Today I’m pleased to share an extract from Berlin Calling for the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
After four months of preparation in the UK, Rose finally arrives in Berlin for event week of the European Song Contest. She’s trying to focus on the contest, but soon she will finally see Emil again after their one-night-stand in January and their online banter of the past few months. She’s not sure if they will be rivals or lovers when they meet again…
I knew I’d arrived in Germany when the businessmen in suits at the airport were drinking beer with their breakfast and the smell of pretzels hung in the air. I wondered if the airport blasted out the smell, like Subway, to make the passengers believe they’d truly flown miles from their original destination.
The short hop from London had certainly felt surreal. I pressed my nose to the glass of the minibus that collected us from the airport, waiting for the first glimpse of song contest magic as we approached the venue.
I was not disappointed. Bright sunshine glinted off the copper-coloured windows of the angular, modern hotel and convention centre that beckoned across a wide square. We stepped out of the minibus, greeted by a giant LED screen in flashing colours welcoming performers and delegates. Everything, from the light poles on the street to the hotel entrance, was decked out with posters bearing this year’s slogan, Greet the Future with a Kiss. The little unicorn image had been derided everywhere from Dublin to Tel Aviv, but I was pretty sure everyone secretly loved it. If they didn’t have unicorn merch, I was going to phone China myself and commission some.
The whole thing was a shrine to the contest, drawing us pilgrims to the door of hope and peace, where we would sing together and embrace our neighbours. I was home.
I hurried to catch up to the BBC team after staring for too long at the monolithic hotel that rose on a slightly shabby street somewhere in the depths of south-east Berlin. Austin himself wouldn’t deign to show up until he was required, on Friday night, but I’d made a suitable case for coming with the production. It was Monday, twelve days before the Grand Final, and I had all week to explore and to meet as many of the other performers as I could before event week started in earnest on Friday.
The hotel lobby was chock full of people. The motion-activated water feature was spraying and twirling on overtime and all of the uncomfortable-looking Scandi armchairs were full of people conversing animatedly. I heard Japanese and even someone talking about the washroom as though they’d just stepped off the plane from Canada. I sighed and did a slow turn to take it all in.
‘It’s not Disneyland, Princess Leia. We have to wait in the queue.’ The grumpy comment from the production assistant shook me off my fluffy cloud and I hurried after him. My mood was so buoyant I wasn’t even tempted to point out that Disneyland was synonymous with queuing and my hairstyle was more Björk than Princess Leia. ‘You’ll discover, ninety percent of the contest is waiting around,’ he continued.
‘What’s the other ten percent?’ I asked eagerly. I hadn’t dared to ask Wunmi, the scarily efficient producer, any questions. ‘I’m hoping you’ll say “dancing, eating and drinking”. I can live with that.’
‘Swap ‘drinking’ to the front and you might be getting close.’
It was ridiculous how many times I looked around the lobby, scanning the faces. I was going to get eye strain if I kept looking everywhere for Emil and Daria, but I couldn’t stop myself. Besides, they probably wouldn’t arrive for a few days. Germany and the UK both received an automatic place in the Grand Final and didn’t take part in next week’s semi-finals. It allowed lazy-asses like Austin Blasted Bloom to show up later.
We waited for… long enough that I wasn’t so chirpy anymore and the reality of being too poor to eat lunch had settled in my stomach. When I finally had my room key, I ditched grumpy assistant guy and skipped to the elevator.
I found my door in the maze of corridors, contemplating the relaxing two weeks I’d have without housemates clunking around downstairs. But when I stepped into my room, I discovered it was decidedly… grim.
The single window looked out on a piece of concrete with dark cracks, water stains and something green I hoped was only moss. The furnishings were tired and all looked as though they were made of institutional carpet. The TV was a chunky thing with an actual cathode-ray tube, that contrasted comically with the tiny room.
The weirdest thing of all, though, was the bed. It was a single. It was an actual single bed. Someone up high had decided that Rose Fisher was not getting any this week, so they could shove her in the single shithole where her libido could quietly shrivel.
The song contest is hotting up, on and off the stage!
Rose writes twee pop, smiles a lot, and believes in magic and rainbows. When the cheesy love song she wrote is chosen for the European Song Contest, her luck seems to be turning around – especially when a chance encounter leads to the hottest one-night stand of her life. It’s almost too bad she’ll never see him again.
But then Rose discovers it wasn’t a chance encounter. The hot German DJ with the sexy deep voice is her rival for song contest glory.
Grumpy Emil is incredibly talented and the song he spins with his sister could be a winner, even if he doesn’t appreciate the playful spirit of the contest. As the continent falls in love with Rose and Emil’s competitive banter on social media, they must hide their history from the press or risk losing credibility – and a future songwriting career.
With an anonymous gossip out to ridicule the colourful contestants and a plot to undermine European public broadcasting bubbling under the shiny surface, Rose must be strong in the face of criticism and stand up for everything the contest means to her.
If this Canadian girl can save the contest, maybe she can believe that her feelings for Emil are the real deal.
Lilo Moore is the steamy romantic comedy pen name of travel romance author Leonie Mack. She lives among vineyards in Germany, creating fictional worlds and counting down to her next trip.
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One thought on “#Extract from Berlin Calling by Lilo Moore @LeonieMAuthor #RomCom @rararesources”
I used to love watching The European Song Contest when I lived in Europe! This looks really good
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