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Casto by Xenia Melzer

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Writing a fantasy story presents a variety of challenges to be overcome and one of the worst I had to face was measurements.

This may sound like a trivial problem to many, but for me, it was significant enough to have me worry for the better part of a month. When I started writing and didn’t even dream of publishing my work, I just used the metric system and American inch and miles in a happy mix. Whatever sounded better in a particular scene I chose and went on writing. Once I started trimming the story for a publisher to see, I knew I had to get that mix straightened out. With a permanent bookmark on a measurement conversion site, I hopped back and forth, calculating like a mad woman and then doing it all again when I figured some of the numbers were just too big and couldn’t be right. (I do realize when something’s wrong with my calculations, I just have a hard time figuring out how to fix it.)

After the miracle happened and my manuscript was accepted, I hardly thought about the measurements anymore, because, hey, I was busy being happy. Then my editor got her teeth into the manuscript and those stupid numbers came back to bite me hard. As it appeared, I had made several big mistakes when converting the numbers, a fact that had me slightly depressed. I mean I know that mathematics and I will never be on an intimate level, there’s a reason I’m a writer and not an engineer, but I had honestly thought I was better than that. My husband (who happens to be an engineer) had a field day, no make that a field week, when I told him about it. After he stopped laughing (in a very nice, loving way), he sat down and came up with a system of measurement exclusively for my books. That was beyond sweet and also beyond what I could grasp. After a few futile attempts at understanding what he had cooked up (I didn’t even try to convert the numbers), I dismissed that system.

I could have gone for miles and inches then, as my editor assured me, but somehow that didn’t feel right. Not for my precious story (yes, I can be kind of single-minded). In the end, I roamed the web and researched medieval and ancient forms of measurement, which was fun and educational at the same time. (If you’re feeling bored on a rainy Sunday afternoon, fire up your laptop and try to find out what six meters are in Greek feet. That’s taking useless knowledge nice having to a whole new level, I swear.) Since the Greek and Babylonian systems were a pain to convert (I do think there should be a law against too many digits behind the comma), I finally settled for some solid medieval measurements some of which I recalled having read in other fantasy novels as well. I made a list. I had the medieval measurement, the metric system, and the American system. I calculated. I checked it twice.

Then my editor came along, had a good laugh and I checked it all again. Now I’m quite proud to say that I have a solid system that (hopefully) is not too hard to remember and that feels more fantasy-ish than plain old miles or kilometers.

For a split second, I contemplated doing the same with time. Like coming up with my own cycle and everything, but I could see that this was the way to madness (short trip, I know), so I dropped the subject before it could play itself into the foreground and bother me too much. An hour is an hour and everybody understands that.



All is fair in love and war. Or is it?

On the world called Ana-Darasa, the gods of war engage in a desperate search for their lost hearts while waging a battle against the Good Mother for supremacy. But theirs is not the only struggle as dominant men, powerful rulers, and demigods clash, fiery passion erupts, and destinies are shaped on the battlefield and in the bedroom. In a war between pride and love, no victory is ever simple.


All is fair in love and war. Renaldo has lived happily by that proverb his entire life. But he has finally met his match, and he’s about to discover how unfair love and war can be.

When demigod and warlord Lord Renaldo takes a beautiful stranger captive during an ambush, he is delighted to have found a distraction that will keep him entertained during the upcoming siege. Little does he know, Casto is keeping more than just one secret from him. Slowly, Renaldo gets sucked into a turbulent roller-coaster relationship with his mysterious prisoner, one that begins with hatred and soon spirals into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. And when it seems that things can get no worse, an old enemy stirs right in the heart of his home.

Determined to keep Casto by his side, Renaldo has to find a balance between the capricious young man and his own destiny as a ruler and god to his people.

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Photo Credit: Andreas Eirainer
Photo Credit: Andreas Eirainer

Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.

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