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  • Arlo Mercia


Welcome September, spring in the southern hemisphere. Warmer weather and new beginnings. That was not the worst August I've ever had. It was a tough month in some ways, but most enjoyable in others. The focus was family - an interstate move for some, and sadly, an unexpected death. But this also was an opportunity to catch up with extended family I hadn't seen for a long time, and a chance to travel with my partner.

Consequently almost nothing got done on my book, but everything is settling now, so I can start writing again. I have missed it.

During a meeting at work the other day there was an interesting discussion. I'm a senior teacher at the local high school. I teach Maths (my favourite) but also English and History. One of the English teachers was sharing about how difficult he finds it to define and teach about an author's voice. Amusingly, they all know I write novels, but not one of them thought to ask me about it (and I was battling a headache so I kept quiet). It's an interesting topic. When I progress the plot it is my voice that comes through in the general text, and for it to sound genuine it must be from the heart. When I write dialogue it is the voice of the characters that comes through. If they are convincing creations they will have their own strong voices.

A good example is when I introduced Eea the thunder-shell. The moment she spoke her voice resonated. It was deep, slow and very striking. She is a distinct presence in the room whenever she comes in to the story. Recently I also had an interesting experience while writing a scene that included Lydia, a psychic teenage girl. She was with two of the lygons who were discussing what to do. Suddenly Lydia interrupted the conversation with a cheeky comment. One of the lygons asked her what she meant by that - and I wondered myself. Then her answer appeared on the page. It was insightful and made a point that had not consciously occurred to me. I was quite startled by it and thought, 'Go you, Lydia!'

You know a book is working when the characters take over and start writing the story themselves!

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