Thu
Jan 31 2013 1:30pm

Author Karen Booth Lies Back and Thinks of England (and Those Accents!)

Bring Me Back by Karen BoothAuthor Karen Booth's new release, Bring Me Back, features a heroine who gets to meet—and do more than that with!—the musician she had a crush on back in the '80s. Karen herself has a music background, and her books interweave her current life as a writer with her music biz past. Today she's here to talk about what makes her all tingly—British accents. Thanks for joining us, Karen!

We all have at least one weakness—chocolate, wine, expensive shoes, bad movies. I hesitate to call them guilty pleasures, because I don’t believe in that. If you enjoy something, you should do so without guilt.

One of my biggest weaknesses is British men, or more specifically the things they say and the way they say them. Is it just the accent? Maybe, but there’s no denying that anything said with a British accent sounds more intelligent, certainly believable, and ultimately awesome.

My car is parked in a tow-away zone? Tell me in a British accent and I promise I won’t be the slightest bit upset.

When you’re reading, you have to imagine the accent, which can be its own fun. I don’t put much thought into the hero’s voice with most books, unless the author makes a point of noting any unusual qualities. If the hero is British, it’s a whole new ballgame, and in my head, it sounds amazing.

There are some great recent contemporaries with British heroes who know how to deliver a line and then some. In Ruthie Knox’s About Last Night, Neville is the Brit hero whom Cath dubs “City” before she knows his name. She quickly learns there’s a lot going on beneath his smooth-as-hell exterior.

In the kitchen, after he’d rescued her the night before from her own intoxication:

“No trace of a hangover, then, Mary Catherine?” His voice. She had no defenses against his voice. Low and hungry, that haughty accent such a delicious contrast to his naughty mouth.

“Much better, thanks.” He licked her collarbone, kissed her ear, nibbled her lower lip. She had to lean against the countertop, having gone knock-kneed. “Call me Cath.”

“No, I don’t think I shall.” He grasped her by the waist and lifted her, and she locked her ankles behind his back. “I’m taking you to bed now, Mary Catherine.”

Later, when she’s digging in her heels about spending time with him:

Nev’s mouth curled up at the corners, and he lowered his voice, leaning closer. “Of course I’m trying to get you back into bed with me. I loved having you in my bed. I’d like to chain you to my bed.” He trailed a finger down her bare arm, leaving a trail of sighing nerve endings. “But I’d also like to have lunch with you.”

In Karen Stivali’s Meant To Be, the Brit hero is the charming and unassuming yet swoon-worthy English professor, Daniel. Marienne is powerless when he speaks.

Marienne watched as Daniel grabbed a bottle of Coke out of her fridge.

He unscrewed the cap and took a drink. “It’s quite difficult to understand American slang when English isn’t your native tongue.”

He continued speaking but Marienne’s mind was caught on the words native tongue. Or, more specifically, tongue. More precisely still, Daniel’s tongue. She’d always loved the sound of his voice, the expressiveness of his choice of words, but sometimes she just enjoyed watching his mouth. This was one of those times. She studied his tongue as it moved to form his words, as it licked his lips when he paused to think, as it pressed against the Coke bottle when he drank. Heat prickled through her.

Is it hot in here or is it him?

Later in the book, the first time he gets her into bed:

“Please,” he whispered, lips on her jaw, then beneath her ear. “I want to see you. I need to see that you're here with me and not just a fantasy inside my head.”

“A fantasy?” She'd never thought of herself as anyone's fantasy.

“Yes.” His voice was serious. “I've been with you like this a thousand times in my mind, maybe more.”

Molly, the main character in Megan Caldwell’s Vanity Fare, comes face-to-face with the power of a British accent. She’s in trouble from the first time she meets Simon, the unfairly sexy baker, even when she can only hear him:

He had a British accent, the upper-crust, devil-may-care Hugh Grant kind of accent. The kind that made me a little weak at the knees, so I was glad I was sitting down.

“John, just give me a sec while I flirt with this lovely lady out here.” Only when he said it, it sounded as if he had just said something much naughtier.

And moments later, after they’ve met and she’s subsequently discovered a pastry crumb on her lip:

“You like my baked goods, then?” Simon’s eyes glowed.

He definitely knew what he was saying. A slow heat began to build in my stomach. It wasn’t the coffee.

