Just a Fika: Coffee, Connection, and a Matchmaking Ghost Grandmother by Beck Erixson - Speculative Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction with Romance - Family. They’re always meddling in your love life… Even after they’re dead. ***Guest Post***
Excerpt:“Show yourself, you meddling woman,” I say, probably too stern for a granddaughter. She did this to herself.
“Oh, relax. You had fun, didn’t you?” Mormor’s voice projects from the living room.
“You had no business showing up tonight. My social life is mine.” I kick off my shoes in the entry and cut across to the warmth of the lit fireplace. She’s kept herself busy.
“Oh, sit down,” she scolds me from the purple wingback chair, like the child she believes I still am.
Hard to say no to your grandmother, even if you don’t really know her. For civility’s sake, I take my place in the leather chair on the other side of the fireplace, garnering an unobstructed view of her. The heat and flames of the fireplace illuminate the bridge etched into the back of the black stone, only visible when the temperature hits high enough. She’s been waiting.
“Did you have fun?” The chair creaks as she adjusts her legs. “You two were adorable together.”
“So you said at the restaurant. Directly to him.” The energy it takes to argue isn’t worth the effort right now. Opting for a tone of juvenile annoyance takes less energy. “Can you please stay out of my personal life? Can this be something we agree to?”
“Absolutely not. You’ll blow it. Look at your track record. You need me.” She waves off my request. “Besides, it was one date, and of course that boy ended up there too.”
Ah, so she didn’t send him. Sweet. “Thatboy?“ I ask.
“Yes, the one with the instrument and the curls in his hair. The one who’s been fixing things here.” Mormorisn’t holding back niceties.
“Kurt?” I grin. “What do you have against Kurt?” Reveling in this is wrong, but so right.
“You need someone with their feet on the ground. Someone like Yale.” She sits high like a queen in her court.
“What do you know about him?” I’m not arguing. Who knows how long she’s been popping in and out of my life?
“I know what I need to.” She lengthens her neck. “Why even bother with him?”
“Ah, so you know nothing.” Makes two of us, really. Other than being kind, talented, and someone to joke around with, he’s a mystery. A mystery who’s comfortable to be around, but sometimes makes butterflies flutter in my chest. Yale makes me awkward and nervous. Ugh,I’m overanalyzing again. Inside me there’s a constant nag when I’m around Yale that he’s not a good idea. Not that Kurt’s a good idea.
“Let’s clarify something. I’m not going back until I know you are okay.” Mormor stares off at the fire. A gentle breeze whistles through the windows and flutters the edges of her hair.
“Is this a promise or a threat?” Please stay, for at least a while longer. I like getting to know her when she’s not meddling. Half the reason I agreed to move out here was to learn more about my family.
I suppose I should thank her. Dinner ended when the menu she was holding too close to the wall sconce caught fire and we had to run outside. Serves her right for spying and not paying attention. There’s nothing quite like the smell of melting plastic to inflict headaches and end a date quickly.
He was kind enough to walk me home after I made the first turn in the wrong direction. I’d have made it eventually. His gentlemanly self was fantastic. It was the long periods of not talking and staring at the candle that made me want to bolt.
“You know I love you.” I open my arms for a hug.
She turns non-corporeal and laughs as my arms slice through her.
Mormor! “What are the rules here? When are you—you? And when are you a ghost?” I stamp my voice like a toddler mid-tantrum, adding extra emphasis at the beginning of each sentence.
“You were going to squeeze me too hard.” She’s right. “When I’m tired, I fade a bit. I don’t like where I go when I fade.”
A tiny over-the-top squeeze to make her feel as uncomfortable as I felt with Yale is deserved, tight enough so she knows I’m squeezing love and the want of a direct connection with her.
“Where you go?” Legitimate question.
“I have to go somewhere? What? You think I’m like a fading light?”
I shrug. “Sorry, I don’t have experience with—ghosts?”
“We’ve been over this.” She rolls her eyes. “The rules are murky.” She pulls at the low braid on the back of her head.
“Oh, is that all?” This woman is off her rocker.
“It’s complicated.” She crosses her arms and huffs. “Haven’t you bothered doing your research?”
“This isn’t something I can research.” Hello, librarian, I keep seeing my dead grandmother. Do you have any books on this?
My jaw drops—this was an intentional diversion. “You’re trying to get sympathy and distract me from the fact you interrupted in the most inappropriate way on a date.”
She wrinkles her nose. “Caught me. You still need to think about dating a proper choice. I’m holding my ground on this.”
“Proper?” Again, with that word. “I don’t need to date anyone. I’m here to watch the house.”
She comes over and envelopes me in a too-hard hug.
I wheeze. “Besides it wasn’t a date, it was two people going to dinner.”
