…I learnt from Mari Carr.
‘Tis true. Honest. Until Mari Carr and I decided to write a series of books together, I was 100% convinced Thanksgiving was something Hollywood invented so movies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Son in Law and Home for the Holidays could be made. Okay, 60% convinced.
Until Mari Carr and I decided to write the Foreign Affairs series, about a group of Aussies from the Outback and the city-slicker Americans they seduce, I was more than convinced the only beer in America was Miller (and I thought it was Millers. With an “s”).
Okay, so I wasn’t that clueless to the North American world, but Google can only help you out some of the time. And Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and the Men in Black aren’t entirely the font of New York City knowledge this little Aussie hoped they would be.
For starters, Google doesn’t tell me you could walk twenty New York blocks and not once bump into someone you know. If I was to believe Jerry Seinfeld, my heroine–Monet Carmichael–should be running into her friends any time she decided to go for a stroll. It was Mari who pointed out the chances of that happening are slim.
Mari also told me exactly where an Aussie cowboy would go to buy a suite in New York–and it isn’t the local Target down the road.
When I sent Mari the first draft of Book Two of the Foreign Affairs series, Misplaced Cowboy (which sees an Aussie stockman come to New York to meet with a woman he met online) it was full of these
Everytime I came to a bit of information or detail about New York or America I was clueless about, I would write XXXX and continue on. Poor Mari had a lot of XXXXs to address.
- What kind of beer is favoured in US bars (Miller Lite. No S)
- Where someone in the US would buy clothes a cowboy would wear (Urban Outfitters)
- The food ordered in a typical New York cafe (NB: it’s not fish and chips)
- Whether Americans consider Vegemite a condiment or a spread (apparently it’s neither. “That funny black shit” is the answer Mari gave me)
- How long it takes to walk four New York blocks (longer than ten minutes…which kinda sucks when you only want your character to be beside each other for that length of time)
- What a New Yorker does to a car that almost hits them in the street (flipping off the bird, as opposed to hurling abuse at them)
- and my all-time favourite…how big a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon is. The best way to show you how little I knew about Thanksgiving Day parade balloons is to cut and paste Mari’s email response to me when I asked if they were about twenty foot big:
Foreign Affairs, Book One
Annie Prince has impetuously flown halfway ’round the world to visit a sexy cowboy she met online—only to find herself stranded in Sydney. Seems she and Dylan crossed wires, and he’s on his way to New York. His twin, Hunter, saves the day and whisks her back to the family cattle station. Hunter’s as easy on the eyes as Dylan, and even easier to talk to. Annie might have flown to Oz to meet one brother, but soon sparks are flying with the other.
Hunter considered Dylan a dumb arse for jetting off to America for some stranger—until he met Annie. Turns out the New Yorker is a smart, funny, hard-working jillaroo…and hotter than the Aussie desert. Hunter’s not normally one to poach his brother’s women, but he can’t keep his hands, lips, tongue and other body parts off this sexy city girl.
When raging lust leads to emotional attachment, where does that leave Annie and Hunter when her vacation comes to an end—or when Dylan finds out?