“Yes,” John answered, “she was practically licking the bag.”

Simon’s lids dropped halfway down, and he swept his gaze from my feet to my head. “Was she? I would’ve liked to see that.”

I know it’s not just me who would probably buy swampland from a smooth-talking Brit. There’s no way it’s just me. Who else is ready to own up to their weakness for British men who know how to use that lethal accent to their best advantage? Any other contemporary British heroes you’d like to share?

 


Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with Rock ‘n’ Roll led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Much of her writing revolves around the world of backstage passes and band dynamics. When she’s not creating fictional musicians, she’s listening to everything from Duran Duran to Otis Redding to Superchunk with her kids. You can learn more about Karen at karenbooth.net.
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11 comments
Lynne Connolly
1. Lynne Connolly
There's no such thing as a British accent, any more than there's an American accent.
I'm Manc, from Manchester. Thirty miles away we have a completely different accent in Liverpool. Scouse is one of the most distinctive accents. Fifty miles down the motorway, it's different again, in Birmingham. London has a cluster of accents - Cockney, Estuary and the rest. Then there's the West Country, Somerset and Cornwall. I'm married to a Geordie. Then we have the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish - it just goes on.
And when I go to the US, I keep being asked which part of Australia I come from!
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@lynnemargaretconnolly, one of my favorite accents is the Northern one, like Sean Bean had early on in his career.
Heather Waters (redline_)
3. redline_
I'm a sucker for British accents too. I could listen to Jamie Bamber talk all day...

@lynnemargaretconnolly -- Agreed, we Americans have all sorts of different accents too, but I don't know, I think I know what people mean when they refer to a collective American accent, certain way of speaking (I've heard Americans sound more nasal and use their mouths/tongues in a slightly different way than the British, for instance). I'm from Florida and I'm not sure I have enough of a Southern accent that someone (even another American) could tell exactly where I'm from, but it's probably pretty easy to tell my accent is American of some sort.
Lynne Connolly
4. Lynne Connolly
Do you mean Jamie Bamber and his South London accent, as in Law and Order UK? I could certainly look at him all day!
Sean Bean is a Yorkshireman. I'm from the other side of the "tops," Lancashire, although I wasn't born there, so my accent is a bit of a mishmash.
How about British terms and slang?
At the moment Alastair McGowan is doing a few films on accents for the One Show. There might be one or two on Youtube, if you look.
Me, I love the New Yawk accent, and the Chicawgo one, but I don't find them sexy. Oh no, Texas every time!
Heather Waters (redline_)
6. redline_
@lynnemargaretconnolly -- No, his real-life accent is my favorite. Love listening to his interviews. :)

Hmm, what is my favorite American accent? I guess the different Southern accents just because that's what I grew up with. Not really a big fan of New York, Boston, or Chicago accents, to be honest.
Megan Frampton
7. MFrampton
One American accent I love is the Mexican Californian one, like the guys who work on West Coast Choppers and West Coast customs have. I have to say, I don't find anything as sexy as a British accent (as I say, I like the Yorkshire ones), but I love listening to regional accents. I speak in a generic American television news accent, myself.
Carmen Pinzon
8. bungluna
@Karen Booth - I loved your voice in this article so I went and got your book on my Kindle right away. I was in my 20's in the '80s but still got a sense of the music scene, though I lived part of that decade in Spain. (Mecano and Marta Sanchez for me). Which groups did you have most in mind while writing this story?
Karen Booth
9. karenbooth
@bungluna thank you so much for the kind words and buying the book. You made my day! There are some fun nods to different 80s bands, but the book was inspired by a dream I had about John Taylor from Duran Duran (a dream I had as an adult, YEARS after my teenage crush on him). I hope you enjoy Bring Me Back!
Karen Booth
10. karenbooth
I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments--funny how we all have that one little thing that really does it for us. If men only knew what goes on in our brains, especially when they decide to bust out a few well-spoken words.
TammaraWebber
11. TammaraWebber
I love the cover and premise of Bring Me Back! I just read this to my hubs and he said, "GARY, I'M GOING OUT!" - from one of his favorite movies, Music and Lyrics. (Yep, ladies, I said one of his favorites - be jealous!) I'm definitely grabbing this one... it sounds perfect for one of our too-rare read-alouds. (I'm putting in a request for him to read Nev's parts like Hugh Grant...)
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