Jilly: The Appeal of Foreign Stories

Do you read contemporary stories set in countries other than the USA? What kind of stories are they? What do you especially like about them?

I have a reason for asking.

I’m just back from a most excellent vacation in the States, including an action-packed weekend at the Writers’ Police Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin with fellow 8 Lady Kay, followed by a few days in picturesque Door County (click here to read Kay’s description of our excursions to the Northern Sky Theater Company).

Before I met up with Kay, I spent an afternoon in Chicago talking all things writing with a developmental editor. Mostly we focused on Alexis, but we also talked about my English/Scottish contemporary romance, which I decided to dust off in time for the next (and final) RWA Golden Heart contest.

The editor gave me the same feedback I heard from a very respected agent a couple of years ago when I tried to shop this book: the writing is strong, but a contemporary British setting, with all British characters, is hard to sell outside the UK. She said that the story offered a kind of insider perspective on life in London and Scotland, which is not what the mainstream American romance reader is conditioned to expect.

In her view, when US readers pick up a foreign-set story, they expect the setting to be either

  1. exotic;
  2. glamorously urban; or
  3. small, close-knit communities where the culture is a large part of the appeal.

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Jilly: Memory and Mistakes

835111I had a great post planned for today – all about Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame), one of the most talented composers of the Victorian era, who chose to create popular works rather than prestigious ones. The intelligentsia of the nineteenth century were outraged, but he followed his muse (as Michaeline recommended yesterday) and his clever, witty comic operas are still giving pleasure to 21st-century audiences around the world, while his critics are long-forgotten.

I’ll probably still write that post at some point, but not today. I got distracted by a very interesting book: Why We Make Mistakes, by Joseph T. Hallinan. I bought it thanks to a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago in a Lake District pub with one of my in-laws. I was ‘splaining the unpublished author’s possible paths to publication and why it can be such an endurance event, borrowing liberally from Jeanne’s summary, when we got hung up Continue reading