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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Please Welcome Debut Author Ashlyn Mcnamara!


Posted by Erin Knightley

Today, we Lady Scribes are pleased to welcome debut author, Ashlyn Macnamara. Ashlyn and I became fast friends when we finaled in the Regency category of the Golden Heart, and I couldn't be happier to host her here today.  Oh, and if you feel like you've seen her here before, you probably have (lol). Without further ado, I give you Ms. Mcnamara:

Photo Credit: Elyse Bergeron
The majority of North Americans and the majority of the inhabitants of the British Isles may claim to speak the same language, but sometimes, you have to wonder. When I need to turn on the subtitles to get everything I can out of an episode of Downton Abbey, I realize there’s quite a gap between the variants.

When I was in university, I knew a young man who was born in England but moved to Connecticut around the age of ten. He liked to tell the story of his first day in American fifth grade and how he wasn’t quite prepared for class. Having made a mistake on his paper, he turned to the girl next to him and asked if he could borrow a rubber.
According to him, she nearly slugged him, when all the poor boy wanted was an eraser.

Photo credit Justinc via Wikipedia commons
And you all know about spotted dick, don’t you? Despite its name, it’s not a venereal disease but a steamed pudding. The spots are currents, but depending on your pudding mold, it might be cylindrical.

It goes both ways, though. An American who mentions knickers and pants to a Brit might come across as a pervert. To someone from across the pond, knickers are panties, while pants are men’s undergarments. Thankfully, I write historicals, and if you go back far enough, people just went commando under their clothes, which avoids the issue.

Unless you want to get into the subject of fag boys. Yep, I’m going there.

In spite of what it sounds like, the concept of a fag boy is a respected tradition at such public schools as Eton. Historically, the incoming first year students were each assigned to a boy in his final year at school. The younger boy was to perform such tasks as making the older boy breakfast, a cup of tea in the afternoon, blacking his boots, and keeping his room tidy. The idea was to teach the boys about service from both ends of the relationship.

Courtesy of Wikipedia commons
In theory, the senior boy, or fag master, was supposed to protect his charge and treat him with a certain level of decency. He was also responsible for his charge’s behavior, so if one’s fag got into a fight, the older boy was expected to deal with it, rather than bothering the teachers or headmasters about such trivialities. 

Naturally, such a system was open to abuse. In his autobiography, Roald Dahl stated he was required to warm toilet seats for the older boys. And if an older boy had a propensity to bullying, his charge became a natural outlet.

In my debut Regency, A Most Scandalous Proposal, the practice of fagging gets a small mention when the hero and the villain recall their school days over a family supper.

Tell me, oh readers of English-set historicals, has the terminology ever tripped you up? One commenter will win a copies of Tracey Devlyn’s (who was kind enough to give me an awesome cover quote) two books.

After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.

Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…

…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.

You can read an excerpt on my website, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. A Most Scandalous Proposal is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. It will be making its bow at your favorite bookstore February 26.

44 comments:

  1. Ashlyn,
    Congratulations on your debut! We're so happy to have you here with us at Lady Scribes today. The book sounds fabulous and the cover is divine!

    I love the little misunderstandings that occur with language differences. Not long ago a gentleman was telling me a story of how he and a friend from England asked two ladies out on a date, and the Englishman told his date he'd be around to knock her up at 8 pm. LOL. He was pretty confident, huh?

    Three regency terms always trip me up. 1) The seats in the coach being called squabs. I always picture poor little birds being squished. 2) The horses pulling the coach being called cattle. I totally didn't understand that until last week's episode of "Once Upon a Time". Well, if it's accurate, that is. The army was riding into battle on cows, which were actually horses, but the saddles were made from cow hide. Now I want to look it up and see if that's why horses were called cattle. 3) The boy that rode around with the hero being called a tiger. I alway chuckle when the tiger does something. I picture an actual tiger perched in the backseat scaring the poor lady to death as they go on a ride.

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    1. Look out, because you have triggered my nerdish tendencies. I love learning the derivations of words. For example, the word "cattle" originally mean a man's movable property, and from there evolved to denote his livestock, until it eventually referred to bovines in particular.

