Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Tour: Jenn Flynn-Shon, Voices and a Giveaway!

Yesterday I posted my thoughts about Reckless Abandon by Jenn Flynn-Shon. You can read them here. Today I have Jenn here answering the 'voices' question I like to ask authors.

Jenn ~ I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me.

When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?

Hearing Voices: The Author is Only the
Vehicle to Write a Character’s Story
Whenever someone asks me if I hear the character’s voice in my head while writing I don't really know how to respond. There are times I want to say ‘oh of course’ but then I'm afraid of being committed because the other person won't really understand that what I really mean is I’m just a vehicle for the character to come through so they can live out of my head and on the page.

Writers of fiction don't write their own life for the most part. There will be obvious similarities to who they are but a character will be much larger than them. For example, in Reckless Abandon I have a few things in common with my main character, Shaw. We are both writers, we're both Irish, both married to guys in the mortgage industry, and we both suffer from issues with low blood sugar. But that’s about where the similarities end. When I started writing her, Shaw pretty much took over and wrote her own story.

Yes I realize this may make me sound crazy but don't call the guys with the white coats just yet, let me explain.

While writing this novella I knew I wanted to tell the story of the average married couple who come to discover that their lives are in fact anything but typical. I wondered what I'd do if thrust into a similar situation as Shaw – coming home one day to find her husband has vanished very suspiciously. I too would call the cops. I too would pour myself a glass of wine mid-afternoon. But there was no way a teary eyed me would sustain an entire novella so with Shaw I heard a little voice saying ‘there has to be more.’

So I gave her more. A lot more. I let a cop get killed in her house, I let her flee the scene by the skin of her teeth and I had her freak out right before she turned to the one person she felt she could trust to help her. Shaw’s life was simple, easy and uncomplicated but all of a sudden her only option was to raise the stakes of complication. I wasn't sure at first I wanted her to contact her ex-fiancé but she kept saying ‘you really have no choice.’ And she was right. So she tracked down JJ.

With shady police involved in her husband’s disappearance she needed a solid person, someone she knew was clean and trustworthy. But I never expected the fireworks that these two were about to encounter. She was hesitant but desperate. He was bitter but easily convinced. They had loved each other once and she was in trouble. He had to soften to her and she had to see how great a guy she once let slip away. ‘But I'm still married’ she reminded me and I had to figure out how to make that part work.

As I wrote their dialogue it was as if Shaw and JJ were living people, a couple talking at the next booth over in a diner and I was documenting every word they said to each other. I could feel how much he despised her for having left him two decades prior. And I could feel her true sorrow for the way she'd ended it when she was still just a stupid kid with stars in her eyes and dreams of a big career in NYC. It was as if I was placed in charge of telling the story of two people I knew inside and out.

Because of this, the voices of the characters aren't telling me what to write or shouting at me per se, they just show up and I get their words out. Through my fingers I form them into complete people with quirks and missteps, fortune and stupidity and everything in between. They show me who they can be and I shape them into the most relatable versions of themselves that the world can identify with.

I use the glimmer of their voice to channel through my own in the retelling and they come out with the clear honesty of the real people they are. In my head.

Connect with Jenn

Writesy | Ripple the Twine | Reckless Abandon

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  1. thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. Thanks so much for this Susan, I had a blast answering your questions!

  3. You've made great use of those voices that come through you, Jenn!


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