Voice: The Story’s Music


This week I spent a lot of time reading. I reacquainted myself with Leanna Renee Heiber’s The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker as well as Elizabeth Peters’ The Curse of the Pharaohs.

I have read both books before. This time I wanted to read them as object lessons in good writing. There is a lot to learn from award winning writers.

From the very beginning, I was once again swept away. How easily I got engrossed in each story. Why? How? I started over and realized that each story had a unique voice that drew me in.

Ms Heiber’s Gothic, romance, fantasy, ghost story’s dialog and exposition never step out of character. From the opening sentences until the climatic ending, each word is wonderfully placed, thoughtfully chosen and keeps you in the moment. The story she weaves is filled with personal pain and somber sensations outside the Athens Academy that is juxtaposed to everything that is enlightenment and safety for Ms Percy inside the Academy walls. The picture she paints never falters.

Similarly, Ms Peters’ first person, Victorian, mystery, adventure, (romantic elements included) keeps her readers entranced. Amelia Peabody’s passion for Egypt cannot be denied. Her descriptions of Egypt are a riot of sights, sounds, smells, color, and tactile sensations as opposed to the gray watery England that she depicts. She too holds her reader enthralled passionately attending to every detail.

The voice of each story is consistent and true to their time and place whether in narration or dialog. Donald Maass said it best in his book, Writing the Breakout Novel.

“…not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches an author’s oeuvre… An original. A standout. A voice.”

The eighteenth Amelia Peabody story A River in the Sky, was released April 6 this year. The second in the Ms Percy series, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, will be released this week, April 27. In addition, The Strangely Beautiful Take of Miss Percy Parker has been optioned for a musical theater production. I can’t wait!

… Ruth Seitelman

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