I’ve been obsessed recently. Okay, well, I’m often obsessed. More accurately I’ve been obsessed with this thing called ‘author’s voice’. Specifically, my own. I got to trolling blogs and there were these articles lamenting authors who weren’t able to hold it together and stay true to their own ‘voice’, or who lacked any sence of coherent or unique element in the field whatsoever.
And I had to wonder, oh shit! Am I a unique and beautiful snowflake? When readers read my work will they say, ‘ahyup, that’s Candice right thar’! (Sorry, my mom’s from Maine. When I get anxious I lose my r’s. Eep!)
Compounding to this issue is the fact that I don’t stick to a single genre. I haven’t done this on purpose, it’s simply been the stories I’ve wanted to tell. Right now I only have my horror novella Ripples out, but I’ll have two more books out this year. One is the first in my dark urban fantasy Liminals Series called The Daemon Whisperer, and the other is the first in my sci-fi horror Depths of Memory Series called The Dream Sifter. I’m also now working on a sequel to Ripples and an untitled super-secret piece that’s in the dark fiction category.
Sense a theme going on here? Now, just to be clear, I didn’t wake up one day and say hey gosh, I’m going to go out and write disturbing and dark stories. Nope, I didn’t. I simply had stories hit me upside the head and I fleshed them out and wrote them. I mean I’ve always read authors along a certain bent, so no doubt that’s played into what I’ve written, and I’ve read across varied genres, so again, I’m not stuck in any one genre when I write.
Anyway, one of those blogs I read recommended reading your story aloud to hear how the voice presented. I’m lazy so I got a copy of WriteWayPro. (This was based on a recommendation from Teresa D’Amario who uses it to catch grammar and syntax issues. She’s one smart cookie! It’s very similar to Scrivener, except you can’t export to all the different ebook formats, but you can listen to your book.) Moving on…I loaded up a few snippets of my works, and listened away, gleaning for that ‘author’s voice’.
I found it. What I couldn’t be sure of while writing, I heard loud and clear third person. There was snark, depth, richness, darkness, and intensity, served up with a kicker of gross. There were times I wanted to look away from my mental camera, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Times I squirmed and felt uncomfortable with the other people in the room. And other times I laughed so hard I coughed. Total win.
Did I forget to mention my father, a psychologist, was staying with me while I did this experiment? Yeah, um. When he asked me how ‘my voice’ was I told him. He’s very, well, conservative. He asked politely if that was ‘how I’d intended it to be?’
That’s the important question, isn’t it? I had to smile when I answered ‘yes’, and he appeared quite happy for me, despite his obvious qualms on the content of my writing.
So now I know what I deliver. I’m frankly not always comfortable with the level of discomfort and intensity I bring to the table as a writer. Will it be too much, and drive some readers away? Writing is about pushing boundaries. Sometimes internal, sometimes external. But it’s always about being honest.