Please welcome Hans M. Hirschi with
Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm
Book releases are strange ‘beasts’…
First of all, let me thank Sandra for once again having me on the blog. Another book and I’m sitting here in my “office”, my son next door, battling a nasty strain of the stomach flu while outside, summer has finally arrived. It’s a balmy 24 C degrees in the shadow, which is highly unusual at this time of year. Thank you Finland, and ultimately continental Russia for the warm air.
So here I am, trying to write article after article to “promote” my latest release. It’s a strange sensation. Just last night, I had an idea for another book, while I thought I had made up my mind about what to do next. Some call them plot bunnies, those ideas running amok inside your head, with morsels of information about what to write next. Some of my author friends work on several projects simultaneously. I can barely keep one idea straight. Nah, not even that. Straight was never my forte.
All the while I’m supposed to promote the book that is about to launch, or which has just released, in order to avoid the wrath of my publisher who expects us, authors, to do promo for our new books. No promo, fewer sales. Fewer sales, fewer opportunities for the future. It’s that simple. So here I am, sweating away, trying to come up with something new and witty for the umpteenth time, about a book which already feels like yesterday’s news, at least to the creative parts of my mind.
The trouble is this: the process of releasing a book is more or less the same, and I think I’ve written countless blog posts for others and on my own blog on the subject. So I won’t bore people with more of the same. Sure, there is development, we evolve, hopefully, grow, as authors and thus the process of letting go, changes.
And it does. I feel as if I’m less afraid of letting Martin, Kevin, Ji-Hoon, and Eugene meet the world than I have ever before. Maybe it’s because they are such strong characters? Maybe it’s because the story is well researched? Maybe it’s because I’ve spent almost a year on it? I don’t really know.
But while some of my characters still linger almost daily in my mind, Jonathan, can you hear me, and I still feel the angst of their loss, the ending of Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm lends itself to a more relaxed take on things. No, you needn’t worry. I won’t give it away here. Just rest assured that it is an ending worthy of Her Majesty’s approval. She’s not a cruel person. You’ll like the ending, as much as it is the only realistic ending, the only possible ending to this story.
Realistic, yes. When you write about another culture, and you want to avoid today’s easily tossed around labels of “cultural appropriation” or “misrepresentation”, you need to make sure to get it right. To write about the LGBT community in Korea is a huge responsibility. I don’t think there are many novels out there in English about gay Koreans. Fucking up is not an option. It never really is, but in this case, just as it was with Last Winter’s Snow, where I wrote about our own first nation the Sami, writing about a minority within a minority demands respect and a careful hand at how you write things, how you express yourself, how you paint the characters.
For the first time, I used cultural sensitivity readers, to make sure I had gotten it right. Korea, as a culture, is vastly different from my own, and that has advantages and disadvantages. It’s easy to see the differences, of course. Just see the big boulders lying in front of you. It’s much more difficult and subtle when you write about a neighboring culture, e.g. for me to write about Norway or Denmark, where the differences are much more subtle, yet still there. That made writing easy. However, that is where it becomes difficult. I’m sure you’ve heard about the iceberg and the 10%. That is very much true when it comes to cultural differences. So even if I’ve taken the boulders into consideration, it’s the sand that really makes all the difference, and those are the difficult and treacherous aspects of writing about other cultures. From interpersonal greetings to PDA, touching, looks. There are so many things that you may never really see when you visit another country. I spent an entire week in Korea to do research for the book. It was my fourth trip to the country btw. And still, I returned and had literally dozens of questions about small minutia that I needed to confirm with friends and contacts on site.
Which leaves the sand. Still. And to get to that point you need a local to read the actual written text. It’s when you read how I describe a meeting, a handshake, a PDA or whatever that a local would immediately notice if it feels “off”. I may not, as it may feel okay given my take. But to a Korean? With a few tweaks here and there, I got the all clear.
I invite you to give Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm a shot. Immerse yourself for a couple of hours into one of the most interesting cultures on our planet, a beautiful people, friendly and welcoming, learn more about their recent history which incidentally is at the top of the news as the two halves discuss to finally put a rubber stamp on that war, and as the United States and North Korea are preparing for the first summit ever. I had no idea that we’d get to this point when I began to write the book. At the time, ballistic missiles flew over Japan and the US and NK found daily ways of insulting each other. The cold war on the Korean peninsula seemed to grow hotter by the hour.
But worry not. This is not a history book, nor intended as such. It’s simply the story of a few gay men painted against the backdrop of the Korean War. And if you like to cook, I’ve included a recipe for one of the signature dishes around which parts of the story revolve. It’s super tasty!
Thank you again for having me and good luck in the rafflecopter!
Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a story of friendship, love and family, in all its many shapes, across time, generations and cultures.
Releasing date: May 21, 2018
Series: N/A, stand-alone
Genre(s): Contemporary fiction, LGBT, Feel-good
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing, UK
Get the book:
Meet the author:
Born and raised in Switzerland, Hans graduated from High School in Arizona, worked for several years in the Swiss financial industry before pursuing his university studies in Zurich and Gothenburg.
His majors include literature, linguistics & social sciences.
Hans self-published his first book with poetry and a short story in 1991.
Nine years later, he followed up with a professional book on e-learning pedagogy and in 2010 his book "Common Sense" was published.
Find out more on his website.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.