The Seventh Flower locations pt 2

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my books.

Better late than never! I recorded these video clips in May, and I’ve only now got round to editing theSeventhFlower[The]FS_v1m. Ahem.

Oh… by the way, while I’m on the subject, um… it seems it’s being nominated by my publisher Dreamspinner for a LAMBDA AWARD, which… I… uh… haven’t really processed yet. When I got the email I was convinced it was some kind of phishing scam, so I meant to delete it, haha!

But then the day after, when I was a little more, shall we say, present? I took another look and saw that the email address was legit, so I replied and asked if it was real, and it was! 😀 So yeah. Um. Nominated for a Lambda award. For a novella. I mean… It feels slightly surreal, so I guess I’ll just wait for details? I don’t know how these things work!

Anyway, here’s another look at the scenery where The Seventh Flower takes place: this time the stream.

Clickbait your book! ;)

Had some fun today imagining my books as clickbait articles. I urge my fellow authors to try it – at the very least, it’s an exercise that can narrow down the plot of a WIP or help you come up with those pesky blurbs.

This man met his celebrity crush at a party – but what happens next will melt your heart

10 things only bulimics will understand

Only one in 50 literature buffs can identify these 23 Shakespeare references. Can you?

Can we guess your favourite trope?

23 ways to say ‘I love you’ – the sixteenth one will make you cry

This is why you should never have a pretend relationship

5 behind-the-scenes problems musicians don’t want you to know about

He was a doormat for twenty-nine years – but you won’t believe what happens when they accuse him of this

Readers are freaking out over this gritty “romance”

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Fly by night

This post and the link in it contain advertisements for my book.

More documentation than art, but it was really nice to see these guys again. We think they live in the attic of our cabin. Normally we only see them in August when it’s darker, but this time we were treated to a display against a bright July sky. 🙂

Orphan Bats

Lyrics: Vaughan
Music: Vaughan/Gardiner

We are unwanted but loved
We are the scary squatters
We hang hidden in black
We won’t go back where we came from

And we won’t die
Even though you turn us away
We will keep crawling
Out of attics everywhere

And come twilight
You can see us
Winging our way
Hunting our prey
Through the horrid night
You can join us
Seeing with your ears
Knowing no fears

We are the children of chance
We are the brainy critters
We see your world upside down
And we are blind to progress

We may seem silent
And our flight random and queer
But we’ll keep on sending
Our voices everywhere

And come twilight…

There is something in the night
Something seems to move
A band of orphan bats
That don’t need you to approve

Dark and gruesome exteriors
Sprung from fevered dreams
But in the heart of darkness
There’s a light that ever gleams

(From Just Playing)

The dreamer in a world of rationals

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my book

Christer isn’t a loner. He may look like one where he skulks at the fringes of every party and doesn’t talk to people unless he absolutely has to. But really, he’s not a loner. He would love to be with people. It’s just that in his experience, people don’t want to be with him.

If school and work and life in general has taught him anything, it’s that he doesn’t fit in. Not necessarily because of his bisexuality, but because he has the wrong hobbies, the wrong body, the wrong outlook on life. Even in his own family, he’s the odd one out. Where his parents and siblings are rational and down-to-earth, he’s an out-of-touch dreamer who can’t seem to settle down. Yes, he’s been married, and yes he has a job of sorts, but compared to his brother the academic and his sister the seamstress, he’s sort of… blurry. Unfocused. And worst of all: doomed to be disappointed.

Because that’s the fate of romantics in this world of overachievers: they can’t keep up, and the world can’t keep up with them. They wish for magic, for perfection, and the more mundane parts of life just don’t measure up.

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Maybe that’s why he’s so shaken when he meets Henrik. It’s not just the weird power balance of him secretly knowing who Henrik is, it’s also the scary thought that this man who Christer has been putting on a pedestal for a year won’t measure up either. It’s actually impossible: the golden persona Christer has projected on Henrik is too divorced from reality to result in anything but disenchantment.

So of course he stays away, right?

Wrong. When has Christer ever done the right thing? Even though he knows that he’ll only bore Henrik to tears with his lackluster conversation, he can’t stop talking to him, telling him stories about the history of his own family and the derelict village where they’re celebrating Midsummer’s Eve. It’s as if a door has been opened and there’s no stopping the wind from blowing right through the musty old house.

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It’s frightening. It’s dangerous. Even if Henrik could ever see anything of worth in Christer, there are just too many obstacles in the way of an actual relationship. And make no mistake, a relationship is what Christer is after. He’s not the one night stand type and he won’t settle for less than perfection.

