The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

And the July 2013 Alices go to … these 4 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Used under license

© Iamezan |
Used under license

As subscribers to our weekly newsletter know, each week our Displaced Dispatch presents an “Alice Award” to a writer who we think has a special handle on the curious and unreal aspects of the displaced life of global residency and travel. Not only that, but this person likes to use their befuddlement as a spur to creativity.

Today’s post honors July’s four Alice recipients, beginning with the most recent and this time including citations.

So, without further ado: The July 2013 Alices go to (drumroll…):

1) HELENA HALME, author and Finnish expat in London

For her latest novel: The Red King of Helsinki
Published: March 2013
From the book description:

Nordic Noir meets Cold War Espionage.

Pia’s ambitions to win a gymnastics competition between her Helsinki college and a school from Moscow trigger a set of dangerous events when her best friend disappears and a violent KGB spy, The Red King of Helsinki, threatens her. Will a friendly British ex-navy officer, Iain, be able to save Pia before its too late?

This fast-moving novel set in Finland has everything—a young, feisty protagonist, Nordic Noir and old-fashioned chivalry.

Citation: Helena, how could we not award you an Alice once we heard you’d written a story revolving around a Red King? While we do not know whether you purposely modeled your Red King of Helsinki on the Red King of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, it almost doesn’t matter. The point is, you present us with a classic through-the-looking-glass situation, having set the action during the Cold War and made your Red King into a Soviet spy. Will Pia/Alice checkmate the Red King with the help of that kindly British military gentleman? Or will she go out—bang—like a candle? No need for Tweedledum/dee to explicate. What’s more, you are the perfect person to take us on this particular fictional journey. With your thick blonde locks and acute appreciation for the curious and unreal in your adopted country, it’s not much of a stretch to dub you the Finnish Alice!

2) TRACEY CROKE, Manchester-born, Australia-based freelance journalist and blogger

Source: “A Pom versus the pests” in Telegraph‘s Expat Life
Posted on: 12 June 2013

Small self-amputating lizards dart out of my fruit bowl. Ants march in to weightlift a few missed crumbs off my floor. Possums push their cute limits with roof-dancing antics.

While the elusive ghost bug remains a mystery, large “harmless” spiders, innocent-sounding paper wasps and alien insects get the boot or get spiked by my neighbour’s stilettoes.

It’s just a few of the ways to deal with uninvited houseguests in the subtropics.

Citation: Tracey, your description of the critters of Aussie-land is almost as fascinating as Alice’s account of Wonderland’s inhabitants. In fact, in many ways it sounds as though you have it worse than Alice, who at least didn’t have lizards and hairy hunstman spiders to contend with, though she did have the Caterpillar. Still, on the plus side, you’re lucky that these various creatures do not interact, apart from the Hunstman spiders, that is, who like to eat cockroaches and geckos. Poor Alice, in watching a large plate come out of the door of the Duchess’s house and graze the nose of her footman, couldn’t help but mutter to herself: “It’s really dreadful, the way all the creatures argue. It’s enough to drive one crazy!”

3) STEPHEN CLARKE, an Englishman who grew up in Bournemouth and now lives in Paris; author and Telegraph Expat blogger

Source: “If you listen carefully, you can hear French cheese breathing,” in his Telegraph Expat blog
Posted on: 6 July 2013

A friend sent me the link to a BBC report about American food officials declaring French cheese “filthy” and inedible. The funniest thing was that it was Mimolette, a hard Edam-like cheese that even I as a Brit find a bit bland. It’s usually sold in small semi-circular slices with a curve of rind, or the kind of rectangular rindless blocks that you would think the Americans might enjoy. It’s the last cheese you would expect to get an import ban.

Citation: Stephen, we agree with you that anything bland does not deserve an import ban. For Alice, the most objectionable food in Wonderland was the Duchess’s soup, which had so much pepper that she, the Duchess, and the Duchess’s baby couldn’t stop sneezing. That would hardly do for a roomful of customs officials! Also, since you did such a good job in writing about cheese, we hope you will write about mushrooms next—a food close to Alice’s heart, and also, we believe, very important to the French. Only, do they have any varieties that can alter one’s size? (As long as they don’t alter speed, Americans may not object…)

4) TORRE DE ROCHE, Australian-American TCK and author

Source: “Blogger to Watch: Torre de Roche talks about her journey to big publishing deal”: interview by Jade Craven on
Posted on: 22 June 2013

Art is uncertain. Sometimes, in order to feel the delicious comfort of certainty, you might try to make art while grasping onto some idea or technique that seems safe. If you do that, your writing will come out stiff and contrived because you’re not creating, you’re imitating.

Loosen your grip. Let go of control. Embrace the freefalling sensation of having no idea where you’re going with something.

Good art comes from risk, experimentation, and play.

Citation: Torre, we love the way you took your own advice and embraced the free-falling sensation of having no idea where you were going when you fell for a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and agreed to join him in pursuing the dream of setting off to explore the world, this despite your morbid fear of water. You’ve had a series of adventures to rival Alice’s. Also like her, you’ve lived to tell the story for subsequent generations of wannabe free-falling adventurers, via both your highly successful blog, which you aptly refer to as a “literary potluck party, Mad Hatter style,” and now memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning. Kudos!

* * *

So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, and do you have any posts you’d like to see among August’s Alice Awards? We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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4 responses to “And the July 2013 Alices go to … these 4 international creatives

  1. Helena Halme (@helenahalme) August 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Wow, thank you so much! I am absolutely thrilled!

  2. Tracey August 7, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Me too. Thanks for the award. I’m honoured to be part of your befuddled, displaced motley crew and fully signed up to your constitution.

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