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Saturday, May 1, 2010

GetToKnowTheBook: 'Worlds Apart' by author Anne Ashby

Worlds Apart is my first novel. It was a joy to write because as New Zealanders temporarily living in Maryland we were actually experiencing the quirky plot lines I wove into the story. All the strange things American TV and movies don’t prepare a visitor for. All those back to front, upside down, peculiar things we had no idea existed until we lived amongst them. Eg. We finally understood the problem/jokes about the toilet seat. I could never figure out why it mattered if it was left up –obviously, NZ design of toilets is different. There’s another example – we received quite scathing looks in fast food outlets/restaurants when we were overheard telling our sons to go to the toilet. It took an ex-pat kiwi to teach us that “toilet” is not an acceptable word in polite society America. And there’s yet another example, for us a “kiwi” is our national bird, a person from New Zealand or our national rugby league team. It’s not a little brown furry fruit. We discovered such a wealth of differences in our language and it was interesting to use this to add confusion to my protagonists. By making my heroine a New Zealander and the hero from Maryland I was able to extenuate their emotional upheavals with smatterings of cultural/language differences. I did this in a light-hearted manner which I hope will bring a smile to my readers.

We were well into our time in MD before I hit upon the idea of using in this story our own experiences. I hope the affection I feel for Ellicott City and the wonderful people we were privileged to meet there comes through in my story. I had so much fun tracking down and highlighting all our differences. Every time my best friend looked perplexed, out my notebook came – I’d found another word she didn’t understand, another idea I could use. Kathleen became quite apt at interpreting for me when we were with other friends.

My heroine Raven is a New Zealand widow who thinks the American her mother’s about to marry is wonderful. She accepts his offer to travel from NZ to MD and recoup from serious illness a few weeks prior to the forthcoming wedding. Her arrival does not go smoothly. Greg and his sister Abby believe the woman arriving to stay is their father’s fiancé. Initially not realising this, Raven is angered and concerned by Greg’s cold, abrasive reception. Determined to ensure her mother will be welcomed with more respect she sets out on a path she soon discovers is very foolhardy.

My editor with The Wild Rose Press came up with the intriguing idea of accentuating the difference between Raven and Greg further for the readers by applying American or New Zealand spelling to the story depending on POV. Raven’s words contain New Zealand spelling while Greg’s words and thoughts are American. It took a bit of organising and I hope will make reading more interesting by continually reminding the reader that these two are from different countries with different cultures and languages. Their lives were originally Worlds Apart.


Now that her temper had cooled, she began to doubt the wisdom of her actions. Perhaps she’d been too hasty.

She could appreciate what a surprise her appearance must have been to Greg when he’d been expecting his father’s fiancée. Maybe she should own up before things got out of hand…The kitchen batwings suddenly flew open, announcing the arrival of the subject of her thoughts. “Do you have anything a little more…?” A pointed pause, as cold eyes travelled from the top of her head to the red tips of her enamelled toes before disdainfully settling on her face. “…suitable to wear? We’ve been invited to my sister’s for dinner. She’s looking forward to meeting you.” I’ll bet, thought Raven, sliding off the barstool.

Suddenly, any thoughts of stopping this farce disappeared with the condescending tone of Greg’s voice.

“Of course, Greggie, I have this simply divine black gown that Brad absolutely adores. I’ll wear that, shall I?” She tilted her head so she was gazing

up into his face. Presumptuous oaf, she smiled,gritting her teeth at the same time.

“There’s no need to dress for dinner.”

Greg spoke as if to a child, or more likely an imbecile, Raven thought.

“Perhaps something a little tidier than…than what you have on now.” He seemed to stumble trying to find the proper words. “And shoes. It would be appropriate to wear shoes.”

Raven couldn’t help it. She laughed. This was fun. And it really served him right, after all.

Slipping quickly into her part again, she replied, “of course, I’ll wear shoes, Greggie, if you think that’s really necessary.”


  1. It sounds like something I would read. I hope it will be available in NZ

  2. It must have been interesting to write from those two viewpoints! I'll be downloading a copy. Good luck!

  3. Tks Leigh - I had a lot of fun learning from American friends and yeah, I admit it, I loved confusing them with kiwi-isms occasionally too. Organising the spelling was quite a feat - Tks to an amazing editor we muddled our way through.

  4. Muddled our way through...and killed our spell checkers! lol
    Great blog, Anne.

  5. Hiya, i can relate to these differences between us. This time last year we spent 7 weeks travelling through the US. Trying to order in a fast food outlet was soooo difficult, no one could understand me and I remember in Jackson, Wyoming, I ended up getting the lady behind me to 'translate' when i wanted a cheeseburger!

    Funnily, even now, a year later, we still say we're going to the bathroom or washroom! Or we're on the freeway etc.

    But - viva la difference i say!

    Jane - back home downunder in NZ

  6. Tks for stopping by Jane, you've vindicated my comments. Now all those Americans will believe I'm not spinning tales about our differences - I mean, two kiwis saying the same thing