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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Cynthia E Hurst discusses Americanisms in this...

Boring Author Interview Revisited

Cynthia E Hurst

What’s so great about your crap book? (Don't want the boring details, a couple of lines is suffice!)
‘Zukie’s Burglar’ was born out of a conversation with a mystery writer who outsells me by several thousand to one. I remarked that one of her characters reminded me of my tactless, snoopy aunt, and she said ‘go for it,’ so I did. I had been wanting to start a new series, and this is it.

Who is this mysterious author, I wonder?

What qualifications do you have for writing in your genre? Many authors use their qualifications to show off their so-called talents i.e. crime writers are often coppers (police, for the non-Brits present) and the book becomes boringly technical. How have you managed to keep your knowledge low key? Or haven’t you bothered?
No qualifications whatsoever, except having had a tactless, snoopy Italian-American aunt. I try to keep the police involvement to a minimum.

My first series, the R&P Labs Mysteries, is set in a small research laboratory, which might seem an odd choice, but both my parents were scientists and worked in a similar lab. Instead of having a babysitter, I was parked in a corner with a pile of empty petri dishes and pipettes to play with. Although the scientific gene totally passed me by, many of the staff's projects in the books are ones the lab actually did.

If I were to read your book would I have to scroll through lots of acknowledgements saying how wonderful your book is before I got to the meat of a story?

If your book is set outside England would I understand your jargon? I mean, fanny means lady front parts NOT backside, car hood is a car bonnet--everyone knows that, right? Are British Englishisms/Americanisms/Australianisms etc important in your book? It's all about identity, isn't it?
I had a nice review of another book in which a British reader praised me for not using too many Americanisms. I have spent half my life in the U.S. and half in the U.K., so believe me, I’m aware of this and have an American beta reader who tells me things like ‘your character has to be exhausted, not shattered’ and ‘it’s trash, not rubbish.’ (I don’t think she meant the book, but who knows). My books are all set in Seattle, the most beautiful city in the world, even with the traffic.

My books are quintessentially English but I'm beginning to rethink the wiseness (is that a word?) of that decision and employ an American proofer alongside my British one.

If you were me (you know, perfect) and knew nothing about a person and you were told to interview them, what’s the one question you would ask? (answer it).
I can really identify with this one, having been sent numerous times as a reporter to interview people I knew nothing about and had no time to research. The best question is ‘What are you working on at the moment?’ The answer is, ‘The third book in the Zukie series.’
Give me the first, middle and end line in your book.

  1. The way Zukie saw it, if the shrimp had been fresher, she never would have been in the kitchen in the middle of the night, and the murder never would have been solved.
  2. Zukie stood there, a vision in her pink flowered nightgown and fluffy slippers, the lamp still clutched in one hand and the cord trailing behind her. Her hair stuck out at alarming angles and her eyes were flashing.
  3. “I’m Zukie Merlino, I live next door. Welcome to the neighborhood.”
Well, that was short and sweet! I didn't have any time insult to you!

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