      About squabs--I never looked it up before. For some reason I had it in my head that the squabs refer to that diamond shaped pattern you usually see in coach seats, where they sew buttons onto the velvet every so often to make puffy bits. I thought those puffy bits were the squabs. Turns out, no. The word squab originally referred to anything fat and flabby. Like a cushion, or, I suppose, a young pigeon.

      I tend to imagine a real tiger too!

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    2. Awesome! I love to find out the origin of words or sayings, too. That's interesting about cattle. It's still weird sounding to my modern ears, but I've come to accept it's part of the regency world. :)

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    3. I actually learned the “cow” term from Monty Python’s Holy Grail of all things. It came up again this past semester in some of the primary documents I had to read for my King Arthur course. I learned that many living things that were movable were called cattle. It was limited to cows and horses, it also was applied to human slaves too.

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  2. Ashlyn,
    Welcome to Lady Scribes! Your book sounds wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading it. I'm with Samantha on the term Tiger. I used it in one of my novels, but I kept picturing the animal.

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    1. Thank you! And yes, that word tends to make me think twice. I wonder if some lord with a sense of humor ever thought to put his tiger in orange and black striped livery.

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  3. I've found that over the years I've been reading historical romance that I'm usual able to figure out the meanings relating to women but even though I live in a male dominated household (1 husband and 2 sons) many of the conversations between male characters take me a while to relate to how if it is actually a set down or a sly come back!

    Of course right now I can only remember the typical male comments that made me laugh at the time like "What an appalling old windsucker" or "yes, a regular jack-me-dead" usually said between two male members of the aristocracy scanning those around them at White's.

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    1. Some of those old expressions are a great deal of fun. I love coming across new ones, and I like writing crusty old characters for an excuse to use them.

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  4. After reading so many annotated edtions of Jane Austen's works, I'm fairly comfortable with the different terms, but as a librarian, I have access to so many reference tools that I love to discover new words.

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    1. I love discovering new words, too. I wish they'd occur to my brain when I'm in writing mode more often!

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  5. Hi Ashlyn congrats on your debuts. To be honest yes I often feels confused about the history. But, that what roused my interest towards historical romance , every single day I learn many new things about the ancient periods, cheers Aretha zhen . Arethazhen@rocketmail.com

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    1. Thank you. You know, I never much liked history in school. I liked it a lot more once I started reading historical novels. There's just something about feeling those people are real that engages you. Thanks for dropping by!

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  6. Congratulations on your debut Ashlyn, your book is on my most anticipated reads of 2013. I’m a lifelong romance reader so I am able to understand most of the terminology used in the romances. I am also studying to be a historian so I read a lot of old texts and that is typically when I get tripped up. When that happens I have a habit of hitting the web and looking up the word and the word’s uses (typically I do this through pictures).

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    1. Wow, thank you. I hope my book lives up to your expectations! I know what you mean on the old texts. I try to read primary sources when I can. They can be fun, though, too. Some of their turns of phrase and their general observations can be quite fun.

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  7. Congrats on your debut Ashlyn. I must if there is a word I don't understand the meaning in its context I will go look it up. Thank goodness for the Internet. Otherwise I would be like what.

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    1. Thank you! I remember back when I first started reading these things and being a little lost in the language. I mean ton? What was that? And I had to work a lot of it out from the context because there was no internet then.

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  8. Welcome, Ashlyn!! I'm so thrilled to have a fellow Secret Curtsey Society sister here with me :-)

    All I have to say is that I will never, never be mature enough to say 'spotted dick' without snickering. I suspect Samantha feels the same way ;)

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    1. Thank you for having me. Do you think they'll kick us out of the Society for indulging our inner 12-year-olds?

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  9. Ashlyn,
    Congratulations on your debut! I all but died laughing when I read about your friend at University. I'm like Melody, I'd be lost without the internet. I can't imagine the research that had to go on for writers of historical romance before the inception of the web! All that lost time in cars, at libraries, pouring through a card catalog. Though I did enjoy those days in college. : )

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    1. Thank you! Having attended university in the days before the internet, I can just imagine. I did enough of my own research holed up in the library to get my degree. And then if your local library didn't have what you needed, you had to hope they could get it for you. How things have changed.

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  10. Congrats on your debut Ashlyn. I look forward to your book, and will read the part about fagging with particular interest. For me, one of the perks of historical romance is learning about interesting historical customs and practices that you wouldn't know about otherwise.

