#Review: A Book of Revelations by A.C. Burch (@ACBurchAuthor) #amreading #MondayBlogs

#Review: A Book of Revelations by A.C. Burch (@ACBurchAuthor) #amreading #MondayBlogs

Not even H.G. Wells’ time machine could transport you so beautifully into another world like A.C. Burch

A long time ago, I was offered a book to review, the debut novel by A.C. Burch, The HomePort Journals, published by my friends over at Wilde City Press. I was amazed by the beauty of the writing, and I recall saying that I’d love to read more from A.C. Well, the other day, he approached me and asked if I was interested in reading his latest oeuvre, A Book of Revelations, a collection of eight short stories. Given that I just released my own ditto (which A.C. also graciously agreed to review), I was more than curious to see how someone I barely know, someone who has a very different background than I, would tackle the subject of short stories. And even though I got to read this gem for free, and he mine, I stand by my views. You should know that by now! 🙂

Here's the cover of A.C. Burch's latest oeuvre: A Book of Revelations, and the lady on the cover is so very revealing for more than one of the strong characters in this book.

Here’s the cover of A.C. Burch’s latest oeuvre: A Book of Revelations, and the lady on the cover is so very revealing for more than one of the strong characters in this book.

A.C.’s stories are longer than mine, some almost novella length, but boy are they worth reading. Sometimes I wonder where authors get their inspiration from, what it is that makes them come up with such exquisite, delicious stories. Some moved me more than others, and I’d like to call out a couple, who really had my imagination run amok, and my mind do double flips backwards in order to wrap what little mind I have to around the content and the message they convey.

The first story is Curtain Call, and boy did that pull a number on me. I can’t really talk much about it without giving away the twist, which resembles the sort of sixth sense ending. Read that story, it’s going to undo you. It sure did work a number on me, and still does.

The second number is Götterdämmerung, a story where I think we get a glimpse of the author himself, a trained professional musician, and the story about an orchestra and its maestro. It’s sublime, and as someone who really loves the opera and classical music, this oeuvre was totally down my alley.

My favorite though, and I think that has to do with my story, Alex, in Shorts, is called Last Chance, and it’s about a murder investigation. The detective reminded me a bit about the detective in The Slasher, but naturally, he’s very different, but boy, that story? Wow!

Now, A Book of Revelations is a very different book compared to my own, and I love it for it. A.C has a way with words, I already found that to be the case in The Home Port Journals. There, it all plays out in Provincetown. In this book, we move leisurely between there, Florida and the cities of New York and Boston in between. I’ve been thinking how to put into words what it is that makes A.C.’s books so special, without sounding like a prick. Several of the stories, and the Home Port Journals, play out in what I can only describe as “high society”, for lack of a better term. The members of that society are often a bit older, some have money, some very old money, others have not. There are lush gatherings, soirées, dinners, dances and concerts, large ones and small recitals. What A.C. conjures up is a world to which I do not belong, never have nor had a desire to. The mere mention of “can you do a black tie in an hour?” would have me run the other way, not because of the timing, I love an impromptu soirée (who doesn’t?), but I hate black tie.

A.C. Burch

A.C. Burch, Author of The HomePort Journals and – now – A Book of Revelations

Instead I get to enjoy it all from the safe distance of the book’s pages. And not only that, the writing is as beautiful as the gatherings they depict, and A.C. is an exquisite painter of settings, locales. I know from my own writing just how difficult it is to paint a scene, and I often choose to forgo lengthy descriptions, simply because I can’t, and rather than boring readers with my inept attempts, I go for the action. Here you read about cleavage in so many colors you think you’re looking at a Renoir, and you get to observe the abyss of human emotion as if you’re staring at Munch’s “Skriet” or one of Dalí’s limp watches. Let me say this as plainly as I can: very few authors I’ve ever read are capable of such beauty with words, no matter whether the scene he describes is a house being burned to the ground by homophobes or a lonely funeral at one of those awful funeral homes. A.C. transports you right into that spot.

