Friday, November 30, 2012

New Kid on the Blog

And very happy to be here too.  I just signed a deal with Midnight Ink and dropped by to say hello. 

First, "kid"?  For the purposes of punning only.  I'm forty seven by my calculations. (Although when exactly did that happen?)

My book - As She Left It - is a suspenseful tale of buried secrets and looming danger, set in contemporary Britian.  It won't actually be out until next June once the good people of Midnight Ink have spat on their hankies and polished its face til it shines.

Or rather have set to with their Swiss army knives and winkled out all the bits that would make a reader go "huh"?

Because when a book's set in Britian and published in America a lot of the editing is about building a bridge over that chasm that divides us by our common language.

Not the cookie = biscuit, biscuit = scone, if only scone = cookie we could all go home thing.  Or the fries = chips, chips = crisps, crisps are fried and they're all delicious anyway thing.  Everyone knows about them.

And the real horrors are easy to keep a handle on too.  Because you're unlikely to forget that "rubber" in the US doesn't mean "tennis shoe" after you've stood in a thrift store, with a pair of converse in your hand, and asked your sister (quite loudly) if she thinks it's disgusting to buy second-hand rubbers.  Just for instance, you understand.

No, it's the sneaky ones.  Did you know that in the UK a tank is a vest and vest is a waistcoat and a sweater vest is a tank top?  And none of them are shirts.  And men wear jumpers and garters but not suspenders?  When you're trying to bring characters alive the last thing you want is for your reader to frown and wonder why a girl would wear tailored clothes to bed, or why no one mentioned the cross-dressing before now.

Then there's the whole yard/garden mess.  A yard in Britain is a small concrete area used for storing the bin (garbage can).  It's what you get in very high-density housing.  Like this:


And that's why it always surprised me that quite posh people in US books had them.  But then a California friend says that, growing up, she felt sorry for people in British books with their gardens and wondered why they didn't have any grass out back.

So getting this right matters.  And we are.  By the time next June rolls around, Opal won't be sleeping in a vest or lighting fags and she certainly won't be buying anything second-hand that she oughtn't to.


Beth Groundwater said...

Great post, Catriona! My kids were exposed to English language differences early on when they played with Australian kids next door when they were toddlers. Lollies = candy was one they picked up early on!

Karen in Ohio said...

For nearly 20 years I labored in the home sewing business, which crosses the ocean now and then, as well.

There are also a lot of sewing/fabric terms that don't compute in Brit-to-Yank and vice versa. A muslin in one country is a calico in another, vastly different, and ne'er the twain shall meet.

Judging from the Harry Potter books, though, I think American readers are capable of figuring this sort of thing out, and I also think we expect to see true idiomatic language. It comes with the territory, and without it why bother to place your story elsewhere?

Catriona McPherson said...

Oh, I've left a lot, Karen. Don't worry. Just rejigged here and there to stop jokes falling flat and avoid out and out confusion. Opal still uses a spanner to sort out her cooker flex.

Karen in Ohio said...

Excellent news!