Sorry for the relative silence, once again. A rather tired and weary January was followed by a super busy February.
The good news first. After penning the final 500 or so words today, there’s now a – very rough – first draft for the sequel to My Name is not Alice. I’m not sure about the title yet. It may be Chicken & Egg. Or maybe not. Anyway, I wrote this one down so quickly, there will be hell to pay in the editing. I know I’ve left out millions of tiny details, there might still be the odd plot hole lurking, and there’s at least one major re-write waiting for me down the line, but the first hurdle is taken and that must be worth something.
Also, as you might know, a good part of Alice was inspired by the occasional spooky walk through the park. I’ve finally managed to capture the spookiest part on camera. Here it is. May it inspire you to write something monsterful. I mean, masterful.
Now the bad news. Wait, I don’t have any. Let me talk about what’s happening down the road instead.
Something around two weeks ago, my husband and I went to the local refugee home to a volunteers meeting. I’m still impressed with the huge turnout. Half the neighborhood showed up, and it didn’t feel like they had just come to satisfy their curiousity, or assure themselves there’s no imminent threat. People really came to offer help. Nice old ladies brought countless batches of homemade cake. Representatives of the university offered language courses and other courses destined to prepare people for getting a degree. It wasn’t exactly well organized, and someone kept playing the concertina, which was, um, nice, but also a bit odd, and it interfered with people trying to talk, but all in all the mood was amazing. Grandma didn’t have time, so we had to bring the kids, who were quickly bored, but there was cake, so we could keep them happy for long enough to find something we could do to contribute to the whole story.
The one thing I kept looking for was any indication that women might need to be a bit more careful. There was none. The host was a woman – no one interrupted her, not even once. The interpreter was a woman – everybody listened to her, even though she was very shy and awkward. There were refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Chechenia, and Bosnia. Some of their women had their heads covered, some hadn’t. They stood next to the men, not a step behind. Some of the groups even had a woman standing in front of them, and she did all the talking for the group and the men behind her just nodded in agreement to everything she said.
What we in the end signed up for was, weekly walks. Means once a week one of us will now go, together with other volunteers, to pick up a few refugees from the shelter and show them where the shopping center is, where doctors are, stuff like that. Last week was the first opportunity for such a walk, and since the kids had friends over, I had to stay home and make pancakes while my husband went out. He came back a little shaken. He’d met a Syrian couple with a kid just over a year old. They’d told him they’d been in Germany for three months. He did the maths.
“I didn’t inquire any further,” he told me later. “I don’t want to even imagine what it must be like to be on the run with such a small child.”
We don’t know yet what will happen to the refugees in that shelter. They’re all applying for asylum. To some it will be granted, to others not. We don’t know how long that process will take, and how long these people will stay, if they have to move somewhere else once they have the necessary documents, or if they’ll get send back to where they’ve come from. But as long as they are here, our neighborhood will take care of them.
Any other news? Ah, yes. Hearts & Other Dead Things is a paperback now. I already have mine and it’s very pretty.