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The Voice Within…

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
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I read a Nora Roberts books yesterday called A Will And A Way. Ever heard of it? No? Neither had I.

I enjoyed it though, despite its many flaws. Hey, it was written in 1986, waddaya expect?

Anyway, this isn’t a review of the book though, it’s just that whilst I was reading it, I found myself trying to ‘hear’ Nora Roberts voice, or at least what I identify as her writing voice.

I said I tried, mainly because I couldn’t. It struck me that N.R doesn’t have a specific voice. She’s a good weaver of stories, and somehow, she’s able to individualise (is that even a word?) her books.

When I read a Linda Howard book, I know it’s her. Although still a fantastic storyteller, her heroes are often very similar, as are her heroines. In my opinion at least.

The same can be said about Catherine Anderson books. She has a certain way of telling a story and developing her characters. Also, her themes are usually very similar. She does love her physically impaired characters doesn’t she? (I love ’em too though, so it’s all good.)

Having read both J.D Robb books, and a Nora Roberts books, there’s no way I’d be able to tell that it was written by the same author, had I not already known. I find it simply amazing that an author is able to hone her craft to such a degree that she can take on different writing voices, and make it work.

It probably seems kinda obvious that if an author is to have a long and prolific career, they should be able to adapt their voice when necessary, and I don’t know about you guys, but it seems to me that there are plenty of authors out there who have their own definitive voices. Voices that rarely change even when writing in a different genre.

I know that this doesn’t sound very progressive of me, but I think I prefer being able to recognise the voice of a fave (or even not so fave) author.

Sharon Sala used to be on auto-buy author for me, but she started getting too hit and miss for me to cope with. Her writing voice seemed to change dramatically from one book to the next. I can’t believe that an author who can write amazing books such as, Sweetbaby, and The Way To Yesterday, can turn round and write the snoozefests that were Rider On Fire, and White Mountain.

I like the comfort of knowing what I’m gonna get, before I open the pages of a book. Sure I like surprises, but the thing that draws me to particular authors in the first place is usually their writing style and voice, so why would I want them to change?

What say you?

13 Comments »


  • Anonymous
    December 13
    1:29 am

    I agree with you 100% Karen… Nora is the absolute best… BUT I can pick out her voice/style in a book if I were challenged. How you might ask? Because she does this thing where she states something, then puts a comma and then elaborates. I absolutely LOVE it.
    EXAMPLE
    The Heart Of Devin MacKade, Nora Roberts, page 125

    She was so incredibly sweet, so amazingly innocent. That was what kept his need locked away, kept his hands from taking quickly. Twelve years, he thought, listening to the way her breath caught, then burst out, when he skimmed a finger up the inside of her thigh. When a man had waited so long, he could be as patient as a saint, though his blood churned like a riptide.

    Okay… here’s what I mean…

    “She was so incredibly sweet” comma “So amazingly innocent.”

    “That was what kept his need locked away” comma “kept his hands from taking too quickly.”

    See what I mean? I effing love it!

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  • Anonymous
    December 13
    1:30 am

    Oh, and Karen, if you haven’t read the MacKade brothers? You HAVE to… one of my favorite stories of all time… The Heart of Devin MacKade. *sigh*

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  • Karen Scott
    December 13
    1:40 am

    Hey Anne, I’m on a N.R glom, thanks to Rosario. I’m re-reading a lot of her much earlier stuff. I already read all the Mackade Bros books, yes, Devin was my fave too, lol!

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  • Anonymous
    December 13
    2:00 am

    Glomming Nora will be one of my NY’s resolutions. I’ve already extracted a friend’s promise to unearth her collection from under the bed so I can read the Born In and Chesapeake Bay series.

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  • eggs
    December 13
    3:01 am

    IMHO, Nora is a “storyteller”, in a similar vein to Stephen King. Both of them do have their own voice, but the thing that really draws in the readers is the tale and the skillfull way they tell it. I would bet dollars to donuts that both King & Roberts could sit you down at the kitchen table and keep you riveted for hours with a story about what their grandfather did in The War. Even if he had an office job in some depot in Ohio for the entire conflict.

