Please welcome Maria Goodin, author of From the Kitchen of Half Truth, as she writes about her path to becoming a published author!
by Maria Goodin
If you’re going to write a novel, then you need to find your voice. It took me a while to work this out.
I tried to write my first novel when I was sixteen and it was a struggle, largely because I was desperately trying to imitate the type of book I was reading at the time. I loved teen horror writer Christopher Pike and my favorite film was The Lost Boys, but I had also been influenced by the Sweet Valley High series, so the result of my hard work was something like Twilight meets Beverly Hills 90210. The book, set in California, featured pretty blonde cheerleaders, hunky football players and all the trials and tribulations of high school, as well as vampire-like creatures dragging unsuspecting members of the public into bushes before tearing them limb from limb. The problem (apart from the plot) was that being British I knew nothing about American youth culture other than what I had gleaned from a few brat-pack films and my limited collection of teen novels. I don’t think it even occurred to me that I could write something along similar lines to the books I loved but base the story in England. I knew what I liked and I was out to recreate it.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t finish that novel. I got about half way through and then became demoralized For a start, that type of story had been done so many times before. It was completely unoriginal. I mean, who was ever going to earn their fortune writing yet another teen book about vampires? But more than that, it’s very hard work trying to write like someone else. It’s like trying to walk in shoes that don’t fit you. No matter how much you love the shoes, they keep slipping off. You pull them back on, plod on a bit further, stumble, and then they slip off again. Intermittently my Christopher Pike-style writing would be interrupted by this other voice that would come through. If only I could stop writing like me, I thought, then maybe I too could become an author.
Over the years I have wanted to write like Raymond Carver, Sherwood Anderson, Joanne Harris, Marina Lewycka, Tony Parsons…but it’s no good, that same voice just kept coming through, messing up my painstaking imitations. In the end, I gave up the struggle and just went with it. And guess what? It turned out people liked my voice.
If you want to write then read. Find authors you like. Enjoy them, learn from them, admire them if you want, but don’t try to be them. One of the wonderful things about writing is that your work is always unique. No one can do it the way you do.
Maria Goodin is the author of From the Kitchen of Half Truth. She trained to be a teacher and therapist before working as a counselor. Based on her award-winning short story, From the Kitchen of Half Truth was inspired by her interest in psychological defenses. Maria lives in Hertfordshire, England with her husband, son and cat. This is her first novel.