by D.E. Haggerty
So when I was once again asked how living in The Hague inspires my writing, I cringed before having a mini-panic attack. Then, I went for a walk with the dog. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining as it is prone to do in this city next to the sea. While I was crossing the seven-lane road to get to the forest, a runner came flying from the left to cut me off, and I had to hold the dog back before we all tripped. As I yelled at the dog in three languages (one of which was, for some strange reason, a fake Bostonian accent), I swear an actual lightbulb appeared above my head. Language! Of course! That’s how my writing has been influenced by living in foreign countries.
The city of The Hague is full of expats who speaks different dialects of English as well as the Dutch themselves who speak English as a second language. This has resulted in me subconsciously adding non-American terminology to my everyday speech. My writing is effected by this in a variety of ways with slang and swear words being the two most noticeable. I’m fairly certain I drive my editor crazy with this. She religiously deletes phrases like ‘That’s just not on!’ from my manuscripts. Unfortunately for her, I can ignore her red pen. Bwahaha.
My international group of friends in The Hague have influenced my writing as well. The non-English speakers tend to throw a foreign word or two into their English speech. I totally stole this idea to help me to develop distinct personalities for my secondary characters, something I’ve struggled with in the past. Fat Girl Begone! has a large cast of characters – eleven! How in the heck can I give them all distinct personalities? Foreign language, that’s how. My heroine, Everly, creates a posse of women from her fitness class. I made one woman from this posse, Tara, a Latino and added typical Spanish terminology to her speech. With just a few foreign words here and there, her personality became solidified.
Now that I’ve warmed up to this topic and my panic attack has subsided, I realize there is another influence the Dutch have had on my writing. Let’s talk about sex, baby. To put it mildly, the Dutch are not prudes. It’s not uncommon to see a commercial on television baring a woman’s breasts during prime time. Sex and nudity are – according to the Dutch – just part of life and nothing from which to shield children, let alone be ashamed of.
Between my years in the US Army and living with a Dutch man in the Netherlands, my American prudish ways are long behind me. This became a problem when I revealed the cover for Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker. The novel is a cozy mystery and a clean read. The cover – which my husband, myself, and my Dutch friends found totally normal – features a silhouette of a woman pole dancing. Two blog tour operators dropped my book tour because they thought the cover was too risqué. I was completely shocked. It was too late to change this cover, but I was more aware of the issue when working on the covers for the following two books in the series. Luckily, my current novel, Fat Girl Begone!, isn’t a so-called clean read.
Living abroad has influenced my writing more than I thought! Instead of having a panic attack the next time a blogger asks me how living overseas influences my writing, I’m taking the dog for a walk.
After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B.
Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before deciding to follow the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go.
But ten years was too many to stay away from adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
Fat girl Begone! is my eleventh book.
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D.E.'s Sexy Contemporary, Hilarious Romance: Fat Girl, Begone!
Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business.
Just call me Ms. Drama.
Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.
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