Author Tahlia Newland has offered me the opportunity to join in this blog tour. The idea is simple. I answer a series of questions on my writing process and my current work, then I tag new authors to answer the same questions, and the chain carries on, a pattern of infinite growth. Unfortunately, the authors I hoped to tag could not participate. Ah well. Suppose every branch of a tree kept growing and sprouting new twigs that grew into branches and divided. It would be one cancerous tree, and eventually someone would attack it with a chainsaw. But I had lots of fun answering the questions.

I want to thank Tahlia for tagging me . Check out her website here.

What am I working on?

Right now I’m revising a suspense novel, Darkroom, for about the sixth time.

Kelly Durrell, assistant curator at a small museum, befriends Day Randall, a footloose and immensely talented photographer. While Kelly is home attending her sister’s funeral, Day disappears. Kelly is too grief stricken to care until Day’s boyfriend, art collector Gregory Tyson, asks for her help. He’s determined to find Day. As Kelly searches for her missing friend she finds herself drawn into a world of dangerous people. She begins to question Tyson’s motives. What is he really after? How far will he go to get what he wants?

And will I ever finish this novel? The story is radically different from the first draft I wrote some years ago. Maybe I should have left this one in a virtual drawer, but something about it keeps pulling me back. I hope it will have that effect on readers.

Why do I write what I do?

My stories come from a bleak place. Though I’ve been lucky enough to find love and joy in my life, my imagination thrives in the dark. The darkness of my stories puts some readers off, but it’s so much a part of my worldview that I can’t change it without losing my authenticity. If I wrote lighthearted romance readers would sense the phoniness.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write urban fanstasy and horror as well as straight suspense. I also like to mix genre elements. But I’m hardly the only writer who does these things. In the end only one thing sets my writing apart from others in my genre: its voice. Voice encompasses a writer’s prose style, imagination, and worldview. It’s a quality hard to define but easy to recognize. Like a singer’s voice it can’t be acquired, only developed. You can often recognize a writer’s work by voice alone. And of course some voices are more accomplished and versatile than others. Not everyone can write a first-person narrative with an unforgettable voice. Mark Twain sure could. He’s one of the greats.

Sometimes I think stylistic rules (which, let’s face it, change through time) hamper the writer who is trying to find his or her voice, but without rules the new writer usually produces awful prose.

How does my writing process work?

Voice is important to my writing process. It can slow down my writing. If a paragraph sounds wrong — off key or discordant with the rest of the piece — I can’t proceed until I’ve solved the problem. If it sounds right I can move along at a steady pace. I know voice shouldn’t matter so much in a first draft, but my creative process depends on it. Fortunately I’ve reached the point where I can find the right note quickly, but sometimes I fail to catch false notes until I read through the draft later. They make me wince.

I wish I could write faster. Commercially it’s a good idea to produce two or three books a year. But what’s the point if they suck?


About Tahlia Newland:

She writes heart warming and inspiring contemporary fantasy and magical realism . You can also call it metaphysical fiction. She has  been writing full time since 2008, and is also a respected reviewer with over 300 published reviews. All her novels have been awarded a place on the Awesome Indies list of quality independent fiction, and have received the AIA Seal of Excellence. Two of her novels, You Can’t Shatter Me and  Lethal Inheritance, also received a B.R.A.G Medallion for outstanding independent fiction.

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