Now one can always try to wonder why we write the books we write, and I’ve been known to do that. And I have, on occasion, done that reading this book. However, A Book of Revelations is not getting any better if I knew if and where A.C. the person was, nor why he’s drawn to write some of the strongest and quirkiest female characters in the history of literature. No matter why or how, I’m very grateful for every chance he gets to paint another one of those stories, and I’ll make sure to hang at the door knob, wanting to read it!

A Book of Revelations is published by A.C. Burch’s own imprint Homeport Press and from Amazon, of course. Each story in the book is illustrated by Madeline Sorel.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week. I’m going on vacation, which also includes a cruise, so I may – or may not – be able to blog. Please forgive me.


Why I love to read (and write) short stories #amwriting #amreading #asmsg #LGBT

Why I love to read (and write) short stories #amwriting #amreading #asmsg #LGBT

Reflections on short stories ahead of my release of Shorts – Stories from Beneath the Rainbow, tomorrow

Tomorrow is one of those interesting days: release day. And this release is different, as it isn’t a novel I’m releasing, but seventeen short stories. Two have been released before, in anthologies, but the other fifteen are all new: Shorts – Stories from Beneath the Rainbow. The other day, I had a visitor here at my house, fellow author Phetra H. Novak, and we discussed short stories on my segment of the author cave. Have you seen that?

Short stories are interesting little beasts. I like to read them and writing them was (is) fun. It’s not easy, because you have to be concise, you have to capture an emotion, or a sentiment, within just a few pages. I’ll grant you, short stories can be just a couple thousand pages long, all the way up to novella length, and even in Shorts, there are some longer and some that are very short. Sometimes, a short story is all about POV, which in our world isn’t about prisoners, but about point of view. Just now, I’m reading another exquisite collection of short stories by fellow author A.C. Burch, Book of Revelations. My review on Monday. His stories are of the longer type, and very different from mine. But more on that on Monday.

The reason I mention A.C. is his unique point of view. He’s a few years older than I, and has a very different view of the world, which is very apparent in his writing. He writes about a world I’ve never been a part of, that American High Society, posh parties, rich people gathering, and lots of artists sharing their art in his stories. It’s something I will never experience myself, but it’s so well written that when you’re reading the story you’re actually in it, transported to whatever location they play out in, be in the Met or Provincetown or Florida.

The books have arrived! :) I'm so thrilled. It's a beautiful book and the publishers have outdone themselves on this one! It's so well crafted.

The books have arrived! 🙂 I’m so thrilled. It’s a beautiful book and the publishers have outdone themselves on this one! It’s so well crafted.

That is the hallmark of great writing, and I really enjoy it, because it teaches me something about the nature of my fellow human beings. One of his stories has a very special ending, and reveals what we might call a trans person today. No spoilers. I found that, in hindsight, absolutely brilliant, and very different from my own trans story. That is another beautiful part of the short story.  In a novel, both aspects may have been verbalized at some point, but since it would’ve been one author, it would’ve been very different than if you compare A.C.’s story to mine about Alex.

That is really what I appreciate the most about short stories, getting lots of different glimpses into different aspects of life. So is there a red thread to Shorts – Stories from Beneath the Rainbow? There’s the obvious: Shorts includes all my short stories to date. But all stories are about the human condition, they offer a brief glimpse into challenges and considerations of the human condition, seen from an LGBT point of view. Hopefully, what the reader will learn, is that we are in no way different from anyone else: we love, we mourn, we worry, we act, we react, we live, and we die.

I got my first author copies of Shorts yesterday, a first for me, a cool feeling. Tomorrow the book will reach a wider audience, and all those characters will be on their own. Meanwhile, I’m already worrying about the next release, which is still ‘almost’ three months out, and that is going to be a big one for me: Jonathan’s Legacy, the final piece of the puzzle of my Jonathan Trilogy, and the most difficult one to write: Dan is gone, Jonathan is gone. Left behind is Marc, the widower, and all the children, grand-children and great grand-children of the huge Jackson clan. Life continues and the book follows Marc on his struggle back to life and how Parker and Cody start a family of their own. The trailer, a bit different than my other book trailers is out. Have a look:

Have a good weekend, and I’ll talk to you again next week, when I’m back with the review of A.C. Burch’s Book of Revelations.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.


