Vampire masters eBook Technology with minimum Bloodletting

Iconic scene from F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, 1922 A screenshot of the 1922 film, Nosferatu. Though the film is in the public domain in the US, It is not in the public domain outside of US (and its origin). License details Public domain in the United States, likely copyrighted in Germany until at least 2029.

Iconic scene from F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, 1922

Over on Maria Thermann’s blog I’ve just explained my heroic efforts of dealing with uploading my ebook text into the Bookrix template – so this gives me the perfect opportunity to tell all of you creatures of the night out there what to watch out for when using your own artwork or book cover design for publishing an ebook via Bookrix.

I chose to create my own artwork for Willow the Vampire’s various adventures but this meant that Bookrix’s own logo and the tag line I wanted to insert were causing a multitude of problems.

If you are not choosing from one of their own royalty free templates, it best to use option 2 (upper left hand side of the upload screen), which allows you to upload and insert your own picture/artwork and insert the text via Bookrix text boxes. It also allows you to unclick the Bookrix logo and their book category, so these won’t appear on your book any longer once unclicked.

You are given lots of different font, colour and size choices for your title, tag line and author name but each will always appear in the dead centre of the part of the cover where you place your text box, which can be a nuisance if your artwork just happens to be a face – people who write their memoires will probably be cursing the No. 2 option.

For best results your design should have 3 areas that are fairly uni-coloured, so the text of the title, author name and tag line, if using, stands out as much as possible and isn’t obscured by the photo or artwork in the background. Anything preventing the reader who searches for ebooks to decipher what it says on the cover may throw your book out with distrubtion channels (Amazon, Google etc).

Placing the tag line on the Willow the Vampire & the Sacred Grove cover was a nightmare, because no matter what text colour I chose, it never stood out well against the background colours.

This is approximately what I ended up with: WTV sacred grove cover for scribd kindle amazonSo I’ll now have to change the cover on Amazon & Kindle & Scribd.com to match all of them to the Bookrix cover. It’s not the cover I’d hoped for but hey, I know better for next time.

And herewith I have now addressed a young reader’s – Miss Baethge – concern, namely that my last blog post didn’t contain the links for the ebooks I had uploaded on Bookrix.  I simply hadn’t received them then. Just click on the book title in the paragraph above and it will take you to the sales page, so you can have a look at how your ebook might be displayed to people who have not signed up to Bookrix but could potentially buy your book. It’s free to join Bookrix.

Within the community, once you’re a member, authors can join groups like they would on Goodreads and have discussions, promote their work, get advice etc. I’m really chuffed with the author page I got, which was easy to set up and looks amazing. It comes complete with a blog that allows authors and readers to communicate. Again, this was totally free.

The other two ebook links for Willow’s adventures are:

http://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-maria-thermann-to-hell-with-bloodsuckers/

and

http://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-maria-thermann-an-embarrassment-of-witches/

It is entirely free to publish ebooks, you get an ISBN number without any upfront cost and as long as you ignore their “if your book is ready upload the whole file” option and copy and paste instead into their “editorial template”, the second option on the upload page, you should get your book out there in no time. I’ve explained this in more detail on my Maria Thermann blog.

Description: The Vampire. 1893. Edvard Munch. Munch Museum at Oslo. xfgxdtjh

Description: The Vampire. 1893. Edvard Munch. Munch Museum at Oslo. xfgxdtjh

Distribution with some of the bigger ebook sellers can take up to two weeks before your ebook is listed, so my next post should contain the links to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Thalia, Google etc and I will update the Willow front page for this blog at that point – to have a coherent promotional approach, according to the Bookrix promotion guide I was sent for free.

A word of warning: if the layout of your book’s manuscript or your spelling and grammar leave a lot to be desired, you won’t be published and the Bookrix team will reject your book; you must revise it before trying again.

You can also upload books without selling them, making them available for free, which is what I have done to whet readers’ appetite for Willow’s adventures. It’s a single short story published as a book.

