One key element of my life trajectory that is unique and strongly impacts the book is my extensive travel and living aboard. I have spent 15 years living abroad, including in different European countries, in Latin America, and (for a short time) in the US
When I look back, I realize, I have always been profoundly curious and unafraid of trying new things and of going to new places. I have an inborn faith in myself and in other people. I think, the key to traveling and living aboard is to observe, mimic, and try to blend in.
My international experiences have granted me a broad perspective on the world and its people.
At this stage of my life, I am reflecting on societal and cultural differences.
In many respects, the first book is quite autobiographical: I strongly relate to the storyteller. She has flashbacks to her life before the war. In this way, connections are made between the world before, during, and after the war.
The main protagonist’s daughters and other characters in the book are also inspired by individuals from my own life. Nevertheless, as the story unfolds, it gradually transforms into pure fiction. The story takes on a life of its owI believe that one of the book’s strength lies in its initial grounding in our present reality, only to seamlessly transition into an imagined future. By anchoring this future in our current reality, the future becomes more palpable and credible.
I have already written the second book in the trilogy, which is not based on my life at all. I think, I needed to bring to life all my personal experiences and reflections before being able to proceed with pure fiction.
I spent years researching and writing as an academic scholar, mainly producing lengthy reports, studies, and academic articles. In Going Places, I have used the same tightness of language that I used in my academic articles with limited word count.
My current writing uses the medium of the novel to capture the complexities of modern society and life, including intrusive technology, continuous global conflict, loss of privacy, and loss of community. After years in academia, I have increasingly come to believe that these complexities are best acknowledged, comprehended, and shared through imaginative fiction.
Going Places teases out a future that may seem daunting and even dystopian at times. Yet, it also holds a promise for a new reality, in which resilient and highly adaptive individuals find a new way forward.
It is about a mature woman and her twin daughters navigating through Third World War. The circumstances are undeniably harsh, but there is a core strength of love in their relationship that helps them persevere.
Our ability as humans to not just survive but also to successfully adapt to a new reality on earth is inspiring. I believe that a Third World War is a realistic possibility. It is not something I go around wishing for. Obviously. But I think, it would be wrong to stick our heads in the sand and act as if it is not a real threat.
The book seeks to understand why the Third World War starts. We observe the unfolding of the war. I am also very interested in comprehending how human beings navigate such a global war, and how we live post-war creating new societies and building new futures.
In general, I am keenly interested in societies. Why are we organized in this way? Who decides how we should organize? What happens when society is knocked out of sync?
I would like to start a global dialogue on the different options available to us in the near future. I believe that we all want the same things. We want to find love, give, and receive love.
If you travel the world, you realize, we all want the same things. You realize, how very alike we are. Yet, political, technological, and economic forces are disrupting everybody’s lives without considering the consequences to humanity and our planet. There is a dark flipside to humanity. One that is driven by greed, fear, and short-termism.
I ask myself: why are we all running so fast to amass wealth and status? For what? What will an “extra something” give you in terms of real quality of life?
In our part of the world, we are shamed for not working ourselves to the bones. How often do you ask someone how they are, only to hear, “I am so busy!” As if being busy deserves a medal. Then we are surprised that we are riddled with illnesses caused by our unhealthy lifestyles. We are so busy running around, we lose ourselves. How about enjoying life?
We have to ask ourselves, why the wealthier we become as societies, the more lifestyle illnesses we get, including more mental illnesses.
I think, our greatest problem, both as singular society and global society, is our propensity and readiness to use violence and bombs to solve conflict, – and the mass migration that follows as a consequence of war.
I believe, in Europe, we feel the consequences of war – and the mass migration that follows – more than in the US. This is due to our proximity to the war-ridden regions. (The US seems to have more mass migration driven by poverty.) War and mass migration are major themes in the book.
The remoteness of war also permeates the book. We drone drop bombs somewhere far away, where we have never been – killing civilians seemingly without feeling the consequences. We can sit in our warm and safe homes, while wreaking havoc to unknowing people in some far-flung place. Nevertheless, mass migration is the tangible outcome of intangible wars.
In the book, online communities constitute the factions on the ground. The factions use their online platforms to coordinate their communities and wars. The problem is that, with time, the algorithms take on a life of their own. With time, the algorithms become the masters of human beings. Technology takes over. This is unintentional, yet inevitable. As humans lose control, it makes the wars and their consequences even more meaningless.
There is a territorial fragmentation of people, ideas, and ideologies through being locally disconnected but globally connected. People connect with people across the world who share their preferences, ideals, politics, etc. This, in turn, undermines traditional ways of organizing society.
Life has taken on a new online dimension that impacts all of us. There is a disorientation on a global scale. It is the age of anxiety, as the world with all its complexity and uncertainty is brought to your doorstep. People try to control the small things that are within their grasp to avoid tackling the big things, such as extreme poverty, wars, terror, religious extremism, climate, etc. Technology really reinforces the locally disconnected but globally connected society.
Global north / global south
I think, for a lot of people in the global north—young and old alike—the world is incomprehensible. It is chaotic. Therefore, we try to control things that are very personal, like amassing wealth and providing financial security for our families. Maybe we even focus on these things exclusively in order to avoid having to confront the big, disruptive changes in the world. Online connectivity, on the one hand, opens the world to us and, on the other hand, reinforces this hyper-individualized focus.
Life in the global north is characterized by complexity and anxiety. Everything is up for debate, including our sexuality, politics, ideologies, religions, history, and so on. Everything is debated again and again. I am not saying this is wrong.
In this complex world, it is impossible to make a linear cause/effect analysis. Nevertheless, I believe, the constant questioning and analysis of this new kind of “me” generation lead to complexity and anxiety. Thus, we see a massive rise of people on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and other phyco-pharma.
The situation in the global south is more so than in the global north characterized by survival in a turbulent world, not least because the global south feels the consequences of climate change more vividly. The stakes are higher in some countries in the global south because survival is fought in the face of war, famine, lack of clean water, diseases, etc. Life is about the basics. There is little time for questioning and debating, as survival is imminent.
The question is, then, which type of youngster or adult is best equipped to survive a Third World War?
I believe, a Third World War will shift geopolitic powers. In some ways, it will force us to reset the global power balance. After the Third World War, we must start the “game” from scratch, maybe on a leveled playing field that does not distinguish between nationality, race, religion, and so on.
In the book, new societies emerge that are not based on nation states, nationality, race, religion, etc. Nation states have become extinct, as fighting persists along faction lines. No one is bounded by physical borders, as they have disappeared. Everybody are free to roam the world.
Meet the factions
The factions are the worldly counterpart of the online communities. The declared factions are entirely global from their inception. The nation state becomes a thing of the past. The faction warnings released to the online communities decide who fights against whom. If a group of strangers approach and the warning sounds, people get ready for combat. In this way, the algorithm of each declared faction prescribes who is the ally and who is the enemy. Nobody understands the algorithms. Ergo nobody understands the war.
Meet the characters
The principal character of Going Places is the storyteller, who is a woman in the middle of her life living as a single mum in Copenhagen, Denmark, when the war breaks out. Before the storyteller had her daughters, she lived and travelled extensively across the world. This experience allows her certain advantages in her course of action as war erupts. She has teenage twin girls, Ranger and Rocket, who share a close bond. They are similar and yet distinctive in each their own way. Along their travels they meet numerous people.
Still got questions?
Still have questions about the world of factions and alliances in our book? Don’t hesitate to contact me and chat with the author directly. I’d love to hear from you and answer any inquiries you may have.