#MondayBlogs: Instant potty training, our son is growing up so fast #parenting #LGBT

#MondayBlogs: Instant potty training, our son is growing up so fast #parenting #LGBT

Potty Training or how growing up can sometimes take place in minutes

Last week was a monumental week for our little family. We got to visit the school where our son will be spending the next twelve years (unless we move or whatever). Needless to say, twelve years is a long time, and we had been queueing for a spot for two years and didn’t think we’d get in. But, someone else didn’t take their spot and Sascha was offered a place. The English School in Gothenburg has an amazing reputation and is one of the only schools in town where English is the primary language. In our family we speak five languages on an average family reunion, and English is a must.

When we returned from our visit last Wednesday, we began to read through the information material and were shocked when we read this sentence in the material: “On August 8th, please bring the following items: [long list] potty trained”

Sascha loves his personal potty, his throne. He is the king of the bathroom...

Sascha loves his personal potty, his throne. He is the king of the bathroom… Photo: private

Potty Trained? Not sure if you’ve read my post last summer about potty training our son, and our complete failure. Sascha just wasn’t ready. This spring, our current pre-school began potty training during school hours, but Sascha refused. The potty I had bought last year turned out to be too small, and he hated the IKEA toilet adapter. He refused to use the toilet at home. Meanwhile, most girls his age (three) were potty trained and even some of the boys were out of diapers. Not Sascha. We were scared and worried that he may not be able to go to school this fall (and that we’d lost his spot at our current school).

Yes, we’d fully planned to start to potty train him earnestly once vacation begins (this coming weekend), but we also knew that we’d be traveling for most of the time. And traveling, by car, plane for long hours isn’t ideal for potty training. So our self-esteem was low, when we met our current school’s principal last Friday during the school’s open house. She mentioned, not for the first time, that she’d had great success with other kids with a singing potty, a potty that would play a song after every successful pee or poop. I had already suggested to my husband that we take Sascha shopping and that we invest in a new potty, one that our son would choose on his own.

We went to our local baby supply store but didn’t find anything. Yes, they had a pink potty our son liked, but I really wanted the singing potty. Apparently they sold them at Toy-R-Us, so we walked next door and lo and behold, Fisher-Price sells a singing potty. I bought it, not asking Sascha for approval. Back at the house we assembled it (1 minute) and set it up in the bathroom. It looks a little bit like a throne.

Potty-training is made simple. Our son even empties and cleans his own potty.

Potty-training is made simple. Sascha even empties and cleans his own potty. He insists on it. Photo: private

To show Sascha how it works, I poured some water from a glass into the bowl, and it played a song, ending on a hooray. Naturally, Sascha wanted to try, too. We explained to him that it would always play a song if he went potty, and we tried, right away. Frustratingly, nothing happened, but we decided to remove the diaper anyway, and put on some briefs and shorts. I believe we had three accidents that afternoon, and no success. We even had a big accident (not going into details…)

He went to bed Friday night and drank loads of water, and Saturday morning, it was my turn to get up with him, his diaper was well filled. I helped him out of the diaper and asked if he wanted to try the potty. He did, and you should’ve seen the pride on his face (not to mention the grin on mine) when the potty began to sing. A high five and Sascha had earned a few raisins as a reward. Believe it or not, that was it. From that moment on, we’ve only had two accidents, one on a walk (we’d noticed his telltale sign that he needed to go, an itch to his wee-wee) but standing up and peeing didn’t work for him, and three minutes later we watched the waterfall through his shorts. The second accident came after another short walk. I had noticed he needed to go, but nothing happened when we got home. Two minutes later he didn’t quite make it to the potty and half of it ended up on the floor. But apart from that, he notifies us when he has to run and then he runs, literally. Big or small!

