It's always the season for love, but now even more so.
When I was a child my family was spread all across Germany, forced to scatter by the war, and only at Christmas could those of us who were left gather together. So over those wonderful few days every year, we'd spend our time in each other's company singing Christmas carols, eating special Christmas cakes (my grandmother's pfefferkuchen, and her homemade marzipan!), and getting to know each other again. Of course, we went to church at midnight on Christmas Eve, and we found the beautiful lights and crowds of the season so exciting, but most of all, we loved being together. To this day, Christmas has always been a family time for me, with "LOVE" written in big letters.
Pull on the thread of those early memories and I find it deeply entwined with my novels and my choices about what to write. As a youngster I read constantly, starting with Gone with the Wind (in German, of course) and then thousands of books more, but there was never a lesbian couple or a lesbian character I could identify with. Or, if there was a lesbian character, she was bound to die tragically, or to be unhappy until the end of her life, never to find love and understanding, never to discover a woman to live with and love. Sometimes the lesbian characters in those early books even ended up being labeled "mad" and sent to psychiatric asylums. What a conundrum for me! With whom should I identify, I, a young woman seeking love and understanding, seeking sex with other women, seeking a life with women? I couldn't believe that my only options were to be unhappy or alone for my whole life, or to end up confined in an institution, or dead before my time.
I thought, "There must be something else." But there wasn't. And then I thought, "If there are no entertaining, happy-ending stories with lesbians, I have to write them myself. I don't want to read another book about an unhappy lesbian life." I wanted to create a world for lesbians that was better than the real world. And so, after living many years and writing many novels (which are published in German by el!es-books but are being translated into English), in my world, in my books, lesbians always end up happy, with loving women in their arms -- every one of them, ultimately (but not before going through some real-world difficulties).
When I wrote the first parts of Taxi to Paris, I gave it to some lesbian friends, and they said, "More, more, more!" They wanted to read about lesbian love, lesbian sex, lesbian lives of happiness, rather than sadness. (When I finished it, it became my first lesbian romance -- and it's still my most successful book.)
My adaptation of A Christmas Carol is a little bit different, of course. I think (like almost everyone else in the world) that this story is wonderfully humane. It shows that money is not the most important thing in life; love is. And that's my belief, too. I don't mean sexual love, of course (as wonderful as it is) but the love that's in the air, so to speak. The most important thing in life is love, and without it, life must be very poor indeed.
A Christmas Carol is a kind of fairy tale, too. Out in the world you won't see many "scrooges" changing into good, humane saints who care for other people. But along with love one of the most important things in life is hope. If we lose hope that there could be a possibility for a change, what have we left? So you see, I really, deeply, truly believe in hope, and in the love that can come from it.
When I first sat down to write A Christmas Carol, I didn't think about the love-story aspect. You might say that A Christmas Carol isn't a love story -- not a romance, anyway. True, while the original might not be a romance, a love story it certainly is. The whole book is about love and how its presence or absence affects people. As for the romance part, that's what I added in my adaptation, and of course the couple is lesbian. When I embarked on it, though, I only thought about a lesbian scrooge, and I think my Michaela is quite a good one. But as I wrote, it happened that Michaela found love with Ramona, even though Michaela didn't even realize she'd given up hoping for love and only cared for money. And I began to think more about Ramona, who became the personification of love. She loves her little daughter dearly, sacrifices some of life's pleasures for her child, and suffers because it seems that the little one is born to die. On Christmas Eve, the story takes an important turn.
So in the end, it's all about love -- and I think that's why I wrote my Christmas Carol.
With my wife I live the life I always wanted to, and writing these books is my way of saying, "I am who I am, and I need no excuses. And the same goes for you." In my books, and here today, I assure you: love is something worth looking for. If even Scrooge could be redeemed, anybody can see that love is all around. You only have to open your eyes. Money may make the world go 'round, but only love gives life its meaning.
A merry Christmas to us all, my dears!