    When someone is a great storyteller like that, I often fly over the writing because I’m so keen to hear more of the story. I doubt I could pick either King or Roberts prose out of a single paragraph, but if you gave me the gist of a story I could probably tell if one of them wrote it – because the stories stay with me long after I’m done with the writing.

    eggs.

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  • Paz Edwards
    December 13
    11:43 am

    haven’t read this book but I have beverly jenkins’s book, Sexy/Dangerous, which is on your reading list. I haven’t started yet. I can’t wait to read it. I’m a big BJ fan. Have you started the book yet?

    paz

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  • Jackie
    December 13
    11:47 am

    I would bet dollars to donuts that both King & Roberts could sit you down at the kitchen table and keep you riveted for hours with a story about what their grandfather did in The War.

    Don’t know about that. Sure, it’s possible. But it’s just as possible that they don’t have a compelling speaking voice. (I’m willing to bet that (A) they do and (B) they’re perfectly comfortable speaking in public by now; hell, they’ve had a lot of time and (I’m guessing) a lot of practice. But a powerful written voice doesn’t automatically translate as a powerful audio voice by the same person.

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  • Rosario
    December 13
    2:18 pm

    Hey, glad you’re enjoying your glom! 🙂

    But I have to tell you, I don’t agree about NR not having a distinct voice. In fact, she’s one of the few author’s I’m reasonably confident I could spot if I opened one of her books at random, because her voice is just so vivid and different to other authors.

    Or, and maybe here’s the problem, I could probably identify her in her newer (say, past 10 years) books. Her voice was less noticeable in her older categories, so if that’s what you’ve been reading, it might be that’s why you see it this way…

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  • Dramedy Girl
    December 13
    3:04 pm

    I agree. I like having that comfort of the “Nora rhythm” and I think that’s why I didn’t like the Robb series at first. I was trying to force that association.

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  • Anonymous
    December 13
    3:56 pm

    I was on a NR glom and I noticed a few writing “tells” that would ID her to me, everytime. She has about four phrases that she’s fond of and I found them in just about every single book.

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  • FlannerySC
    December 14
    6:54 pm

    OK, I’ve noticed that in her earlier books (and I’ve read them all) that her “voice was individualized to each particular novel. But it seems to me that once she started writing books based in Ireland, that alot of her characters took on that cadence in the way they spoke. Sometimes even if they weren’t from Ireland. She has books where this is more apparent than in others. I found that to seem kind of lazy. Esp. in some of her trilogys. Then it was as if she realized it, and stopped. The last few stand alone novels she’s done haven’t had this flaw. And she’s never done it in her JD Robb books, only Rourke & family have the “Irish” in their speach.

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  • Karen Scott
    December 14
    8:31 pm

    Paz, I haven’t started reading the Beverly Jenkins book yet, I’ll tell ya what it’s like when I read it.

    Rosario, I am reading her older stories as it happens. I’ve been reluctant to read much of her newer stuff cuz I want the nostalgia that goes with reading an NR eighties book, lol

    Flannery, I purposely avoid NR books based in Ireland. I’ve got Morrigan’s Cross on my TBR list, and it’ll be a while before I get to it I think.

    Annie, what phrases is she fond of?

    Hi Shelly, that’s exactly why I’m reading her older stories.

    Jackie, I get what you’re saying. It’s been said many a time that authors are a notoriously shy lot, so some, no matter how good a storyteller they happen to be, they might be unable to articulate as well on a face to face basis.

    Eggs, I think you’re right in your assertion that Roberts is more of a storyteller, I love the worlds that she builds within her stories, she does it like very few authors can.

    Kat, I’m having a ball glomming her and Linda Howards right now. I’m just bored by the stuff that’s current.

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  • FlannerySC
    December 15
    5:11 pm

    I’ve read varying reviews of the Circle Trilogy… most people enjoyed that last 2 books more than the first. Too many people introduced & having too much to process, I guess. I liked all of them, but then I can be lenient when I know it’s a trilogy and the 1st book is to set the stage, so to speak, for the others. Also, it never hurts when she releases the trilogy back to back, 1 a month. *g* Patience has it’s limits you know.

    I guess whether you’ll like them or not will depend upon how much you enjoy the fantastical in your books. I haven’t notice you reveiwing a bunch of those types. I hope you enjoy them whichever way you lean.

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