This morning, he went to the potty before going to school, and for the first time, he left the house for a five minute walk to the jetty, a twenty minute boat ride and a ten minute car ride to his pre-school, wearing briefs, no diaper. As he arrived in school, he went to their toilet my husband tells me. Our baby is growing up, in big leaps or strides. I couldn’t be more proud.

So what happened? I think that there are a couple of important factors that contributed:

  • He’s linguistically able to process our instructions and explanations. He’s also able to respond. We weren’t there last year.
  • His buddies in school have already made the transition, and he’s very much aware of that.
  • Being a “big boy” is important to him.
  • Choice of potty (comfortable to sit) is critical. It’s going to be interesting to follow his progress, but given this morning’s pee in school, the singing potty isn’t “necessary”, but I think it was critical in helping him take that leap of faith, and to understand the connection between his own “feeling” of a full bladder or colon, and the sense of success. I think the tiny potty and the toilet adapter made things more difficult, mentally, because they were uncomfortable for him. Our stress didn’t help either.
The potty converts into a step, with a toilet adapter. Once the child grows bigger.

The potty converts into a step, with a toilet adapter. Once the child grows bigger. Potty training with a future! 🙂 Photo: private

Five days ago I was afraid we’d never be able to have Sascha join the English School this fall!. He still gets to wear a diaper at night, for a while longer. We want to make sure he doesn’t have nightly accidents, even though he already wakes up every now and then with an unused diaper. But there’s no rush, and the diapers will come in handy during long flights or car rides. For all else, a small plastic bottle will come in handy for trips.

Why write this post? Well, as a parent, this is one of the biggest moments in our life as a family. We’ve overcome one of the biggest obstacles so far. It’s taken us a year, but in all honesty, it was only a weekend, really. But I also hope that if you’re a parent, and you have a child in Sascha’s age (2-3 years), don’t fret. Don’t go buying books for lots of money. They’ll get there, eventually. As our principal said: there are no five year olds with diapers (at least none without intellectual or physical disabilities). When your child is ready, you’ll get there. But the best tip I can give you is to involve your child. Buy the potty together. Let them be a part of the decision. This is a big step, mentally, and emotionally, to learn to read and interpret the signals from their body, and you want that to be a positive experience, not something that is frustrating (it was for us, every time we failed, and I’m sure that showed and made Sascha self-conscious…)

This post is not sponsored by Fisher-Price, but I’m more than happy to endorse this product (as well as others we’ve bought). We’ll take this potty on our vacation and once Sascha no longer needs it, the seat he’s grown used to and the throne converts to a toilet adapter with step (see photo). Perfect. The potty sells on Amazon for $28, a bargain given how amazing this works!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week, from a “relieved” dad…


PS: Five days from now, my new book Shorts – Stories from Beneath the Rainbow, is released. Have a look. It’s 25% off on SmashWords right now. Use this code: SSW25


Humanity is approaching a cross-road: make it or wreck it! #racism #misogyny #homophobia #nationalism

Humanity is approaching a cross-road: make it or wreck it! #racism #misogyny #homophobia #nationalism

Humanity: we’re stronger, together

July. Summer. June was not an easy month, quite the contrary. We’ve seen some of humanity’s worst sides, from Trump’s racism and misogyny, the Orlando massacre to the attack in Turkey, to huliganism at the European soccer championships or the decision by the U.K. to leave the European Union, applauded by populists, fascists and extremists across Europe. It seems that we live in a day and age where “egoism” and group thinking “us against them” is the most powerful and dominant force in the world.

white, blond, I've always passed for a Caucasian pure bread. I'm not.

White, blond, I’ve always passed for a Caucasian pure bred. I’m not.