 

(Willow the Vampire book cover artwork copyright Maria Thermann, all rights reserved; source of pictures: Wikipedia; please note:

F.W. Murnau – screen capture around the 1hr 19min mark; a screenshot of the 1922 film, Nosferatu. Though the film is in the public domain in the US, It is not in the public domain outside of US (and its origin). License details: Public domain in the United States, likely copyrighted in Germany until at least 2029)

 

 

Vampire sneaks into Bookrix

bookbaby WTV cover 2Yes, Stinkforth-upon-Avon’s most famous vampire has made it into the e-book market in a big way…well, according to Bookrix, she’s sneaked into the virtual world in about 60 different ways…so far without the slightest bit of blood-letting on anyone’s part.

Willow the Vampire’s short stories and one feature length adventure are now available on Bookrix.com and via ca. 60 other e-book outlets. Two short stories, just long enough for young readers to get their fangs into,  are also available under the book titles “An Embarrassment of Witches” and “To Hell with Bloodsuckers”. One of them is for free, how good is that?

It gets even better; as a bona fide Goodreads.com author this shameless self-promoting woman called Maria Thermann has made one whole juicy chapter available for young readers to sample for free.

Any creatures of the night out there now green with envy must bide their time until Maria’s laptop has caught up with all her other writing projects.

Happy summer reading everyone!

 

A little moth-eaten around the Edges

The_Moth_Diaries_FilmPosterNo, I’m not talking about myself here! Although, admittedly the image staring back at me in my mirror could do with smoothing out, peeling off the old and pasting on a younger, fresher smile once in a while. At least you still have a mirror image, I hear the vampire enthusiast among you cry. You are right, one should always be grateful for small mercies in life and after-life.

Actually, my comment about being a bit moth-eaten around the edges was aimed at the movie “The Moth Diaries” which I finally got around watching last weekend when I wanted a break from writing chirpy travel articles about Spain and Portugal.

Although I’m not strictly saying that the film was boring – far from it – it just took such a long time getting round to what it wanted to say that I was tempted to shout “aren’t we there yet” at my laptop screen, like an impatient child sitting in the back of a car on her way to Harry Potter World.

I liked the moth element of this supernatural tale, which of course was chosen because it mirrored the protagonist’s happiest childhood memory; only the vampire knew how to twist and pervert this life-sustaining memory into something deadly and morbid.

Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_StudiosWhat I found interesting was the fact that this supernatural caper went back to the pre-Dracula days in the vampire genre when vamps where emotional life suckers rather than the blood-slurping variety. These are, of course, the type of vampires one is more likely to encounter in real life than the fangy Count D.

It made me think back of my school days and how certain types of people simply cannot bear to see others being friends or lovers without wanting to insinuate themselves into the middle and sucking the life out of that relationship.

Oddly enough, elements of the Transylvanian school of thought, as I call the emotional life sucker folklore, will be creeping into my 2nd Willow adventure too, although for the moment I have put this to the backburner to finish another book.

How do you prefer your creatures of the night? Biting with gusto into a throaty, full bloodied adventure or wheedling their way into the heart of the matter like a sly maggot?

 

(picture source Wikipedia: The Moth Diaries is a 2011 Irish-Canadian horror film directed by Mary Harron. It is based on a 2002 novel of the same name written by Rachel Klein)

The Ghost of Christmas past

log fire 1Gather around our Word Press hearth and snuggle up for a ghostly tale just right for Christmas, my little pointy-eared vampire elves. Have you all got a toffee apple and gingerbread man to nibble on, while I tell my story? So here it goes:

As we have already seen, not all ghosts are intent on creating havoc among the living. Since this is my last Willow the Vampire post prior to Christmas and New Year, I thought I’d introduce you to one of my favourite ghosts, as featured in a poem by Theodor Fontane, one of my favourite German poets. I’ve loved this piece since I was Willow’s age, because Master Ribbeck of Ribbeck Manor in the land of the Havel (River) is truly a man and ghost after my own heart. I feel sure, Willow the Vampire will whole-heartedly approve.

So listen up, my fire-side children, for this is Fontane’s story of an unusual creature of the night:

English: Lake Schwedtsee in Fürstenberg/Havel,...

English: Lake Schwedtsee in Fürstenberg/Havel, Germany. Deutsch: Schwedtsee in Fürstenberg/Havel (Deutschland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During his life time Master Ribbeck of Ribbeck Manor in the land of the Havel River is the proud owner of a garden, boasting many fine fruit trees and flowers. One tree in particular is his favourite. Every autumn, when the juicy pears are turning golden, Master Ribbeck plucks as many pears as his coat pockets will hold and when the clock tower begins to chime at noon, he steps out of his little realm and offers fruit to every child passing by.

