Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finding Rachel Davenport

Some of you may remember Mike Harling as my co-blogger on our Pond Parleys blog. Well, Mike has just released his debut novel, which I found entertaining and gripping enough to chew through a few fingernails!

Here he is to tell you about it - 

Writing in a Foreign Language

After ten years of living in Britain, I was pretty sure I had the language down pat. So sure, in fact, that I decided to write a novel with British characters, living in Britain, doing British type things. The book is out now (and, yes, this post is simply a cleverly disguised commercial message) and I am dreading the virtual spanking I am sure to receive for getting the language all wrong.

The book is titled Finding Rachel Davenport and it is about a young woman who works in a travel agency by day, but is a self-styled crime-fighter by night. This is not a fantasy novel, however; the antics Rachel gets up to and the trouble she soon finds herself in are grounded in the real world. Although her aim is to operate anonymously, her first mission goes horribly awry and she finds herself pursued by the media, the police and an assortment of criminals who want her silenced. And so she spends the rest of the book dodging bad guys and nosey neighbours while trying to hold onto her job and juggling two would be suitors. But all of that is beside the point...wait a minute, no it’s not! Go and buy the book. Right NOW!

Anyway, it was first offered to American markets who sent it back confused about acronyms such as PC, SOCO and even OBE. So I offered it to the Brits, and a British publisher acquired it. And then the edits began.

Did you know they don’t call the “produce aisle” a produce aisle here? Neither did I, but you’d think I would have picked that up by now. As the editing process wore on, I discover that even though I knew a lot of British words, the real trick was knowing which of my words and phrases were American.

Handbag instead of purse is one I know about, but having cars booted instead of clamped caused the editor a bit of confusion. Ziploc bag, roundhouse, lay of the land, storefront and license plate all found their way into the manuscript, and all had to be changed to the equivalent British term. (Go ahead, see if you can get them all, I’ll wait.) One we didn’t change was “shucked,” because there is no British equivalent for it.

Perhaps this experience will better prepare me for another novel set in Britain, or, if the language pundits pounce on every other paragraph, maybe I’ll move it to America, instead, as long as I can remember to not have one of the characters “take the piss” out of someone.

Now for the commercial message:

Finding Rachel Davenport, published by Opis, an imprint of Propsera Publishing, is out now and available at:

Michael Harling moved to Britain unexpectedly (and through no fault of his own) in 2002. He is the author of three humorous books about expat life: Postcards From Across the Pond, More Postcards From Across the Pond and Postcards From Ireland. Finding Rachel Davenport is his first novel.
Visit his blog at:


  1. I actually found myself visualising the book after reading your blurb, would make a good film I think.

  2. Thanks for passing on this information. It sounds a really good book. You wouldn't think there was such a difference between 2*English* speaking countries but I guess there is. (I just used an American expression which we have adopted!)
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  3. ooh sounds intriguing. Will buy one and carry it around in my handbag or should that be pocketbook? I am a brit in USA and don't understand why call it a pocket book when it is neither pocket or book. hmmmm

  4. Roundhouse?

    And re EmmaK's comment, I was in America for over 5 years, and never heard a handbag called a pocketbook. Is that a regional thing? Or more to do with the fact that I didn't usually carry a handbag, but stuffed my car keys in a pocket, and just had a small purse/wallet, or even just stuffed my credit card in my pocket too.

    The book looks intriguing. I'm going to buy it. Well done on the choice of name. Rachel Davenport sounds incredibly English, somehow.

  5. Before I buy it, I need to know from Mike - will buying it from the US Amazon store get me an Americanized version? Do I have to order from the UK store for the 'British' version?


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