While I understand the psychology behind it, our brain’s need to compartmentalize, I also understand that we have a choice in how we box our experiences. It’s not predetermined. And the values we attribute to the boxes isn’t either. You can be British and European. The two are not mutually exclusive, I am Swiss, Swedish and European. I’m also a world citizen, and I feel great emotional affinity to the U.S.  I may not be a citizen, but often feel very American. As a man, I am part of the “ruling” sex of the planet, but I don’t like many of the attributes attributed to manhood: I don’t think that the separation between men and women is constructive for humanity, at least not beyond the biological necessity of sperm and ova in our reproduction. For all other purposes, “male” and “female” may help us explain how we treat each other differently socially, but that’s about it.

As a gay man, a life-time victim of bullying, wearer of glasses, and growing up speaking a minority language, I have always been used to being the “outsider”, the odd one out, a minority. I have a deep understanding for what it means not to belong. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that I was part of the majority, even though, oddly, I have been. As a Caucasian, I’ve always been part of the ruling “race” (there is no such thing as race when it comes to homo sapiens sapiens), even though I’m not even a pure bred, with 25% of my DNA being South Asian. I’m a typical European: part Swiss (37.5%), part German (25%), part Belgian (12.5%) and – yes – 25% gypsy, i.e. Indian. Born with green eyes and very blond hair, I’ve always passed as white. And while my blood group B+, the dominant blood group in India, might be a clue to my heritage, it’s as red as any Kenyan’s or Peruvian’s.

The cover for my new book, coming in July. Shorts - Stories from Beneath the Rainbow

The cover for my new book, coming July 9th: Shorts – Stories from Beneath the Rainbow is a kaleidoscope of being different, yet the same.

White, privileged

Being brought up in Western Europe, as a white person, meant privilege. We may not have been rich growing up, relative to others in Switzerland, but huge compared to those on other continents. And it became even more apparent when we traveled: the color of my skin was a privilege. I’ve had some horrific experiences over the years. I’ve seen how my white skin lead to me treated very differently than my brown or black friends. Oddly, despite the fact that from a financial perspective, they may have been more affluent than I. That was a scary experience. Sadly, most of us walk through life without ever seeing that. We may experience it, but not notice it.

With that experience comes great responsibility. I am very sensitive to differences and how it leads humanity to treat each other differently. I react when women are treated differently than men because they’re women, not because they’re less qualified, I react when my “brown” friends aren’t allowed into a restaurant, or when a waiter addresses me rather than my “black” friends. It’s often a difficult position to be in. People don’t like to be called out for racist behavior or misogyny. Most of us are neither racists nor women haters. We act because it’s the societal norm. To change those norms requires for us to speak up, to act.

Racism, nationalism only ever profits its ring-leaders

These days, that is more difficult than ever. In a time where we’re English, Welsh, Cornwallis or Scottish rather than British (or European), where we hate people to pray to different fantasy figures than we do, and kill over it, pointing out our commonalities seems like a task worthy of Don Quixote… What we seem to forget is that the only people who profit from nationalism, populism and racism are the people at the helm, the Trumps, the Le Pens and Boris Johnsons of this world. Building walls against Mexico doesn’t bring jobs back from China, and ripping the UK out of the EU won’t stop refugees from seeking shelter in Europe. What will it take for the disillusioned and disenfranchised groups to realize that? Another all out war? I certainly hope not.

Then again, who am I if not an idealist? A dreamer? I will never give up, I will never accept that humans have different shots at happiness because of their genitals, their skin, who they love or their philosophical convictions. Never! I hope you’ll join me, whatever your personal background may be.

Have a great weekend, whoever you are, wherever you are.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.


PS: Joy is a very human condition, and this TV commentator’s joy over his team’s success has me tearing up every time I see him. Iceland’s success at the current soccer championships is a positive example of what we can achieve if we work together

#MondayBlogs: Thoughts about our individual responsibility: of ducks and #Brexit #amwriting

#MondayBlogs: Thoughts about our individual responsibility: of ducks and #Brexit #amwriting

Individual responsibility: we may not even be aware how we influence others

It is of individual responsibility I wish to speak today. I know, as a liberal (in the classic sense of the word, not the crude American version thereof), I highly value individualism, and I’ve always fought for our right, as humans, as individuals, to assert ourselves, to live our lives any way we want (within the bounds of Kennedy’s famous boundary “the right to swing your fist ends where your neighbor’s nose begins”).