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    1. Thank, Diana. Learning something new in a fun way is also something I love about historical romance. As I mentioned above, I didn't necessarily like history all that much until I discovered historical novels that brought the people to life.

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  11. Congrats to Ashley on the new release! I have to admit that some of the colloquy phrases/slang throws me off sometime. But it's fun to see the amount of research that authors do to get into the spirit of the time :)

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    1. Thanks! I think part of it, in my case, anyway, is my nerdish love of language and learning where words and expressions come from.

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  12. Ye know it has na
    Congrats on the book. It sound really good.
    That is one of the reasons I read historicals-I like the language in them and all of the history that goes with it. What trips me up is when the hero and secondary characters have similar names like Samuel and Seth. I have to re read some of the sentences over to see who they are describing. It is so much easier to separate them when they are Samuel and Thomas.

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    1. Thank you! Part of the problem with historicals is you're restricted to older names, and then restricted even more if you don't want something outlandish sounding. I'm not sure a hero names Ebenezer would fly. Names that start with similar letters or look similar visually is often something an editor would ask you to change. My villain in the book underwent a name change, because my editor felt I had too many Bs. He's an L now.

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  13. Brings to mind memories of arriving in Australia as a co-ed and the instructors told us NOT to use the term "fanny pack" because "fanny" meant p---y to them. So of course we used "fanny" at EVERY opportunity.

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    1. I've heard that goes in the UK, too. I don't think they wear fanny packs, but they laugh at Americans for calling them that.

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  14. I have occasionally been tripped up by terminology that I didn’t quite understand, however, I then used the trusty old computer to look it up! I love peppering my conversations with bits and pieces of terms that I have read over the years. You would love the looks of “Huh?” on the faces of people! :-)

    I’ve added your new novel to my Wish List and cannot wait to read it. Congratulations on all of your successes!

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    1. Thanks, Connie! I found an excuse to use "twitterpated" on Facebook today and that made me inordinately happy.

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  15. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Ashlyn and congrats on your debut!

    Though not an English saying or a historical term (or is it?), in the south we say that we need to put on a toboggan when it's snowing or cold outside. In other parts of the country a toboggan is a sled. ;)

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    1. Thank you! Yes, a toboggan is a sled for me, too, but I live north of north. What is a toboggan where you are?

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    2. Oh wait, I just looked it up. That's not a toboggan. That's a tuque!

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  16. Congrats on your debut, Ashlyn!

    My kids are always telling me I talk like my books. :-) But then, their teachers were always impressed with their vocabularies!

    Spotted Dick. I'd heard of it, but never experienced until I had a uh, Significant Birthday. Sabrina Jeffries got me a bag of gag gifts--including a can of spotted dick. It got a lot of laughs!

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    1. Thank you!

      I have to admit, I've never had spotted dick, myself, but it would make a great gag gift. I should have thought of it for the giveaway!

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  17. Congratulations on the new release and your debut novel.

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  18. Congrats on the debut of A Most Scandalous Proposal, I'm looking forward to reading it. I haven't really had much trouble with terminology in the historicals I read. I can usually figure out what they're talking about. Maybe it's all those years watching British comedies on television. :D

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    1. Thanks so much, and I hope you enjoy. I know what you mean about watching British shows. Downton Abbey has taught me a lot--not stuff I need to know as a writer, necessarily, but I'd no idea they pronounced the T at the end of 'valet.'

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  19. Congrats Ashlyn on your debut book! I'll hv to check it out/add it to my wishlist

    When I studied in NZ (I live in Asia) there were a whole bunch of NZ slang terms that I'd never heard of. Tea to them is dinner. I'd always thought tea was what you had in the afternoon at about 4 o'clock for a snack.

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    1. Thank you! I would have expected the same as you, that tea was just a tie-over between a proper lunch and a proper supper.

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  20. Congrats! Sometimes it has.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  21. Yes, mostly I get slowed down reading books where I feel like I have tohave a dictionary close by. And some books with a lot of French phrases and words are just near impossilble to get through since I don't know the French language. Books written in the 30's and 40' have expressions that, well, I ask my mom what they mean. Your book sounds interesting.
    JFWisherd(at)aol(dot)com

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