“Boy, do you fancy a pear?” he asks a hungry boy who clip-clops by with his wooden clogs.

And if it’s a girl hurrying past, Master Ribbeck calls her over with a cheerful: “Little girl, come hither, I’ll give you a pear.”

Dr. Theodor Fontane

Dr. Theodor Fontane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What innocent times Theodor Fontane’s poem describes…today the same kind-hearted Master Ribbeck would be accused of unspeakable crimes just for daring to speak to children, never mind offering them pears! But allow me to transport you back in time, when men were still allowed to show innocent affection and kindness to children without being clubbed to death by outraged neighbours or hounded by social media.

For many years our good Master Ribbeck of Ribbeck Manor in the land of the Havel River continues to delight children with a gift of pears until one autumn day the dear man realises his time has come and he must die. Seeing how the golden, juicy pears in his garden are ripe once again, he asks his servants to bury him with a pear. Three days later they do just that and his heir and neighbours, all peasants and farmers, follow his coffin with sombre faces and a pious psalm on their lips. However, the neighbourhood children scampering after the procession are heart-broken and they join the chorus with a plaintive: “The good man’s dead, who’ll give us a pear now?”

Deutsch: Schloss Ribbeck Rückseite

Deutsch: Schloss Ribbeck Rückseite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the poor children knew only too well, the new Master Ribbeck of Ribbeck Manor in the land of the Havel River was a miser and would keep his father’s pear tree and garden under lock and key.

You have guessed right, my festive vampire elves: the children should have had more faith in their old benefactor. When the ghost of good-natured Master Ribbeck senior heard their complaints, he felt a great wrong had been done to the local children. Suspicious of his son and heir’s true nature, good Master Ribbeck senior knew very well what he was about when he asked to be buried with a pear…for in the third year following his demise a tiny pear tree began sprouting from his silent grave and over the years it grew into a tall, strong tree with thick branches shading good Master Ribbeck’s final resting place in summer…

But when autumn turns the leaves red, yellow and gold, the pears begin to glow…

And when a boy runs across the graveyard, the leaves in the branches begin to whisper: “Boy, do you fancy a pear?”

And when a girl passes by, the tree murmurs: “Little girl, come hither and I’ll give you a pear.”

19_boom tree with adam n eveThus, from beyond the grave our good Master Ribbeck of Ribbeck Manor in the land of the Havel River found a means to give his blessings to all children who pass by in autumn, his favourite time of the year.

My very best wishes for the Festive Season and may all of you children out there in the virtual world meet a kind-hearted Master Ribbeck of Ribbeck Manor in the land of the Havel River when you’re hungry and need a ghostly friend.

For all of you lovely German speaking creatures of the night here’s the original poem by Theodor Fontane, which naturally contains some Plattdeutsch/Low German, since I’m a Northern German child born and bred:

Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck im Havelland

 

    Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck im Havelland,

    Ein Birnbaum in seinem Garten stand,

    Und kam die goldene Herbsteszeit

    Und die Birnen leuchteten weit und breit,

    Da stopfte, wenn’s Mittag vom Turme scholl,

    Der von Ribbeck sich beide Taschen voll.

    Und kam in Pantinen ein Junge daher,

    So rief er: »Junge, wiste ‘ne Beer?«

    Und kam ein Mädel, so rief er: »Lütt Dirn,

    Kumm man röwer, ick hebb ‘ne Birn.«

 

    So ging es viel Jahre, bis lobesam

    Der von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck zu sterben kam.

    Er fühlte sein Ende. ‘s war Herbsteszeit,

    Wieder lachten die Birnen weit und breit;

    Da sagte von Ribbeck: »Ich scheide nun ab.

    Legt mir eine Birne mit ins Grab.«

    Und drei Tage drauf, aus dem Doppeldachhaus,

    Trugen von Ribbeck sie hinaus,

    Alle Bauern und Büdner mit Feiergesicht

    Sangen »Jesus meine Zuversicht«,

    Und die Kinder klagten, das Herze schwer:

    »He is dod nu. Wer giwt uns nu ‘ne Beer?«

 

    So klagten die Kinder. Das war nicht recht –

    Ach, sie kannten den alten Ribbeck schlecht;

    Der neue freilich, der knausert und spart,

    Hält Park und Birnbaum strenge verwahrt.