However, within the context of society, individualism doesn’t always work, or – at worst – has serious repercussions on others. Allow me two examples of this, from a broad societal point of view, the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, and from a very personal point of view, my son.

Responsibility on the state or government level

A Sykes-Picot map of the Middle East. One of the reasons we're in the mess we are. No, it's not all England's fault, but as the major global power of the era, England carries a big responsibility, and unlike Germany, refuse to axle it. Image: Mideast Cartoon History

A Sykes-Picot map of the Middle East. One of the reasons we’re in the mess we are. No, it’s not all England’s fault, but as the major global power of the era, England carries a big responsibility, and unlike Germany, refuse to axle it. Image: Mideast Cartoon History

I’ll begin with the UK. The decision, made by a rural majority in England has left the Scots reeling, it threatens to upend the very fragile peace in Northern Ireland (just imagine the Catholics in the North being cut off by a closed border from the Republic…), and – even more so, the havoc the decision’s been wreaking on Europe and the rest of the world. My son’s and our savings have lost in value due to the losses on the stock exchanges, my upcoming trip to the UK will be cheaper, but to offset that, my trips to Switzerland and the U.S. will be more expensive, as the Swedish Krona, fell almost as sharply as the Sterling. That’s just the beginning. Nobody knows what the long-term consequences of the so called Brexit will be, if it will happen at all (seems more than one politician is back-pedaling already).

So how could this happened? We could go back a long time, but allow me to just take a quick look at the imperial past of the English, and the meddling in the Middle East. Their very empire building, their very drawing up of maps that for one thing left the Kurds without a nation to call their own, and paid no attention to ancient tribal borders, created the very fertile ground on which dictators and crushed dreams grew for a century. That the same English now wish to leave the EU because they don’t wish to make space for the refugees they helped create a century ago is a prime example of how our actions, as individuals and states, sometimes doesn’t manifest itself until a long time after.

But the English (and I specifically don’t use the word “British”, as I don’t believe that term is applicable here, since the Irish and the Scots clearly feel differently about all this, not to mention the fact they were once conquered and forced into submission by the very English that drape themselves as British…) haven’t stopped to be different. How often – when we lived in England – did we hear them speak of “Europe” as if it were some foreign land, and have you forgotten Margaret Thatcher’s handbag thumping to get a one billion Euro discount in the eighties? Again and again have English politicians emphasized their “differentness”, sometimes more subtly, sometimes not so much. David Cameron’s recent “re-negotiation” is just another example of the English feeling they deserve to be treated differently. Imagine Germany trying to get a discount on their EU contributions… Yeah. See?

Irresponsible politicians

Why didn't Nigel Farage speak up when "others" spread the £350M lie? Was it because it suited him, secretly?

Why didn’t Nigel Farage speak up when “others” spread the £350M lie? Was it because it suited him, secretly? Or why didn’t he step down as UKIP chair as promised? Lying comes so easily to politicians, despite the huge consequences their words carry.

There are also individual contributions here, from the reactions of say Boris Johnson, who’s been hiding since the results were made public and who suddenly has no hurry whatsoever to implement §50. How come? Or Nigel Farage who know for weeks that the £350 M a week for the NHS was a lie, but never spoke up. Not until the day after! How convenient. Yes, politicians are all liars, and sadly they do not have our (i.e. the citizens) best interests at heart, no matter what they say. Mr. Johnson dreams of the keys to No 10 Downing Street, and Mr Farage, who once threatened to leave the helm of this fascistoid UKIP, well… We know since the last elections what his word is worth: nil. Yet people continue to fall for their sweet talk, their lies. I think the most stunning example of pulling wool over people’s eyes was the claim by some that the absence of European workers could be solved by bringing in Asians. Say again? How would that mitigate the migration problem if you replace one foreigner with another, particularly if the replacement has a drastically different cultural background?

