Some Write It Hot

October 11, 2010

What English? Or should that be, Which English? By Lillian Grant

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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When I wrote my first novel, I wrote it in English. At least I thought I did. Turns out, nothing is quite that simple.

Story complete, critiqued, polished, rewritten, re-critiqued, whisked into outer space by aliens, prodded, probed, formatted and good to go, I sent a sample on its merry way to my publisher of choice. Okay, okay, I may have submitted it to more than one publisher but that is not the point. Happy with the final copy, I sat back and waited, and waited, and waited, until at last I got a nibble. Could I send the whole manuscript? Mai oui, of course. Then, would I rewrite the sex scenes to make it hotter? Well, in for a penny in for a pound. Finally, an offer to publish my baby, in English.

BUT, hmm, whose English? The contract said I had to use US spelling. So, who cares? What are a few lost U’s and the occasional S morphing into a Z between friends? If it got my book into the public domain and made women weep with unrequited lust for my hero, I could sacrifice the odd letter here and there. Although, I was very concerned about giving up my arse.

Contract signed, I waited for my first round edits. They arrived and I opened the file. What eternal hell was this? My editor had interpreted, use US spelling, for make it a US novel…NOOOOOO!! Thankfully, she is an angel and when I emailed my horror at having my gorgeous Aussie hunk, that would have the ladies panting with pent up frustration, changed to a down home American boy, she spoke to ‘management.’

Oh, what sweet joy it was when the answer came back, lose the Aussie spelling, keep the Aussie slang. However, this came with a caveat. Keep the Aussie slang that made sense. So began a period of tense editing where words like ‘lounge’ were tossed aside to be replaced with ‘living room.’ Would American readers understand the word ‘git’ if read in context. I even got complemented on how clever I was to know when it was appropriate for my hero to use the word ‘bugger’ in a sentence. After much deliberation, the process was complete. My hero and heroine are still Aussie’s living in Australia and most of my slang survived. I was thankful I hadn’t used some of our more colourful expressions, such as ‘he’s hung like a drover’s dog,’ because nothing could have saved them, and it seems the names of more intimate body parts are universal. Best of all though, she agreed I could keep my arse.

NB: No U’s or S’s were harmed during the writing or publication of this article.

You can learn more about Lillian Grant at her website.


  1. Good one Lillian! And, as we writers all know, it’s all about saving your arse. LOL

    Comment by Debbie Vaughan — October 11, 2010 @ 04:48 | Reply

  2. Great post Lillian. So far I’ve avoided having to Americanise my narrative, but I know sooner or later I’ll be asked to convert. Glad you didn’t have to compromise your arse though 😀

    Comment by Ash Penn — October 11, 2010 @ 06:30 | Reply

  3. Thank goodness you were able to overcome our egocentricities and get Nancy published.
    Who’d have thought speaking English would require translation to… English?

    Comment by DA Kentner — October 11, 2010 @ 06:43 | Reply

  4. It’s a funny ol’ world in it 🙂 I thought I knew how to write like an American but apparently not.

    Comment by Lillian Grant — October 11, 2010 @ 13:30 | Reply

  5. […] am the blogger today on Some Write it Hot where I discuss, tongue in cheek, the vagaries of translating Australian English into US English.  […]

    Pingback by What English? — October 11, 2010 @ 13:58 | Reply

  6. You should never give up your arse! I can relate since my brain is American, keyboard is Irish and my spell check is British. 😉 Very glad it all worked out for you in the end.

    Comment by Gillian Archer — October 11, 2010 @ 14:09 | Reply

  7. I totally get it, being British and living in the USA you’d think I would get all those glaring differences by now but-alas, no. I still call things the wrong word. I only wish the publishers would extend the same courtesy when they are writing about my country and would use ‘arse’ instead of ‘ass’ which always pulls me out of the story lol. Glad you kept your Aussie slang 🙂

    Comment by Kate Pearce — October 11, 2010 @ 15:31 | Reply

  8. Thanks for stopping by Kate. I am an expat from the UK and even though I have lived in Australia for 25 years nothing gives away my true identity quicker than me refering to public holidays as bank holidays. Some things just stick no matter how much you try to shake them off. Glad to know it’s not just me 🙂

    Comment by Lillian Grant — October 11, 2010 @ 16:14 | Reply

  9. I’m so glad they went along with you on the edits. I love the nice accent in your books that are only there because of your Aussie background.

    Comment by Judith Leger — October 12, 2010 @ 08:25 | Reply

  10. Thanks Judy 🙂

    Comment by Lillian Grant — October 12, 2010 @ 14:13 | Reply

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