I was charged when asked to be part of the Do Some Damage gang. Really stoked. These guys were awesome. I loved the blog. I admired the writers. I felt like I had been asked to sit with the cool kids at lunch. Then I started thinking - these are fabulous crime fiction writers. The kind of guys who turn over rocks and shed light on what lies beneath. Social commentary, deep dark shadows and really cool stuff comes to the surface of their stories. They write Crime Fiction with a capital C. And me...well, I write crime fiction...small c. I'm not deep and dark and filled with social commentary. I'm just - fun.
Yeah! I worried that my membership card was going to be revoked as soon as they remembered that I was a bit…well…um…different. I really want to be that cool noir writer or a page turning thriller chick. I want to be the one that makes you think about bigger issues. I do! When I started writing for real – not that practice book that made me realize I might like to write – I tried writing those stories. Only, the more I wrote, the more my voice got lighter and wackier. I couldn’t help it.
Yep. I just invoked the V word. Voice. It is that thing that makes one writer’s work sound completely different from another’s. Voice is one of those strange things that either happens or it doesn’t…kind of like growing breasts. (Sorry guys…but you added a girl to the blog. The B word has just come into play.) Yeah, you can always go to some fancy doctor and have him add a bit more to mix, but when push comes to shove, they aren’t real. Voice has to be genuine and it can’t be forced. And you can’t try to sound like the next Greg Iles…I tried because 24 Hours was a book I couldn’t put down. It sucked me in, held me tight and made me gnaw at my fingernails until the last page. But, no matter what I did, I sounded like a writer who was trying to mimic a NY Times Bestseller.
You can’t steal a voice. And you can’t just snap your fingers and make one magically appear. It takes writing. Lots and lots of writing. Some people find their voice in their first manuscript. I hate those people…and I say that with all the love and admiration in my heart. Others writers find their voice lurking in book number two. I found in book number five – the first mystery and the first 1st person POV writing I’d ever attempted. Suddenly, my voice was loud and clear and kind of wacky. I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I mean, I liked it. I was having a blast writing whatever strange thing came into my head, but it wasn’t what I had ever intended to write when I started this strange and mythical journey into the publishing world. But it was what I was and I went with it. The more I wrote the stronger that new voice got.
So a strong voice is good – right? Well, that depends on your point of view. A strong voice brings both good and bad with it. Good because it’ll hit people over the head and make them notice you. That sounds great, right? Well, not always. A strong voice will always get an equally strong reaction, but that reaction might not be a good one. A voice that one editor passionately loves tends to be a voice that another editor hates. And readers will react the same way. I think a strong voice is a fabulous thing to behold. Strong voices create strong reactions, which as a writer is what we all hope for. Love our voice or hate our voice – we want you to remember our voice.
So before these guys realize that they have a zany writer on their hands and kick me out of the club, tell me: Who did you try to mimic when you started writing and what does your voice sound like now?