Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Damsel in Distress


Last night I returned from a ten-day trip to the UK, primarily to meet my new editor at Constable and Robinson in London. 

I’m happy to say that The Vicky Hill Mysteries live on—at least for another year. All four books will be published in 2012, two in May and two in September. Recently the publicity department at C & R sent me a 9 page “Author Questionnaire” that took me over two hours to complete. It would seem that they really believe in supporting their authors and I just love that! It’s no secret that many US publishing houses don’t financially assist authors with their promotional efforts so you can imagine my delight when I discovered that my UK launch party will be given a generous contribution towards the cost of “alcohol.” After 18 years living in health and youth obsessed Southern California, I’d forgotten that drinking alcohol is a huge part of the British culture (not sure why – the English weather?) 

However, being a British citizen also means that I would be taxed twice unless I filed for a tax exemption and obtained a certificate of residency from the IRS. Since I’m not being paid much, I thought it would be a good idea to be paid in British pounds to avoid the currency conversion and exchange fees. 

Since any trip across the Atlantic is an excuse to make a detour to Devon, I picked the National Westminster Bank in the High Street, Totnes. There, I was a bit shocked to discover that not only could I open an account in name only (no deposit necessary), there was no monthly charge and the only I.D. I needed was my passport. My customer adviser (with the brilliant name of Darren Prince-Every) actually gave me his direct number should I have any questions. No outsourcing to Mumbai for the Nat. West! This was just as well. 

As I was packing on Sunday I realized my passport was missing and practically had a coronary. I headed off to the local police station where the desk sergeant spent ages calling every Tom, Dick and Harry on my behalf and finally writing a letter to Passport Control with an official stamp to say I was who I said I was so I could at least leave the country. 

Finally, I remembered Mr. Prince-Every had given me his number and lo and behold, it was forwarded to his cell phone and he answered! (This was a Sunday, after all). Mr. P-E phoned the branch manager (who was just on his way out for lunch with his mum) and to cut a long story short, my passport was discovered sitting on the photocopying machine at the bank. 

People often ask me why I write about small town life and that it can’t “really be like that anymore.” But tucked away in small corners of England there are still bank managers willing to forego their Sunday lunch to help a damsel in distress. 

5 comments:

Donis Casey said...

A story with many a happy ending! How nice to hear!

Diane said...

Loved the story! Rubs away some of our cynicism.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

Wonderful story that makes me feel even closer to your books. I finished reading Thieves!just yesterday. A fun read!

hannah Dennison said...

Thanks for stopping by! Yes - it was a very fortunate ending - particularly as I was far more afraid of my husband's reaction than not being able to leave the country! My husband is OBSESSED with having his identity stolen!
Irene - so happy to hear that you enjoyed Thieves!

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Lovely story, Hannah. And much happier than my experience over the past five days with an airline as they looked without success for my missing luggage.

This story made me feel better.