In this instance, we see individual responsibilities abandoned, by politicians, business leaders, but also citizens. I’ve read about so many people who regret their decision. Yes, I agree, this is a difficult question to make up your mind on, but so far, less than a week after the vote, if you’re already having second guesses, while everything still is pretty much unchanged, how can you regret your vote? Did you really think a leave vote would change nothing? I’m not even going to start to discuss the fact that one of the most searched queries on Google from the UK (after the vote) was “what is the EU?” Huh? Now you’re wondering? It is ironic that the rural England, where few migrants live and where the EU has little influence in their daily lives, the majority was against. Reminds me of the recent Swiss vote on immigration. There, too, those who weren’t affected by migration voted against it. Individual responsibility on a larger scale, abandoned.

How we influence on an individual level

Sascha and the discoveries (a fraction) from his pappa's old bedroom

Sascha and the discoveries (a fraction) from his pappa’s old bedroom. Even in toys, societal norms are passed on. One female Lego figure for every seven or eight male.

Yet our actions, as individuals, and our individual responsibility, doesn’t just apply to matters of state, or politics. It is much more subtle than that. Allow me to exemplify: my son takes a weekly bath, to wash his hair (like millions of children around the world) As I was watching him play with his rubber ducks today, I noticed that he was calling them “mommy”, “daddy” and “baby duck” in his game. Apparently, my three year old, who has no mother, already knows the natural state of things. Whether it’s from the dreadful thing “Peppa Pig” he watches on YouTube, or the other parents at his day care, I don’t know, but somehow, he’s already internalized the most common form of family. I decided to test him, and asked him “who’s pappa?” and he immediately pointed to one of the two bigger ducks. He calls my husband “pappa”, Swedish for dad. I followed up with “who’s daddy?” and I saw that for a split-second he was confused, before he smiled and pointed to the other big duck and said “this is daddy”, then pointing to the smaller duck and said “that’s Sascha.” He really cracked me up when he also pointed at the little toy sea-plane and said “this is non.” Non is my dad, Sascha’s granddad.

With our actions, we influence the world, ever so subtly, and depending on our role. We may not even know how or even if. But somehow my son’s already picked up on society’s heteronormativity. His preferred pronoun is “he” (and he struggles with she, despite an all female staff at his preschool), he knows that kids have a mom and a dad, and he knows that pilots are men and that the women in planes “make the coffee”. I’m waiting for the day when he realizes that what comes natural to him, to see my husband and I as his parents, will be questioned, in light of what he sees around him. Sometimes it’s the most subtle influences, the most subtle of hints, or the words we choose, will have a profound influence on others. For better or worse. We all, each and every one of us, have an individual responsibility for how we act around us, from our roles as politicians, citizens, or – in my case – as a father and author. I try very hard not to forget that individual responsibility…

What about you?

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Hans M Hirschi
Former – disillusioned – politician, father and author

Will the #Brexit affect me as #author? I’m afraid so. #asmsg

Will the #Brexit affect me as #author? I’m afraid so. #asmsg

Brexit: Nightmare meets hangover!

Who knows how sunny the future of the Union Jack will be... Will the blue be but a fading memory?

Who knows how sunny the future of the Union Jack will be… Will the blue be but a fading memory? Photo: Vaughan Leiberum / Wikimedia Commons

The Brexit is here: it’s like waking up to a nightmare or with a huge hangover, and the cold that is making itself known across my airways doesn’t make me feel any better. Last night’s decision by Great Britain to leave Europe is a sad decision, and it’s left the country deeply divided. Politically, this is a huge nightmare, and another show of just how egotistical we’ve become in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown. The argument, widely used by the leave side to close borders, to let “continental” Europe fence with the refugee crisis alone, is only one such tell tale sign. Only time will tell how this well affect the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in other EU/EES countries and how the Europeans on the Isles will be affected. I’m not even going to venture a guess as to what Scotland will do, being more than 60% for remaining in the UK, the only of the four “pretend-countries” to want to stay. What this will do to the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland is anyone’s best guess. Peace won’t be on the top three list if you ask me.

