Monday, April 14, 2014

Changing Voices and Heroes - by Barb Caffrey

Hello, MurderBy4 friends,

Today we are featuring Barb Caffrey, a fellow Twilight Times Books author, whose new urban fantasy, An Elfy on the Loose, was just released. We're doing a "book blast" today to encourage folks who might like to buy the book to download it today to help the ratings soar! Here's what they're saying about it:

"Barb Caffrey's An Elfy on the Loose is a fresh and unexpected take on the urban fantasy genre with a charming and original protagonist. You'll want to read this one." – Rosemary Edghill, author of Dead Reckoning, Music To My Sorrow and the Bast Mysteries. for checking out this book and for supporting one of our many valued guest bloggers here at MurderBy4 today.

Without further ado, here is Barb's article which contrasts and compares two different genres and her two very dissimilar heroes. Her newest book (see photo on left) was written in her own style and voice. The books she compares to this were books her late husband started, so she tried to keep his voice active in them. See how she explains it, below:

AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE includes a lot of humor, and some outright silliness, too (such as when my three-foot-tall Elfy hero, Bruno, tells his good friend Sarah, a four-foot-tall Human girl, a bunch of limericks). So if you looked at that, then examine the two Joey Maverick stories I've helped to finish (these were drawn from my late husband Michael B. Caffrey's incomplete novel MAVERICK, LIEUTENANT), you might not see a lot of similarity within the two styles. Especially because there isn't.
      "But Barb," you say. "How can you say that? I see no similarity between AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and the Joey Maverick stories. How can this be?"
     Simple. When I worked on my late husband's Joey Maverick stories, I was doing my best to match his style. But when I wrote AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, I wrote in my own style. And yes, there is a difference in styles . . . there has to be. 
      Michael's writing style used far lengthier sentences, primarily. His grammar was always precise and impeccable, far more so than my own . . . and while I've picked up a good amount of that in trying to match Michael's style as best I can so I could complete his work properly, that doesn't mean it's wholly natural. 
      My style is shorter. Pithier. With lots of dialogue, a goodly amount of description, and enough internal monologue to satisfy the most exacting critic. (At least, I sincerely hope so.)

Now, how did I tailor my own writing to fit these two wildly disparate genres?

When I'm writing milSF, I try to get right to the point. And I write a more action-oriented story, too – because the action often makes or breaks the story.

But when I'm writing comic fantasy, I allow my stories to spin out any way that works. There's more time to fine-tune characterization; there's more time to do some nifty things with word choices and puns . . . even limericks, if the story calls for it. And fully setting up my characters also allows me to better get at the humor of whatever is going on.

There are other differences, too.

Even though Joey Maverick is a quiet hero – that was Michael's premise, and I've kept it, because it makes perfect sense – he still is clearly a hero. He does things on a grand scale, even though he often doesn't see it that way. For example, when Joey helps to disarm an eco-terrorist on Westmount Royal Naval Station (in "On Westmount Station"), he's doing what his training and abilities have prepared him to do.

On the other hand, while Bruno is also a hero, he's a wholly different sort of hero than Joey Maverick. Bruno is an adolescent Elfy – from a race of shorter Elfs (and yes, it is Elfs, not Elves, as the latter is too close to a swear word for the Elfs' liking) – he's been lied to his entire life, and now that he's been sent into the Human Realm (our Earth) from his home world, the Elfy Realm (in another dimension, but still Earth), he has a whole new set of challenges. His new friend, Sarah, has terrible parents; they've captured Bruno and treated him shabbily. But worse is yet to come, as Bruno's mentor Roberto tries to rescue Bruno, but Roberto ends up getting captured himself.

It's how Bruno rises to the occasion that made AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE so interesting to write. He could've just said, "Hey, I'm a kid, this is above my pay grade, no thank you!" (Granted, if he had, there wouldn't be much of a story.) But instead, he decides that he's going to help Roberto, who's been taken and tortured, even though Bruno quickly figures out that a Dark Elf is behind all of the nonsense Sarah's parents have put both him and Roberto through . . . and Dark Elfs are so far above an apprentice mage's pay grade, it's not even funny.

But Bruno refuses to stand aside. Even though he's not sure what he's doing, and and even though he barely knows anything about the Human Realm, he is going to help Roberto. Or die trying.

Mind you, it serves the stories well that Joey Maverick is so straightforward, while Bruno is still figuring himself out. The style of most milSF stories is much more direct than any comic fantasy could ever be, so Joey's direct and to the point characterization makes perfect sense from a story perspective. Whereas in a comic fantasy, it is not at all uncommon for your hero to be upset, confused, frustrated, perhaps lonely, scared, or even abused – so Bruno having to deal with a lot of stuff out of left field also makes sense from a story perspective.

The bottom line is, these two gentlemen both have stories to tell. Fortunately for me, I'm the one who gets to tell them.

And I'm not about to let the fact that they're both very different characters with very different stories get in my way . . . or ruin my fun as I figure out just what Bruno and Joey are up to this time.

Thanks, Barb, for sharing your thoughts with us today!

Here's a bit about her:


Web site: Barb Caffrey's Blog (AKA Elfyverse) CAFFREY is a writer, editor and musician from the Midwest. She is the author of the humorous urban fantasy AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and is the co-author of the Adventures of Joey Maverick series (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey). Previous stories and poems have appeared in BEDLAM'S EDGE, HOW BEER SAVED THE WORLD, BEARING NORTH, STARS OF DARKOVER, the Written Word online magazine, Joyful Online, the Midwest Literary Magazine, and at e-Quill Publishing. A writer, editor, and musician, Barb is also an inveterate reader, a huge baseball fan (Go, Brewers!), reviews books at Shiny Book Review, follows politics, is mystified by the Maury show, and wonders when her little dog will ever stop doing "the paw trick."  Find her at Elfyverse, Facebook, or Twitter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having me back, Aaron! I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my two favorite heroes, Joey Maverick and Bruno the Elfy . . . wildly different though they be.