    Aber der alte, vorahnend schon

    Und voll Mißtrauen gegen den eigenen Sohn,

    Der wußte genau, was er damals tat,

    Als um eine Birn’ ins Grab er bat,

    Und im dritten Jahr aus dem stillen Haus

    Ein Birnbaumsprößling sproßt heraus.

 

    Und die Jahre gehen wohl auf und ab,

    Längst wölbt sich ein Birnbaum über dem Grab,

    Und in der goldenen Herbsteszeit

    Leuchtet’s wieder weit und breit.

    Und kommt ein Jung’ übern Kirchhof her,

    So flüstert’s im Baume: »Wiste ‘ne Beer?«

    Und kommt ein Mädel, so flüstert’s: »Lütt Dirn,

    Kumm man röwer, ick gew’ di ‘ne Birn.«

 

    So spendet Segen noch immer die Hand

    Des von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck im Havelland.

 

cottage in winterMerry Christmas to vampires everywhere!

Being a Witch is never easy

Examination of a Witch by T. H. Matteson, insp...

Examination of a Witch by T. H. Matteson, inspired by the Salem witch trials (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my second novel, Willow the Vampire and the Würzburg Ghosts, I’m using several real historical events as the starting point for my plot. One is the recent discovery of a “witch’s cottage” near Pendle in Lancashire, where in 1612 the infamous Pendle Witch Trials took place. Two men and eight women were hanged as witches after extensive trials.

 

The other main historical event I’m using as background for my latest vampire lore is the even more infamous series of witch trials that took place in the city of Würzburg in Germany between 1626 and 1631.

 

The Würzburg witch trials are regarded as one of the largest peace-time mass trials, which were followed by mass executions on an unprecedented scale.

 

Responsible for the persecution of innocent men, women and lots of children was Bishop Philip Adolf, on whose orders an estimated six to nine hundred people were burnt alive at the stake or hanged.

 

heks_in_maan witch flying against moonMy premise is that with such unjust killings there must be a lot of angry spirits about seeking revenge. As my previous posts have shown, ghosts have all manner of motives for clinging to the place where they lived or died. Revenge is always a good subject for a mystery or, in this case, a vampire story suitable for children aged 8 to 12 that discusses the subject of “evil” – what is evil, how do we stand up to it and who gets away with doing bad stuff?

 

This year marks the anniversary of two famous witch trials in the United Kingdom, by the way. Not just the Pendle trials but also the last conviction for sorcery, which took place in Hertfordshire in March 1712, is being commemorated this year. Fortunately, this trial had a kind of happy ending, when Queen Anne pardoned the accused sorceress Jane Wensham and thus saved her from the hangman’s noose.

 

"The witch no. 1" lithograph

“The witch no. 1” lithograph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pretty much anyone could be accused of sorcery – if you were overhead talking to your cat or pet pig you could be accused of being in league with the devil – and the methods used for getting confessions out of alleged warlocks and witches were utterly horrendous…thanks to the oh so Christian torturers in charge of interrogations.

 

Over on http://www.mariathermann.wordpress.com I’m discussing my home town Lübeck’s walled fortifications, in particular the famous Holsten Gate, which was once part of the city’s fortifications. Until 2002, the Holsten Gate housed a gruesome torture chamber and “dungeon” exhibition in the museum, which I remember only too well from various school trips and visits with my grandparents.

 

If I recall correctly, it boasted a rack and thumb screws, branding irons and various other torture paraphernalia among its exhibits. It seems utterly impossible anyone should be so devoid of compassion and feeling that they should use such instruments on anyone, let alone small children, but this is what happened quite frequently under the Christian motto of “love thy neighbour”.

 

Persecution of witches

Persecution of witches (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Willow the Vampire, champion for defenceless children and animals which get a rough deal at the hands of those who should care for them and protect them from harm, is having rather a busy time of it, what with saving the world from Ragnarög, saving best friend Darren AND dealing with an army of vengeful ghosts.

 

Burning at the stake. An illustration from an ...

Burning at the stake. An illustration from an mid 19th century book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vampires, as a rule, like to mind their own business, so getting involved with human and supernatural beings that have their own agenda, is always going to contradict a bloodsucker’s inner beliefs. Vengeance, on the other hand, is a subject vampires can relate to whole-heartedly. Will our Willow be tempted to go over to the dark side?

