Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Welcome Clare Austin!

Today, let's welcome Clare Austin to Alien Places. She's stopping by on her tour of cyberspace to celebrate the launch of BUTTERFLY. Make yourself comfortable and listen to her tale.

After the interview, you will find more information (including a blurb and excerpt) about Clare's book! And prizes!

Thank you for having me on your blog today. My novel Butterfly is now available and if I don’t talk about it I’ll go mental. Mental: the state of being a little bit nuts. That’s Irish. Well, Irish English at least.

Though Butterfly takes place in Boston, nearly half the characters are Irish. When I wrote their dialogue, I had Irish speakers…mostly Dubliners…talking in my head. After I sold my manuscript to The Wild Rose Press, I worked with a wonderful editor, Eilidh MacKenzie, who helped me tone down the accents and concentrate on cadence and context to achieve a balance…readable but still obviously Irish.

Many Irish are going to sound a bit like this “Werah ye goin’ no bell on yer bike an’ yer knickers wringin.” The answer being…“Ta der an’ back ta say how fare it ‘tis.” If written this way all through a three hundred page book, it’s exhausting to read.

Often the Irish of every socio-economic group will not pronounce the “th” in words like “this, thanks, three…etc.” they come out sounding like “dis, tanks, tree.” Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is in the land of saints and scholars. I even asked a linguist and teacher of the Irish language, an Gaeilge. He “tanked” me for my interest in Irish…but hadn’t a clue what I was referring to.

In Butterfly I also have a Puerto Rican character and at least one person who speaks with a heavy Boston twang. I left them with fairly heavy written accents because they appear briefly and it is not as distracting as having every other word end with an apostrophe. Thankfully my editor was sensitive to the feeling of getting just the right amount of accent so that my characters didn’t lose their Irishness. I tried to do this very much with the kinds of words and speech patterns. The Irish will often use five words where with Americans, particularly men, one will suffice. Irish folk love to talk, tell stories, elaborate on a tale. They think like Irish, not like Americans. That makes a huge difference in how they talk. I had to stay in my Celtic brain for some characters and switch to American, Puerto Rican, Bostonian for other characters. It was fun and a challenge.

Butterfly, and the whole Fadá½¹ Trilogy, also has a sprinkling of the Irish language. Some of my characters are native speakers of the Gaeilge. I always try to subtly or boldly…whatever works for the context…define the Irish words. An example is … “Thank you. We are Fadó. It means ‘once upon a time’.”… It’s as simple and sometimes as complicated as that to make foreign words understandable.

I had the most wonderful experience when passing though Galway last spring. As I often do when in a shop or just out for a stroll, I will stop and chat with the locals. I was browsing at a road side shop where a young man had ceramic pendants. His work was truly lovely. I ended up staying quite a while after I had decided on the pieces I wished to purchase because he started telling me stories. I was in stitches! He told me how he had been fishin’ and had dis pile o’ goots from gootin’ da fish. And he’d feck da goots down into the mout a’ dis eel. This wonderful tale came complete with sound effects. What does an eel sound like?

Listen to how people talk, what they talk about and you will learn more about writing than you would years in school. An’ it’s brill altogether like.

If anyone has questions, comments or would like to read excerpts from my other books, please go to my website or email me at

Thanks for inviting me to blog today.


Thank you for stopping by, Clare! I can hear your characters just from your description. Can't wait to get into the story!

Here's what Butterfly is about:

Flannery Sloane is a free spirited bohemian with a soul blessed by Irish musical tradition. She doesn’t give a care for where she’s going or how she’ll get there. Joy and passion are her only map. And, though she’s not interested in falling in love, she wouldn’t mind a little fun with a fine looking man. Hunter Kincade looks like he could fill that bill and have a bit of change left over.

Flannery never wears a watch. She’s late for everything but the downbeat of a fiddle tune. She’s happy serving pints in the pub and playing for tips and smiles. Hunter thrives on punctuality. He is in the music business with his focus on the bottom line. The pretty fiddle player with the bright green eyes would make his next production worth the price of a CD.

Their only common ground is the belief that falling in love is a danger to health and sanity.

Will it take more than Irish magic to pull a man like Hunter into the spell of a woman like Flannery? They are all wrong for each other...and they are so right.


He lost sight of the fiddler in the mobs of tourists enjoying the April sunshine.

No sooner had he decided to give up on his quest than he heard hands clapping in rhythm with the beat of the now familiar Irish drum.

Then he saw her.

She lifted her instrument and, with the surety of a bird’s wing slipping through the air, bow was laid to strings and life was breathed into melody.

He moved to the edge of the gathering where he could have an unobstructed view of the musicians. She looked up, and he thought she recognized him for an instant. Then her eyes turned and followed another. She smiled and nodded.

Cade had never thought of himself as the jealous type, but he did feel cheated out of that smile.

As soon as the last vibration of strings quieted, a man Cade recognized from O’Fallon’s came up behind the fiddler and, with disturbing familiarity, spoke in her ear. She responded with a hug and an adoring look in her eyes.

Cade had been raised to be competitive, in sports as well as in business, and the appearance of a rival on the field made him want to draw blood. He wanted the fiddler in his studio, and if she ended up in his bed, that might be as nice.

He stood and listened until the sun set and the air held a chill that thinned the throng. The musicians were packing it in.

He hadn’t realized he was staring, until she walked up to him and stood so

close he could smell the scent of her warm skin in the cool evening air. Her approach to introduction took Cade completely by surprise.

“Are you lookin’ at me or waitin’ for a bus?” she said, one hand on her hip and a sassy smile on her lips.

Now please leave a comment for Clare! There are prizes for those who dare! Clare will be giving away a free download of her book each week of her tour to a lucky commenter, randomly drawn from the comments during that week. At the end of the tour, one commenter will win an autographed copy of the novel.


Mary Ricksen said...

I really enjoyed your blog. I just finished a story and my hero has an accent. So I know what you mean. Too much and it's gets hard to follow.
But I love to read a character with an Irish accent.

Kathye Quick said...

Great excerpt.

I agree with you on too much accent. I tried to read a book that had the characters deeply steeped in getting the accetns right and had to put it down. I felt as though the characters were speaking in tongues.

You're doing it right!!

Emma Lai said...

Too much accent is distracting, but the right amount adds a certain flavor to the story. Great excerpt!

Clare Austin said...

Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure how the name "Donna" got in there. Anyway, all who already know me know my name is simply Clare. :-)

SFWriterMasha said...

My fault, my fault, Clate! That was a typo. It's fixed now!

Skhye said...

Love your voice in your excerpt. And thanks for sharing a bit o' the Gaelic with us! Truly, your readers will thank you for being kind to them. Although, a splash of ambiance makes a tale. :) Can't say I really want to know what an eel sounds like. LOLLLLL I hope it doesn't haunt you in your dreams!

Debra St. John said...

Clare, I think I've said it before, but the cover of your book is just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I have enough trouble understanding plain old American English -hee hee.


Anonymous said...

I love anything 'Irishy' I'll definitely be looking for your book on amazon? or my local Book shop.I enjoyed your blog..must say I have been to Galway as it's small city big town vibe...Have an inkling ill like your book too!


Clare Austin said...

Thanks for coming to Alien Places and reading about Butterfly. The e-book is now available from
Clare Austin