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Something about me

Born in 1952, I grew up in the small town of Kevelaer in the Lower Rhine area, just a few miles from the Dutch border. After school, and a community year instead of military service, I studied English language and literature, history of art and classical archaeology at Cologne and Glasgow/UK. My doctoral dissertation on ‘Fantasy: Theory and History of a Literary Genre’ in 1981 was the first full-length scholarly study of this subject in German. In this genre, in particular, I am known as an illustrator, a cartographer, a translator, literary scholar and linguist, a Tolkien expert, an editor – and a writer.
Whereof one cannot teach, thereof one must tell stories.
Umberto Eco (with a bow to Wittgenstein)
After several years' work as a reader in English language and language teaching at Cologne University, I joined the Bastei magazine publishing house as an SF and fantasy editor. In 1987, I moved over to its sister company, Lübbe Verlag (now merged into Bastei Lübbe) as a general fiction editor. Among the books I published are German editions of David Baldacci, Marion Zimmer Bradley, David Eddings, Ken Follett, Stephen King, Stephen R. Lawhead, James A. Michener and James Patterson, as well as novels by German writers. In 2011, I joined the company’s digital media department and retired from the position of Head of Content Development in September 2015..

My first attempts at writing fiction date back to the late sixties and to some amateur stories in the early seventies, when I was an active member of the nascent German fantasy fandom. After that, I started doing translations and writing criticism and studies. At some time, I felt that I had said everything about the subject I could tell from my limited point of view and that it might be worth a try putting it into practice. The result was five fantasy novels, three of them for young adult and two for general readers, partly written in collaboration with a friend, Horst von Allwörden..
My academic expertise is in the theory of the fantastic and in the typology of literary genres. I have also done some research on J.R.R. Tolkien and accumulated a substantial collection of books about this writer and his work. I edited a critical anthology, J.R.R. Tolkien: The Mythmaker (J.R.R. Tolkien: Der Mythenschöpfer), at a time when there were few academic sourcebooks on Tolkien’s work in German, and a book of lectures and essays of my own, The Light of Middle-earth (Das Licht von Mittelerde). My studies on Tolkien’s invented languages, published in two bestselling books titled Elvish (Elbisch), vols. 1 and 2, were revised and updated in The Book of Elvish (Das große Elbisch-Buch) and a teach-yourself-book, Elvish for Beginners (Elbisch für Anfänger).

Throughout my career, I have also worked as a translator – among else, I have translated E.R. Eddison’s classic fantasy novel, The Worm Ouroboros, into German and have been involved, with a team of colleagues, in a spectacular two-week round-table event translating Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol into German. After polishing my translation skills on a seminal study on Tolkien, Tom Shippey’s The Road to Middle-earth, I eventually got a chance of translating a book by the master himself, The Children of Húrin, to be followed by Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin, as well as the illustrated catalogue of the Tolkien exhibition in Oxford, Tolkien: Master of Middle-earth.

I also tried my hand at drawing maps for fantasy and historical novels, many of which were published in books, and, as a hobby, painting miniature figures. From my time in Scotland as a student, I have retained a fondness for all things Celtic, including music and a decent single malt. I am also serving as a board member of the alumni association of a traditional students’ fraternity. Not to mention the fact that I have been married for more than forty years now, have a grown-up daughter and live on the outskirts of Cologne.