 

English: J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter ...

One thing’s for sure, Willow the Vampire will remain a champion for children and this writer won’t ever make light of their plight at the hands of adults. Unlike perhaps the writer who brought us Harry Potter. Am I the only one who finds the announcement that J K Rowling’s adult novel The Casual Vacancy will become a BBC drama incredibly ill-timed and utterly distasteful?

 

As if the BBC wasn’t in enough trouble over the Savill enquiry into paedophilia and rape allegations, namely sex crimes against children and young adults that allegedly happened under the very noses of former BBC bosses over a period of some 40 years! Now our licence fee is being used for this, a book that has not received much critical acclaim and is only being shifted thanks to the J K Rowling name?

 

One day I may write a Willow the Vampire novel that will deal with the ultimate evil creature of the night, the Jimmy Savills and Gary Glitters of this world. Naturally, I shan’t use the subject of children or young adults being threatened by rape as a subject for satire and parody, which most of J K Rowling’s readers found distinctly unfunny, when I last looked on Amazon’s reviews.

Willow in black dressNo, I ‘m far more likely to use the subject of BBC bosses in terror and utter distress, as vampire Willow and her friends barbeque them over a moderate flame, while basting them with home-made marinade provided by grateful licence fee payers.

 

It’s not just Hamlet who’s got the Hump

While I bravely struggle on with the next chapter of “Willow the Vampire and the Würzburg Ghosts”, I’m still researching motives ghosts might have for haunting the living. Denmark seemed an unusual choice for the un-dead, but when I started reading up on one of Northern Europe’s most haunted places, I realised it wasn’t just Hamlet who had the hump with his castle existence.

Dragsholm Castle, which was converted into a hotel in the late 1930s, proudly boasts no fewer than three regular ghosts.

Two lady-ghosts who appear to remind us, I think, how terrible life was for women in days gone by and one male ghost, who was imprisoned in the dungeons at Dragsholm and has ever since had a question mark hanging over his high-born head: how did he actually come to meet his end?

Did he commit suicide during his imprisonment because he’d lost his marbles after five years of solitary confinement or was he murdered? The hapless man was none other than the 4th Earl of Bothwell, married to scheming Mary Queen of Scots, who herself was a thorn in the flesh of Queen Elizabeth I.

English: Dragsholm castle in Winter

English: Dragsholm castle in Winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With such a family connection…who needs enemies? Every birthday card might contain explosives, every pair of Christmas socks might be spiked with poison and every visiting day might bring an assassin to the dungeon’s gates!

If you’d like to find out more about Dragsholm Castle’s history and its former occupants, head over to http://mariathermann.com, my regular writer’s blog. Leaving royal madness out of the equation for the moment, I feel the other two ghosts have legitimate reasons to haunt the living and may serve me well as inspiration for my own ghost story.

The “Grey Lady” ghost at Dragsholm is allegedly the ghost of a maid who once worked in the 800-year-old castle. Treated well when suffering from horrendous toothache and surviving her ordeal, she clearly has every reason for returning to repay her dentist in kind.

In previous centuries any ailment, no matter how small, was potentially lethal. A tooth infection, which was likely to have been the cause of the maid’s pain, could have killed her within a matter of days. The lovely girl’s still returning today to thank people for their kindness it seems…on the other hand she may still be owed wages, which she’s trying to collect.

English: Building connected to Dragsholm Castle

English: Building connected to Dragsholm Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “White Lady” ghost at Dragsholm Castle is a romantic apparition that doesn’t seem to be out for revenge but wants to highlight her plight, while she is still looking for her long dead paramour. Playful and charming in life, she simply wanders the corridors now that she’s dead.

As a girl of noble birth and the daughter of a former castle owner, she fell for the charms of one of the serfs working there. When her father found out about the long-standing affair, which the two lovers had kept secret, he was so angry he ordered his servants to brick up the poor girl in one of the castle’s most substantial walls. According to the legend, every night the White Lady returns to Dragsholm Castle in search of her lost lover.

