Should authors Americanize their fiction?

I am a British-Australian author with nine novels under my belt to date. All of my fiction has been set in either the Canary Islands, Britain, Australia, or with multiple settings around the world, save for one book: Twerk.

Twerk

Twerk is set in a Las Vegas strip club. The characters are American. Therefore, it stands to reason that the writing should also be American, or should it? Having just been criticised by two book reviewers for using the words ‘fortnight’ and ‘car park’ instead of ‘two weeks’ and ‘parking lot’ respectively, my own perspective on how far authors should go in changing their language to satisfy readers from one particular country is shifting.

In my defence (or is it defense), I did my best to compose Twerk using American English. I switched to the American English dictionary in my Word doc. I paid close attention to the language. Most of my oversights were picked up by my publisher and corrected. For example, car ‘boot’ became ‘trunk’. Except for these two glaring examples of ‘fortnight’ and ‘car park’. Two tiny slips in an otherwise Americanized (or Americanised) novel, standing out all the more because no other slips have been found, and they have stuck fast in the minds of reviewers enough for them to make an issue of it.

I am very grateful to both reviewers for their lovely reviews, for taking the trouble to read my book, and to read it thoroughly enough to notice these words. I am not criticising these reviewers. I am not hurt or upset by what they have said. I am using their remarks to raise an issue and I am endeavouring to do so in a respectful manner.

What interests me is that this has never been an issue for me in the past. I know that my Australian vocabulary creeps into my novels set elsewhere and I have to do my best to weed it out. And vice versa, my British vocabulary creeps into my Australian writing. But British and Australian readers and reviewers have never once made an issue of this or even remarked on it. Readers seem prepared to let it go. The general attitude seems to be more accommodating and forgiving. No one has ever said I absolutely have to write in English English if I am to set a novel in England, or Scottish English in Scotland. With so many regional dialects as well – how far do we take this!

Why are Americans (from the United States) touchy about their language? How far should non-USA authors go to accommodate the assumption that all fiction set in the USA must use American (US) English and never once use a word from another English-speaking country for fear of being dragged over the coals? (an expression that may or may not be understood by those born and bred in the USA and means speaking to someone severely about something foolish or wrong that they have done)

I have not studied American English at school. Is there such a course? What about Australian English? You could fill a term’s worth of curriculum studying that. What about the various forms of English around the world, in Africa, in India and so on? What, too, of authors who set their books in countries where English is not spoken at all?

What do I, as a British-Australian writer, do from now on? I raise the matter here because Twerk is a novel containing about 85,000 words which altogether comprise a story with characters, a plot and themes. Should Twerk be viewed as a lesser book in the USA because it contains the word ‘fortnight’? By the same token, should all novels written in American English and set in other countries be viewed as lesser works for using the word ‘parking lot’ instead of ‘car park’?

You can find the Twerk reviews in question on Amazon by clicking this link

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Vicky Aisha Inspires Twerk

Vicky Aisha –Australia’s high-profile dancer – inspires Twerk

Vicky Aisha

What a privilege it is to have a daughter as talented as Vicky Aisha! Doubly so, after she chose to be open and frank with me about her professional life! The result of six years of conversations is Twerk, a novel that puts dancers stage center in an edge-of-seat dark thriller. Vicky Aisha has supported the creation of this novel every step of the way. Neither of us is claiming that Twerk is representative of every club the world over – far from it, Twerk is fiction after all – but the novel does aim to do some justice to what is a very tough job!

A Foreword from Vicky Aisha

“Over my 5+ years as a dancer I’ve always been open and honest with my mother, Isobel Blackthorn. I live quite far away from the club that I work at, and to help me stay awake on the drive home it became tradition for me to call her and recount all the funny little things that happened over my night. Isobel made mental notes of the banter between dancers and customers and these anecdotes inspired her to write the novel, Twerk.

