Please welcome today's guest blogger, New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble, to the blog! Shelley is the author of Beach Colors, Stargazey Point, and, most recently, Breakwater Bay, which went on sale last week! Today, she's here to talk about her thoughts on what makes a writers voice their own.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Voice. All kinds of Voice. A writer’s voice. The voice of our times. Let your voice be heard. We voice opinions, your mother says don’t use that tone of voice with me. We raise our voice in anger or excitement. We talk about singer’s fine voice, about people who love the sound of their own voice, of the still, quiet voice in your heart.
It’s not just about sound.
Writers talk and think about a more elusive voice. We describe it, give it attributes, but no one can actually define it. It’s the thing that makes your writing different from everybody else’s. It’s unique to each writer, distinctive. I can’t write with your voice and you can’t write with mine. We can imitate but why should we when we have a perfectly capable voice of our own.
I started thinking about Voice the other day when I was saying to a friend and colleague that I thought it was odd that so many people find my novels, “Heartwarming” “Upbeat” “Light-hearted” “Delightful.”
I love that my stories are positive, but on the other hand I write about people whose lives have been overturned. How can a story have both?
Beach Colors is the story of a fairly famous New York fashion designer, who loses everything, her husband disappears with their savings, her apartment is in foreclosure, creditors confiscate her business. She returnes to her childhood home to rediscover herself. And figure out what the heck to do.
Stargazey Point is about a documentarist who is suffering post traumatic stress after witnessing a town destroyed by a mud slide and her lover and mentor jailed and killed. She flees to a South Carolina town which is dying, hit by too many hurricanes. The people are poor, real estate is soaring but not for them, and their children are falling through the cracks.
In Breakwater Bay my main character is an architectural restorer in Newport Rhode Island. On her thirtieth birthday she finds out that she was adopted and that the adoption was unorthodox as well as illegal. Kind of rocks her world.
“It’s your Voice that makes those stories brighter,” my friend told me. “Another writer might write the same story as tragic and dark.”
I like that. I write about characters who have the ability to overcome their problems. Who are doers. Who let their voice be heard, who listen to their own voice, especially that still, quiet voice. Who listen to others’ voices. Who aren’t afraid to voice an opinion, but who embrace their community. And in the process of discovery about themselves, they also discover the beauty around them, whether it be fabrics based on the color of the sea, or an abandoned carousel brought to new life, or the beautifully painted ceiling beneath layers and layers of over painting and neglect.
I guess that’s my voice. Can I define it? Not really. But I can start to describe it now, and I know I like it. It works for me.