Recently I asked my friends on Facebook who their favorite author was and why. The answers varied but the universal theme was the same: consistency. Most of my friends liked an author because they knew what to expect from them. They liked the author’s style, plot, genre and every time they picked up one of their novels they knew they would enjoy it. An author is much like a brand; you count on them to manufacture the same product every time.
This is something I’ve had to learn in my writing life. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time or if you’ve known me for awhile, you know that my first three novels were chick-lit. They were quirky and funny. Think “Devil Wear’s Prada” or the “Shopaholic” series. After penning my third novel I got tired of writing in that genre and felt a pull to write something more serious, more dramatic.
That’s when I wrote “Engraved.” While writing chick-lit was fun, writing this novel was like carving out a chunk of my heart, opening it up and spilling it out on the page. It was difficult, it was challenging, it hurt, but I wrote something more beautiful than I ever thought I was capable of. Now the tough part has been trying to re-create that in my next novel and my next.
One of the ways I work on this is by reading a ton. Not too hard for me, since I love to read more than almost anything! But I’ve chosen two authors that I read more than anyone else when I’m deep into writing a novel. They are Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman. Picoult and Hoffman have the uncanny ability to write a new, exciting, original story every time and yet infuse the same feel and voice into it. It’s not like they write the same story over and over (that would be boring) but there’s no mistaking their voice, their style.
What I learn from them is that my voice is what makes my manuscripts. I have to own it. I have to write consistent.
One day I hope to have readers. One day I hope to have fans. I hope they fall in love with my stories and my “voice.” I hope when someone asks them on Facebook who their favorite author is they answer without hesitation, Amber Garza.