Twerk is a work of fiction and is first and foremost a dark and steamy thriller, however much of the behind the scenes details are based on an amalgamation of what I’ve recounted of my experiences as a dancer.

Isobel Blackthorn has an incredibly creative mind and has written a gripping thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat as you read. I am proud to have inspired her to write this unique novel.”

Twerk

About Twerk

“Twerk is a page-turning rollercoaster of a ride.”

“Addictive and thoroughly entertaining, Twerk sizzles on every page!”

Desire, a spark, a decision made too fast (in haste), and a Las Vegas stripper is plunged into the depraved world of a psychopath. But is she the only target of his twisted desires?

A regular Sunday night in a Las Vegas strip club is rocked when a local oddball dies mysteriously, during a private dance.

Amber falls immediately in lust with the hot paramedic who arrives, and follows him outside, anticipating sizzling romance. But, her casual encounter quickly descends into a terrifying, twisted nightmare from which she is unable to escape.

Five days later, and it’s Lana’s next shift at the club; she’s a fly-in-fly-out stripper paying her way through law school – she’s also Amber’s best friend.

Where is Amber? And what about the dead client? Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder?

Finding neither the police, nor the club are taking much interest, Lana conducts her own inquiries, even though she finds herself the victim of a social-media hate campaign, and an ex-boyfriend who is sending her death threats. She’s desperate to uncover the truth about the death, but the person she most needs to speak to is Amber, who has failed to show up for her shift yet again…

Lana is thrust into a web of lies and deceptions she is determined to unravel, in which everyone is a suspect.

An addictively dark, psychological thriller laced with steamy romance, mystery, action and suspense; Twerk exposes the working lives of Las Vegas strippers behind the glamor – the challenges, the rewards, and the deadly risks.

Early Reviews of Twerk

“I can honestly say Isobel’s book has left its mark on me and won’t be leaving me for a very time.” – Goodreads reviewer

“Twerk shot into my top 5 books for 2018. My imagination was stretched and taken for a chilling ride.” – Theresa Terry Hetherington, reviewer

Due for release December 7th

Order your copy of Twerk at Amazon viewbook.at/Twerk

Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn

Twerk – A dark psychological thriller laced with steamy romance

Twerk

“Twerk is a page-turning rollercoaster of a ride.”

“Addictive and thoroughly entertaining, Twerk sizzles on every page!”

Desire, a spark, a decision made too fast (in haste), and a Las Vegas stripper is plunged into the depraved world of a psychopath. But is she the only target of his twisted desires?

A regular Sunday night in a Las Vegas strip club is rocked when a local oddball dies mysteriously, during a private dance.

Amber falls immediately in lust with the hot paramedic who arrives, and follows him outside, anticipating sizzling romance. But, her casual encounter quickly descends into a terrifying, twisted nightmare from which she is unable to escape.

Five days later, and it’s Lana’s next shift at the club; she’s a fly-in-fly-out stripper paying her way through law school – she’s also Amber’s best friend.

Where is Amber? And what about the dead client? Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder?

Finding neither the police, nor the club are taking much interest, Lana conducts her own inquiries, even though she finds herself the victim of a social-media hate campaign, and an ex-boyfriend who is sending her death threats. She’s desperate to uncover the truth about the death, but the person she most needs to speak to is Amber, who has failed to show up for her shift yet again…

Lana is thrust into a web of lies and deceptions she is determined to unravel, in which everyone is a suspect.

 

An addictively dark, psychological thriller laced with steamy romance, mystery, action and suspense; Twerk exposes the working lives of Las Vegas strippers behind the glamor – the challenges, the rewards, and the deadly risks.

Release: December 2018 – AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER – ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

 

 

TWERK – Contract signed with HellBound Books!

I am delighted to announce I have just signed TWERK to HellBound Books for release December 2018.

