It’s always a good day when I can announce new material for you, fans and readers, to enjoy. So with pride I announce the release of Hotel Himalaya: Three Travel Romances, which is as of now (September 2016) available exclusively on Amazon in e-book format. This is my first collection of short pieces in five years, since President in the Bathroom in 2011, and I’m amazed at how much I’ve missed the short form. I hope you find in these three stories the same charm, wonder and thrill of imagination that I experienced while writing them.

Here is the official synopsis of Hotel Himalaya:

Hotel Himalaya: Three Travel Romances is a collection of tales about emotional connections between strangers who meet far from home. Each story contains a search, a loss, a love and an epiphany.

“Hotel Himalaya” begins with a chance encounter on a bus in Southeast Asia and leads to a whirlwind affair that sweeps the globe from Moscow to Kathmandu. But years later, the man who loved Anneke Wicklund finds his memories of her are strangely malleable…and changing all the time.

In “Wacken,” Daria, a heavy metal fan traveling to Germany for the greatest rock festival of all time, meets the mysterious and handsome András, with whom she can barely communicate. Amidst mud, beer, loud guitars and 70,000 metal fans, the romance that blossoms between them is at once deliciously sweet and strangely anguishing.

“Mountain of Shadows” finds two strangers by random chance hiking the same Western trail to a fabled grotto of haunted Anasazi ruins. As each discovers the other’s deep wounds and vulnerabilities, the common thread between their broken hearts may bind them closer together than they realize.

Sean Munger is the author of Zombies of Byzantium, The Rats of Midnight, Doppelgänger, and various other novels and short stories.

The big draw of Hotel Himalaya for heavy metal fans will be the novella “Wacken,” which is a favorite subject on this blog. In this story, which was written this August, I tried to portray the metal festival in northern Germany as accurately as I could. The festival and its multinational clientele serves as the backdrop to the love story that unfolds over the course of the novella. Eagle-eyed readers who have been reading this blog a long time may notice a lot of elements in the novella track some of my experiences at Wacken Open Air 2014, which was the subject of a series of articles after I came back.

Wacken 2014 A 034

Wacken Open Air 2014, where I took this picture, was the genesis of two of the three stories in the Hotel Himalaya collection.

It’s not immediately apparent, but the story that leads the collection, “Hotel Himalaya,” has a lot to do with Wacken also. At Wacken 2014 somehow I got talking with one of the Norwegians I camped with, John, about writing. He suggested that I write a short story, all in one sitting, on the plane home from Germany. As it turned out I was too tired to do that, but the very next weekend I was home I decided to write a story in one sitting. What came out was “Hotel Himalaya.” Thus, although it doesn’t directly involve Wacken as a subject, the roots of “Hotel Himalaya” are planted deep on that famous field in northern Germany.

The third story in the collection, “Mountain of Shadows,” is kind of an experiment and a rumination on genre. I expect it may be a controversial story, especially because it’s explicitly labeled “romance,” and in the past I’ve been critical of what I feel are the artificially stringent boundaries of what many writers consider that genre to be. “Mountain of Shadows” deliberately violates the norms of the “romance” genre. Its two main characters never kiss, never fall into bed and never acknowledge their feelings for one another. But you can’t describe the feelings between them as anything other than love. Why is there no room in the romance genre for this kind of story? I believe there is, and hopefully after reading it you may think so too.

I’m proud of Hotel Himalaya, and I hope you all enjoy it. It’s $2.99 on Kindle Direct (free with Kindle Unlimited). If you like it, spread the word! Thanks, as always, for reading.

The cover of Hotel Himalaya: Three Travel Romances is copyright (C) 2016 by Sean Munger, all rights reserved. The photo from Wacken is copyright (C) 2014 by me, all rights reserved.