Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Guest Post: Jennifer Richardson, author of Americashire

*Check back next week for a review and giveaway of Americashire by Jennifer Richardson! This week, Jennifer talks about how she developed the idea for her book and what the writing process was like for her.


Americashire An American in the Cotswolds
Jennifer Richardson
Just before Christmas 2007, my husband and I bought a cottage in the English countryside. Shortly after, I started writing a blog called An American in the Cotswolds, which was largely travelogue, chronicling my wonder at life in the countryside after a lifetime of suburban and urban existence. Much of the raw material for Americashire came from that blog, although the real work was after the fact in crafting the narrative. You hear it all the time, but a book really is different than a blog: There has to be a narrative arc, an emotional core. Or does there?

Jennifer GlenTo answer the question of whether my book could be a book if built on travelogue alone, I went back and read what others had done before me. I started with the idyll memoir classics, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun: both lovely books, but neither of them overtly personal by today’s social media-driven, oversharing standards. And in the case of Mayle, the narrative structure was simple: a chapter for every month of the year. I moved onto a less well-known travel memoir, Instructions for Visitors by Helen Stevenson. It predates Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love by four years, but, like that book, is very personal and successful for it. I then sampled some British fare, Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island and Stuart Maconie’s Pies and Prejudice, which brought me back to the straight travelogue camp. My grand tour of travel memoir writing had demonstrated it was possible to be engaging with both straight travelogue AND a more personal approach. Only I could decide what I wanted my book to be.

And after writing Americashire both ways, in the end I opted for the more personal approach. This meant including a central narrative strand on the question of whether or not to have kids, an issue I had been struggling with during my time living in the Cotswolds. By including this aspect of my experience, I hoped to make the book more relatable to women who, regardless of whether or not they eventually pursued motherhood, ever grappled with the choice. It’s a subject that feels topical — a New York Times article noted how frequently these days the romantic comedy film “genre has stretched to include the pursuit — or avoidance — of offspring” — and I hope that Americashire contributes to the conversation.

About the Author:
Jennifer Richardson is an American Anglophile who spent three years living in a Cotswold village populated straight out of English central casting by fumbling aristocrats, gentlemen farmers, and a village idiot. She is married to an Englishman who, although not the village idiot, provides her with ample writing material. She currently lives in Santa Monica, California along with her husband and her royal wedding tea towel collection. Her first book, Americashire: A Field Guide to a Marriage, is based on her experience in the Cotswolds and is out now from She Writes Press. You can purchase it here, and find Jennifer online at:



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