First of all, I was invited to participate in SF Signal‘s regular Mind Meld feature. The subject this time around was cities in science fiction and fantasy. You can see my answer as well as those of Kelly McCullough, Beth Cato, Joe Sherry, Rachel Aukes, Lisa McCurrach, Howard Andrew Jones and Fran Wilde here.
Then, as I mentioned before, I’ll have a few new releases and promotional posts upcoming, though they were derailed a bit by all the Hugo drama (updates coming soon), my parents’ golden wedding anniversary and Günther Grass dying. Still, here is the first new release.
The story in question is called Albrecht, the Nightmare. It’s both a paranormal romance and a contemporary and it draws quite heavily on North German folklore, particularly on the crossed horse head gables that are a common feature of the Low German farmhouse and the fact that they were intended to ward off evil, particularly in the form of nightmares or alps, a German take on the classic incubus/succubus legend.
Most stories start with “What if…” and this one was no different, for one day I found myself wondering what if the crossed horse head gables really do work as a deterrent against nightmares. It also occured to me that what used to be horror stories – young women being molested by vampires, werewolves, demons, fae, nightmares, etc… – have now been recast as paranormal romances. And in the context of a paranormal romance, the old warding spell represented by the crossed horse head gables could easily become a romantic obstacle.
So I came up with the story of Albrecht, a nightmare who falls in love with Lina, a student and single mom (because nightmares have a thing about breast milk), and finds himself unable to be together with his beloved due to the ubiquitous crossed horse head gables, when they move back to Lina’s home village in rural North West Germany (the village of Altenmarhorst, which is a real place BTW).
I also included a genuine local legend, namely the story of Lambert Sprengepiel of Vechta, a cavalry officer during the Thirty Years’ War, who according to legend made a deal with the devil in order to be able to vanish into thin air (in fact, he merely used guerilla warfare tactics) and was cursed to roam the moors around Vechta in the form of a demonic hellhound after his death.
I’ve been fascinated by Sprengepiel’s story since I first came across it while teaching at the University of Vechta. I’ve always wanted to use him as a character in a historical fantasy (and I will almost certainly do so someday). And since Albrecht, the Nightmare is set in Sprengepiel’s old stomping ground, including him was a no-brainer. In the story, he decides to reenter modern politics by running for mayor, though he occasionally has to be reminded that the Thirty Years War has been over for more than three hundred years.
A word of warning, this story also contains political satire (hey, I insinuate that former German Secretary of Finance Theo Waigel is a werewolf). Plus, it has Albrecht, Lina and Lambert Sprengepiel fighting against bigotry and bureaucracy in the form of a local councillor. In short, it’s one of those nasty pieces of message fiction that are ruining SFF according to some very vocal whiny canines (Lambert Sprengepiel would probably have them for breakfast).
Albrecht, the Nightmare
Germany in the near future: When supernatural beings come out of the closet and reveal themselves as having lived among humanity all along, the country quickly adjusts to the new reality after some initial uproar. Romances between humans and supernaturals soon become common, such as the relationship between Lina, a human single mother, and Albrecht, a nightmare demon.
But Albrecht’s and Lina’s love is threatened when they leave Berlin for Lina’s home village in rural North Germany. For it turns out that the village is suffused with an ancient magic, a warding spell specifically designed to keep nightmares out.
Word length: 5800 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Oyster, Smashwords, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, Libiro, Nook UK, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Casa del Libro, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.