Too Many Blogs...

Looking at how rarely I have time to post on this blog, I've come to the conclusion that I may just have too many blogs. You may know that as well as writing this blog, I also write another one, Helena's London Life.

Plus, at the moment,  I'm in the middle of writing a sequel to my first Nordic love story, The Englishman.

So…I'm afraid I'm going to have to say goodbye to The Englishman blog. But please pop over to Helena's London Life where I'll be writing about London, art, fashion and also do regular book reviews. I'll also keep you updated on the progress of the sequel to The Englishman.

Goodbye for now, but see you over at Helena's London Life!

My first ever Valentine's Day card

Sometimes love across borders has more than a few hurdles to overcome.

Valentine's Day in February 1981 was about four months after I'd first met The Englishman at the British Embassy in Helsinki. In those days Valentine's Day wasn't really celebrated in Finland, or in Sweden, so I had no idea of the significance of this romantic time.

When on that day, there was a letter on the doormat of my flat in Helsinki, at first I was disappointed to see it was just a card (I knew it was from The Englishman because I recognised his handwriting), but when I saw the black and white picture of a woman and a man kissing at the front, a scene which looked to be from some old Hollywood movie, I had to smile. I didn't recocgnise the actors, but the man had dark hair just like The Englishman and the woman blonde curls just like me.

Inside the card there was a poem,

'Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Honey is sweet
and so are you'

More puzzlingly, all The Englishman had written below the poem was a question mark and a cross. I had no idea the cross meant a kiss, or that the card was supposed to be anonymous, so it wasn't until a few days later when I spoke to my love, that he told me what it all meant!

Needless to say The Englishman didn't get a Valentine's card from me that year.

Burns Night

Today is the birthday of the famous 18th century Scottish poet, Robert Burns. When the Englishman was in the Navy Burns Suppers to celebrate this date were a regular fixture on the social calendar. I'm not sure if this was a naval thing - many of the bases were in Scotland - or just a fashion thing, but the evening would inevitably be a rowdy affair with Haggis and too much drinking.

Tonight, however, instead of celebrating Burns, we are going to celebrate Shakespeare, by going to see Julius Caesar with an all-female cast at The Donmar Warehouse in Soho. Should be interesting.

So I thought I'd share with you a favourite poem by Burns, to pacify his restless soul (I'm guessing here).
A Red, Red Rose
O my Luve's like a red, red rose, 
That's newly sprung in June: 
O my Luve's like the melodie, 
That's sweetly play'd in tune. 

As fair art thou, my bonie lass, 
So deep in luve am I; 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
Till a' the seas gang dry. 

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, 
And the rocks melt wi' the sun; 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
While the sands o' life shall run. 

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve! 
And fare-thee-weel, a while! 
And I will come again, my Luve, 
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!

Red roses have a special significance to the story of The Englishman too, so you can imagine why I like this poem so well!

Hope you have a good time if you are going to a Burns Supper tonight!

Another feather in the cap of The Englishman!

I was absolutely bowled over earlier today when I had an email telling me that the wonderful and discerning folks at the Awesome Indies site had selected The Englishmanto be one of their new titles! This after my novel was one of the October reads at Alliance of Independent Authors! It's more than incredible to be recognised in this way by your peers.

Especially as The Awesome Indies site lists only 'quality books written by independently published authors'.

As the blurb on the site further says,

The difference between this site and others that showcase Indie books is that the only criteria for inclusion on this list is quality, and the quality is determined by publishing professionals.
What can I say? Today The Englishman is listed as one of the new titles and the link to the site is here. Do go and visit Awesome Indies, there are some other (!) great titles at great prices listed there too.

My 5 most romantic places in Helsinki are….

Spoiler alert - if you haven't read The Englishman yet, don't read this!

1. The statue of Eino Leino in Esplanade Park. This is one of the traditionally romantic places in Helsinki, where lovers share kisses, and indeed this is where The Englishman and I had a passionate moment or two.

2. The South Harbour. For some reason, I’ve always liked harbours, and the one in Helsinki seems to go from strength to strength. In the days of my romance with The Englishman, the South Harbour was still a working place, and tourists only congregated in the area between the market square and the Silja Line Olympic terminal. The Englishman and I too strolled many a time along the harbour wall hand in hand, wishing we could stay that way forever.

OK, this picture is a couple of decades too
old for my story,
still it looks pretty lovely, doesn't it?
3. Below Stockmann’s clock on Alexanterinkatu. Outside this iconic Helsinki department store is the place to meet anyone, whether it is a romantic rendezvous or just a meet-up with a friend. 

4. The most romantic place for me in Helsinki must be the the private club and restaurant The Helsinki Bourse Club (used to be called Adlon). It was where The Englishman made his first proposal of marriage (note: first proposal – a girl needs to be asked more than once to accept!). This gleaming Art Deco place on Fabianinkatu 14 is still open for lunch, and it also hosts private parties. 

Again, I'm using historic images...
5. Hesburger. Not your obvious choice, I agree, but this Finnish home-grown burger place was after all where The Englishman made his marriage proposal concrete with a ring…branches are found all over the city nowadays.

The sleet was still falling and even though it was only twelve o’clock, and in spite of the bright Christmas lights, the street looked dark. Kaisa spotted the sign of the new hamburger bar opposite and started running towards it, dragging Peter behind her.
‘It’s not McDonald’s but they do a rye burger,’ she said.
Inside Peter looked around the small space. ‘You sure this is OK?’
The place was called Hesburger and being new, it was fairly full. As usual people stared when Peter and Kaisa entered. She looked at Peter. ‘Yes, we just want a quick bite, yeah? And it’s raining.’
After some translation of the menu, they got the bags of food.
‘Let’s sit by the window,’ Kaisa said and nodded to one of the red plastic tables and chairs.
Peter looked at Kaisa across the table. He hadn’t touched his burger.
‘Aren’t you hungry?’
He reached across the shiny tabletop and took her hand. His fingers felt cold against her skin.
‘You know I love you.’
Peter’s mouth was a straight line. His eyes were wide. He looked almost scared. Kaisa’s heart sank. Had he heard from the Navy Appointer? Was this bad news?
‘I know.’
Peter pulled something out of his pocket. It was a small black box. ‘This isn’t quite the kind of place I imagined I’d do this, but..,’ He looked deep into her eyes and opened the box to show her the contents.
Kaisa saw gold and glittery stones. She looked up at Peter.
‘And I really wanted to ask your father first.’

If you enjoyed this excerpt and want to read the whole novel, click here.

Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders

The Englishman always knew how to make sure Kaisa didn't forget about him. When he left her for the first time, he gave her a Pretender's tape, which he said he'd made a copy of so that, although hundreds of miles apart, they could still listen to Chrissie Hynde together.

Kaisa longed for Peter’s touch, and closed her eyes, willing the train to move faster. She suddenly realised she knew what loving someone more than life itself meant. If Peter would ever leave her, Kaisa wouldn’t survive. She had to make this work at all costs. It didn’t matter about the ‘girl’ or the ‘accident’. Kaisa had to make him want her, only her. There was no other option. She was going to be like Chrissie Hynde, tough and sexy. Kaisa started to hum a Pretenders track that Peter had given her two years previously. The very first of the many tapes he’d left with her.

Free download!

For a limited period for FIVE days only, starting today, The Englishman will be FREE to download from Amazon. (Where you can also find a Kindle app for most other e-readers, including iPads)

The Englishman 
8 October 2012
12 October 2012 

You can download my book here, but hurry, this is once only offer and will end on Friday. 
After this short free promotion the price will be £2.99.