Clandestine affair

Heaven and hell; ecstasy and anguish; despair and hope

Intermingle with his personal version of her agony.

Strange walls listen to sounds of kisses…

As lovers meet or say their goodbyes.

Her personal version of his distress

Becomes stumbling stone or reason for quarrels

Fierce or tearful according to their inner turmoil.

How can two souls discover each other

If time or significance disturb the affair?

Who can decide whether morals or maxims

Should influence that which was precious and true?

Let one, who can honestly disown transgression

Judge if two characters truly could fail:

The sweetness, the blissful distraction must matter

Or why would they simply fall head-over-heels?

Was everything right in their current relations

Would something have happened without outer grounds?

Who carries the guilt for those happy relapses

When nothing that mattered could stop those wild hearts?

The age-old disturbance brings tougher confusion

The longer and harder the trial persists

But somewhere in hiding, the one silver lining

Redeems and forgoes irreversible joy.

 

From Aspect of Attraction

 

 

© HMH, 2014

Work in Progress: Masks

This Gypson cast is the basis for my mask work.

I’ve had several casts, but because I moved a lot, the number got reduced to just one. I’ve worked with variations of papier-mache, from the original plaster-cast gauze over old newspaper scrappings to the finest grain, depending on what came to hand. As some materials prove less resistant, I also experiment with making the papier-mache stronger. It can be a frustrating experience, but I learn as I go.

My current project has a centre of aluminium foil. I hope it will prove stable: my plan is to decorate both sides. Ideally, I’d mount it on a stick and put it on a heavy base.

In a way, the expression on these casts reminds me of death-masks. It took several weeks of contemplating this before I had a vague idea of what I’d do. The first step was easy though.

You can’t do anything without priming the surface. Hence both sides became white.

What will happen next? I’m not sure. It will be something about contrasts: day and night or sun and moon.

 

© HMH, 2018

Books I Loved and Still Love

 

I was a precocious child. Thinking back, my time was divided between music and books. I was painfully shy too and had trouble gaining friends, especially in school. No wonder: when I was two-years-old, I started learning music and with three years under my belt, I could just about cover the holes in a soprano recorder. From there I swiftly went on the larger models and with six, I started playing the piano. To top it all off, I got my first violin as a nine-year-old.

Picture me, going to school, with a violin and plats. Of course, I sang too . . . soprano. I was eccentric, to say the least. My only escape was reading. And I scoured the local library every week. It didn’t take me long to exhaust the children’s books, although I always returned to the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I believe, I even decided to grow my hair and plat it, to emulate that heroine.

We lived in a ‘plebeian’ society: without a doubt, it was warm and friendly. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t approve of the ‘lack of culture’ displayed. She kept to herself — and kept her children ‘out of harm’s way’. Obviously, that didn’t endear us to the neighbours and by default: my school-mates.

So, I had plenty of time to study, to practise my instruments, and to read. My father had inherited a complete collection of Dickens novels, which I devoured. I fell in love with Esther Summerson and Lucie Manette — so much so that the books fell apart before I’d done with them. Interestingly, I found Jane Austen in the local library. My mother scoffed: that’s a ‘governess-novel’ not worth wasting your time on. I read Pride and Prejudice, all the same. As a result, I told my mum that Jane Austen was better than she thought and kept reading those novels. That experience brought the Bronte’s books to my attention, and I fell in love all over: this time with Jane Eyre.

After that, I swiftly moved through Katherine by Anya Seton, Ivanhoe, and The Moonstone. The Moonstone was a coincidence: I had a period of reading cosy mysteries, including Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and the Swedish author, Maria Lang. In one of her books, it happens that her detective reads the Moonstone, and I began to wonder who Wilkie Collins might be. Naturally, I managed to find out, and The Moonstone convinced me of his merit.

Come to think of it: my granny supplied me with some interesting reads. She had a library of well-thumbed paper-back novels, including Desiree by Annemarie Selinko, an illustrated art history, and The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang.

I mustn’t forget the Danish authors: Johannes V Jensen, his Sister Thit, Wilhelm Bergsøe, H C Andersen, and Karen Blixen. By the way, my sister had a Shakespeare retold for kids, and we used our dolls to stage his plays. Mostly the casting was so difficult that we didn’t get much past that stage: we couldn’t agree on the simplest things.

And then there were the fairly-tales. From A Thousand and One Night to Grimm, from East of the Moon to The Golden Pot.

It was easy to forget everyday trouble when you could read. And read I did, from morning to late at night. No wonder that I had trouble staying awake in school as a teenager. By then I didn’t give a hoot about A-levels: I wanted to become an opera singer, a famous soprano. Well immersed in dreams, I still managed to get into the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music.

 

© HMH, 2018

African Violet

Nursery maid for seeds and saplings,

Loving shadow and dark murky colours.

Quiet music and soft raindrops

Bring out her beauty.

Her roots cradle the soil

And nurture hopeful conception.

Shy and withdrawn, she waits:

Will a wonder happen?

Will new life flourish, and

Reward her waiting?

Who can tell?

Flowers retain their secrets.

But, one day, a wonder evolves.

A tiny leaf, perfect and vigorous

Finds its way out of the soil.

Out of the embrace

Of dirt and

The nurse-maid’s arms

 

 

© HMH 2018

Water Feature

New version

 

Several books fell and unhinged the former version of Water Feature. It broke its nose. Thus, it became necessary to take action. This is the result of rebuilding the nose and restoring my unfortunate painting to glory. First, I wasn’t convinced, but the newest version grows on me. Why is it that some art-works are more accident prone? This is the third time fate marred this one.