So it’s a very sad day for Europe, for the UK and the rest of the world. I’ve never been one to believe that we’re stronger alone. But what does this mean to me? As an author with strong ties to the British Isles? My publisher, my editor, several of my proof readers live and work in the UK. The first effect, sadly, is positive: with the Sterling falling like a stone, purchasing services from the UK will be cheaper for us, and I regret paying that last invoice as quickly as I did. Would’ve saved me a good 10%. Continuing to use the services from the UK will undoubtedly be cheaper for a while, as stock and foreign exchange markets try to figure out what to make of this.

No, the EU flag will not lose a star. It's always had twelve, but we'll lose a bit of luster, and the sky is a lot cloudier than it appears... Photo: MPD01605 / Wikimedia Commons

No, the EU flag will not lose a star. It’s always had twelve, but we’ll lose a bit of luster, and the sky is a lot cloudier than it appears… Photo: MPD01605 / Wikimedia Commons

The free and common market the UK now will be leaving will be replaced by something else, and while I personally don’t think (hope?) that the UK will be leaving much, there is still a risk of increased taxes (and higher prices) and even customs to be levied. No longer part of the common market (which includes financial assets), sending money to, and receiving money from the UK might become more complex. Will the UK impose taxes on my royalties in the future? We don’t know what the Brexit entails.

But what I fear is that purchasing books from the UK, my author copies, could become very expensive in the future. When I imported my books from the U.S. (using CreateSpace), the Swedish government added not only VAT of 6%, but also customs, and I remember some very gruesome invoices from my government. If this is the future with my current publisher (who’s been treated like a domestic one until today) that remains to be seen. There is of course a risk that whatever UK printing company was used in the past, that will be printed elsewhere in the EU in the future, to avoid for EU customers having to pay for expensive VAT and customs charges. That might be good for remaining EU countries, but bad for the UK industry. But for all intents and purposes, the post-Brexit UK will be no different than importing from India or Argentina from now on (well, at least after the divorce is finalized, and the dust has settled).

I dread future travel to the UK. For us it’s been ‘relatively’ easy in the past twenty something years. While never having joined Schengen, EU member state citizens have always had a “quick pass” into the UK. No paper work (I still remember that), no silly forms to be filled in, and being able to bypass the endless queues from third country citizens. I’ve seen those queues at terminal three at Heathrow. People waiting for hours on end (heck, even we had to sometimes wait 45 minutes in the morning, as all flights arrived at the same time…) America immigration will await us at Heathrow soon enough, and going to my author conventions in England could become a nightmare. I can’t even imagine how British seniors living in Spain must feel, not knowing what will become of them, or how long immigration queues to Ibiza or Mallorca will be for Brits in the future…

The UK leaving the EU is much bigger, and so much worse than we can possibly imagine, which is why it’s such a “bad” idea to hold referenda on these things. While people can’t fathom losing what they don’t even know they’re having, we can’t really foresee what the big changes will be like. Naturally, if you never leave your village in Cornwall or Yorkshire, not much might change. The devil, as always, lies in the details, the little things, that which we don’t necessarily think of. Over time, the people of the UK will realize just what they’re missing out on: goods will be more expensive due to different requirements in the UK and the EU (or they’ll just adopt EU rules without a say…), travel, studies abroad for their kids, and what not. But more importantly, we’re no longer one European voice, and that only helps those who wish us ill.

The really big thing for me is the fact that this is just another little step of divisiveness, egoism, the erroneous belief that you’re stronger on your own. That is a real recipe for disaster, because it’s just been proven wrong by history, again and again.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Hans M Hirschi
Proud European and Earth citizen

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