By Kathleen Bolton, author of SLUMBER under the pen name Tamara Blake
Thank you for inviting me to guest with you today. My latest book, SLUMBER, written in collaboration with the phenomenal editorial team at Working Partners Ltd., is a dark twist on fairy tales. As someone who has written a number of books under a number of pen names, I thought I would share how I adapt my writer’s voice for different projects.
My day job as a feature writer and editor requires me to write in a traditional voice with no jargon andwith standard sentence structure. For the First Daughter series, the editors at Working Partners wanted a fast-paced contemporary. For SLUMBER, I was able to take my love of writing contemporary dialogue and blend it with a dark edge of horror. Sometimes I feel like Sybil accessing the different voices in my head.
I don’t think I’m unique in my ability to write to fit whatever genre I’m working in. I’m of the school you can train yourself to write in a specific voice. It’s easier if your natural writing voice fits the genre you target, but writing is both a trainable skill and an art. Voice is where the two meet.
How do I do it? It takes a little preparation.
1. If you’re switching from say contemporary suspense to a historical, read up on the genre to get a feel for the voice. Please note that I’m not saying to imitate the voice of an author; it’s better if you read two or three books anyway. I’m of the belief we all have our own writerly voices which end up shining through during the drafting process, so don’t worry about unconsciously being imitative at first. Using a slick modern voice riddled with street slang is not going to work for a historical any more than dropping more traditional words in a thriller will work when you’re going for a gritty feel. You’ll need your brain to dial into the new voice.
2. Swapping voices doesn’t happen right away, at least it doesn’t for me. Give yourself time to faff around with the new voice for at least a chapter or two. Feeling your way through the new voice is normal, and backsliding to the old voice crops up occasionally. Try not to get frustrated with yourself at this point. Your new voice will eventually click in.
3. Have someone who you trust read your work. Many times I find an anachronism creeping into a historical, and lots of times my critique partner finds stilted language in my contemporaries. Having another set of eyes and ears is crucial.
Kathleen Bolton is a professional writer and editor. Currently, she is a contracted writer to Working Partners, Ltd. Her current project, Slumber, under the pen name Tamara Blake, is a dark suspense fantasy novel for teens. Her projects also include Confessions of a First Daughter, a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President’s teen-aged daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter, both published by HarperCollins Teen, under the pen name Cassidy Calloway. She is the co-founder ofWriter Unboxed, one of the foremost online communities for writers of fiction.
Kathleen lives with her husband and daughter in upstate New York.
Slumber by Tamara Blake
Source: Publisher (ecopy)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star
I really liked Slumber. It was a super fast read; I read it in one sitting! I actually love that it wasn't too long and didnt drag. I haven't read a succinct story all year. I also want to mention how I loved the cover. The cover is what drew me in-- mainly the color. Going in I really didnt know what to expect at all. By the time I started I had forgotten what the blurb said and just knew because of the title it had something to do with sleep and paranormal whatsits.
Ruby. My, I have mixed up feelings about this chick. She's strong and loving, all the traits of a good human. I loved Ruby (for the most part) and felt sympathy for her. I also felt proud of her that she didn't break down nearly as much as I would have, given the circumstances. She's one tough cookie. Perhaps like one more burst of tears would've made it more believable.
So Ruby is selfless but she's also DAFT. Thats what really frustrated me; her lack of common sense. How can you not know something supernatural is going on? Does the girl you see in the hospital who tells you she never met you before and you just saw her jump off of a building NOT clue you in? Sorry Ruby, you're great but not too bright. Besides the fact that Ruby can't pick up on any major hints; she is a good girl. She stays true to her principles, even when I kinda wanted her to sway a little more towards Tam.
Ruby won't give Tam a chance. She's annoyed with him and wants to leave him but I'm confused as to why. She changes her feelings toward him when he does nice things to her. If I can see he really care about her--why can't she? I mean I get how he's sketchy. But he's trying to help her and spends time with her and her family. I really liked him. I felt like I could've seen more reasons why he was so conflicted-- but my mind made ample suggestions and I'm sure it'll be explored in the sequel.
The ending was a big mindfuck. I mean, I kinda suspected it but then dismissed it...I really didnt like the last sentence. It bothered me, but I guess in a good way because it's a total CLIFF hanger (PUN INTENDED). I guess it served its purpose because I'm biting my nails in anticipation of the sequel! When is it coming out?! I have no idea. But not soon enough.
P.S. Why not more kisses with Tam? I mean, just because it's YA they can't snuggle in bed together and mess around...or allude to messing around?
Darn. He was so hot.
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