 

Acrylic, Wood, and wax on hardboard

 

This is the older version, before the broken nose.

 

Acrylic and Wood on hardboard

 

© HMH, 2018

Another Collection of Reviews.

 

 

In mid-March, I found myself musing about reviews and reviewers. The situation stays much the same: authors need reactions from their readers to thrive. Not just to sell books, but also to know that they’ve been heard (or read). We can’t function in a vacuum. I can’t stress this enough.

It doesn’t take much to post a review. If you read and like a book, it could be essentially natural to acknowledge the fact. If, on the other hand, you didn’t appreciate it, writing about your frustration or anger could be a way to disperse the feeling. Maybe it could give you another insight into what you just read. Why not try it?

Authors would love you for it. A review isn’t a scientific dissertation. It doesn’t have to be long or thorough. But it is an opportunity to say thank-you for an enjoyable time — or point out exactly what marred your experience with the book.

Below, I’ve collected another batch of reviews — in no particular order — for illustration and to give my fellow authors a small boost.

 

Selected Reviews

 

Jenny Ensor, Blind Side

Blind Side is a compelling read.

The plot is tight, and the characters well presented. Jenny Ensor’s debut is well written, intriguing and doesn’t allow the reader to stop until he or she reaches the end.

The love story is gritty and utterly convincing. It is fascinating to follow the main protagonist’s struggle with reality, as well as people, she believes to know. Ensor explores a challenging war situation through the Russian hero. His military persona is balanced with his musicianship, and his determination to survive with his ugly dreams. I especially liked the villain of the piece: top marks for creepiness.

Susan Finlay, The Outsiders: In the Shadows

In the Shadows delivers what readers of cosy mysteries have come to expect. What interests me, personally, is that the main character could be guilty. I almost hoped for that twist, although I realize that it would be going outside the parameter for mystery novels. Susan Findley is a confident author and takes her readers into her universe with believable characters.

RL Sanderson, The Dying Flame

YA fantasy at its best?

A nightmare sets the scene for The Dying Flame. RL Sanderson stirs a witches’ cauldron of forbidden magic, outcast peoples, Mind reading, and its consequences. A priesthood with a strong resemblance to the inquisition holds the reins and suppresses freedom of thought.

The protagonist, Orla, is catapulted out of her comfort zone. In the beginning, she sets out to rescue a beloved sister, but it turns out that her quest will send her further from home and her normal life than she bargained for. Orla is likeable but has everything to learn. The plot is full of action, but one can discuss if there’s a real end to the book. Clearly, as the first part of a series, that’s a strong inducement to wait for the sequel. An enjoyable read.

Rosalind Minett, Intrusion

A boy’s take on the time before and during the first period of WWII

Minett writes a believable boy. Also, a likeable boy. His best character features come to the fore, as life becomes complex. Whether bombs fall, or he must go into provisional billeting, he keeps his ideals and dreams. The narrative moves through London in the pre-war period and beyond, but to get the complete picture one would have to read the entire series. I should certainly like to.

K O’Rourke: A long Thaw

A Thoughtful Narrative

Multiple POW can be difficult to control, but O’Rourke handles it with confidence. A Long Thaw is a narrative about families, about secrets and lies, about guilt and forgiveness. It is a thoughtful presentation of the difficulties every individual can encounter, growing and ripening. I admire the author for her delving into this sensitive area. Recommended as a challenging and ambitious book.

Angelica Rust, The Girl on the Red Pillow

An amazing story dealing with mental challenges

The Girl on the Red Pillow is a rollercoaster read, masterfully set in scene by A Rust. Her inventiveness in confronting the reader with a troubled mind makes the narrative immediate and touching. The story-line is split in two, the main events interspersed with flashbacks, that slowly uncover the true horror confronting the protagonist. A thought-provoking book I can’t recommend enough.

Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I enjoyed it, but I may have read better books. The narrative is built around old and — weird photos, which must have taken time and effort to get together. It has fantastical elements and the narrative has surprising twist and turns. I can’t point out what detracts from its merit. Maybe it is just a sensation of unease that inevitably emerges from a horror story. Is it fair to call it a horror story? (It isn’t normally a genre that attracts me. Anyway, who cares about the genre?) With all this in mind, I must add that there were unexpected moments of beauty and romance, which were deeply touching. All in all, I go along with the concept. The idea is brilliant, and the plot is convincing. Would I read the sequel? I believe I would.

Patrick W Andersen, Second Born

 A Different Take on the New Testament?

I can’t say exactly why I found this book difficult to get hooked on. It had all the elements of a sword and sandals narrative. The characters were vivid, the language appealing, and yet I felt aloof. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t get my head around the family setup. You don’t expect Jesus of Nazareth to have an extended family, or indeed, that he partly recruited his followers among his brothers. With James, the eldest brother, being the righteous one — and Jesus the troublemaker, I found myself questioning who the main protagonist was. I kept wondering when the plot would start to take shape. Not that nothing happened: there was action galore. But, it felt like scene setting and back-story for a long time. I suppose the fact that I read on, speaks for the quality of the writing. Eventually, things became clearer and the plot — thickened — about halfway through. Maybe I was at fault, for having faulty expectations. Andersen knows his stuff. He is an apt narrator, but I had trouble with this one. The four stars reflect Anderson’s prose.

 

© HMH, 2018