The unsuccessful wiggle of my arms proves Mormor’s ghost form is stronger than she lets on.
“Dating doesn’t mean a relationship.” I peck her cheek. “Having dinner once or twice is getting to know someone.”
She releases her arms and slinks back in her chair. “Don’t end up alone, Ingrid.” A tremble crosses her tone.
“I’ve got you. How can I be alone?”
“You know very well what I mean. You’ve squandered your twenties, and now—”
“I got an education and lived life.” There it is. Clear disappointment I’ve caused her in my life choices. “I traveled and dated. Not everyone finds themselves in their early twenties.”
“Will you consider dating while you are here? He’s really a nice boy.”
“I’m here to maintain the house. Not to date.” I’m over dating.
“Being here doesn’t mean you can’t date.”
I shake my head. She’s relentless.
Mormor waves her hand in front of the fire, and the flames dance higher. “Yale is…” She wags her eyebrows. “Kurt is…” A hovered eye roll punctuates the end of her sentence.
“A friend.” Sort of—he’s working here because Svea paid him.
Mormor grumbles something inaudible from my seat. “I have a list of projects for you. Promise me you’ll stay till you finish some?” She pulls her arm back to the chair and rests her hands on her lap.
“I’m a fill-in. The only person available with no ties to kids or an office.” Story of my life. The living family members call when they remember my existence. Supposedly they love me, but…eh, baggage to think about another day, right? “Promise me you won’t mess up Kurt’s projects on the house?” He works hard regardless of her impression of him.
“As long as he sticks to the house as a project and not you.” She wags her finger and heaves a sigh.
A halfhearted nod is the only option to end this conversation. “Tea?”
I’m not a project.
"Just a Fika"
Exploring the Power of Connection and Belonging
Connection and the deep desire to feel a sense of belonging are universally relatable themes that lie at the heart of my latest book, "Just a Fika." This post is my way of taking you deep into the creative areas of my brain to share the inspiration behind this heartwarming tale of self-discovery, a little kissing, family, and the search for connection.
Growing up in Northwestern New Jersey with my mother and her extended family, I always had a fascination with the shore where my dad grew up. Despite having limited knowledge about my father’s family history, I clung to the stories I knew. This longing to understand my roots and the people around me became the driving force behind "Just a Fika."
The initial catalyst I suppose that ignited the desire to write this came over a very long period of time but I never quite knew how to write the story until lockdown came. I was watching the boats bob up and down on the Navesink River, thinking about how my mom handled the loss of my father to brain cancer when I was growing up. He’d died before my second birthday which means I have no real memories of him. She told me that he could be anyone I wanted him to be. This approach to dealing with his loss left me with a void that was challenging to explain, especially because my mother had grown up with both her parents well into adulthood. Growing up, conversations about my dad were scarce, and most of those who knew him were either too timid to broach the subject or had passed away before I could ask any questions.
As a writer, the lockdown period made me yearn for my extended family more than ever. I felt compelled to channel these emotions into words, and as I began writing, the story of "Just a Fika" took on a unique form essentially changing how I write overall. It was more hopeful and positive than anything I had written before. Through the speculative world I crafted, I could explore emotions and settings in Aegir Haven, even when dealing with heavy topics. The story had to capture the soothing ambiance of nature, with waves crashing on the nearly empty beach in the fall serving as a constant backdrop. I found myself sitting by the ocean, savoring the calm, with a hot chai in hand on multiple occasions while tackling the novel's challenging sections.
The title of the book, "Just a Fika," may raise some eyebrows, but it truly encapsulates the essence of the entire narrative. Fika, a concept from Sweden, involves taking a break in the day, often for coffee and treats, but it's more than that. It's a moment to connect with what truly matters in life. For Ingrid, the main character, "Just a Fika" represents a pause in her life's journey to search for the connection she craves. This desire for belonging, family, and a sense of place fueled the unique development of the story. My goal wasn't to write about sadness; I wanted to celebrate the diverse connections we create in life, whether through friendship, family, or romantic relationships.
Connection, whether through family, found family, or simply with oneself, is undeniably vital.
My background in history and my love for exploring intergenerational dynamics and the concept of family played a significant role in shaping this book. "Just a Fika" delves into these dynamics while also introducing supernatural elements. (For those familiar with Norse gods, keep an eye out for their presence subtly and unsubtly woven throughout the story.) In essence, this book embodies all the things I'm passionate about, presented in a way that invites readers to feel like they too belong in, or yearn to visit, the world of Aegir Haven.
a Fika" is a story that celebrates the beauty of
connection, the power of family, and the importance of finding one's place in
the world. It's a tale that will warm your heart and remind you of the
significance of the relationships we build in life. So, grab a cozy spot, a
warm beverage, and immerse yourself in the world of "Just a Fika."