Monday, 26 November 2012

UK Appreciation Month - Stephanie Burgis; Guest Post + Giveaway

Stephanie BurgisFalling in Love with the UK
Stephanie Burgis

I grew up in America, but I imprinted hard on British culture from the time I was very young. Some of the first books I really loved and bonded with were the Narnia books, The Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. As a teenager, I devoured Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances and George Eliot’s Victorian novels. 

I still remember the feeling of surreality I felt as I sat in my new boyfriend’s car in the autumn of 2001, driving past hedges and old stone buildings and thinking: I’m in England. I am actually in England. I’d read so much about it, that trip felt like stepping into one of my dreams. In fact, my knowledge was so book-based that when I’d first met my boyfriend that summer (in America), and I’d found out that he came from Bristol, my only way of identifying what that meant was to think: Didn’t the heroine of Mansfield Park visit her family in Bristol? So it must be on the water, since her father was a sailor…

In October 2002, I moved to England myself, in what could have just been a temporary visit - just long enough for a few years of university study - but turned out instead to be a permanent emigration. We stayed in Bristol for a few months, then moved up to Leeds for my PhD fellowship. Two years later, we were married there.

Now, eleven years after I first stepped into the country, I’m a dual UK/US citizen, living in Wales. I’m in that weird position a lot of expatriates must experience, no matter which country they move to or from. On the one hand, every time I meet someone new, the first thing they hear is my American accent, apparently marking me as a foreigner…but on the other hand, I’ve spent most of my adult life in the UK. 

I am really am British now, too - and not just legally. I still love America, but I also love the UK, and in some unexpected ways it’s become even more familiar to me. I married here, I’ve made good friends here, I have a child here…it’s home.

Sometimes, even now, I feel a sharp pang of sudden homesickness for the home and culture I grew up in, especially as I parent a little boy in the UK and come smack against clashing cultural differences that suddenly seem to scream: You’re not from here! And I miss my family desperately now that I live so far away from them. 

But then, the last time I visited my hometown, as deeply happy as I was to be there, I also spent the first day or two feeling as alien there as I ever had in the UK - which was a seriously disconcerting feeling. It was actually an unexpected, visceral shock to hear so many American accents all around me when I was used to being surrounded only by British accents.

It’s a strange feeling to have two such different homes. America - and more specifically, East Lansing, Michigan - will always mean ‘home’ to me in many ways tied into my childhood and my love for my family. But on the other hand, I’m settled so firmly and happily now in my little Welsh town, with mountains rising around our house, that I can’t imagine ever leaving. My son is learning Welsh as well as English. We picnic in our local castle’s ruins. We’ve planted roots. 

I’m British, and I’m American, and neither part of that is likely to change. 

And that feels really lucky to me.

A Reckless MagickA Reckless Magick:

In this conclusion to the Regency-era fantasy trilogy Kirkus Reviews calls “enjoyable mayhem,” Kat is tasked with saving her family, the Order of the Guardians, and England itself.With just days to go before her sister Angeline’s long-delayed wedding to Frederick Carlyle, the impetuous Kat Stephenson has resigned herself to good behavior. But Kat’s initiation into the magical Order of the Guardians is fast approaching, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere.

First, Kat must contend with the wretched Mrs. Carlyle’s attempts to humiliate her sister; the arrival of the mysterious Marquise de Valmont, who bears suspicious resemblance to Kat’s late mother; and Frederick’s bewitching cousin Jane, who has Charles Stephenson tripping over his feet. But when a menacing boy with powerful magic starts hunting Kat, a dastardly villain tries to kill Angeline, and the Guardians face a magical robbery that could spell the end of their Order, propriety becomes the least of Kat’s concerns.

Can Kat save her sister’s life, the Order of the Guardians, and England itself before it’s too late?

How would you like to win a copy of A Reckless Magick? 
- Just fill in the form below. One free entry plus a ton of extra entries.
-  UK/IRE only
- Ends 30th November 2012

Author Bio: 
I grew up in America, but now I live in Wales with my husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, our son, "Mr Darcy", and our crazy-sweet border collie mix, Maya. My MG Regency fantasy trilogy is being published in the UK and North America, under different titles. My most recent book in the US & Canada is RENEGADE MAGIC (Kat Book 2) and my most recent book in the UK is A RECKLESS MAGICK (Kat Book 3, which will be published in North America next year). I've also published short stories for adults in a variety of magazines, anthologies, and podcasts.


Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

A great post! I've always envied people with links to two different cultures. It's nice to get a mix of things. :)

Stephanie Burgis said...

Thanks Sam! :)

Stephanie Burgis said...

Thanks so much, Sam! :)

Sally said...

Great post! Totally relate to this. This is a lovely article I read the other day on the effect of living in more than one place, which you might enjoy: ...Also, I think you'd relate to my (somewhat stalled atm) travelogue/memoir comic about taking my (English) husband back to South Africa to see where I grew up - readable online here: :)
~Sally (@sallythompson on twitter)

Stephanie Burgis said...

Ooh, I'm going to go read both of those! Thanks, Sally!

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