The spooky twist in the last story is that during restoration works in 1930 several old walls needed to be opened up to allow for modern sanitation and plumbing to be installed. During the process workers found a small hole in one of the thickest walls; peeping through, they discovered a petite skeleton wearing a white dress cowering in a recess. A true story apparently and well documented by witness statements taken at the time.

Here’s a ghost with good reason to haunt the living daylights out of any tyrannical father who happens to cross the threshold of Dragsholm Castle Hotel in search of bed and breakfast and a family he can oppress! Yet, she chooses to be mindful of everybody’s bed rest and just glides along the deserted hallways like a wistful cloud.

The legends of the two ladies lead me to believe ghosts retain most of the characteristics they had when still mingling with the living, an interesting fact I’d like to use in my novel.

Anonymous. James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney a...

Anonymous. James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney and Shetland, 4th Earl of Bothwell. 1566. Oil on copper. Diameter 3.70 cm. Edinburgh, Scottish National Portrait Gallery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the two lady-ghosts do their haunting on foot and rather humbly, the male ghost is quite a show-off and still insists on his noble birth right today. Arriving with a horse-drawn carriage in the castle courtyard, where apparently prisoners received their judgement in the 16th century, the 4th Earl of Bothwell’s aristocratic horses clip-clop about with so much noise on cobbled paving, the castle’s guests are forced to reach for their ear-muffs night after night.

Bothwell could have just turned up in his frilly nightie and haunted the dungeon’s tour guide after the 4.00 o’clock tourists have left or taken it out on the night porter in the foyer or meddled with the guests’ food in the banqueting hall. Instead, he chooses night after night to dress up in full 16th century garb and arrive in “state” with a carriage and horses.

What does the Earl want? To tell us he was murdered or to complain about his unjust imprisonment? Or is he merely trying to book into the most appropriate inn in the Zealand neighbourhood?

Maybe his madness is the reason for his return – a caged mind rattling round and round in a tiny prison cell for five long years? Perhaps the echo of that unspeakable torture still reverberates through the castle today?

Once a sighting has taken place, the living start spinning the tale and it is hard to know what the real reason might be for the dead to return. Ghost story writers like Sheridan Le Fanu or Wilkie Collins might not be inspired by the Grey Lady, but I’m rather touched by her story; perhaps there are other kindly ghosts out there, like the Petermännchen in Schwerin I wrote about last week.

Sheridan Le Fanu

Unfinished business and revenge may be the reasons behind the Earl’s and the White Lady’s nightly appearances, but there’s no unfinished business or vengefulness behind the Grey Lady’s apparition. She merely wants to reassure herself that all’s well with the citadel’s inhabitants. Just like Schwerin’s Little Man Peter she’s retained her kind nature in death – an important point that I shall use in “Willow the Vampire and the Würzburg Ghosts”.

Perhaps it is the fear of death and the process of dying that prompts the living to ascribe sinister motives to every ghost?

I for one feel rather comforted that there may be ghosts who, unlike Hamlet, haven’t got perpetual murder on their mind but would like to look after those they were fond of in life and still associate with a specific place.

At this point some of you will cry there’s no such thing as ghosts! Show us some proof!

Indeed Hamlet, as writer Michelle Barber from Loony Literature’s Lab will tell you, was not even a ghost but a Shakespearean Prince of Denmark whom countless generations of actors have killed for to portray on stage.

To my mind that makes him a ghost, as his attention-seeking, petulant spirit still haunts us today. Didn’t he tempt David Tennant to leave Dr Who…surely sufficient proof of a malevolent spirit being at work? Today I read on Twitter that Merlin’s alter ego young Colin Morgan wants to go back on stage…undoubtedly he’s the next Hamlet-victim in the making.

What more proof could there possibly be – ghosts do exist! Well, Danish ones at any rate.

 

Ghosts in the Cellar? It’s not Caspar but a little Cavalier

Petermännchen Schloss Schwerin

While over on Maria Thermann’s blog I’m discussing the beauty of northern German Castle Schwerin, the erstwhile residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg, here at Willow the Vampire’s blog I want to tell you a little bit about the Little Man Peter or, as he’s called in German, the Petermännchen ghost that haunts Castle Schwerin.

Visitors to Schwerin Castle, a setting as fairy-tale as it gets and seemingly jumping straight out of a Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen story, will find a depiction of the little ghost in form of a small statue that perches on the façade of the castle.