Based on a flash fiction piece published by Backhand Stories in UK in 2016, TWERK is an steamy romantic thriller set in a Las Vegas strip club. Gripping steamy noir with an amazing soundtrack, the novel provides a behind the scenes, insider view of the working life of a stripper based on extensive, original research.

Big thanks to James Longmore, publisher at HellBound Books, for his guidance in devising the plot. I’m happy to say that HellBound Books, with its gracious, respectful and supportive team, are the perfect home for this special work.

Best news of all, I’m flying to Las Vegas for the launch!

To keep in touch and grab a pre-release copy, subscribe to my mailing list, like my Facebook page, or follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

 

Twerk

My daughter is a sex worker. Stark fact.

Vicky Aisha

When a few years ago my daughter first told me she’d scored a job at a strip club I wasn’t sure how to handle the news. She’s a determined young woman and smart with it. She left uni to join a circus troupe, and quickly mastered aerial silks, hoop and trapeze. Before long, she explored burlesque and became a photographic model. To put some butter on her bread she taught circus skills to others.  For years things were tough. But she persisted. She’s resilient. But as anyone in the performing arts will tell you, don’t give up your day job. Casual teaching is intermittent and unreliable income. So when the chance to take up exotic dancing came her way, she didn’t question it.

And neither did I. Even if my motherly buttons were pressed. Even though I didn’t want all those leery male eyes ogling my daughter’s flesh. Even though I knew she would be judged by members of my family, a slut a tart a whore. Or, worse, lost. That somehow, I, as her mother, had failed her. Families are like that. Society is like that. Quick to judge.

Me? I knew I’d never persuade her out of it. So I had to deal with it. Somehow. I talked to a few girlfriends, all about my age. And their response was ‘Good on her.’ Which surprised me. Perhaps they were lying. Or they weren’t giving it much thought. Or maybe, just maybe, I was being a prude. But I changed. I changed on the spot. I changed my attitude because I love and respect my daughter. If I hadn’t changed, I would forever have judged and condemned her. And lost her.

As a feminist, my daughter’s job has forced me to re-evaluate my principles. I’ve had to expand and nuance my values to accommodate what she does. I’ve learned that virtue is a construct. One that divides women against each other into virgins and whores. When we label our sisters whores it is only because these women we have boxed-up and labelled threaten our chaste upright selfhood.

In the past the feminist in me would have viewed sex workers as betraying my gender, selling out to the enemy, or as victims of patriarchy. My view was similar to that voiced by Ann Summers in her book, Misogyny (I could almost hear the condemning scowl in her voice). I’d have wanted someone to save these misguided souls from themselves (I was never going to go there), while I shunned them as a lost cause. I would never, ever, have wanted one as my daughter.

My values have had to shift. I could labour on about Hestia and the male appropriation of the ‘Vestal Virgins’ at this point, but I won’t. Neither am I going to segue into a discussion of other cultures or cite the endless cases of abuse of sex workers the world over. This offering is  just one mother’s perspective, and how as a mother, like all mothers who grow through their children, My daughter has provided me an opportunity to change.

I like to keep things simple and straightforward. My daughter has made a choice. She has a well-paid job and she works hard at it. Like any other job, much of what she does has become automatic. There’s no evidence that she’s been damaged by it. It isn’t an easy job. The hours are shit, the clientele questionable and there’s an element of risk. She deals with all that, and she’s developed many strengths as a result. She is, to her core, dignified.

As an author, I’m privileged. I can write about things. I haven’t wanted to. It seems a bit like an ‘outing’. And coming out is the relinquishing of shame. Yet she has no shame in what she does, so why should I feel shame on her behalf? Shame in this context is triggered by ‘virtue’; it’s a judgement, a condemnation, a natural feeling ‘virtue’ has appropriated in order to keep us chaste. Therefore, as I fling open the door and let the world in on my private life, I need to state clearly that I am not and never have been ashamed of my sex working daughter.

