So, this is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write for some time (and a podcast episode) and now that I am back on a roll with my postings, I thought, well, here it goes.
I mentioned a few days ago in a podcast episode that I did about who I am, the episode titled “Who’s the Chick?”, that I’ve been a huge Anglophile since I was very young.
That being said, I am now ready to admit that I used a large portion of my life defiantly wanting to ignore my Southern roots. Before you go off on a tangent and blast me for that, let me explain . . . let me do some ‘splainin’.
I don’t know if any of you are like me but my obsession with all things British had me craving to live there, speak with the accent, decorate my home in Georgia in a Tudor style, and read as many historical fiction books about England that I could possible absorb. I’ve taken three trips to Britain over the years and I cannot deny the overwhelming feeling that I belonged, somehow. I truly felt that the desire was more than an obsession. I felt at home walking down the streets of Windsor or Stratford or London, or riding the train to Salisbury, or simply sitting in Hyde Park to relax. I definitely could be an expatriate living in the UK.
I think of how Robert Browning felt in his poem “Home Thoughts, From Abroad”, even though he spoke of his homeland, the words resonate with me.
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
I think that is why I started writing historical fiction since I already read about Britain all the time, the next step made perfect sense. After all, writing and reading is an escape from our life (which I use to the fullest sense in my new novel awaiting publication – Kingfisher – which tells the life of a bibliophile obsessed with another time and place).
That being said, I must confess I have spent many years heckled by my husband over my desire that people not know of my Southern roots. Honestly, I hated my drawl, LOL, and I hated living in the South, which I know will cause all kinds of comments and opinions.
But before anyone says anything, this post is about my finally coming to terms and feeling comfortable about where I live and how I sound. I even created a podcast using my own voice so people can get to know the real me. A little bit of a disclaimer here: I used an actresses’ voice on a few opening podcast episodes just so I could get comfortable with the new medium and to see how podcasting works. From now on, you will hear me, the real me, without any filters or British inflections. In other words, I won’t talk like Jersey-born Madonna living in the UK and adopting a slight British speak.
The closest I ever got to that is a game my kids and I played. Sometimes when we were shopping, I would say ‘OK, today is talk like a Brit day’ and we would have to go around pretending we were British for the entire day. It was fun and I think with my Southern-twang accounts for some of the strange looks I received sometimes.
That used to bother me, now, however, I suppose due to age or resignation, I fully embrace my Southern heritage, my voice and where I live. I have written one historical book about my area called “Child of Love & Water” which involves the 18th-century history of Jekyll Island Georgia, but that is about as far as I’ve gone in writing about my home. I know they say that writers should write what they know, and perhaps I might one day, but while I am acknowledging and accepting my Southernness, I am not going to abandon those British roots that show ever day in who I am as a person and as a writer. After all, I really do have British roots, my family ancestry is from Wales and Scotland with very British surnames such as Jones, Talley, Wall, Wynn, and Wauchope.
Those early days of six and seven when I obsessively played the Beatles over and over again started me on the path of who I am. I was Alice in Wonderland then, and I am still her today.
So, here is my confession and my all-embracing post about being a true Southern girl with British roots. Yes, I talk with a twang, and yes, I love Britain. I hope you enjoy the combination!!