Reputedly still haunting the vaults and cellars of the castle, the little ghost was allegedly a goblin which worked as a blacksmith in one of the many tunnels that connected the castle with nearby Petersberg, a local hill close to the town of Pinnow.

According to varying legends, the Little Man Peter can fly through the air and appear anywhere between Petersberg in Pinnow and Lake Schwerin, where the castle sits on an island near the centre of the lake.

The goblin played tricks and pranks on people of ill repute. Equipped with a lantern, a sword and a large set of keys, the Petermännchen is actually supposed to be a kindly creature of the night, which deals with thieves and intruders in its own magical way.

While dishonest people are plagued with nightly pranks, good and honest people are said to receive their just rewards. Soldiers, who fell asleep while on duty guarding the castle, found a good friend in the little goblin, as the little chap used to wake them up just in time before their dereliction of duty could be discovered by their superiors. Thieves would be driven from the castle.

Schwerin Castle.

Schwerin Castle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One legend has it that General Wallenstein, in charge of Emperor Ferdinand II.’s troops during the 30-year war in 1628, thought twice about staying for a second night at Schwerin Castle, after the Petermännchen had played so many tricks on him during the first. Sadly, in reality Wallenstein did stay in Schwerin for more than one night, in fact, he made Schwerin his preferred residence, while Mecklenburg remained under occupation.

Today the residents of Schwerin regard the little blacksmith as their lucky charm. He is the official emblem of the region and in Pinnow the motto ascribed to the little goblin reads as follows:

“Dressed in blue and with a blue hat adorned with a silver plume, the red-headed and bearded Petermännchen stands in gold and green hillsides, boasting a silver trimmed lace collar and silver cuffs on his arms, a red sash around his midriff and silver spurs on his red riding boots, holding on to silver stilts with both hands.”

Sculpture of Pertermännchen in facade in the c...

Sculpture of Pertermännchen in facade in the courtyard of Schwerin Castle in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The description isn’t accredited to any particular historic sources so many well originate in the over-heated  imagination of the local town council, but it suggests that far from a common-or-garden variety of blacksmiths dealing with ducal stallions and soldiers’ mounts, the Petermännchen worked with precious metals down in the dark tunnels in true goblin and fairy-tale-dwarf tradition. No living human being is able to carry the heavy keys hanging from Little Man Peter’s belt, only he is strong enough.

Perhaps he supplied the wealth to the Dukes of Mecklenburg as long as they treated their peasants fairly and stopped digging for precious stones, when Wallenstein’s men arrived?

Some local legends claim he is the legitimate heir to the kingdom of Mecklenburg, others say he is cursed because when alive, he killed a priest and now he must exist as a diminutive ghost until he is freed from the curse. Old people in Pinnow claim they could hear the hammering of pickaxes deep down in the Petersberg, when they pressed their ears to the soil and listened.

It’s interesting to note that in all the depictions – there are a number of paintings – he is shown in the dress of a cavalier, a “horseman”, a heroic figure rather than a figure of ridicule. It suggests that he may have been a real historic figure rather than a supernatural one. Was he one of the duke’s little people, a person of small statue but with the wit of a giant living inside?

The statue seen today adorning the façade also shows the Petermännchen in 17th century cavalier’s clothes; however, the statue itself dates back to the 19th century. When reading up on the history of the little ghost, I kept wishing that he gave a thoroughly deserved haunting with all the poltergeist trimmings to any visiting politicians during the nasty German Democratic Republic regime, which lasted from 1949 until December 1989, when I visited Schwerin for the very first time just a few days after the fall of the Berlin Wall (officially it ceased to exist in 1990).

Coat of Arms of Pinnow (Mecklenburg)

Coat of Arms of Pinnow (Mecklenburg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a firm believer in “we reap what we sow”, I’m hoping the Petermännchen will haunt any former Stasi people (East Germany’s notorious secret police) to its heart’s content, whenever they are foolish enough to visit the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern State Museum that dwells under the domed roof of Castle Schwerin today.

Petermännchen, please give ‘em a good kicking with your wee red boots and your wee silver spurs! They worked hand-in-glove with the governmental thieves that robbed all of us of so much world heritage and brought misery to millions of people for so many years.

For German speakers there’s more information on the little ghost on this “spooky” website:

http://www.spukorte.de/html/petermannchen_schwerin.html