Giveaway from Jay Northcote: The Little Things

Welcome to Jay Northcote discussing ‘a very British voice’. If you’d like to take part in the giveaway please leave your favourite Brit phrases in the comments below. The giveaway closes 9am, GMT on 22 November.


When I started plotting out my first novel I had the dilemma about where to set it. Many writers in the gay romance genre set their stories in the US, even if they live in other countries and I did consider it. But I’m a Brit through and through and although I’ve written fanfiction set in the US, I always struggled to suppress my British voice and make my characters sound authentic.

So, I decided to take a chance on writing a very British story, and had to hope that it wouldn’t alienate American readers—or have all the Britishness edited out of it by an overzealous American publisher.

Fortunately for me, Dreamspinner were wonderfully supportive in allowing me to keep my British vocabulary and voice—although they do insist on American spellings. And many readers seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the British setting and characters in my first book, Nothing Serious, which was a huge relief.

Most US readers don’t seem to have too much trouble with the vocabulary although there are always a few subtle differences that confuse editors and readers. It was fascinating going through the editing process and seeing the things that cropped up. Aside from the obvious Britspeak that’s common knowledge in the US like flats (apartments), car boots (trunks) etc there were things like ‘macaroni cheese’ where I had to explain that in the UK that is what we call it, I really hadn’t missed out an and. Also that  ‘white with two sugars’ really is a thing that some of us do to our tea (not me *shudders* I hate tea with sugar in, but each to their own). I also have my characters making tea frequently, especially at times of crisis, and they also eat marmite on toast a lot 🙂

Of course, it goes without saying that you won’t find any asses in my books. It’s arse all the way, and if my characters are feeling lazy then they ‘can’t be arsed’. That’s one of my favourite slang expressions. Slang and swearing in particular is where I really let my Britishness loose. Here are just a few of my favourites that you may find in my books (with translations for non Brits just in case):

Knackered — exhausted

Shattered — also exhausted

Cheers — used instead of thanks

Happy as Larry — just means very happy, apparently this may have originated in New Zealand but it gets used in the UK too.

A bit of a pisser — something annoying or irritating.

Pissed — drunk

Poorly — ill/sick

Shag/shagging — Fuck/fucking

Shit (used as an adjective instead of shitty). Lots of Brits would describe something awful as ‘utterly shit’ — the same goes for crap as oppose to crappy.

Please comment below and tell me some of your favourite British phrases/expressions for a chance to win a copy of The Little Things which is due out on Friday.


There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter Evie is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.

Then one cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel’s life is turned upside-down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.

Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?

The Little Things is available at Dreamspinner Press

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her amazing, occasionally ridiculous husband, two noisy-but-awesome children, and two cats.

She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story—just to see if she could—and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.


Jay’s books:

12 thoughts on “Giveaway from Jay Northcote: The Little Things

  1. I love “Couldn’t be arsed to” too, but it’s caused some problems – I’ve had one poor US editor, trying her best, change it to “Couldn’t be enough of an arse to”!
    One I’m finding problematic lately is “well” used as a synonym for “very”. Apparently it sounds well odd to US ears… 😉

  2. TAKE A SHUFTI! In my family, we always say ‘you look shagged’, but not in that way 😉 Speaking of shagged, I do so adore ‘bonk’. Did you bonk her? It’s… Rather cute, I find. And I’ll stop waffling on now. 🙂

  3. I’m an Aussie but we have a LOT of expressions in common with you guys…for obvious reasons. 🙂

    One of my favourite Brit-isms is “Bollocks” for Bullshit. My 13yo has picked it up, thinking he won’t get in trouble. Lol!

  4. One I use a lot is ‘Give us a bell’ or ‘i’ll give you a bell’ for phone calls. Also, bolloxed for tired, worn out and for something great there is always ‘the dog’s bollocks’!
    I’m sure I’ll find lots more this affy as I’m gassing to my pals!

    • I love the differences in language even in a small country. I’d take ‘bolloxed’ to mean drunk, but I use ‘knackered’ to mean tired a lot 🙂
      The dog’s bollocks is one of my favourite expressions. I must make sure I slip that into a story soon if I haven’t already!

  5. I still find myself referring to the parking lot as a “car park” after years of reading UK romance novels as a young adult. However, being from the Southern United States, I have a hard time pronouncing “arse.” It sounds stupid in a southern accent! 😉

  6. Paddy – tantrum
    chuffing – fucking
    Be rate – it’ll be alright
    Morngy – moody
    Plodding along – coming along slowly
    on the trot – in a row

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