The following is an exercise from the Voice Class I took with Barbara Samuels. It was a wonderful class, and I could hear my voice growing stronger with each exercise.
1. Where did you grow up? What are the Old World or native languages that
predominate in that area? Any special accent? I grew up in 36 states. I have no accent that I know of and everyone else did have an accent particular to their area.
2. Who taught you to talk? Do your parents have an accent of any kind? Did
anyone ever speak a language other than English around you/to you? My parents taught me to talk. My father grew up in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the US. He has no accent at all and his speech is very refined and articulate. My Mother grew up in New Hampshire, and still retains a small amount of the Northern New England accent. My Father spoke french and german to me growing up. My grandfather spoke norwegian to his brothers and mother, but refused to speak it to us, because he wanted us to be Americans.
3. What were the main ethnic groups around you when you grew up? WASPs and Native Inuits.
If there's a predominant ethnic group in that geography, do you know any of
the stories/legends/superstitions of that group? Did any of them stick with
you particularly when you were a child? When I was 5, I loved being from Nome Alaska, and I knew many legends and native words and customs of the Inuits. When I was 6 we moved to Northern New Hampshire and the kids teased me so terribly about being an eskimo that my parents took me out of the school and put me in school in quebec, where they did not speak English. I still excelled.
4. Have you ever felt a particular affinity for a geography or culture that
is not your own? I often wish I was still in the lands of my ancestors: Scotland, Ireland, and Norway.
Why? What about it do you love or identify with? The history of the lands and the people.
5. What did you love more than anything on earth when you were twelve? My Sunshine Family Dolls. I wish I knew what happened to them.
What did you want to be then? A marine biologist. I spent every waking moment that I was not at school or swim team exploring the intercostal waterway behind my house in Florida.
6. What are your top five favorite novels of all time? What was your
favorite book when you were 12? Fourteen?
1. Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
2. A prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
3. Emma by Jane Austin
4. Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crieghton
5. Harry Potter 1-7 (Is that cheating?)
Favorite book when I was 12: Tales of 4th grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Favorite book when I was 14: All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
7. Can you point to a writer or a book that made you want to be a writer?
Who/What? No, I started writing when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade.
8. What book do you most deeply wish you'd written? Why? What parts of it
make you swoon? Characters? Voice? Plot? Sherry Thomas’ Private arrangements. Her plot is unique, she breaks the rules yet it still flows, her characters are deeply flawed and you love them all the more for it. AS for swooning...no I did not swoon, but I bawled like a baby when I thought they really would never be together.
Try typing a few pages from it, just to see how it feels to you. Where you'd
change the flow of the language, the way the paragraphs are broken. She is much more articulate than I, so the pattern and cadence of her sentences are longer at times.
9. What are your obvious passions? (Hobbies, avocations, etc.) Swimming, scuba diving, trail running, reading, and photography.
10 What are the defining characteristics of these passions? (for example,
gardeners and photographers are usually interested in light and color. Model
builders and cross-stitchers tend to like attention to detail.) Being surrounded by or immersed in nature.
11. What would five friends all say about you if someone asked them to name
a defining passion?
creative artist endeavors - scrap-booking, sewing, cake making, writing
12. What are your secret passions? Reiki and healing arts. I know it is not a secret to many of you who know me on line, but in my social circles that I interact with, I do not tell people about it. Mentioning that you can feel other people’s pain and ease their suffering and they will look at you like you have three heads. That is the world that I live in right now. (Flag-waving, Apple-pie loving, patriotic, fundamental and evangelical Christian Military.)
13, What charities speak to you? What one world or national ill would you fix magically if you could? What world sorrows can move you to tears? Children's’ Charities. The suffering of Children destroys me, crimes against children enrage me. I would change that the fact that billions of adults use power over the small and weak to better advantage or thrill themselves.
14. If you weren't a writer, but could be any other kind of artist/musician,
what would you choose?. What would be your tools? why? I would be a cellist. I love the music and the passionate way the cellist moves with the cello while performing. It is intoxicating.
15. Now focus on your own work: do you notice yourself returning to certain
themes? Yes, the trilogy or love triangles that C. Alyson Love pointed out. Everything has some sort of triangle!
Are there times/places that you use repeatedly? If so, can you identify the
reasons it appeals to you, and if so, are there other times/places that
might also stimulate your passions? Have you ever tried to use those other
places/times? I think I focus on medieval historical because life in the middle ages was more fragile. There were no antibiotics to cure a small cut or a mild fever. There was the plague, and then the plague again. The regime in power could disappear in a matter of minutes, leaving you and your family homeless or dead. There was no time to mess around. Life was short and harsh, marriages were for convenience, political gain, titles and wealth. So when love could be found in desperate situations, it was worth fighting for, worth dying for, literally. I am also interested in the Viking Age, Colonial America, and Regency and Victorian England. I have not used these yet.
What do readers/editors/outsiders seem to respond to most enthusiastically
in your work? Is there anything that they see as a strength that you don't
notice or value? The sexual tension and setting the scene. Some people think that my dialog is witty , but I did not notice that. I really want to be witty though!!! :o)
What would you LIKE people to say about your voice? I would like people to say my voice is witty, passionate, and moves them to a deeper level.
If you could only write ONE book in your life, what book would it be?
I would like to write a book that lifts your soul and leaves you completely satisfied and satiated.
Why aren't you writing it? I did not have the time to devote or the creative energies to devote to it. But now after girls in the basement, and voice, and my little ones going back to school last week, I am ready to go!
Now, if you can, try to condense all these defining things into a paragraph,
or even better, one sentence.
My voice is......,the feeling of Christmas night when you are sitting in front of the fire, sipping hot chocolate, watching the lights twinkle on the tree and the snow drift lightly down outside the window, while Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song is playing softly in the background.