Finding My Voice: Kylie Kaden
Having winged my first book (and most of my second), I feel a tad unqualified to talk about finding a writer’s voice. It sounds hard. Like a windswept, uphill adventure involving a hip-flask and walking stick. But I travelled no such voyage. For me, writing is an unconscious, gut instinct most of the time. In fact, my throat still tightens a squidge every time I say ‘I’m a writer’, fearful that alarms will sound, people will point and shout ‘she has no business calling herself that’. Suffice to say finding my voice was a short and flukey journey.
My first attempt at writing (mostly for sanity-preservation reasons whilst on mat leave) was found on the slush pile at Random House about a year after I started. I was gobsmacked. Losing Kate then launched in April. But it wasn’t until they accepted my second (Missing You, out April 2015) that I realised I just might be doing something right, and perhaps it was my ignorance of all rules that made me distinct.
Many ingredients go into writing. Your style is the result of the decisions you make at the word level. Tone and word-appropriateness are dictated by audience and purpose – the odd ‘f’ bomb may be considered acceptable by many in a work of contemporary fiction, but entirely taboo in a professional or technical piece. But the all-important ‘voice’ is the relationship you have with your reader. What comes through about you. What makes the work distinct. Like the core of the onion after all the layers are pulled away. So how can that be anything but raw, essentially you?
So, I’ve come to believe ‘voice’ should take the least effort. Hone your craft, consider structure and pace, and edit till your eyes twitch. But voice? It’s within you. It’s organic. It’s the one thing most susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’. Kind of like soul. The way I see it novels are a marathon not a sprint and to remain consistent (for a hundred thousand words or so) I can’t be thinking too hard about the personality behind each word. I need to churn them out, work that cursor across those pesky blank lines without falling out of character.
One of the great things about my editor is her willingness to leave personality on the page. Genre conventions are one thing, but no one wants to read a contrived, formulaic, well-rehearsed act, or a watered-down version of the writers-favourite-author. Don’t try to please everyone – readers yearn for honesty. Authenticity. A different spin on the well-trodden plot; the quirky turn of phrase, the off-beat observation, the slightly-insane interpretation of a common situation. I feel these little nuances make fiction shine.
In short, I believe the advice your mother dished out on your first nervous day of school, ‘just be yourself,’ is just as apt when it comes to writing. If it’s not working, you may just be trying too hard.
This mesmerising debut is part love story, part mystery, telling the captivating story of two lovers torn apart by tragedy and the secrets they kept of one devastating night.
I’m the most authentic version of myself when I’m around Jack. We’ve known each other since we were kids, and our relationship was always one of mudpies and mocking.
Then everything changed.
Beautiful Kate, my best friend, disappeared on a moonlit beach after Jack dumped her for me. Jack was a suspect and, sure of his innocence, I lied to protect him. I know Jack didn’t kill her. Our betrayal did.
Thirteen years later, I am thirty, childless and single, attempting to renovate my life rescuing a rundown worker’s cottage. All is as it should be in my safe little world – until Jack buys the vacant lot behind my house… and the feelings that we buried all those years ago – the guilt, the love and the pain – resurface.
We can’t keep running away from the past – and to move forward we have to know what really happened to Kate.