But I know the facts. I was born in Gothenburg, Sweden 1945. GA stands for George Albert. My family derives it's origin from a small island west of town. All male members were officers in the merchant navy, most captains but one or two chief engineers. My father was one of the latter. The women were house wifes.
I too spent some time at sea in my late teens and that's how my fascination for America started. To me, the contrast between energetic, enthusiastic USA and sleepy old Sweden was astonishing.
I happened to be in San Fransisco when President Kennedy was assassinated and shared the shock with American people in a small dockside restaurant. I learned that silence can be awfully tense.
Around the World
Those days, cargo vessels didn't follow exact routes. The ship could have a telegram from the agent about a shipment from a nearby port to another nearby destination. Nationality of the ship didn't matter. So, we found ourselves transporting freight from San Fransisco to Stockton, something else from there to Oakland and then back to San Fransisco. To and fro like the local bus. For a young man it was the perfect way of exploring the world. The name of this Swedish ship was California. People often came aboard, asking for the connection. Wasn't any. The shipping company named their vessels after destinations along the Pacific route.
I celebrated my eighteenth birthday in Los Angeles or rather in the port San Pedro. Not much for a celebration; I didn't tell anyone it was my birthday. Two weeks later, I bought my first guitar in a Honululu grocery store, price $ 9.85. It was stashed in between Corn Flakes and Coca-Cola and had a nine-dollar sound. I had played Clarinet for some years and knew a little about music. I procured a songbook called 101 Hootenanny Songs, along with Burl Ives songbook with items stretching back to the first days of American History. You learn a lot about a country through folk songs.
One of the books included a tutor for beginners. So after finishing my turn at midnight - I worked as engine apprentice - I grabbed my instrument and sneaked out on deck. In the darkness, accompanied by the engine's roaring, I picked, strummed and hummed. I can't help smiling at the memory of a youngster, alone in the middle of the Pacific, struggling with C and G7 chords while the wave motions almost rocked the guitar out of my hands. Rock and roll added new definition in my personal dictionary.
Why write in a foreign language?
Yes, why write in English if you have never lived in a country where English is first language? Well, to me English is in a way everybody's language, and writing is as much about personal as national language. In Sweden, foreign movies have subtitles, thus we hear the language. It's a good way of learning language if you're disciplined enough to only read the subtitles to check whether you understand right. That's also why Swedes never look into your eyes; they look under your chin because that's where the translations use to pop up. No, I'm kidding.
I'm a member of the Swedish American Historical Society, seated in Chicago. I receive their Quarterly magazine and can keep up with events and social life among people of Swedish stock in the USA. This is the reason why I chose rural Illinois as location for my story Chicago Chick. It's a story about people and events, not an account of geographic sites.
During 2000-2006, I published six books in the English language, four in the UK and two with PublishAmerica in Baltimore. Crime stories with humor as major ingredient. They are not on the market any more. The problem was marketing then too. They sold a couple of hundred copies each in the UK. At least I learned that writing is the easy and funny part of the job. Marketing is a completely different undertaking. Few people have a talent for both.
Today I live in a small house in the south Swedish forest region. A big garden occupies a lot of time during spring and summer, but writing, photography and playing guitar are still favorite pastimes. Old age is not a disease; if you're lucky enough to remain healthy, life involves as many possibilities as when you were younger. And your time is your own.
The Print-on-Demand possibility suits me fine. It means I'm in control from the first page to the last. With occupations like commercial artist and photographer in my CV, I'm also in control of cover picture and design. I publish with a German company.
Thanks for taking your time to read these lines. Read about Chicago Chick here.
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