Thursday, October 10, 2013

Discovering My Paranormal Writing Voice – Regan Black

Discovering My Paranormal Writing Voice

It’s a pleasure to be here today and I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Orangeberry Book Tours for making it happen!

It would be wonderful to say that one day I just sat down with pen and paper and knew exactly what to write and how to go about writing Justice Incarnate, the first of my paranormal romantic suspense novels. The truth is far less pretty. In fact, the journey to finding my voice and becoming a published author was rather like a maze.

A maze sculpted from prickly shrubs, littered with rocks, and veiled by a thick fog set into the side of a snow-capped mountain…

As a stay-at-home mom, I started writing again during quieter moments when the kids were small. It was poetry, anecdotes of motherhood, or silly, made-up lyrics and stories to amuse my children. As my poetry got published, friends and family encouraged me to follow that route and look into penning children’s poetry and storybooks.

But remember that maze? I ran smack into my first dead end…

I was working on a new poetry collection when my husband came home to work for the second time in two years. My poetry was sunshine and light one day; angst and despair the next. It was maddening and more than a little ridiculous. I nearly threw myself out of the first floor window and into the thorny rose bushes.

Out of desperation I began a story, fictionalizing our romance, in an effort to recall what I’d found so attractive about him in the first place. The book is the worst romance novel ever, but I learned I could write a complete, full-length novel and I’ve been addicted to the process ever since.

(Oh yeah, and we’re still happily married).

Rather than wander like a lost lamb in that maze, I set out to learn everything about the writing craft and the publishing industry. My local RWA chapter was invaluable on setting me on the right path and it was during a critique session that I learned my writing voice naturally leans toward the paranormal. I’d written what I considered a romantic suspense novel, but everyone in the group looked at me and asked if the heroine was a vampire or werewolf.

Talk about a shock. I tripped on one of those rocks and did a faceplant.

Huh. I dissected how I’d written the passage, looking for the clues I’d left that led readers down the paranormal path, so I could figure out what to do about it. It boiled down to vocabulary choices, setting cues, and general moodiness within the story. (No, I’ve never published that story either). I hadn’t considered writing paranormal romance, but I was intrigued and I persevered.

Too bad the mountainous maze wasn’t done with me.

A couple of months later it became obvious the stories I’d been crafting were simply too dark for the publisher I was targeting. Everyone said I had no hope of selling ‘that kind of story’ anywhere.

Not encouraging words, but knowing your market is the first priority – after you find your voice as a writer. So I set out to lighten things up in the revisions, but the stories felt wrong even as I prepped them for agents and editors.

Fast forward another few months and a workshop speaker cornered me after her presentation. We talked a bit and she finally asked me what I was writing when the words were flowing effortlessly. My answer: dark and high-octane stuff. She advised me to take a step back, to just let the words flow first and see where it carried me.

That sage advice turned out to be the map through the last twists and turns in that maze!

Embracing my ‘dark side’ allowed me to follow my natural creative process and eventually Justice Incarnate became my first sale, which led to all the other books in the Shadows of Justice series: Invasion of Justice, Veil of Justice, Tracking Shadows, Shadows to Light and the supporting short stories. After reading the series a writer friend once called me a ‘nice girl with a dark psyche’. I guess that’s as good a phrase as any to describe my work and my voice.

Looking back from the clear side of the maze, it sounds like I found my writing voice quickly. It didn’t feel like that at the time, and I’m forever grateful for the lessons and teachers who appeared early on in my new career.

With each novel I write, dark, light, paranormal, or suspense, I strive to capitalize on my strengths and improve my weaknesses as a writer, so that readers can always count on an exciting daring adventure whenever they pick up a Regan Black novel.

What’s your hidden talent – and how did you discover it?

Live the adventure!


Justice Incarnate

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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