I've had a slightly awkward relationship with the 4th of July in the eight years since I got here. For a start, we lost that one so why am I celebrating? And it's summer so the fireworks can't start till really late. (On the 5th of November, which is UK Firework Night, you can kick off at five because it's pitch black already.)
Don't get me wrong; I embrace the 4th with everything I've got:
Here's me floating in a friend's pool on the 4th, full to the tonsils with barbecue. And I know all the words to The Star-spangled Banner. (I learned them years ago to sing for an American friend who was at my house for Thanksgiving. She listened and clapped and then revealed that no one sings the anthem at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Who knew?)
But this year is different. I finally feel like a functioning cog in the wheel of American independence from monarchy and a full part of the celebration of democratic freedoms. Why? I'm still not a citizen. My greencard is still running down. I still can't put fruit on the same plate as bacon.
I've got a short story in LOW DOWN DIRTY VOTE, an anthology coming out this Independence Day. Its theme is fighting voter suppression and all of its proceeds go to the ACLU. I am more honoured than I can easily express to be in there with such short-story maestros as Travis Richardson, such politically savvy pals as Kris Calvin and such imaginative interpreters of the theme as Jim Ziskin. Ray Daniel, Ann Parker, Alison Catharine, David Haggerty, Mariah Klein, Derek Marsh, Camille Minichino and Mysti Berry, the fantabulous editor. All have written rousing, touching, scorching, belting, astonishing stories.
But don't take my word for it. Read them! I'll send a copy to someone who comments here today and you can see for yourself what an unexpectedly rich seam that apparently very specific brief was for my ten fellow writers.
Me? I took the chance, when Mysti offered it, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the lifting of a massive anvil of voter suppression. In 1918, women - some women - got the vote in Britain. Here's my lovely niece, Megan McPherson, celebrating the century in Edinburgh this spring.
Small print: please comment by midnight PST on Friday, to go into the hat for a copy of LDDV and I'll pick a name and post the book out on the 5th. Good luck and happy Independence Day when it comes.