Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blog Chain Post: The Voices in my Head

I Love The 90s Pictures, Images and Photos

Today's topic was chosen by Sarah who asked:

How did you discover your particular voice as a writer?

As many of you know, I write young adult fiction. When people ask me why, my answer is simple. My growing up was pretty rough. When I was unable to get away physically I could always count on a book to do the job for me mentally. I don't think I'd be who I am today if it weren't for the likes of Dean Koontz. The trouble was, while I enjoyed adult thrillers, I found that the YA section of the library/book stores held little more than R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and The Babysitters Club.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed those books. But I often wished for the type of selection that is available today. So I set out to write the kind of book I would have loved. (If that makes sense.)

My first hurdle, when I began my first novel at age 26 (I'll be *cough* 30 *cough* next month), was how to tap into my inner teenager. How would I find the voice that knew nothing about house payments, taxes, and toddlers?

The solution was easier than I'd imagined. My first job, at age 16, was working the drive-thru at the local Arby's restaurant. Now, whenever I need to tap into my inner teenager, all I need to do is head down to the local Arby's and munch on a roast beef. Whenever Blister In The Sun by the Violent Femmes comes on the radio, the teenager is there. Whenever I stroll down the wine aisle in the local supermarket and spot a bottle of Boone's Strawberry Fields, she smiles. And whenever I need to draw upon that feeling of hopeless teenage love/obsession, all I need to do is pop in Untamed Hearts. (I don't care how old Edward Cullen is, Christian Slater was sneaking into girls' bedrooms and watching them sleep waaaaaaaay before Robert P.) *Swoon*.

So there's the secret to finding and maintaining my YA voice. How do you find yours? Check out the hilarious Shaun's answer from yesterday (I can't wait to buy his book!!!) and Rebecca's (who never fails to make me laugh, either) answer tomorrow!


  1. Great post! Definitely a good way to find your voice. And the whole Arby's thing brought flashbacks of working in the Wendy's drive through for me. Only the food wasn't as good. Sigh.

  2. Boones! Also, Zima and Gold Schlaggers. Ahh, brings back the memories of HS. I'm so glad I'm an adult now.

    Awesome post as usual :)

  3. So, as the Beatles would say, you "listen to the music playing in your head," and that helps you with your voice. Music brings back so many memories, doesn't it?

    As for turning 30, I personally preferred my 30s over my 20s. I'll soon see how the 40s fare.

  4. Shaun - The sight of apple pucker, to this day, still makes me want to yak.
    B.J. - Did you guys make your own signature sandwiches as Wendy's? That was the best.
    Sandra - I'll toast to that! (But not with Zima, Boones, or Apple Pucker) :)

  5. I have no idea... I've never thought about it. I just write. Hmm...

  6. I love reading these types of posts. I am surrounded by teenagers in my extended family, and that gives great fodder for the YA I write! Lol.

    Oh, yeah. About the 30 thing, let me know how it goes for ya, k? I'll be there in about 6 months.

  7. Great post. I commented on someone else's blog that I am in awe of all you writers who can successfully write YA. While I do remember what that time was like (no matter how I try to block out the bad memories lol), I don't know that I could really write that type of thing well.

  8. B.J.--I, too, am a recovering Wendy's worker! :D And Cole, yes, signature sandwiches were made with much bacon and picklage.

    Man, I do not miss smelling like latex and onions all the time.

    Great post, Cole! I love certain items/songs bringing back the memories :).

  9. Lol, Cole and Rebecca. Yes, my signature sandwich was piled high with bacon and cheese. Yum. So much grease. Goes well with Boones.

  10. Everyone sing now: Let me go oo-on. Like a Blister in the Sun. Let me go oo-oo-on...

    Violent Femmes and Christian Slater in the same blog post?

    You're my new hero, Cole. :-)

  11. Great post Cole! Ah, you made me totally nostalgic for the 90's ;) And puhleeze, 30? Try 35. I'll be 36 in May!

    Getting in the right mindset is totally essential for letting the right voice come through in your writing. And if Arby's food gets it done for you... order away!

  12. Oh, yeah will take me back to quickly to another time. LOL, Boones also ignites a few memories as well;) Awesome post!

  13. Fantastic post! And nice approach to answering the question. Doing the things that you did as a teen is one way to bring back all that emotion you felt at that age.

  14. Holy crap. I remember Blister in the Sun like it was yesterday. Yes. Definite teenager vibes.

  15. This is a great post. I wish that I could go back in time, but not possible.Great to be able to see and share memories here. Thanks