Location, location, location
A question I’ve been asked several times, by both friends and industry professionals, is “Why did you decide to set it in America?”
It’s a fair question, since I live in Yorkshire and have never been to the USA (although I plan to rectify that later in the year with a trip to New York, where I intend to see all the sights, visit all the shops, and find out what a KFC pot pie tastes like). But The Hand He Dealt follows a sorority girl and a college football player, which meant an American setting. And no end of grief.
For one thing, writing a story set in another country involves more research, especially since my characters are university students. I had to wrap my head around the Greek system, the college credit system (I’m still not sure I fully grasped that), football scholarships, gambling laws and not drinking under the age of 21, even if none of the American students I knew remained abstinent that long.
At the same time, I had to keep the location suitably vague, because while I knew in my head where my campus was and which university I was using as a basis, I didn’t want to make any mistakes with street names and campus buildings – even if the fact that Astra works in a casino and studies gaming management does rather narrow it down.
And then there’s the issue of voice. A novel set in the US with an American protagonist can’t be written in an English voice, but at the same time I didn’t want to end up sounding like Dick van Dyke had stepped out of Mary Poppins and brought his fake American cousin. I spent long hours catching and correcting every incidence of “arse” and bemoaning the fact that so many of our more entertaining swear words were off limits.
The Hand He Dealt is my first novel set outside the UK, but won't be the last - where the next release will be set will remain to be seen!
“The Hand He Dealt” is Tanith’s debut novel and was released by Total-e-Bound Publishing on 13 June 2011.