So yeah, it’s doomed, because A) Henrik is a serial dater, B) he lives five hundred miles away, and C) Christer is pretty sure that he’s only ever dated women. Not that this necessarily means he’s not bisexual too, but why would Christer have such luck? He’s used to his boring life where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens.

But then again this is Midsummer’s Eve, and miracles can happen – if Christer only lets down his guard enough to believe in them.

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Should art be censored?

Oh my, am I really opening this can of worms? Evidently I am. Maybe I have a death wish. But I feel like both sides need to be heard, in the same text – and I like the sound of my own voice, so here goes. 😉

First things first: do I consider myself responsible for what I write in a novel? Yes. I wrote it, no one else did, so who is responsible if not me? Sounds like a no-brainer, but I want that to be really clear from the start. I believe that reality is created by what we say and do, so I can’t hide behind a shield that says “it’s fiction”. It may be fiction, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. If fiction wasn’t powerful, we wouldn’t care about it.

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On the other hand, I also believe that opinions and tastes are the result of social conditioning and societal discourses: people rehash what they’ve been taught. We are what we eat, and if we were raised to be hateful bigots, it can be hard to break free from that. When we voice opinions that hurt people, maybe we weren’t even aware that we did: we’re just retelling a story we’ve learned, and we didn’t stop to question it.

So should we question art? Shouldn’t art be allowed to explore the dangerous and the obscene? Can there really be any art at all if we’re not prepared to offend?

I once read a weird but genius short story by Joakim Pirinen called Familjen Bra (The Good Family), in which nothing happened, because everyone was happy and respectful all the time. In the end, the atmosphere in the story got really eerie, because no one disagreed with anyone else, and everything was “Really good!” The moral was that every story needs conflict. In fact we love conflict in fictional form. We love exploring the limits of our bodies and psyches from the safety of our sofa, be it through disaster movies or soap operas. The question is, how much exploration is enough? Should we draw a line where the pushing of imaginary boundaries just becomes too gross?

In the eighties, there was a lot of controversy around heavy metal music and video violence, issues that continue to elicit strong feelings to this day. Things like The Chainsaw Massacre whipped up a wave of moral panic, and heavy metal was held responsible for shootings and suicides. In my own country, a powerful TV personality staged a veritable character assassination of a 23-year-old editor of a music magazine in front of a hostile studio audience, because he wrote about bands like W.A.S.P. In hindsight, it looks ridiculous – even cruel. Who was he to police what people enjoyed? The heavy metal fans I’ve known are some of the kindest and most polite people ever.

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But maybe he had a point. Art does influence us, after all. Who hasn’t felt inspired to do or say something after watching a movie or reading a book? Who hasn’t felt strengthened in a resolve by having their feelings mirrored in a work of art?

Of course, most people don’t directly copy what they hear in a song or see in a movie. Someone who’s mentally stable doesn’t listen to Marilyn Manson and then go out randomly shooting people. But maybe, just maybe they feel justified in their actions by having them mirrored in art? Maybe it can even make the law more lenient towards perpetrators, and more prone to blaming the victim?

I saw a documentary once where soldiers in Afghanistan were shown pepping themselves for the coming slaughter by listening to Burn motherfucker, burn. Charming, huh? But the war in Afghanistan wasn’t the band’s fault. We can’t blame artists for writing songs that people use to bolster their courage in a horrible situation that was created by politicians and global companies. And said politicians can’t decry violent art one second, only to invade foreign countries and massacre people the next. In the end, art depicting death isn’t as real as the concrete act of killing.

Bottom line is, if artists glorify violence, the reason can be found in the world around us. It’s everywhere. Should we lie and pretend that these atrocities don’t exist? Should artists be held accountable when warlords aren’t? After all, artists only mirror reality, they don’t necessarily create it.

Or do they? I believe things like racism and other forms of hate are naturalized through language and stories. By speaking, we create the world. Violence begins with words, with calling people “rats” and “cockroaches”. Art can contribute to a conversation that dehumanizes a group of people, making it easier to hurt them. Lene Riefenstahl created an image of the Nazi Übermensch. Wagner’s music was used to strengthen German nationalism. Similarly, if rock videos show women being tied up and whipped, or books romanticize domestic abuse, that contributes to the conversation about violence towards women.

So, should art be censored? My gut instinct says no, and yet there are things in film, literature and music that I really wish didn’t exist. What, then, is the answer? Self-censorship? Should we willingly muzzle ourselves instead of staying true to a creative vision that might hurt people?

