About the author
CHARLIE ALICE RAYA
Charlie Alice Raya
A brief intro
Born in Berlin, 1972, non-binary, business studies with a focus on finance and investment, and some economics.
In 2010, photography took centre stage in my freelance work, and at the end of 2012 I included web design. 2012 was also the year in which the idea for the initial easy town project materialised.
Since autumn 2019, I focus on the easy town books, and in summer 2021 I picked up my artistic photographic work again in support of the easy town projects.
My main objectives
- Write the easy town books (preferably at the locations of the story).
- Set up teams for the project ideas, and support those teams financially.
- Cooperate with artists, scientists, thinkers, craftspeople, researchers, inventors, down-to-earth people, makers, intriguing business people and politicians, and others who like to dig deeper and rethink– well, everything.
- Oh, and not getting angry any more, at least not about the state of the world.
Some more insights
Origin: a Berliner who doesn’t do nationalities but acknowledges European roots
Growing up: on both sides of the Berlin Wall
Education: studies in business and economics, in Berlin and Bristol, UK
Title of my thesis: The Wealth of Nations by Globalisation? An Inquiry into the Positive and Negative Potentials of the Globalisation Process by Assessing the Free Trade Theory Critically
Jobs: Still a student, I took a look at the theatre world and brought Familie Floez to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2001. After graduation, I did business jobs, wrote, filmed and worked for TV and film in assistant jobs. Then I deciding to take a less crowded road to focus on my own ideas. I partly financed my explorations through photography and web design.
The easy town idea
In 2012 my friend Easy was put into a coma and eventually into a nursing home. In the debris of this event, I found the idea for Easy Town, which started as a small village centre where Easy and his fellow patients could find stimuli for their hurt brains, in workshops, gardens and cafés.
In the following years, I treated the easy town ideas as purely non-fictional, always asking how to finance something like that while maintaining my independence.
I used stories to test ideas for the town, and in 2016 a story came up which was more complex and more intriguing than any I had done before.
It was only a week after I finished the story that the idea to write it down crossed my mind. I had three main reasons to follow through with that idea.
One, I loved the story, and this way I could preserve it.
Two, this story is a perfect playground to test ideas, to play around with concepts, and while doing so, to have some fun.
And three, eventually the story could finance some of the easy town ideas.
Alice is one of the main characters in the easy town story.
The original story was never intended to be shared, so Alice was simply me.
When I started making notes for the books, I considered replacing Alice. But that worked as little as replacing Jack (which I also attempted). Whether I like it or not, both characters are essential to the story, and everything about them plays a role, sooner or later.
Besides, writing Alice meant I didn’t have to worry whether a character like her is realistic or not. /:-)
Alice hasn’t heard the term non-binary yet, but she will in book 3, shaping, and though she has little time for it, it will set her on a journey. She knows who she is, she just might have to reassess who other people are.
When I think about the big differences between me and Alice, one thought always pops up first: Alice is edited. And that always makes me smile. I can think of so many situations when I wish I had thought before speaking.
Mind you, Alice does get a few original outburst, but I have come to appreciate the chance to mull over statements and to edit them. And mostly that has nothing to do with censoring, it’s more about clarity and asking whether this or that is what Alice really thinks or even wants to think.
Apart from the non-binary developments, where I am clearly ahead of Alice, there are other issues regarding my past where it seems to me that Alice is further in the healing process. And that gives me hope.
Plus, Alice gets really good at stick fighting, and I haven’t even begun. But I hope, I will.
How I came to writing
I grew up to the sound of my mother’s typewriter. So writing was something familiar to me, even before I could read.
There is more to it, but I will leave that for later.
Why a pen name?
When I listened to my mother, typewriting her book, I didn’t dream of writing a book, I dreamed of getting myself a new name.
My mother wanted to call me Ella after Ella Fitzgerald, but, according to my memory, the East German government deemed Ella a nickname and only allowed Ellen.
I never liked either name and called myself Elli. I thought I wouldn’t get away with calling myself Ello or Ellu.
Anyway, because I have no bond to my names, I happily embraced the idea of a pen name. And by now Charlie Alice Raya is more familiar to me than the passport name.
Why Charlie Alice Raya?
I wanted a name which reflects my duality, and which has a sound I like.
There is more to it, but again I will leave that for later.
Why I never attempted to make a name for myself
I think it was in 2020 when it crossed my mind that this question might need addressing. The answer is still sketchy, but it should give you an idea.
To start with, a name doesn’t mean anything to me. Building a town experiment? Great. Initiating a photo collection of all shapes and colours of faces with tips for optimal lighting? Fantastic. Finding Jeballulo. YES, please. But a name? What’s that good for?
Well, right now, it would make things a lot easier for the easy town projects. But unfortunately, I overlooked that point.
Independence was always important to me, and so I often chose to work on my own, instead of becoming part of an organisation or a group, where I could have made a name for myself.
And while I am looking forward to working with others in the future, I am glad I had these years of digging deep into many subjects, independently and without many distractions.
I am still not eager to make a name for myself, but it’s time to share the results of years of work.
Again, there are some other points, and again I will leave those for later.
PS: Jeballulo comes up in book 2/2, travelling, Romania.
Why is there no publisher?
When I started to write book 1, beginning, I put the question of how to find a publisher off. To be frank, I didn’t even want to think about it. And then I realised that I had a good excuse not to use a publisher: the easy town books are (among others) about rethinking business practices, and that includes the publishing industry.
By now I have a rough idea what a publishing house for the easy town books could be like. You can take a look at these ideas on the book stations website.
The easy town books reveal quite a lot about me, and so does my photographic work.
All photo series and photo prints are presented on their own website in support of the easy town projects.
And you can find out more about my personal story on the photo website, too: How I came to photography.
Then you might be interested in the background story for the dot.story: Scotland, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the dot.story, and me