Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speaking in Voice - a superb example

Some of you will probably ask me where the hell I've been when you realize I've never read a book by Tami Hoag. And rightly so. But last week while I was stranded at the Tokyo Narita airport for seven hours, I'd already been on two nine hour flights in 24 hours and actually had read all the books I'd brought with me.

So, I wandered over to the bookstore which to my surprise had a few English books on a carousel.

I'd seen Tami Hoag's books on the rack before, but had never really picked one up. I've always been drawn to John D. MacDonald, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Laurie R. King, and many more. I could barely keep up with my favorite authors' books, never mind add another to the list.

I didn't know what I was missing.

I'm used to strong characterization (who can ever forget Odd Thomas?) and high suspense (Kiss the Girls). I love the philosophical wanderings of MacDonald through his series beach bum character, Travis McGee, and the beautiful painting of words by artists like Koontz.("light buttered the walls...")

But I have to say, I've never, ever read a book with such amazing unique voices for multiple characters. Deeper Than Dead taught me more about that aspect of writing than any book I've read in a long time. In third person omniscient POV,  Hoag writes in frequently rotated segments, each from a different character's POV. From fifth grader Tommy Crane who stumbles upon a dead woman buried with her head above the ground, to his sweet and smart friend Wendy Morgan, to lovely and dynamic elementary teacher Anne Navarre, to the extremely disturbed schoolyard bully Dennis Farman, to Vince Leone, the FBI agent walking around with a bullet in his brain, each and every segment throws the reader smack dab in the middle of the characters' heads. It's the inner thoughts that do it for me, and their wonderfully authentic voices.

The kids talk like real kids. And sure, there's quite a bit of nasty language and some over the top gore (I'm not too impressed with that part), but the voices are natural and sound so real and distinct, I kept stopping to notice how well this author accomplished the character switches.

Ten of my books have been written in first person POV. I feel safe there, and there's no muddling of my thoughts. I'm in Gus's head, and there I stay. And in my Moore Mysteries, I write in third person limited POV. So, I'm always in Sam Moore's head. And wouldn't you know it, in my newest series, Tall Pines Mysteries, I'm back to first person, but from a woman's POV? It's hard and fun all at the same time.

But this jumping from one character to the next like the prolific Ms. Hoag does, has always intimidated me. I admire anyone who does it well, and highly recommend Deeper Than Dead as a great teaching tool as well as an enjoyable roller coaster ride through 1985. ;o)

Time to go back to the WIP. Remember to take pleasure in the little things and write like the wind!

 - Aaron

1 comment:

Marta Stephens said...

Sounds like an interesting book, Aaron. I've never read any of Hoag's books either, but the switching between Characters' POV is what I've done with my Harper series so I'm thinking I'd like this one too!

Thanks for sharing.