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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Guest Post: Englishwoman in New York

Today I am delighted to welcome the lovely Karen Mahoney to The Bookette. Karen is a debut 2011 UK YA author. So of course I asked her if she'd write something which relates to the theme of being a British writer. So her guest post is rather surprisingly but an insightful treat. Enjoy!

Englishwoman in New York

by Karen Mahoney

So, let’s get it out there: I am British. I’m 100% English with Irish roots – and proud of it – but I set my debut novel in the United States, and populated it with American characters.


Honestly, the reason is simply that I’ve always dreamed of living in America. (Cue music and everyone singing along: Living in America!) I can’t help it – just as many Americans I know are Anglophiles at heart, I’m the other way around. I love US movies and books and TV shows, and I always knew that if I ever ‘made it’ as a writer I’d want to approach the US market; specifically, I wanted to find a New York agent to represent my work.

I’m not saying I don’t want to write anything British – of course not! – just that I particularly want to write some things that are more ‘American.’ In fact, the sequel to The Iron Witch (The Wood Queen, which should be out in January 2012), introduces a British character from the Order of the Crow which is based in London. And in the third and final book of the trilogy, Donna will hopefully get to spend some time in London. (There! An exclusive for you, Becky! ;))

So, yes… I love US-style ‘popular culture’ but that doesn’t mean I’m completely in denial of my British roots. Let’s be honest: you can’t get something much more fundamentally English than alchemy, which plays a huge role in my debut novel. Donna Underwood is born into a secret society of alchemists in the modern world, and although my particular alchemical ‘Order’ is based in Ironbridge, Massachusetts (a city I made up, though it’s sort of a mashup of Boston and London – my two favourite cities in the world), there is no denying the importance of British history in alchemy. Much of my research focused on the Elizabethan period, when the mysterious John Dee was Queen Elizabeth I’s personal astrologer and adviser, while secretly trying to summon spirits through his alchemical experiments.

So The Iron Witch might well be based in the USA, but its heart is very definitely British. As is mine. :)

Thanks for the exclusive Kaz! I completely understand you being a fan of Americanness. I am going to Boston this year and I am so excited. There is something so exotic about other cultures. My other obsession of course is Australia.... Fancy writing a book set there?


Cliona said...

I would love to go to America someday!

prophecygirl said...

Great post Kaz. I agree with you, there's definitely something about the US - and it DOES have the best TV shows!

Vivienne said...

I grew up dreaming of living in New York. My bedroom was plasted with New York skylines. And yet here I am as an adult and I still haven't seen New York. Been to America a few times but New York is the place I dream of going.