Haunted Garden ebook debut

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Front cover of the ebook.

10th APRIL 2019 — The ebook edition of my first book, You Never Know What You’ll See in the Haunted Garden, Vol. 1, is now available on Amazon.

Everyone who buys the print paperback edition can also get the ebook version for free. The next volume in the series will be coming out early this summer. Amazon description for Vol. 1:

“The first in a series of eerie, beautiful coffee table books suitable for all ages. Rex the former game actor introduces us to the Haunted Garden through 30 full-spread wordless illustrations. These are books for leafing through, gazing at, and perhaps dreaming with, well suited for keeping on a living room table or a nightstand. This ebook is an exact reproduction of the paperback edition, allowing every detail of the full pictures to be seen.”

Amazon’s automatically generated preview ends just before the illustrated pages begin, but I have requested this to be changed to show more of the book. The change has been made and that update will soon be live on Amazon.

The new preview will show 20% of the content. Until then, an equally revealing preview can also be found on my site simosakariaaltonen.com.

My first book is out — You Never Know What You’ll See in the Haunted Garden, Vol. 1

You Never Know What You'll See in the Haunted Garden, Vol. 1 cover
The wraparound cover for my first book.

29th MARCH 2019 — My first book You Never Know What You’ll See in the Haunted Garden, Vol. 1 is now available on Amazon.

More specifically, the paperback edition is — the ebook version is taking longer to work its way through the system, though it has already passed review, so should be available within some days.

The print edition is a large (8.5″ x 11″) 68-page colour paperback. Purchasers of the paperback will also get the ebook for free.

The Amazon product description:

“The first in a series of eerie, beautiful coffee table books suitable for all ages. Rex the former game actor introduces us to the Haunted Garden through 30 full-spread wordless illustrations. These are books for leafing through, gazing at, and perhaps dreaming with, well suited for keeping on a living room table or a nightstand.”

Creating something beautiful and imaginative for young people and the young at heart has long been one of my most cherished dreams.

I feel there can be few greater things a person can do than give a child something that may spark their imagination and create the kind of joy and wonder I remember from my own childhood when I pored over my favourite books. I still return to them and they thrill me as much as ever.

Works such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice books (late 19th century), the most beloved Finnish fairy tale novel Mestaritontun seikkailut (a really beautifully illustrated book from 1919 whose title translates as “The Adventures of the Master Elf“), and Malcolm Bird’s The Witch’s Handbook (1988).

I hope my first book, later volumes in the series, and items featuring this world and these characters will find their way one way or another into the lives of many children and others young at heart and give them something special and memorable.

Amazon’s automatic Look Inside has unfortunately provided a preview that stops short of the illustrated pages, but a more revealing preview is available on my official site here:

www.simosakariaaltonen.com

The person I am not & the person I am

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At my grandma’s many years ago: a happy moment in the kind of full life I would choose.

JANUARY 13th 2019 — No one chooses loneliness. Some people do choose being alone, but that’s completely different. In that case the person prefers being by himself or herself.

Loneliness is the pain of having lost or having never had the things in life that make for human happiness and sense of meaning. And knowing through regular interaction with others that you matter and that it matters to them whether you are alive or dead.

If someone’s reaction to this would be to say that you first need to be happy all by yourself, then I have to say that that person can never have experienced actual loneliness, or has forgotten what it was like, and most likely in fact enjoys a life full of meaningful human contact. It’s easy to say that kind of thing when not experiencing the thing itself. Happiness can’t start coming out of nothing.

Happiness flows from meaningful human moments, not from this particularly cruel and coldhearted self-help mantra, which involves blaming the lonely for their loneliness. No one can know the enormous private efforts a person may have made, day after day and year after year, to change their life, and still being as far away from happiness as ever.

I was looking at my past photos on Facebook and it really hurts to see how obviously many of them are the result of a very lonely guy just trying to make it from day to day, hoping and making every effort possible for something better. There aren’t many photos of other people or of me in happy moments.

