there – Mother Goddess and so on. Christmas is pre-Christian to a rather considerable extent. Solstice rites and evergreens. This does not really have anything to do with an oriental patriarchal religion which was annexed by the Romans, suitably polished and honed down by some council to make it adaptable for Roman thinking and since then has been operated as a kind of trademark protection scheme.”
“Trademark protection?” Uncle Eberhard asked.
“Like the Coca-Cola logo. Never change anything so that customers can identify with the brand. And burn those who violate trademark law.”
“Do you write Wicca with ck or with double k?” father asked.
“Christmas has nothing to do with Coca-Cola,” Grandma disagreed.
“Santa Claus does,” Marie-Louise explained. “He always arrives in a Coca-Cola truck.”
“I thought he came in a sleigh?” Uncle Eberhard asked innocently. “With raindrops.”
“Reindeer, Uncle Eberhard, reindeer.”
“With red noses. Maybe a political statement?” Uncle Eberhard sometimes sounded as if he should love to be Maximilian-Alexander once in a while. Aunt Edeltraut then usually looked as if she suffered from constipation.
“Santa comes by sleigh and down the chimney!”
“Difficult business with central heating, ” Maximilian-Alexander murmured. “With the diameter of modern heating pipes, he would have to have the shape of a very long, thin sausage. In a red casing and with fluffy ends.”
“You’re all stupid,” Marie-Louise complained.
And Grandma nodded: “That’s right, my child. Very stupid.”
“And what is Christmas now?” Sven asked again, who would have preferred a simple sentence to an elaborate riddle.
The door went.
“That will be Karin. She had to work late today. IWith her working for social …”
Sven’s mother came into the room and ushered two strangers in who looked around a little nervously. They carried full plastic bags as luggage and wore cheap Santa hats . They didn’t look particularly clean.
“Meet Martha and Werner. They will celebrate Christmas with us.”
The room went very quiet.
“They have no one else, and it’s cold outside,” mother explained to a number of faces showing signs of complete non-comprehension.
“But Karin …”, the father coughed, “dear me … it is Christm…”
“Exactly,” the mother said.
Aunt Edeltraut stood up. “Eberhard, I think we should go now … it is getting late …”
“Great,” Maximilian-Alexander said. “Then I don’t need to get any additional chairs. Sit down, folks. Have a biscuit!”
“Really Karin!” Aunt Edeltraut smiled thinly. “You always have to exaggerate. And at Christmas, too! Christmas belongs to the family!”
“It belongs to us?” asked Sven. “It’s all ours? Then I would like the one with the truck.”
“I think you have not quite understood, my boy,” corrected Aunt Edeltraut, who had sat down again and now took another biscuit before it was eaten by someone undeserving.
“Neither have you, Aunt Edeltraut, neither have you,” grinned Maximilian-Alexander.
“And now we shall all sing a jolly Christmas carol,” Grandma said. The quiet time if the year was rarely as quiet as after such a request.
Still, it was a very nice Christmas – even without the truck.

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New Stories

September 6th, 2016

So what’s new? I have done some readings, had a really great time at Feen Con in Bad Godesberg. I was at the FEST of Fantasy. There, too, I read from my stories. The FEST is always quite wonderful. Unfortunately, this year it was a bit rainy.

A new book has just been published: an anthology of short stories, called “Funtastik” to which I contributed a story. funtastik-cover The aim of the anthology was to present the funny side of fantasy. The stories are quite varied. After all, we all have a different sense of humor.

Another short story will appear soon. unfortunately I am not allowed to tell you any  more details. Soon, I promise.

My new novel “Seelenspalter” (=Splitter of Souls) will come out in Droemer Knaur early next year. It has a really nice cover, do take a look. It will be the first of hopefully many books of my new series called “Klingenwelt” (Blade World) And what is it about?


Seelenspalter can bei preordered here.

Maleni is harmless. Taryah is deadly. Together, however, they are but one single person, trained, moulded and soul sliced by the Assassin Order of the Xyi. Without ever being seen, this order guides the fortunes of the war torn Eight Realms of Predorenn. Taryah is a courtesan and hired blade without a conscience. Maleni is a nice, young woman who, while running away from her last deed, meets Umbert and Elgor, both of them travelling blacksmiths. Their knowledge is ancient and magical. They have their very own plans with Maleni who does not suspect this. Maleni must now fight against bloodthirsty pursuers, against the best killers of Eight Realms and against her own inner fighter. She cannot trust anyone, not even herself – and certainly not the mysterious fighter who shows up sometimes, only to disappear again into thin air.

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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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