My personal beauty standards

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Don’t judge a book by its cover? Ha! Well, I’m not strong enough not to. Not when I choose what to read, and certainly not when I choose my future husband (been there, done that). Longish hair and a leather jacket had me at hello, but that’s another story for another day. Suffice it to say that I have my own personal beauty standards, like a stain on my moral compass, and it won’t come out for love nor money.

The above picture sums them up pretty nicely – and don’t kid yourself about the turtle neck: it’s not optional!

I drew the picture for a course book in French that I once wrote and never got to use, but I still have the picture. Funnily enough, when I saw it again today I thought of Michael Vaughan of Pax fame. Now, he wouldn’t agree with me because he thinks he’s hideous, but if he was I wouldn’t be writing about him, would I? Especially not passages like this:

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Jamie’s hair swung in time with the music, a few strands sticking to his temples. Green and gold stage lights flitted in and out of his vision. Everything on the stage glowed: brass, steel, cufflinks, white shirts, even gold. Michael was chained to his harpsichord as usual, but when their eyes met, it felt like they were just inches apart. As Jamie lost himself in that lion tawny colour, the world came loose from its moorings and floated around in a shimmery mess.

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Shimmery mess? Yeah, that would be me. And look, I know Michael doesn’t actually exist, in that boring, concrete sort of way we call real. But if I’m to write about a character, they have to exist for me. If another character falls in love with them, I have to fall as well. Otherwise, how could I know how they’d feel when evening sunlight pierces amber eyes?
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“There.” Michael struck a match and Jamie started at the tiny explosion between his fingers. The flame leapt up and quickly ate its way through the dry bark and twigs. Shaken, Jamie watched Michael as he watched the fire grow. The setting sun painted his face and hair in copper shades, and when he looked up, his eyes burned with an elusive lion tawny colour.

Thiiiis is weird

Just Playing

But it’s kinda shallow, I know that. To allow yourself to hold one type of appearance above all others. Still, don’t we all? And I comfort myself with the thought that we all like different things. A friend of mine likes bald men, for example, whereas I fall in love with the hair before I fall in love with the actual person (again, hubby being the prime example).

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And Michael is cute. He is. Jamie is charming, so he can get away with scruffiness and goofy grimaces and stringy, unwashed hair. But Michael has this ethereal quality that “might not beteem the winds of heaven / Visit [his] face too roughly” (Hamlet 1.2.144). If that sounds oddly feminine, I guess it is. I do like my men androgynous. Sensitive. Vulnerable. Pensive.

In a word, musicians. 😀

Not many need apply. Hubby asked me while we were binge-rewatching Game of Thrones which one of all the characters I found to be “the bee’s knees” (sic!), and I still haven’t come up with a reply. Some are interesting, others are charming and fun, and yet others have symmetrical features that I guess would qualify for western hemisphere heartthrobdom. But me? Nah. Most leave me cold. Yes, even Jon Snow.

Rival Poet AReBut when I do find a face I like, I get a whole book out of it. Or, in the case of Pax, a whole series! And so Sam Claflin inspired All You Can Eat, Ricky Wilson (yes, I’m admitting it!) was the template for Henrik in The Seventh Flower, and Ian McNabb (even bigger splash there, I’m really having an overly honest day!) will forever be my very own Kit Marlowe in Rival Poet.

And while we’re on the topic, I know I should be working on (the newly christened, yay!) Chains of Being (I’m keeping schtumm about that one, by the way, because I don’t want a defamation case to cut my career short, and anyway I’m changing absolutely everything about the two guys before hitting ‘publish’ so no one’ll ever know), but I have a messy old WIP about a PhD student that’s slowly morphing to accomodate Robson Green and Ben Mendelsohn! Just imagine the shy and lonely professor with Asperger’s whose world is turned upside down by a sloppy upstart who wears flip-flops to the office! Mmm… 🙂

So, shallow? Yup. But it’s a prerequisite for my authorhood.

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A night at the Moulin Rouge

The other day we had a very special night at the cinema. A famous comedian and band performed in what usually functions as our living room! In a record-breaking evening, 150 people were crammed into a space that usually holds, um, two or three…

Sadly we had to turn away some people who wanted tickets, because the cinema was really full to bursting point. It quickly heated up like a sauna, but what a night! The audience was in high spirits, and the show was at times funny and at times sad, with songs ranging from biting political satire to melancholic odes to bygone times and long gone people.

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Here are some pictures from the evening.

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And finally, here is a small memento from the evening. If you don’t understand Swedish, all of this is fucking funny, okay?*

* Hat off to Eddie Izzard for the original joke.

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That was my favourite saying in college (high school or whatever, I was sixteen, okay?). And it still holds good. I like tasting the many different hues of life. Spending a weekend at the cabin without showering, wearing filthy old clothes and drinking only water from the well, only to make a total U turn and go for a night on the town. Alright, that last one is blue-moon rare, but you know what I mean.

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Today was just such a day. A perfect balance between working in the basement (still scrapin’ those floors), smelling the flowers and listening to good music.

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And on the way home at half past eleven at night, this was the view.

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Strings in sunlight

Tonight hubby had his final guitar lesson for the semester with his group of new learners, and my presence was kindly tolerated. 🙂 We grilled sausages in a hut built in traditional Sami style (grillkåta) and played and sang together in between bites.

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It’s always fun to see hubby in teaching mode. He really was born to do this – and I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse! In any case, he’s really good at making people sort of perform at a higher level than they really should be able to – to create circumstances and show the exact things they need to immediately apply brand new knowledge in relevant and inspiring exercises. They get to feel that they can do things instead of staying at a very basic level and rehashing the same old stuff again and again. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but I really admire his ability to bring out the best in people.

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It was such a lovely evening – windy but sunny – and the hut we sat in was cozy and warm with a fire in the middle and benches covered in reindeer pelts.

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The glamorous life of a musician

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“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?

Strings Attached

Strings Attached

Conductor Jeremiah is having a shitty day. He’s late for his concert, the hotel missed his booking, and touring is making him lonely. Things improve when violinist Tony arrives and offers him a room. But Tony wears a wedding ring, and tomorrow they’re booked to perform on opposite sides of the world. Will their one night in the same city lead somewhere, or are the odds too stacked against them?

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Cutting Edge (Pax Cymrica #4)

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

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After ten years of hard work, rock band Pax are enjoying a stable career, but not everyone rejoices in their success. Just weeks into their first holiday in years, a family files a complaint against them for causing their son’s death. Their lawyer assures them the lawsuit will go away quietly – after all, a rock band can’t be blamed for some poor kid’s fate on the streets.

Or can they? This is the eighties, at the height of the moral panic surrounding heavy metal, and no accusation is too ridiculous. When Jamie takes on a guitar pupil who pushes the boundaries of artistic freedom, he starts to question his own responsibility for what he puts out. At the same time, Michael meets a former bully who insinuates that Michael wasn’t as innocent a victim as he thinks.

While Michael fights his personal battle against demons from his past, he also prepares to give evidence on the part of the band in a court of law. The question isn’t just whether Pax will survive this latest blow – it’s whether Michael will.

“The clear star of the show was the tension was between Michael and Jamie. Their internal conflicts were incredible and intricate.” (The Novel Approach)

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Blog posts:

Forgiveness – but for whom?

If you don’t like it, don’t watch it

Symbols and opposites

Unicorns in the office

Should art be censored?