England and America: two countries separated by a common language.
As you might expect, given that my mystery series is set in Cornwall, England, I have a wonderful group of fans in the UK. They are loyal, but not uncritical, thank goodness (I love critiques!).
They have a common “beef”: Americanisms. That is, words in American English which are different in the U.K. It is a fair criticism, but one that is diabolically difficult for American writers to resolve. Many years ago, I published a popular three-book series called The Best of Britain’s Countryside: A Driving and Walking Itinerary. Amazingly, the books are still available (used) via Amazon and are still getting great reviews. But I always included a glossary of American/British translations, if only to help American visitors avoid embarrassment—because, let me tell you, confusion and misunderstandings are common between two people claiming to be speaking the same language (personal experience below).
Here are just a few befuddling examples:
There is no end to them. It’s astonishing we can even converse! The meeting of the G7 nations was just held in Cornwall. The foreign leaders had translators. Did Biden and Johnson have one too?
I have spoken to other American authors of British mysteries and we seem to have all arrived at a common solution: If a British character is speaking, we use British words and spellings. In descriptive narrative (since most of our readers are Americans) we tend to use American terms. This system manages to make everyone unhappy, equally.
But there are times when the language gap can be humiliating, as I learned when I took a job in London, my first trip to England. I admired the snappy leather suspenders some of the men used to hold up their trousers and resolved to purchase a pair. I marched over to the men’s department at Selfridges, on Oxford Street, and asked a dapper salesman to see their suspenders. He blinked, just once, and directed me to women’s lingerie, which is where I learned that “suspenders” in British English are ladies’ garter belts.
You can’t be too careful.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.