Mare's Nest, the first novel in the new T. J. O'Sullivan series was released this week. T. J. O'Sullivan, a supporting character introduced in the last Malone novel, Cold Comfort, is the lead character. Many of the readers of Cold Comfort shared with me that T. J. was their favorite character in the book. So, I decided to give her a series all her own.
Where did the title come from? Mare's nest is an idiom. One explanation of the meaning of the idiom "mare's nest" that is available on the web is;
"A difficult, complicated, or confusing situation."
|Source: "a mare's nest." Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. 2015. Farlex, Inc 12 Apr. 2018 https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+mare%27s+nest|
The circumstances described in that definition are precisely what befalls T. J. in the book. She travels to Hawaii on what appears at first blush to be a routine missing person case. But, very quickly after she arrives in Honolulu, the case becomes anything but. In other words, it becomes a regular "mare's nest."
The idiom actually came to mind as I wrote the first few chapters of the book and it just seemed the perfect title for it.
Usually, before making the final decision about a title, I check books in publication to see whether the title has been used before. But, in this case, I didn't, so my sincere apologies go out to author Lesley Kagen who used the idiom as the title of a book she published in 2012.
Since book titles cannot be copyrighted, any author is free to use an existing book title for his or her own book. But, I prefer not to do that since it can cause confusion. In this instance, I reused the title out of negligence. But frankly, I really cannot imagine a title more perfect for this first T. J. O'Sullivan crime thriller.
As of the publication date of this post, the electronic version of Mare's Nest is available wherever eBooks are sold. The book files have been uploaded to the paperback, and hardcover printers and print versions of the book should be appearing in bookstores next week.
We've had some modest success with audiobook versions of the first three Malone books. For that reason, I'm interested in producing an audiobook version of Mare's Nest. The problem is both of the narrators I've worked with on the Malone books are male. Given the protagonist of this book is female, it seems only natural to me that a woman should produce the audiobook version of Mare's Nest. That requires finding another narrator to work with.
Another complicating factor is that since T. J. is a native of New Zealand, she, of course, has a New Zealand accent. I feel the narrator for the book then also needs to have a credible Kiwi accent. I've advertised for an audiobook producer on ACX where the Malone novels were produced as audiobooks, but thus far I haven't received any offers. There is a New Zealand actress who shall remain nameless for the moment who I think would be a perfect narrator for Mare's Nest and I have written to her in hopes of striking a deal.
I have some UK author friends who have told me that they have sometimes received negative reviews from American readers who object to their using British English spellings and words commonly used in the UK that are not commonly used in the United States. For that reason, I am interested to see how American readers react to the liberal use of New Zealand vernacular and Kiwi specific vocabulary.
For example, Americans refer to the back of a car as the trunk while New Zealanders call it the boot as the British do. As one of my dearest New Zealand friends often tells me, "You don't speak English. You speak American."
So why risk negative reviews by using New Zealand specific words and phrases in Mare's Nest? Simple. In writing a book that features a New Zealand woman, the only means to demonstrate that she is a Kiwi is to have her talk like a Kiwi. In television or the movies, you could hear her accent, but of course, that isn't possible in a written medium.
Most American readers will be able to guess the meaning of the Kiwi specific words used throughout the book through the context of how they are used. Whether or not they will enjoy having to do that is another matter. But to make things easier, I thought I might include in this post a few of those words commonly used in New Zealand that a reader will encounter in the book.
Bloody - a word used to emphasize the word it precedes. Bloody is put into any old sentence and Kiwis use it a lot.
Bugger - a word used to indicate something has gone wrong/amiss.
Carked it - something or someone has died.
Carpark - parking lot.
Cock up - a mistake, to go badly.
Crim - short for criminal.
Dairy - a convenience store.
Eh - has a variety of meanings. It can be what, huh or doesn’t it, to name a few.
Flat - apartment.
Heaps - means a lot.
Jandals - what Americans call flip-flops or thongs. Literally, an abbreviation for Japanese sandals.
Kiwi - a flightless bird native to New Zealand, a shoe polish brand, a fruit, and also how New Zealanders refer to themselves.
Mare - a difficult time. Often preceded by "bloody."
Mate - friend.
Mean - awesome.
Motorbike - motorcycle.
Motorway - highway
Munted - broken.
Muppet - an incompetent idiot.
No worries - this means no problem.
Not even - not true.
Oi - hey.
Pack a sad - feeling unhappy about something or having a tantrum.
Petrol - gasoline.
See you - saying goodbye to someone, but does not necessarily mean that you will see them later.
Skux - cool or trendy.
Servo - gas station.
Smoko - smoke break.
Stink one - an expression of disappointment.
Sus - when a situation or someone is considered suspicious.
Suss - to investigate or to figure something out.
Sweet as - awesome.
Ta - a shortened version of thank you.
Togs - swimsuit.
Torch - flashlight.
Ute - pick up truck.
Wop-wops - a place in the middle of nowhere or far from anything. Similar in meaning to BFE if you are familiar with the acronym.
Yeah nah - I've heard it said that Kiwis use this paradoxical yes and no phrase when they are a little indecisive on what the heck they are trying to say. I prefer to believe when a Kiwi says yeah nah, they are acknowledging understanding of what you may have said, but no, what you said wasn't quite right.
Though not an exhaustive glossary, hopefully, the above will be helpful to American readers of Mare's Nest. Personally, I find Kiwi speech to be very colorful and enjoyable to listen to. But, I tried to use just enough Kiwi euphemisms and slang to make T. J. a credible Kiwi without reducing her to a comical caricature. To be fair, most of the time my Kiwi partner speaks just as an American might, albeit with a noticeable New Zealand accent. She doesn't in other words, use the words in the short glossary above constantly. But she does use most if not all of them sometimes as do all my New Zealand friends.
If you're interested in obtaining a copy of the eBook version of Mare's Nest, this useful universal book link will help you to find the link to it at your own favorite online bookseller.