Wine, music, and hullabaloo … Reading “Tilda & Leo” in Aachen

Or: What’s the horse doing there?

I wondered where that horse would go in the old town of Aachen. When driving down for my reading I followed that horse box trailer and thought … does he have a big enough balcony or what? There’s no space at all for a horse in the cobbled alleys, and I forgot about it again, because … nerves.

Vom Fass

the venue Vom Fass in Aachen

I was to hold my first reading in Aachen’s oil, wines, and liquor shop Vom Fass and felt prepared, yet nervous. People paid serious money to hear me and enjoy a glass of wine or taste some liquor matching the rustic Eifel theme of my histfic book. “Tilda & Leo” is set in the rural Eifel of 1880 and the shop owners went out of their way to accompany my reading with fitting drinks and snacks (potato salad with bacon and hearty bread with Schmalz … yum!).

A unique location: barrels and clay jugs filled with YUM

In addition to that my friends, the wonderful duo Syl’n’Dan, would play their acoustic music, uplifting the mood of the scenes I’d read. Their German lyrics just fit the book SO well. I couldn’t wait to see the Pipi in the audience’s eyes … haha.

Sarah Scarlett Schneider aka Sarah Dahl

in my element

We met at the shop early and arranged the seating for the 25-30-strong audience with the owners, discussed the buffet and had a first glass. Well, the others had, the author had a throat ache, and I was relying on sage tea to hold my voice together. Nerves were under control, with such lovely hosts and your friends around you cannot fret, really. I had two or three friends in the audience for support, of course my great husband and my biggest fan: the dad. So what could go wrong?

Problem was, I had to do the whole evening myself, they relied on me, and had paid, as I said, serious money for the reading with tasting … Phew. But the first people who strolled in, all dressed up and in a good mood, were just so nice and relaxed. It was more like friends meeting to spend a wonderful evening together. That’s what I wanted to give them. Everyone got their glass of welcoming wine, in keeping with the rural Eifel theme and we chatted. I sat down with book and notes surrounded by the whisky and oil barrels, a cosy, sensuous setting that is unique and immediately brought smiles to all faces.

Wine, snacks, and reading historical fiction


rustic wine for everyone

I introduced myself and the book, the characters, and how it all came to life. I had prepared five scenes, and read the first three, which were then followed by the first of Daniel’s haunting songs. The reaction was amazing, as the lyrics really increased the impact the scenes had. People were moved, there was gulping and sad eyes. Perfect. We then took a break for snacks and chats, and that was just brilliant: simple, hearty, home-made Eifeler food of the time, more drinks to be found in the book as well (I’ll just say Birnenschnaps, pear brandy!), and we had time to talk, people wanted to know more about my process, the history, etc.

Hats and horses interrupt the harmony

musicians Sylvia and Daniel


The second half included two longer scenes from the book that I tried to read with the intended wit and humour, and judging from the chuckles I heard … that worked out. I’m not good at the Eifeler dialect and only have one character speaking that slang, but the audience laughed. I enjoyed it all tremendously, finally feeling in my element, at home, without fear! And then: enter the horses!

Yes, several of them. Right outside those shop windows, a very different kind of music swelled and drowned us all out: the marching bands of carnival! Guys all dressed up in their uniforms, with hats and on horses, waving enthusiastically at us, who were laughing, waiting for the hullabaloo to pass … A very unique and memorable break that made the audience giggle and wave at the funny men.

When I could continue, I ended on a lighter note, too, and Daniel’s two songs again added to the feeling, brought out the theme of friendship, courage and making your dreams come through … and that’s exactly the theme of the whole evening! It took courage, but with my friends there and those amazing people, my dream of being a “real” author, someone people actually did pay serious money for to see and hear … it came true that night!

The team Vom Fass with Syl'n'Dan and me

The team Vom Fass (Gerda, Jens and Stefanie, blue) and Syl’n’Dan with the new author-me

Thanks a million for creating memories

I can only thank all the guys involved so much! We chatted and laughed long after the official part was over, I signed and sold ten books, was offered two more reading gigs (one of them in the stunning old mustard mill – museum and restaurant – in Monschau, slap-bang in the middle of the Eifel!). I made new friends and hopefully some fans … I THANK THE UNIVERSE, these people, and my own courage to live the dream and become what I always wanted to do and be: an author who has something to say and whom people actually believe (in)!

Thank you, DANKE, takk, and can’t wait to do it all again! 

It takes courage, but to have it all come together like that, to actually see and feel how people, strangers first, then friends, react and enjoy what I/we were offering them … The feeling that they had spent a good evening with us, and will now read my book and maybe follow my characters into their world … it’s indescribable. I walked out after midnight, elated, HAPPY, encouraged, with my box of books lighter. I had a nice Irish liquor in my bag for later, and the confidence to now say: I’m an author. This is my job, and others love what I do.

On Aachen’s cobbled midnight streets – bouncing home 🙂


And on that note: Slainté!

*sips hand-bottled Irish honey liquor, for, you know, the throat… 😉 *



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