L Simpson, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. I’m Kayelle Allen, author and owner of this blog. Happy to have you here! Please tell us about your book and its Australia to America setting.
Iowa City Culture Shock by L Simpson
At nineteen, I moved from a hilly suburb outside of Melbourne to Iowa City to become a Hawkeye volleyballer. As a freshman, I was bombarded with a range of experiences that tested how I thought life in America would really be. Everything I discovered however, only contributed to my love of the U.S.
To start with, I learned that fraternities and sororities are real, and they are exactly like in the movies. I couldn’t understand why buses were driving hundreds of girls dressed to impress, to and from massive houses until someone told me it was Rush Week. We have Bush Week in Australia, a term used when someone does something stupid – you tell them it’s not bush week, but I digress. Then again, I ventured to a party at a fraternity once, and a friend told me you could get pregnant from touching the handrails. Despite reading racy romance novels prolifically, after being inside the frat, I could see her point.
My eye-opening journey as a freshman continued with three brilliant discoveries, all of which changed my life.
The first happened when I was walking through the dorms and a group of guys commented that I had a donkey butt. I was outraged. I mean really? It was hard enough being an Australian who didn’t look like Elle McPherson but to have my butt compared to a Donkey? I didn’t bloody think so. I called out to them to give them a piece of my mind but, thankfully, a teammate stopped me. She said it was a compliment, and that they liked my rather rotund arse (ass’s down here are kin to Donkeys). This was a brilliant revelation for a fuller figured lass. My heart soared and in that moment, I fell deeply in love with America.
Second – Mozzarella sticks. Now in Australia, we love cheese and I’d eaten my share (rotund arse, remember?) I was accustomed to Haloumi, Brie, Gorgonzola, baked Camembert the works, but cheese in the shape of a stick, breaded and then deep fried was something to behold. Thank goodness I played a lot of volleyball because Donkeys aren’t known for their jumping ability.
Third – Iowa has convenience stores called Kum’n’Go. Need I say more? I was delighted by the lewder versions college kids came up with, but loved that these stores were out and proud, kumming and going. Clearly, Iowa has way more to offer than corn and pork. They have Kum’n’Go.
Despite all the wonderful things I discovered, I had my share of cross cultural car crashes that suggested our mutual cultural awareness had room to improve. In preseason, when I was eager and excited, not exhausted from three-a-days and loathing all ball related sports, a cornerback asked me to, ‘Say something in Australian.’ I wondered what he was on about. I took him in, dreadlocks, gold fronts and a beautiful, blinged out, gold chain around his neck and asked in return, ‘Are you a rapper?’ He said, ‘That sounds cool.’ and walked off. I remember shaking my head, wondering who had been the worst stereotype-er.
The second incident happened when my coach, a strong, successful, incredibly talented African American woman was goofing off and acting crazy, so I told her she was a real cracker. Then there was deathly silence, and some tumbleweed rolled past. My Australian love of slang and colloquialisms almost had me benched for life.
The third was tailgating. Aussie’s are experts in combining excessive amounts of alcohol and sport. Unlike Americans however, we tend to get drunk while the game is on, not hours beforehand. I was less than impressed, being up before seven a.m. by the Iowa Fight Song on the day of a volleyball home game. Then, I had to walk to game-day practice though parking lots full of black and gold clad people drinking from kegs, eating barbequed hotdogs.
There was a lot wrong with this scenario other than my inability to join in. First, seven a.m. is too early for team spirit, even for the most devout Hawkeyes. Second, you don’t barbeque a hot dog, they go in hot water. Sausages and prawns are for barbequing. Lastly getting tanked before ten a.m.is a rookie mistake. Aussies don’t start early, we go for longevity. Take Cricket for example, where a match can go for five days. Or the Spring Racing Carnival – it’s hard to party when you’re passed out.
Despite all the ups and downs my freshman year, I came out loving the opportunity to live in Iowa. Even now, I still look out for fried cheese. I also think twice about using colloquialisms, and I’m considering adding a pet donkey to my menagerie.
Lastly, while I love what Kum and Go stands for, I’ve made sure the sentiment doesn’t end up in one of my romance novels.
Genre Contemporary/Romantic Suspense/Anthology
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): R
After getting dumped by her childhood sweetheart, Chloe opens a dating site that goes viraL But it’s not her dream. She’d envisioned a different life, and a new sexy man wants to help her get it. But letting Ryan in after all that has happened to her, and all that she knows about relationships, will prove tricky.
Publisher Boroughs Publishing Group http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/books/love-sabre
L Simpson Social Media
As a girl growing up in Australia, Laura was lost in the world of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. During high school, volleyball dominated her life; there had to be something positive about being 6’1″ with red hair! Representing Australia from a young age she eventually took a scholarship at the University of Iowa. Living in America and being a full time athlete in a college town was an eye-opening experience and lots of fun (from what she can remember). #gohawkeyes
Returning from the States, her career took a different turn as she started working at the Red Cross and completed her Masters of Law in Human Rights. As one of the few non-lawyers in the class, her essays were far more floral than the rest, something that caused the discerning professors to shake their heads. Through working and studying, she realised there are other ways to win hearts and minds.
While she’s spent the last 14 years as an advocate against poverty and homelessness, the desire to change the world through storytelling has only got stronger. She now lives in the Alpine Valley of North East Victoria, Australia with her husband, daughter, two dogs and seven chooks. When she’s not doing the whole mum thing, working at a homelessness agency, renovating her farmhouse or trying to do laundry bleary-eyed at midnight, she is writing.
Love Sabre website https://www.lovesabre.com