I had first decided to write a little something in my newsletter about a realisation I had a couple of days ago concerning my personal and family’s international relations but when I considered this, I came to the conclusion that it is much more complex a subject that pervades just about every part of my life and, therefore, that of my children, family and other people close to me by association.
The subject was brought to mind by me noticing how confusing it must be for our mostly very traditional German neighbourhood, filled with people who cannot tell the difference between Chinese and Arabic writing, to have a very different person like me in the neighbourhood. I am German and I look it, too. My children are half-African but have Sanskrit, Urdu, Hawaiian, Persian, Latin and Hebrew given names. I like to listen to reggaeton, which is almost always Spanish speaking, some Patois and English thrown in on occasion.
My daughter Tarini, who is the one remaining of my children, still to live at home, is a K-Pop fan. As such, she has an app where she learns Korean for fun, she watches Korean and Chinese dramas on Netflix and YouTube also. When we talk, it is either in English or German, of a mix of the two.
I watch Netflix series or movies in English or Spanish (the latter with subtitles) when those are the original languages or I enjoy a good Turkish series, like I do at present, a historical drama in series called Resurrection by its English title. Admittedly, Turkish will never be my favourite language but there is a lot of things I love about Turkish culture, just as much as there are a few things I might not be too fond of. But that is the same with every country, culture and belief system, religion or spiritual path the world over. And everyone who knows me personally, will know that I see certain aspects of my own country of birth, Germany, with a critical eye as well. I am not one of the people who glorify their own country regardless of its shortcomings, merely because I happen to be born in it.
So what do I love about other countries, people and cultures? The answer is as varied as the individual countries and cultures we look at. By nature, my personality is such that I like to look for the beauty in life, the things that give us a common ground or things I find lacking in my own cultural environment and admire in others. I love learning and expanding my horizons. I listen to Bollywood music and classical Western music, Arabic love songs and sing an Indonesian lullaby for my children or an old Japanese pop song recorded by a Chinese artist back in the 80s. And I have friends all over the world, many online, some of whom I have had the great blessing to have met in person as well.
And then, there is the food! From Thai coconut curry over Chinese stir-fried Singapore noodles to Mexican tacos, American bean burgers (yup, I’m a vegetarian), to French baguette and Spanish fresh salads (the best I ever had was on the Spanish island of Lanzarote), Greek Feta and Turkish Börek, not to mention Indian Daal and so many more wonderful dishes, keeping your options and cultural tastebuds open is a true delight for the senses.
As we are already on the subject of senses, there is the sensual aspect, namely, my romance novels. Mostly, the MCs are pretty mixed in ethnicity and that has a reason, too – and now it’s getting personal! When I see pictures of handsome men and beautiful women as I browse not only through stock photos but also google for inspiration, watch movies and so on, I am struck with the beauty of people from the world over.
Just as I love something about every part of the world in culture and cuisine, I love to look at people. People that are beautiful not only because they have a pleasing exterior but whose personality shines through their eyes. And who is to say one is more beautiful than the other? I cannot. And don’t mistake this, I SEE COLOUR! I am not a person who says, she is colour-blind. I know the intention behind it but fact is, we all see colour unless we are truly physically blind. I see a white, blonde person in the mirror every day. I see an eerily beautiful light-brown skinned angel with the most soulful eyes and warmest loving smile when I look at my daughter each day.
I see the beautiful deep rich colour of a black person, the noble features of a Native American warrior, the high cheekbones of a Chinese actor, the shiny, warm eyes glistening in the face of a Turkish woman… I see them all and I see their differences and unique features and traits. And all of them have a common factor that combines them, that unites them. And that is beauty. There is beauty in each person, in each ethnicity and each gender, even if you go under the premise that there are more than two genders because even that is so uniquely individual.
And this is why my characters are as diverse as the world is. Tank has three male MCs of Samoan, Viking-descended American and Spanish with some Arabic roots mixed in. Izzy’s three men are black, white and Latino. And in Calendar Boys, which is the fifth book of The Milf Diaries, which is not yet published, there are twelve men, all of different ethnicities, being best friends and in love with one woman. So I hope, you’ll be looking forward to that, although that is going to take some time still until its publication.
Being open to new impressions, new experiences and friendships with people from different backgrounds has enriched my life in a way I cannot even describe. Years ago, when I lived in London, someone asked me, as I had friends from all over the globe, what was the combining factor or red ribbon that united them as a reason for me to feel close to them, I had to pause and think. Up to that day, I had never really thought about this. But the concept of all of them having something in common that appealed to me was logical and so, I pondered on this.
The answer I finally came up with after careful examination and evaluation surprised me at the time. I wasn’t half as self-aware in my early twenties than I am now at almost fifty years of age. My friends had all a very strong sense of family loyalty and where they came from dysfunctional families, they were very loyal and appreciative of their “family of the heart”, their close friends. Just like me. To me, I would not think twice to take over a shift at a family-owned shop to support my relatives, babysit my future grandchildren or help out in any other way I can when someone in my family or close circle of friends needs it.
On the flipside of this coin, I am very unforgiving of people who turn their back on their family in times of need, don’t care about keeping in touch every so often at least and betraying trust. I suppose, with the mutual support, I was in line with my Asian Indian friends, the intolerance of disloyalty, I could most closely identify with the Sicilian mafia (I once read an article about it a Sicilian mafia matriarch that impressed me strongly with how much I had in common with the woman, minus the cruelty and willingness to use violence to force my views on others).
Just recently, I told a friend, I would rather have a poor family I had to starve with who loves and supports me than a financially better situated one that treats me like I am worthless simply because I am different and I don’t measure my own value at the size of my bank account. So that is my red ribbon in my international love. The LOVE people carry in their hearts, the willingness to support each other, of course, in a healthy, not self-sacrificial manner. Loyalty, trustworthiness and honesty. And that kind of beauty, as well as the physical beauty of a person, you can find in any and every country, any and every culture and any and every ethnicity in the world.
Click on the pictures below to read the books:
Get Tank, Book 1 of the Seals in Spain trilogy here!
Get Izzy, Book 1 of The Milf Diaries here!
Download Love in the Sky for FREE HERE for a limited time only!