7.01.2006

Concealing your country code

Dear Miss Snark (The Most High),

Sigh. Sorry for the nitwittery. I just read your response to the reader going to Ghana and the gentleman from New Zealand and I just had to ask. Does this mean it's ok to play bait and switich with agents? That is, pretend you're actually living in the states when querying and then announce - surprise! - that you've "moved" to London if they want to sign you?

It sounds weird but I live in London, am writing a YA novel set here, and so the setting might be slightly more exotic/less tedious to someone from the states. Of course that leaves aside the tiny little task of actually finishing it but I was just curious.



You can't lie. You can finesse, but lying is a bad bad bad way to start out any relationship with someone you want to act as your agent.

London is exotic? Since when? Exotic is more like Pierre South Dakota to someone from NYC.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

London exotic? That's the most hilarious thing I've ever heard.

Elektra said...

The thing that makes me love Brit Lit isn't the "exotic" locations--you guys just have a completely different syle and tone than American writers; even if it were set in the States I'd expect most agents would be able to pick up on the author's origin.

Inkwolf said...

"London is exotic? Since when? Exotic is more like Pierre South Dakota to someone from NYC."

See, this is something that worries me. I read sophisticated New-Yawker sort of books, and Little Midwestern Me is just struck with the feeling that she's had a glance at an alien planet where it actually matters what name brand the frickin' nail polish on your toes is. (And the West Coast seems even worse...)

But the New Yorkers have all the publishing power, it seems. How can I trust an agent and a publisher from another planet to know anything about books that might interest MY hick-town corner of the universe, where the brand of jeans you wear is 'the ones without any holes in them yet' and your skin-care regimen is restricted to wearing a baseball cap when you're out plowing with the combine?

Jean said...

London's not exotic; it's dirty (kind of like NYC but centuries older), but the slang is different enough to be thoroughly confusing -- I usually determine what's being talked about from context, 'cause I don't really care what brand of biscuits is being eaten. However, it's a useful lesson about how something very ordinary in America is likely to be viewed by a non-American reading my work, so a scrub for more universal language is likely to be valuable before submitting in many cases.

south dakota sensei said...

Be certain to lock your car doors during harvest season in Pierre, South Dakota. (Don't worry about locking them any other time.) Y'see, the neighbors usually get a bumper crop of them in the garden and the only way to keep them from going to waste is to surprise everyone with a little gift in the passenger seat.

Craig Steffen said...

Maybe London isn't exotic, but it was certainly new and exciting for me. I posit that there are places in London that meet the definition of exotic. If the lobby of the new British Library building doesn't take your breath away, then I think there's something terribly wrong with you.

And it's interesting that Pierre was mentioned. For a sense of scale for the non-northern-midwesterners reading this (I grew up in SD):

The state has only one area code, 605.

The largest city is Sioux Falls, about 130,000 people.

Pierre, the capital, is like the 5th largest city in the state at 14,000 or so.

(By the way, the name of the capital is pronounced like "pier" or "peer", not like the french name "pee-yare", although it was named after someone named that. The pronounciation just changed over time.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled New York based entertainment.

Ralph said...

I would like to assure readers that, although it is my question cited in the original post, I deserve neither to be called a New Zealander, nor a gentleman. In fact I am from New Mexico and I'm a jerk, and my current address won't change that.

Inkwolf said...

"south dakota sensei said...
Be certain to lock your car doors during harvest season in Pierre, South Dakota. (Don't worry about locking them any other time.) Y'see, the neighbors usually get a bumper crop of them in the garden and the only way to keep them from going to waste is to surprise everyone with a little gift in the passenger seat."

You didn't say 'zucchini' but as another Midwesterner I comprehended immediately. See hwta I mean? :D

Inkwolf said...

...I mean, just to enlarge on the zucchini motif...

What's zucchini to a New York City resident? It's just a tender little dildo-sized veggie that you buy at the grocery store to put in Italian recipes.

But to a rural person, a zucchini is something you plant in your garden because "if nothing else grows, at least we'll have zucchini." And then you enjoy the first few tender little dildo-sized squashes. And you sort of enjoy the second wave of larger zucchini cut up in soups and stews. But after a few weeks, you are desperately searching for recipes for baked zucchini, canned zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini pie, zucchini ice cream, and no matter how many you cook, the ones in the garden keep multiplying and growing--there are some you could hollow out to make make dugout canoes--and your kids start poking at everything on their plate from macaroni-n-cheese to meatloaf, and asking suspiciously "Is ther zucchini in this?" and you ruthlessly lie, "No, of course not!"

So, say you're writing a horror novel. The blood-stained deputy staggers into the sheriff's office and says, "My God, Bibba--they're everywhere! And they're breeding like ZUCCHINI!!!" Now, the midwesterner gets a thrill of horror down their spine at the mere thought.

Then they send it in to the New York editor whoi says, "WTF???" and crosses out 'zucchini,' replacing it with 'rats.'

Come on, now--rats? Scary? This cute little brown critters with the annoying habit of getting into everything edible until the barn cats get 'em? If we could train them to eat zucchini, we'd raise them ourselves...

MWT said...

To Inkwolf's zucchini comments: ROFLMAOASTC

south dakota sensei said...

Inkwolf -- Were you the one who left the zucchini in my car last harvest season? :D I still have one left in the deep freeze. It'll be great for the chocolate chip zucchini muffins. Mmmmm!

Inkwolf said...

Nope, wasn't me. Back when I had a garden instead of a second-floor apartment, I was such a bad gardener that even zucchini wouldn't grow for me. But every summer I buy a few of the canoe-sized ones off the church's veggie stand because they're good value for the money and veggies are so expensive...then I spend the next week going, "I can't believe this zucchini bread recipe only uses three cups of zucchini! What the heck am I going to do with the rest??"

Actually, zucchini humor is traditional, like fruitcake humor at Christmas. I am more than happy to take zucchinis and fruitcakes off peoples' hands. (I do seriously think rats are cute, though.)