Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Margaret James: Magic Sometimes Happens


Today we welcome Margaret James to the blog.

A couple of years ago, I decided to set myself a challenge. I would write a dual viewpoint novel in the first person and I would write half of it in a foreign language.  

I’m well aware that there are many bi-lingual and indeed multi-lingual novelists in the RNA and, since my challenge was to write half my novel in American English, perhaps it was really no challenge at all? At first, I thought the whole thing would indeed be a doddle. I mean a cinch. Americans say elevator, the British say lift. They say sidewalk, we say pavement. We use a biro, they use a ballpoint. I’d just have to remember a lot of things – I mean a ton of stuff – like that.

Alas, there turned out to be far more to it than merely replacing biros with ballpoints. I’d chosen to make my hero American, so I had to research how American men really speak, in particular 30-something, well-educated, Midwestern American men, because the novel is set partly in Minnesota and the hero comes from Missouri.

Over the years, Amglish has gradually infiltrated Britglish, and we British usually understand Amglish perfectly well. But I still found I had to watch my step, I mean be on the ball, while I was translating my own Britglish into my hero’s Amglish. I find something is a hoot while it cracks him up. I have mates while he has buddies. I arrive while he shows up. I say definitely while he says you bet.

I didn’t want to write in joke Amglish, so my American characters never say whaddya or gonna or woah/whoa. I can’t stand woah/whoa, sorry. It makes me shudder. I mean it creeps me out. As for American expletives – I have to tell you, citizens of the USA, you don’t have nearly enough of them. You have the universal damn, but – if we don’t choose to go fishing in the open sewers of Urban Dictionary – what else can be used in more-or-less civilised society? We British are far more inventive!

I must admit I adore my hero Patrick Riley, whose lovely Midwestern voice I could hear in my head the whole time I was writing the novel. So all I had to do was take celestial dictation. But just once in a while I did get the feeling that when Pat assured me that yeah, American guys of his age did say stuff like that, he might have been having me on. I mean he was kind of kidding me.

Who is Patrick, then? He’s a married father of two small children and professor of IT at a college in Minneapolis. He doesn’t want to be attracted to Rosie Denham, a visiting British PR professional, but...

Pat had a difficult childhood. But he’s worked hard to make something of his life and nowadays he has a great career. Sadly, he also has a wife from purgatory and a best friend from hell. My heroine Rosie Denham is going to help Pat find his personal happy-ever-after, and in return he will help Rosie deal with the issues in her own troubled life.

At the start of the story, neither Pat nor Rosie has the time or inclination to fall in love. But in romantic fiction magic sometimes happens and, since I love magic, I had great fun writing this book. As for challenges – the hero and heroine meet plenty, including some stiff competition for the limelight from Patrick’s gorgeous children, Pat’s sex-addict buddy Ben, Rosie’s great mate Tess, and incidentally a very cute dog.

About Margaret:
I’m a British writer of historical and contemporary fiction. I’m also a journalist working for the UK’s Writing Magazine and I teach creative writing for the London School of Journalism.
I was born in Hereford, but now I live in Devon at the seaside, which is great because it means when I am stuck for a plot I can always go for a walk along the beach and be inspired!


Magic Sometimes Happens (Choc Lit) is available from Amazon as an ebook from October 1st.

Contact:

Thank you for visiting the RNA blog, Margaret and good luck with your book.

The RNA blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write an article for the blog or b interviewed about your latest project please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com



7 comments:

Margaret James said...

Thank you for inviting me, Elaine!

angela britnell said...

I'm looking forward to reading this very much - after 31 years of a cross cultural marriage to my amazing Southern husband I should be an expert on Amglish!

Natalie Kleinman said...

It's difficult keeping up with changes in language here. Do people still say 'cool'? I imagine the challenge you set yourself was harder even than you've made it appear in this piece, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. How did you get over things like either/either, tomato/tomato in print?

Laura E. James said...

Another fab post, Margaret. When I took the family to the US, I noticed how the men referred to DS as 'Bud'. I found it rather endearing.

Margaret James said...

Thank you for your comments, ladies. Yes, I had to be careful with words like adult and address, which have their emphases on different syllables in Britglish and Amglish!

Christina Hollis said...

Great post, Margaret. When my children were little, they adored the animated Disney version of Robin Hood. The inflection (inflexion?!) the American-voiced characters in the film gave that name is different from the way we say it, yet it's just two simple, straightforward words!
Good luck with Magic Sometimes Happens.

Margaret James said...

Thank you, Christina! My children said Robin Hood with the American inflexion, too.My DD1 now lives in the USA and is totally bilingual.