Friday, July 20, 2012

Author Guest Post + Giveaway by Aida Brassington

We are so very proud to present a guest post from a quirky and fresh writer that is here to tell us about going wrong (or in her case- going right!) with speech patterns and dialects.
Give a warm welcome to… the one …the only … Aida Brassington, author of “Chasing Fools”!!

Aida Brassington lives in northeast Pennsylvania. She loves to eat and cook, and was inspired to write CHASING FOOLS by her experiences smuggling illegal cheese into the country from France (small amounts, of course—she has never held a job as an illegal foods smuggler). Her best-selling debut novel, BETWEEN SEASONS, has consistently garnered 4 and 5 star reviews and been called “intriguing,” “compelling,” and “surprising.” You can find her online at her website, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Accents – linguistic heaven and/or hell?


Writing accents can be tricky business. Sometimes it’s enough to say that a character has a lilting Cockney accent or a American southern twang, but the real problem there is getting the language used just right.

E.L. James has run into this problem (and a great deal of criticism) with her 50 Shades of Gray—her characters are supposed to be American, but they speak in British vernacular and maintain no verbal connection to the Pacific Northwest. A better example of how to do it right is the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series. Her Scottish highlanders are so well written in terms of accent and language, I can practically hear Jamie saying “murrrrrrrrder” in my ear.

So I was particularly conscious of this very issue when I wrote Chasing Fools. This dark comedy/family drama/romantic suspense novel is set in South Philadelphia, a large neighborhood that encompasses a lot of accents. Philadelphia itself has a very particular accent and rhythm to speech patterns, but what’s interesting to me is how even members of the same family can have lesser or more severe versions of the accent, depending on the where they went to high school and who they hang out with.

I lived in South Philadelphia for many years, so it wasn’t difficult to write believable characters—the section of the neighborhood in which Chasing Fools is based is primarily of Italian descent, and Gino, Tommy, Flora Campi, Nana, Anthony Carluccio, and the other Italian South Philly characters in the novel are all based off people (in a vague way) I used to see every day, believe it or not.

As an example of what I’m talking about, consider this excerpt from Chasing Fools during which Tommy is arguing with his mother about starting to date again after his father’s death:

“Ma, you ain’t going on any date with Anthony Carluccio. I’m the man of the house now. I won’t stand for it.” His voice echoed off the ceiling as though trying to drill down into Ma’s head, arms pretzeled over his chest.
His mother sailed into the cluttered room, the HMS Flora, teased hair the color of rotting eggplants left out in the sun.
“Why can’t I? Hmm? Just because you say so? I am the mother, and you are my son. I do what I want.” Ma’s hands poked and stabbed the air in front of her, conducting the orchestra of her retort. “But speaking of dating, there was a cute, new girl at the hair salon today. I can set you up. That’s a good girl right there. Good Italian girl.”
“Ma, come on.”
“Don’t ‘come on’ me. Look at you—you’re a grown man now, or so you say, and you need to find a girl and settle down. People are gonna think there’s something wrong with you. Or me, for that matter. What, I raise a weird son? The ladies at church, they ask about you all the time—Sophia Bianchi lit a candle for you.”
She moved to the mantle above the fake fireplace, arranging the statues of Mother Mary clustered there like an all-girl’s singing group. The one with jaundiced skin shifted to the right by an inch, the Mary with the painted blue wrap shimmying forward to take its place. The mournful gray stone figurine back-stepped to the rear. Ma’s own weird holy choreography . . . the Bob Fosse of Snyder Avenue.
“I can take care of my own life. Never you mind, Ma.”

If you’ve ever spent any time in Philadelphia (or South Philly, in particular), this should sound familiar. And I think it’s really important to do good research on speech patterns and accents when you’re writing because of the way doing so can put a reader right in the story. Of course, in the case of mistakes in slang or accents, it can also pull a reader right out of the story, and no one wants that.

So let’s talk about books! What have you read that includes a character written with a noticeable accent or speech pattern? Did it work or did it not, and how did that influence your enjoyment of the novel? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Chasing Fools!

Book blurb:
Relationships are complicated even under the best of circumstances. For Varda Dorfman
and Tommy Campi, these are the worst of times. Varda, an illegal foods smuggler, has pissed off Anthony Carluccio, the kingpin of the local underground dinner club, and put her plans for the future in serious jeopardy. Her boyfriend Gino won't quit bugging her to get married, even though his mother hates her. Tommy, Gino's brother and the ladies man of the family, can't even introduce the love of his life to anyone: he's secretly gay and dating the son of Carluccio's biggest competition. And now Tommy's getting pressure to go public.

When Carluccio's hit man turns up dead in Varda's closet after snacking on poisonous mushrooms, all hell breaks loose. Varda's running for her life, and since his mother is dating Carluccio, Gino's convinced the only way to save her life is to finally drag her to the altar. And when people start discovering Tommy's hush-hush relationship, things really start to get interesting.

CHASING FOOLS is available in Kindle format on Amazon. It will be available in paperback shortly.


  1. I totally agree with the Outlander reference, when it comes to the speech pattern she has it down pat (she is the goddess of historical fiction after all). I think it's important to get the speech patterns just right or it can throw readers off a bit, I think some authors forget that and it's nice to know that it isn't completely lost on others :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

  2. Absolutely agree. Accents /idiom is vital to get right otherwise it's just not plausible and it bugs readers.
    Great blog by the way. I'm a new follower from bookblogs. Please feel free to visit my blog:


  3. Great interview, I love guest posts! New follower from blogaholic, I look forward to your future posts! You can find me at

  4. Just dropping by to let you know that you've both been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award here :0)

    And yes, I think mistaken slang/accents tend to throw readers off. Sometimes they don't know what it is particularly, but it does slow down the flow of the book when the reader is jumping between different vernaculars. Authors need to put the time in to research to make sure the linguistics is correct because people DO notice.


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