Guest Post: Claire Duffy & Life Is Swede Day on 21 February

A few months ago, a colleague told me about a blog I had to read–and I was hooked from Day One. That blog belonged to Claire Duffy, who is our guest blogger today at Kim Talks Books.

For six months last year, I blogged as a fictional character.  The idea – inspired by Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds – was to create a fictional world that initially appeared authentic, so that people could step right in, interact with the characters, and almost become part of the story themselves.  I’ve always been fascinated with that concept: who wouldn’t want to enter a novel they’re reading, ask questions or give a character a few home truths?

When I moved to Stockholm and the story of a lonely ex pat who gets drawn into a murder mystery began to form in my brain, I knew I’d found my War of the Worlds.  It felt organic: of course Regan would blog daily about her impressions and experiences struggling to settle into her new life.  Within weeks, she had built a fantastic, loyal following, who advised and supported her through culture clashes and the language barrier, a rough patch with Anders and her struggles dealing with his apparently cold and reserved friends.

Regan’s early accounts of being an ex pat in Stockholm are extremely autobiographical: one of my friends only clicked that it was fiction when she realized how much of what happened to Regan had happened to me. I love living in Stockholm, and love Swedish people – but my first year or so was definitely a struggle against loneliness, homesickness and frustration.

I remember at times feeling that I couldn’t read people any more – often I would meet someone and diagnose that they had no interest in being friends with me, then later discover that they were just being Swedishly reserved upon first meeting. For me it was just a case of getting to know and understand a new culture, but, but it was a ripe emotional state to toss a little murder into!  When one of Anders’ close friends is murdered and he is arrested, Regan sets out to clear his name – but unable to trust her perception of the people involved, unable to understand what she hears, it’s easier said than done!

Now that the final blog has been posted, the whole project has been put together into an ebook.

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Friday 21 February is Life is Swede day!!

The idea is to gather up all the fantastic support the blog has had over the last few months – and welcome some new friends into the fold – and see if we can get this little project that could onto the Amazon best seller list for a day*!

(*and also for the rest of all time. But you know, one step at a time 😉 )

To pull this off, we need to spread the word as much as possible to everybody in the whole world (ideally) to buy Life is Swede on Friday 21 February. Join Regan’s Army and blog, share, re-post, tweet, like, submit, pin with abandon! There’s even a Facebook group you can join and add your friends to if you really want to go wild!

Anyone who:

* tweets, shares, mentions the project on any social media will get a thank you & link of their choice on www.lifeisswedeblog.com

* hosts my guest post about the project & plan (I’ll email it on request!) or adds friends to the event Facebook group will get a thank you & blog button displayed on www.lifeisswedeblog.com, plus I’ll tweet & share to the Facebook group a link of your choice.

* blogs about the project (the story, the concept, the plan!) or reviews the book on Amazon will get the button on www.lifeisswedeblog.com, plus a thank you and link on the last page of the book itself, and will go into the draw to be name-checked as one of Regan’s blog friends in the text of the book.

These are just the thank yous I could think up myself (and though my fuzzy, cold addled brain!) – if you have any thoughts or co promotion ideas, I am all ears!! I’ll be monitoring any activity of course, but please do give me a heads up if you are getting involved so that I can be sure to thank you!!

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Thinking about my dad

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My dad, George Nocho Golden.

I thought I was going to be in the mood to write two book reviews last week but I ended up focusing on my own writing. I’ve been in a bit of a weird mood lately, and I know it’s because we are closing in on the first anniversary of my father’s death.

Because of this, I won’t be posting anything this weekend. My hubby and I are taking a weekend trip so I can have a change of scenery. We’re going to Copenhagen on Friday so that I can catch up with some old friends and do a little research to strengthen Maybe Baby, which you may remember is partially set there.

So soon it’s a year since my dad left our lives. I miss him and find myself thinking about him quite often. We had a very complicated relationship. My mother used to say the reason my dad and I had problems seeing eye to eye was that we were too similar. We both had strong opinions and didn’t back down very easily. We both were moody. We both were extroverted introverts. We had a huge falling out when I was in college, which led to him refusing to pay for my tuition. My mom and I had to struggle to make sure it was paid every semester and I will never forget the sacrifices she made so that I could finish my bachelor’s degree. It took a long time for the father-daughter relationship to recover after that. But by the time my dad died, we’d found a way back to one another, even if it was bittersweet since he couldn’t remember who I was towards the end.

Whenever I read the short stories and novels I’ve written, I find there’s always at least one character based on my dad. So far, Maybe Baby doesn’t have a George Golden-based character. There’s no grumpy former Marine hiding between the lines. Which is strange. There’s no Babara Golden-like character either. I think I need to rectify that. She should be there in some way. Maybe I need to make some space for him too.