|Amy Harmon, Author|
When I went to Europe when I graduated from high school, I had never even been outside of the western United States. Europe is very different than the US. For a little farm girl from Levan, Utah it was like another planet. I remember my aunt telling me, "We need to try and blend in, wherever we go." Of course, she proceeded to walk down the beach in San Sebastian, Spain, in a shirt that said USA in neon letters, wearing hot pink shorts and lime green boat shoes. Needless to say, it's doubtful we blended in very well. I learned something on that trip, though, that has helped me in my life and in my writing. To truly understand something, whether it's a country or a person or a subject, you have to immerse yourself in it. You have to metaphorically "blend in." My teacher at the school in San Sebastian told me, "Spain will not change for you. You must adapt to Spain." And as writers, we must adapt to our characters.
In my new book, A Different Blue, Darcy Wilson is British. Believe it or not, the British are different from Americans. Creating such a character required a lot of research. I found a British Book Blogger named Tiffa Snook who proved very helpful. So helpful, that you will find a character named for her in the book. Tiffa gave me feedback on all things British so that Wilson would be authentic. I researched phrases, watched British TV, listened to music popular in the UK...you get the idea. I couldn't adapt Wilson to the American model. I had to adapt to him. I think Wilson turned out wonderfully, but I will let you decide. The following is a fun excerpt from the book. In this scene, Wilson is instructing his class on British slang.
|A Different Blue, by Amy Harmon|
From A Different Blue:
“We don't 'call' our chums on the phone, we give them a ring or a bell. We also don't have hoods and trunks on our cars, we have bonnets and boots. We don't have bars, we have pubs. We don't have vacumns, we have hoovers, and an umbrella is a brolly. Which, by the way, you must have in England. It's cold, and it's wet. After spending two years in Africa, the thought of going back to Manchester was not appealing. I discovered I loved the sun in large doses. So, although I will always consider myself an Englishman, I don't think I'll ever live in England again.”
“Tell us some more!” Chrissy giggled.
“Well, if something is ace or brill it means it is cool or awesome,” Wilson added. “If I were in London, I might greet you by saying 'All right?' And you would respond with 'All right?' It basically means 'What's up?' or 'Hello, how are you?' and it doesn't demand a response.”
Immediately, the whole class started asking each other 'All right?' with terrible British accents, and Mr. Wilson continued over the top of the chaos, raising his voice a little to rein the class back in.
“If something is wonky or dodgy, it means it's not right, or it feels suspicious. Your latest score on your test may strike me as a bit dodgy if you have failed all of your previous exams.
“In Yorkshire, if someone says you don't get owt for nowt, they would mean, you don't get anything for nothing...or you get what you pay for. If I tell you to chivvy along, it means I want you to hurry, and if I tell you to clear off, it means I want you to get lost. If someone is dim they're stupid, if something is dull it's boring. A knife isn't dull, mind you. It's blunt, so get it right.” Wilson smiled out at the rapt faces of thirty students, rapidly taking notes on British slang. It was as if the Beatles had invaded America once more. I knew I was going to be hearing “chivvy along”, and “she's a fit bird”, in the hallways for the rest of the year.
I just got an ace lesson in British slang! Thanks Amy for sharing that wonderful story and the excerpt of A Different Blue. If you'd like to learn more about Amy and her books, then chivvy along and visit her here: