Hans Christian Andersen or H.C. Andersen as Danes call him, eventually became Denmark’s most well-known author, with a legacy of wonderful fairy tales. But life in Denmark, for him, was harsh, cold and unstable. In my time in Denmark these 9+ years, I find myself realizing that my life has just a touch of H.C. Andersen…specially as my first children’s book is about to be published.
For those who are not familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s real life, he was born into poverty in Odense on the Danish island of Fyn. He was tortured and bullied by his classmates (they even ripped his bottoms down one day, forcing him to be naked from the waist down in public one day). He was child abused by a headmaster at school. He had no success with any of the women with whom he fell in love. He only found success upon leaving Denmark — people in other countries recognized his great talents and his gift for storytelling. He had no home of his own. Like modern day people in Copenhagen, he went from place to place in the city and eventually just rented a room — yes a room, not an apartment — along the harbor in Copenhagen.
I have lived in a spectacular 15 different places in Copenhagen in just over 9 years. It is a gross instability but one I have come to associate with this merchant city on the harbor. It is a city where I perch, take in the view, people-watch and absorb experiences. It is a city where I dream.
You know Walt Disney used Tivoli as the inspiration for Disneyland (Disney Resort) and Walk Disney World, right?
I have lived and live my life with passionate desires and dreams to do things with my skills, gifts and talents that will serve people through empowering them, comforting them, educating them and giving them hope. Copenhagen is a city where I have been able to fulfill a dream to write a children’s book. It, my first children’s book in a series, is called “Lori Leak Travels to Paris”.
It stems from aborted trips I, as a little girl, had planned to take with my father. We never took any of those global trips because, tragically, my father died of cancer before I became a teenager.
But today, my birthday, August 26, 2015, my illustrator has completed the images for this gorgeous and adventurous tale of an African-American girl who travels the world. Kristen Palana, another American expatriate like me, is a Cannes award-winning artist and animator. Together we have taken our desire to serve people through out gifts and created this richly illustrated adventure. I am blessed to be given this gift on my birthday by Kristen. Now, posthumously, my father and I can travel the world and go to all the places we dreamed of together.
Unlike Hans Christian Andersen was able to do, Kristen and I have been gathering family and friends in a Facebook group around Lori Leak and her adventure to Paris. If you would like to be a part of this exciting literary adventure, you can join us Lori Leak on Facebook.
There is also a website for Lori Leak, which you can find HERE. Hans Christian Andersen surely would have had a Facebook group and a website for his fairy tales had they existed then. He also would have done something else:
Soon, we are launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to take Lori Leak to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April 2016 and to donate copies to public libraries in each of the 50 states of the United States of America. We have been talking about out favorite Parisian foods, museums and other cultural aspects, history etc.
Copenhagen and Denmark in general has both nurtured and provoked this character Lori Leak into being and now she is ready for the world. Sometimes in the last 9+ years I have been greatly grieved by negative, harsh, cold, bitter, discriminatory people and situations in Denmark. Now I feel deep gratitude for the reward I am receiving because of it. I learned to cling to wonderful Danish and other expatriate friends and acquaintances who gave me light in dark moments — light that empowered me to see so I could write the words to Lori Leak and some other texts.
Lori Leak is a brave, bold, adventurous, curious, humorous, highly intelligent, determined young girl. Gee, I wonder who was the inspiration for her? *smile*
I was already a creative writer and a non-fiction writer as a journalist and blogger before I came to Denmark. However, Lori Leak was always there, waiting to be formed and birthed. My time in Copenhagen has gestated Lori Leak and the contractions of birth are beginning. Soon, in October 2015, she will be born.
My life is abundantly blessed in that sense, by Danish Janteloven, Danish culture both old and modern, Danish history and Danish friends and acquaintances. Because of all things Danish, I have achieved a great dream. Thank you Copenhagen, thank you Denmark, thanks you H.C. Andersen.
Be sure to connect with the Lori Leak Travels to Paris story through the Facebook group or website. Her Paris adventure launches in October….and then her next one is already written and will be translated into Danish for children in Denmark by one of my Danish friends: “Lori Leak Travels to Copenhagen”.
That is a story for another day……