Writer's Bane

These are some of the questions Michael and Jamie are forced to ask in the fourth book about the rock band Pax, Cutting Edge. And perhaps the answer is to always, always reflect on what we do instead of being defensive about it. For example, I’ve used the crazy girlfriend trope in one of my books. I had no good reason, either – I just didn’t think. I hope I gave her enough motivation to be credible, but still: I contributed to the cliché of women who ruin things for the guys in a band. In a way I regret that. But it’s done, and can’t be undone unless I rewrite the entire book, so maybe I can compensate for it by making sure my next female character is less of a stereotype. I can even bring poor Sapphire back in a future book and try to clear her name.

I guess my point is to keep questioning ourselves. Artists mirror what they see, but through their creations, they also influence the world. At the very least, let us be aware of how.

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The glamorous life of a musician

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my books

“I wish I was a musician. It’s such a glamorous, romantic life…”

Or is it? Let’s have a look at a day in the life.

6.30 am: Drive to the guy who owns the band van

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7.15 am: Load stuff and leave for the venue

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8.30 – 10-00 am: set up the equipment and test the sound

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10.00 – 11.00 am: Wait

11.00 – 11.45: Play (note that the actual gig starts four and a half hours after we left home)

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11.45 – 1.00 pm: Wait, possibly buy a hamburger

1.00 – 1.45 pm: Play again

1.45 – 2.15: Wait

2.45 – 3.00 pm: Play one last time

3.00 – 5.30 pm: Load all the stuff in the van again and drive home.

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And that’s a daytime gig – imagine if all this happened at night. Because of course musicians always work when other people are free, just like cooks and cinema operators.

And all this doesn’t even take into account the hours and hours of rehearsing, or the money you spend on petrol, strings, pedals, speakers, lights, and other equipment. It’s like Michael says in the fourth book about Pax, Cutting Edge:

Sometimes he wanted to explain to people how much work went into a gig, that it wasn’t something you just pulled out of your sleeve, but that was the one thing he could never do. The whole point was that it had to look easy. If it didn’t, no one would be seduced by it. After all, who wanted their entertainment to look like hard work?

Small and unassuming

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my book.

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I turn to see Henrik smiling at something on the ground. I walk over and peer down at the carpet of tiny white petals. “Ah, the arctic starflower.”

“Chickweed wintergreen,” he playfully corrects me.

“I prefer the arctic starflower. It sounds so….” I gesture vaguely. “Mysterious,” I settle for, but it sounds so ridiculous that I blush. It makes Henrik laugh, but it’s not a mean laugh. It sounds knowing. As if, once again, we share something.

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be seen in twilight, isn’t it?” he says.

I squirm. “Perhaps. It’s just… it’s such a small and unassuming flower. You can walk right past it and not even notice.”

Henrik raises an eyebrow that looks disconcertingly flirty. “Is that a metaphor?”

I give him a look. “You think I’m small and unassuming?”

His gaze flickers down to my belt and then back up. “Well, you do kind of apologize for existing.”

(The Seventh Flower by Ingela Bohm)

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Christer isSeventhFlower[The]FS_v1 too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

Available at Dreamspinner and Amazon

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The Seventh Flower

SeventhFlower[The]FS_v1Christer is too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Because of that, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

“If you’re looking for something off-beat that features satisfyingly human characters (warts and all) in a slice-of-Swedish-life story, you’d certainly enjoy The Seventh Flower.” (Joyfully Jay)

Buy links:
Dreamspinner
Amazon

Blog posts about The Seventh Flower:

A summer bird in the dead of winter

Seven flowers

Office romance the 18th century way

Midsummer night’s dream

The difficult art of giving up

The dreamer in a world of rationals

Linnaeus’ fave

The Subjunctive Mood

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Worn-out teacher Jack has just about had it with this life. But just when he’s ready to give in, cute temp Alexander unexpectedly helps with his class. Is the man just abnormally altruistic, or is there something else going on here? As the lesson progresses, Jack’s barricades slowly crumble. Even as he struggles to retain control over the class, he’s losing it over his heart.

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Seven Thousand Minutes

Seven Thousand MinutesWhen Leo goes into a closet for a mock “seven minutes of heaven” session with his best friend Jakob, a ball starts rolling that he never even knew existed. Kissing Jakob just seems like a funny joke, but the joke quickly gets out of hand. Worse, Jakob seems to enjoy it. As Leo battles his growing curiosity, he shies away from the big question: should the two of them remain best friends, or should he let his body lead them into something more?

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