I asked her if she hears her characters voices before she writes. Does she listen to them? She said, “Sometimes. Maybe. Not sure.” Before I write anything at all, I listen to my characters talking. I hear their dialogue, their complaints, their excited voice, happy, frustrated. I hear the regional dialects, the language habits; I listen to their personality developing. Not just once; many days, weeks, before I begin. This is done in silence. This is usually in my car. Radio off and traveling alone, I have no one to talk to, but plenty of voices to listen to. I do hear voices. Often I listen to their conversations when I first wake up in the early morning before I even open my eyes.
It hadn’t occurred to me that not every writer does this. It isn’t something I planned or practiced, it’s just my approach to character voice and dialogue. Everyone must have a method. I’m sure there are a million ways. This is mine. If Grandma starts hearing voices, the family might go into a familial panic; but it’s okay for the writer to hear voices. I think.
Writing Rebecca & Heart, releasing next week, has taken a long time. I think one reason is because Rebecca lives in a silent world. She never spoke to me. I never heard her voice. The readers will not hear Rebecca speak until late into the story. I had to interpret her body language. I had to watch her, and see her soul. And slowly her personality unfolded for me, without any voice. It has taken a long time to put her personality on the page good enough that readers will know her, recognize her, and love her.
If the protagonist is silent, whose voice will be heard on the pages? Perhaps that’s why sometimes the author’s voice is predominantly the one that is heard, because there was no voice to hear, or because the author wasn’t listening. In this case, the narrator’s voice is the fly-on-the-wall. His voice is clear, self-confidant, a-stiff upper-lip Brit, and amusing, offering light-hearted commentary on the plight of Rebecca & Heart.
It was hard to write the voice of a non-verbal protagonist. I had to listen hard to “hear” that voice. I hope my readers will hear what Rebecca wants to communicate.
The book in its beautiful cover is available next week from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press or from your favorite book store, who can get it for you.