Bryant & May Across The Pond

Bryant and May

Readers are always asking me; what’s the difference between the two English-language editions of the Bryant & May books, ie. UK and US?

The first obvious change is in the covers. America’s artwork is actually created in the UK by Sarah Coleman at Inkymole, and is far more frivolous, although the next cover is taking a darker turn. The UK’s covers recall a complex combination of ideas, from old Agatha Christie novels to British Rail posters of the 1930s, and play to a  more mixed audience.

The US editions happily keep the anglicisms of the text like ‘mobiles’ instead of ‘cellphones’, and all of Bryant’s peculiar colloquialisms, but small changes abound, like swapping ‘college’ for the more English ‘uni’. The English tend not to use ‘college’ because it suggests the old technical colleges that Mrs Tatcher turned into spurious universities in one of her get-rich-quick schemes.

However, there are larger, more subtle changes. Timelines are usually clarified in the US editions, and phrasing is surprisingly more formal. The English now tend to clip descriptive language, as the mid-Voctorians did. And for some reason I have yet to fathom, the US pagination of ‘The Bleeding Heart’ has reduced the number of chapters by one, so I may write a special chapter just to keep the books to the usual neat and tidy fifty.

Reading the two editions side by side, they feel different to me. Every editor has his or her style, and that style is often reflected in the book. People often think that editors and proofreaders do much of the writer’s job, and some do, checking research and detail in great detail. I had an editor who made me time out the entire plot of ‘Disturbia’ by carrying out the missions over one night as the hero did.

But by now with Bryant & May, my two editors kindly allow me to make my own odd way through the texts, only pointing out problems if I lose my way. Whereas, for my 2015 stand-alone thriller, I’m working from four separate sets of notes, from two agents and two editors. This is due to the complex timeline running through the novel.

Of course, I don’t ever really know who my readers are in different territories. Someone posted me this shot and I keep it on my desk, to remind me of who might be reading the books in New York. I think she’s had a busy day and I’m sending her to sleep!

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4 comments on “Bryant & May Across The Pond”

  1. John says:

    I’ll stick with your UK editions. I pre-order them and have them shipped to me from your UK publisher. The four month delay with INVISIBLE CODE last year was enough for me to give up on waiting for a new B&M book to show up over here. But now learning that they’ve been Americanized I’ll never buy a US edition again.

    I read an Americanized edition of Paul Cleave’s LAUGHTERHOUSE set in New Zealand that had every bit of “foreign-ness” eradicated. Ruined the book for me. I wanted some New Zealand flavor but what I read might as well have been set in a Wisconsin suburb.

  2. Cat Eldridge says:

    So wihch version of the novel are the audiobooks based on? I tend to listen to these novels as they make fascinating experiences while taking long walks.

  3. admin says:

    They’re the UK-versions.

  4. Liz Rose says:

    The guy beside her looks sleepy, but she looks intent on the story to me.

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