Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Arm Chair Traveling

My current series (women's fiction) is set in Britain. But I live in the States. I've been to Britain once, ages ago, on a three-week tour. It was amazing. I haven't had the chance yet to return, but someday I know I will.

In the meantime, though, besides my internet research on British culture, language, food, climate, etc -- I've also done a fair amount of arm chair traveling. One of my favorite things to do is watch travel shows (Samantha Brown and Rick Steves are the best). But, I always have to keep in mind, that's a tourist's view of England. Those shows rarely visit the locals, rarely frequent the pubs or homes of actual British citizens.

In addition to those shows, I love to watch British television (thank you, PBS and BBCAmerica!). Now, I realize that, every bit as much as "Dallas" or "Seinfeld" or "24" re-runs shown in England don't exactly offer up a true representation of all Americans, shows like "Keeping Up Appearances" or "The Vicar of Dibley" or "MI-5" don't necessarily give a true representation of Britons. But...I would like to think that British idioms, British culture, and British mentality are represented somewhere in there.

Even sitcoms can provide information I might've missed in my internet research. For instance, I never knew what an "Aga" was until I saw Judi Dench using one in an episode of "As Time Goes By." Similarly, I've picked up some British slang from watching series and movies of the brilliant Richard Curtis.

My series of novels are set in the Cotswolds, but are seen through an American's (my) eyes. The readership (<--hopefully, one day!) will likely be mostly Americans. Therefore, I feel I can take some liberties, that I can create the British world that we Americans think exists. Of course, if a true Brit read my novels, he/she would probably laugh his/her arse off at me. I realize I'm probably off base, when it comes to certain representations of British life. My Cotswold locations and characters, for instance, are admittedly romanticized versions of what probably really exists.

Still, I'd like to think that arm chair traveling has helped me a little, has at least given me some accurate sense of British culture that I can use in my novels. ;-)

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