This post was moved from my old website and originally posted on May 21st, 2013.
I have just uploaded ESCAPED, Book 2 in my Pierced Series, to Amazon and I am very, very nervous.
More nervous than when I published Pierced, my first book!
I think a lot of it has to do with this thing called ‘expectations.’
As amazing as it may sound, I have recently become aware that I have a few fans – or at least Pierced does. Okay, so it is only like ten people at the moment – but they are fans nonetheless! Fans means there is the potential to disappoint. And this terrifies me!
I am worried over how different Escaped is from Book 1. But then I remind myself that it is a novella and not a full-length novel – 28.5K words long – and is not supposed to be like Pierced. It is supposed to merely highlight an episode/event mentioned in Book 1 that was not gone into in any great detail.
I then think about all the comments that I am almost positive will come on some of the choices I made and have decided to explain myself here, as I announce simultaneously that: ESCAPED IS OUT LATER TODAY!!! Okay, I finally got to the point!
There will be no spoilers here so it is safe to read on.
Pierced was written entirely from Pierce’s point of view – a girl with a penchant for piercings, cooking and reality T.V., and who suffers from multiple anxiety disorders. Escaped is written almost entirely from the point of view of Oscar, a Spanish man.
Yes, please note the obvious difference. :)
There were several choices I could have made when writing from the perspective of a Latino man, and I will explain here why I made the ones I did – as I am sure one common criticism is going to be “Why is there so much Spanish in the book?”
1. The quick response is going to be: There is not that much, to be completely honest, but I do understand that if you don’t speak a single word of Spanish even one line can be too much. Having said that, apart from simple words like “sí” and “adios,” all Spanish words, phrases etc. have been translated in the sentence following it – which in essence means that if you were to remove all Spanish words from the text, you would not lose any of the meaning.
2. The longer answer: When I write I think cinematically. I see the written scene as if it is playing out before me on the big screen. The same is sort of true for accents. Friends of mine can tell you I have a thing for accents – or rather for bad accents – in film. An American playing a Brit in a movie – or vice versa – and doing the accent badly, drives me absolutely insane. It distracts me from the whole film – and afterwards, it’s all I talk about FOR DAYS.
Here is an oldie-but-goodie example: 1991’s Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. Kevin Costner’s British accent was so bad in that film, that twenty years later, I still break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.
Am I a tad dramatic?
Guilty as charged.
My point here, and yes, I am encroaching upon it now, is that I have discovered I feel the same way about accented characters in books too. Of course, like film there are exceptions. I have no doubt there are literary equivalents to a Meryl Streep accented performance. I do, however, remember reading (or trying to read) a book a while back (I never finished it and don’t remember the name – which quite obviously is not a good thing) in which one of the lead characters had an accent of some kind – and the author wrote THE WHOLE DAMN THING to reflect this accent. I wanted to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick, preferably one that had been sitting in a fire beforehand.
Now when it came to Oscar and his accent, I was imagining a thick, yet understandable Spanish accent like, say, Antonio Banderas. Yeah, Oscar = Puss in Boots.
So how to convey a sexy Spanish accent without making the reader wish they had a red hot poker handy?
I am sure there are talented authors out there that CAN write dialogue to intelligently convey a Spanish accent. I am not one of them.
I did, however, live in Spain for seven years. I also lived in New York for fifteen years and have many Puerto Rican friends there (In fact I lived in a building exactly like the one Oscar does in Escaped – Spanish speaking neighbors and all!). Here in Las Vegas, where I live now; my Latino social circle is mostly comprised of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. All of this has helped me to keep up with my Spanish despite the fact it has been thirty years since I lived in Spain.
In a nutshell, the Spanish (from Spain) accent is very distinct. For example, they use a “th” sound for “c” – so “gracias,’ instead of being pronounced, “gra-si-as” becomes “gra-thi-as.” Puerto Ricans like to blend English and Spanish together (Mexican-Americans often do this too), for example: “Ay míra, mí novio bought me new shoes.” Mexican Spanish has a completely different accent altogether.
Each language has its own accent and way of saying things. I combined a bit of all three in Escaped.
OMG I feel like Pierce when she goes off on a cooking tangent – and now you know where it comes from!
MY POINT, is that rather than typing out a (badly written) accent for Oscar, I decided to throw in the odd word or sentence here and there to remind the reader he has an accent. The repetition of the English translation directly after the Spanish word/phrase is definitely more Puerto Rican, or should I say “New Yorican,” but here I decided to exercise my writer’s license. Directors get one, so why shouldn’t I?
Of course, the odd sentence or two became three or four, once I added in all the other Latino characters in the novella.
If you HATE all the Spanish – I am sorry :( If it does not bother you – yay! If you actually LIKE it – double yay with a cherry on top! :)
Damn, that was a long way to try and explain why there are about thirty words of Spanish in 28 thousand word long book.
The next criticism I am anticipating is the short length of the chapters.
Although I did label them “chapters,” I think of them more as bullet points. The event, the plot, the story of the novella, is the escape from the Residency. I bullet point vignettes from Oscar’s past – just little short scenes – that break up the tense action of the escape by juxtaposing short little exchanges that all point towards the what, the why, and the how it is that Oscar has ended up where he is today and what his relationship is with Reyes, who appears briefly in Book 1.
The bottom line is this (finally! I hear you all cry!), Escaped is different from Pierced. While that worried me a little, I think I have come to the conclusion (strangely enough, the same one my mom came to ages ago), that while different, it has its own strengths and I am just as proud of it as I am of Pierced – and firmly stand by both books!
If you happen to read either of them, please let me know what you think. I love criticism, suggestions, feedback, comments, declarations of undying love, death threats…
Okay, so maybe that might be a little extreme – but you get the picture!! (I hope) (Those of you that read all the way to the end, maybe).