I’ve been reading a lot lately. Most of it from the genre that I write, some of it very different. And I think it’s had an interesting side-effect. For a little while, it made me forget my voice. Some writers have a very strong voice – you read their stuff and you know who it is immediately. Stephen King is one such writer, as is Toni Morrison. No matter the subject, you know when you’re reading something they’ve written. But those are seasoned, acclaimed writers that everyone recognizes, whether they’re avid readers or not.
Lately I’ve encountered a few who are new to me, but who write with such strength and such purpose that you can’t help but admire them. Mercedes Keyes is one such writer. Her Fancy series has captured my imagination because it is so different from the stuff I’m usually drawn to, and about a period in history (the Antebellum period) that I have a strong, visceral reaction to. Another is RL Mathewson who writes lighthearted, whimsical romances with anti-hero male characters and underdog female protagonists. Both are indie authors that make me both angry and amazed. Angry because I wonder how many similarly talented voices we’ve been deprived of because of the idea that the only worthwhile fiction comes from big publishing houses. And amazed because in the art of writing, the voices are so varied and colorful and vivid.
Reading strong voices has an effect on every reader, but if you’re also a writer, it has one additional result. It can cloud and obscure your own. The more I read, the more other voices creep into my writing. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, but lately its made it difficult for me to get anything down on the page that feels authentically mine. So beginning today, I’ve decided to clear my head, read nothing but my own stuff and revive my own unique voice. It’s only Day One, but with all the great stuff out there, and the Amazon.com 1-Click button taunting me, ugh, it hurts already . . .
Hey, I may have to suffer, but you don’t. For the next week, I’ll post a book each day that I think represents strong voice. Today, check out The Fancy by Mercedes Keyes.