Last year I asked her to talk me through a lap dance. Yesterday, Backhand Stories published ‘Twerk. It’s my contribution to the discourse.  The novel TWERK will be released by HellBound Books December 2018.

TWERK

Paco Rabanne?

She leans back against the pole; hard metal cold on her skin.

Yeah, Paco Rabanne.

She poses, pirouette style, in her high high heels.

Or Armani maybe.

She isn’t sure.

Whatever it is the douche in the Tom Ford suit must have taken a bath in it.

She slides her butt down, nice and slow for him; pictures his face. Holds the squat, legs splayed, marks time with the music, one two three, and pushes upright.

Rihanna yodels to a backbeat. It’s like muzak in a shopping mall. She’s sure she heard it in Woolworth’s the other week.

She tilts her hips, eyes the guy in the chair, now with a bulge in his Tom Ford suit. She arches her back, rolls her pelvis forward, undulates her belly, lets the movement flow up her body.

The guy with the suit bulge stares. It’s a Zombie stare.

Not a talker then.

A steady bass throbs through the space, making the air swell and contract.

She sways to the beat, effortlessly, snaps off her bra and gives the slow reveal, putting on a lip-parted pout.

His hands grip the arm rests exactly where she left them. ‘No touching,’ she said.

He would obey.

His whisky glass, mobile, billfold and keys are on a small table beside him.

He’s boosted.

They are almost always boosted.

Yet he’s nervous, and guilty with it too. Wears his guilt in gold wrapped around his ring finger.

There’s gold all about him. Fingers, wrists, neck.

Probably in his teeth.

What’s his name again?

Gary?

Or is it Larry?

Could be Harry.

Or Frank.

Yeah, Frank.

She takes a step forward. Pings her thong, lets it fall.

He ogles her flesh.

She really doesn’t care.

She really doesn’t care about Zombie Frank, all schmicko in his Tom Ford suit.

She’s indifferent.

To his heat.

To his stink.

To his gold ringed finger.

To his crotch bulge.

The song ends, the next beginning on its tail: the slow intro of Partition. She wonders what her friend in the next booth is up to.

Another forward step in her high high heels and she kneels on the chair, hooking her feet on the insides of his thighs, pressing them open.

No closure: No contact.

As she gyrates her pelvis.

As she teases.

As she strokes at the air down there between her thighs and his.

She goes in close, breathes in his ear.

And takes a peek at her watch, its huge silvery face as large as her wrist, distinct numbering to be seen in the dim.

Three.

She leans away from Frankenbulge, arches her back, grasps her breasts, rubs them against his cheeks.

She thinks she still has half a protein bar out the back.

Maybe some of last night’s stir-fry.

Or did she finish that earlier?

The song pushes on.

Beyonce pushes on.

Her pelvis grinds to the rhythm.

She leans forward, rests her arm against the cold brick wall behind him, sinks her flesh into his face, ignoring the hungry lips, the scratch of stubble.

Swanky Franky lets out a slow throaty moan.

She parts the velvet curtain and peeks into the next booth.

Her friend’s on her punter.

They exchange eye rolls and a grin.

She lets the curtain fall.

Lets her mind drift.

The song seems too long.

Her butt, locked in the slow steady groove, starts complaining. She feels a cramp in her instep.

She eases her body back and pushes off him.

He grabs her waist with his hot damp hands and pulls her down.

She swings round.

Backhands his face.

He’s stung.

She steps forward, grabs the pole, twirls round slowly.

Twirls round slowly again.

As Beyonce cuts out and Carmada eases her way to her first ‘Maybe,’ she turns from the guy—Swanky wanky Frankenbulge—sits down in his lap, leans against him, feels the hard of him up against her butt. His breath hot on her shoulder.

She throws her head back, grabs her breasts and puts on a show of self-pleasure.

He releases a slow rumbling groan.

She thinks he sounds like a bloated frog.

Feels her laughter rise.

Satisfied.

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