Looking at many of that haphazard, desolate collection of photos — of course not including the ones from times when things were briefly different, moments for which I was happy and grateful with all my heart — feels like looking at a broken life. It’s not how life should be. Not at all. I don’t know if anyone knows how that hurts. I didn’t choose to come from a family that got broken by some things that happened when I was very young.

But what hurts at least as much as this thought itself is that very possibly many people think I have chosen this, that this is just who I am. That I am an unhappy and depressing person who remains that way by choice. Nothing could be further from the truth and I feel the sting of tears when I think that people I care about may think this of me. I did not choose this. I know what a full, good life would involve, and I wish for nothing else as much as I wish for that:

A life full of human warmth, of family life, of seeing friends, of fun and laughter, of constant activity, of raising children, going to the cinema, family dinners, trips to summer houses and beaches, rowing on the lake, concerts and plays, music and good food, creating together, cuddling up under a blanket with a special someone while watching something nice, going to sleep holding that person and feeling in so doing the greatest happiness and gratitude that it is possible to experience, knowing she and your healthy family are safe and warm and tomorrow will be a beautiful new day with many more happy moments.

That’s who I am, that’s what I would choose in a heartbeat, and that’s what I wish for. Not how things have been most of my life.

I am only sad when there is reason for sadness. Absolutely not a moment longer. I smile and laugh very easily and with a fullness of heart when there is reason to. I very easily experience great joy and gratitude and happiness when there is reason to feel those. The way my life has been for too long — except for those very special, radiant times when I was happy again — is not at all who I am.

Of photos & memories

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La Villette park in Paris, late 2017 or early 2018. This is not really one of the photos I write about, but those would be more personal.

OCTOBER 24th 2018 — Nearly everyone must know the feeling. Coming across and looking through photos that trigger waves of memories, remembering what it was all like. People we miss… memories of happy times… good moments.

In lonelier times this feeling can be overwhelming. There may be tears. And we may remember with infinite regret things we didn’t do as well as we should have. Perhaps causing that happiness to flee. If we had done things differently, we might still be happy and those times may never have fled.

Did I say there may be tears? Of course there are. All the above being true, of course there are.

Theater

Theater
A play about to begin?

OCTOBER 18th 2018 — The photo is from IceCon 2018, between panel discussions at Culture House Iðnó in Reykjavík (early October), but it made me think of theater.

Theater is special. There is a magic to it. This post is a small tribute to that.

From the heavy curtains to the wonderfully worn, scratched stage floors,  to the costumes and props, makeup and music, light and shadow, real people and things in physical space sharing an experience that will always be new, never exactly the same, and of course the amazing, intoxicating smell that many theaters have, theater engages all the senses and involves us as human beings in a beautiful world of art.

I support the idea that parents should let children discover this magic in one way or another at a young age.

Some things in life simply make for warmer and often — not always, but often — more empathetic souls. And theater is one of those things.

A dream of beauty

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Café Paris, Reykjavík, summer of 2018.

OCTOBER 16th 2018 — I had a lovely dream. Sometimes our subconscious mind, or some other providence, gifts us with moments of beauty in dream no matter how waking life is. The only downside is, of course, waking up.

In the dream I mentioned to someone a wedding of persons who were strangers to her. To my surprise, she got tears in her eyes, even though she did not know the people who got married. The topic of weddings in general could move her so deeply, or maybe there were more specific personal associations for her.

I felt such affection for this sensitive and beautiful soul. She smiled and laughed as the tears kept coming.

As we continued speaking, it came as the most natural thing in the world to lie down on the couch — we were in a living room I have not (at least yet) been to in the waking world — and seek out the other’s hand with our own as we kept talking, both unexpectedly so happy in the special moment that had suddenly happened that it felt like nothing could ever change it.

Talking, sharing, holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, both warmed by the rich warmth of the other and of that moment, it was like swimming in happiness and the beautiful promise of life.