I have two releases this month, a paranormal M/F romance entitled Hot Spell and a contemporary M/F/M ménage, Wild About That Thing. The two books are very different in tone. Would readers be able to tell they were written by the same author, if my name wasn't there on the cover?
It's common wisdom that each author has an individual style, a “voice” that tends to be similar from one work to the next. Readers get accustomed to the voice of their favorite authors. I sometimes wonder whether I'd be more successful, in terms of sales, if my various books were more similar in tone.
Not that I can do much about this, even if I'm right. When I start working on a story, I don't consciously adopt a particular voice. The story itself seems to “choose” an appropriate style. If I'm writing steampunk, for example, my sentences tend to be far more elaborate in structure than in a contemporary piece. This isn't deliberate on my part; it just seems to happen. If I'm working in the paranormal or fantasy genre, often (though not always) I find myself using dreamlike imagery and more poetic language.
The point of view in the story also affects the voice. I like to write first-person stories. When the character is narrating the tale in his or her own words, my personal style will be eclipsed by the characters'. The style will be more conversational and informal, and often less descriptive, than in a book told in the third-person.
Of course, I'm certain all my books shares common elements, in terms of language. I know I have favorite words and phrases - I work very hard not to repeat them too often! I tend to focus more on my characters thoughts and emotions than on their actions, especially in my sex scenes. I'm perhaps overly fond of metaphors as a way to evoke sensual experience.
But do readers notice these commonalities?
I know that some authors use multiple pseudonyms for different styles or genres. I can barely manage one literary persona! But I do have different voices on the page, in different books.
Here are two quick excerpts, one from Hot Spell, the other from Wild About That Thing. If you read these two excerpts, in separate places, would you recognize that they were both by the same author?
From Hot Spell:
He came to her in dreams first, conjured by the sweltering night.
Naked, she tossed in her sweat-damp sheets, drifting in and out of uneasy slumber. The muggy air settled on her skin, a stifling blanket she couldn’t kick off. Like a physical weight, humidity pinned her to the mattress. The feeble breeze coming through the open window offered no relief. If anything, it was warmer than the air in her bedroom, carrying with it all the heat that had been trapped in the concrete and asphalt during the day.
Her limbs were leaden. A dull ache pounded behind her forehead. When sleep overtook her, she found herself wandering barefoot on empty, baking sidewalks. The sun’s relentless glare reflected down upon her from the glass-walled towers on either side. Rivulets of perspiration trickled down her spine but failed to cool her. Her skin felt scorched, ready to crack and peel.
Then the dream changed. The oppressive brightness faded to sultry shadow. Flesh, not air, weighed upon her. Smooth, hot skin, slick with sweat, slid against her own. Strong legs tangled with hers, easing her thighs apart. Fingers of fire skittered across her breasts and danced in her sex, kindling incendiary pleasure. A scalding tongue licked its way to the hollow of her throat, then returned to seal her mouth with a steamy kiss.
He tasted of mulled wine, melted chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne. A sharp tang of ozone hung around them―the smell of summer storms. Lightning crackled wherever he touched her. She ran her hands down his muscled back to his firm, full buttocks, marvelling at the power she sensed in him. Her palms tingled and stung at each contact, as though she’d been slicing chillies. The strange sensation added to the pleasure simmering in her pussy.
She pressed her fevered body against his, trapping his erect cock between them. Hard against her belly, his rigid organ felt like a bar of steel fresh from the furnace. Every searing instant made her want him more. They writhed together, sparks of scarlet and gold whirling around them. Her clit was a live ember. When he brushed his cock over the swollen nub, she burst into flames.
Ruby could feel it in her bones. It was going to be a good night. Only ten thirty, but most of the tables clustered ‘round the stage were full. Lori had already lugged two extra cases of Heineken—tonight’s beer special—up from the basement, and from the looks of the empties accumulating in front the customers, they were going fast. The bartender caught Ruby’s eye and gave her a thumbs up. Everything under control.
Up front, the Night Travellers hit a dark groove, wailing through Born Under a Bad Sign. Zeke’s fingers flew over the strings, improvising a high riff, while Jojo’s bass kept the song grounded. “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,” Zeke growled, torturing his guitar to match the pain in his voice. Damn, but the man sounded black, despite the mop of straw-coloured hair he kept pushing out of his eyes. Born in Mississippi, he must’ve soaked up blues in the water and the air. Certainly he could play with the best. Ruby was lucky to have him and his band, given the pittance she could afford to pay them.
As if he sensed her attention, Zeke picked her out of the shadows at the back of the club. She felt the warmth of the smile he beamed to her, a smile totally at odds with the desperate mood of the song. You know why Zeke plays here, her inner critic commented. You’re just taking advantage of him.
He gets what he wants, she argued with the internal voice that sounded so very much like her mother’s. I treat him fine. Of course, she got as much out of their relationship as he did. Zeke was a strong man with powerful desires. He could set her on fire. It wasn’t her fault that he was so sentimental. You wouldn’t expect it from a rough and tumble guy like Zeke Chambers—ten years a New York cabbie, a guy who’d seen every horror the city could dish out.
By the way, I'm doing a mini blog tour this month to promote these releases - with a giveaway, of course! Leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win. The prize is the winner's choice of either of the two new releases. Today's the last stop on the tour, but you can go back and check out the earlier posts. The side bar of my blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com) lists all the stops.
I want to thank Ann for letting me visit. I hope you had fun!
BIO: A dozen years ago LISABET SARAI experienced a serendipitous fusion of her love of writing and her fascination with sex. Since then she has published three single author short story collections and six erotic novels, including the BDSM classic Raw Silk. Dozens of her shorter works have been released as ebooks and in print anthologies. She has also edited several acclaimed anthologies and is currently responsible for the altruistic erotica series COMING TOGETHER PRESENTS.
Lisabet holds more degrees than anyone needs from prestigious universities who would no doubt be embarrassed by her chosen genre. She loves to travel and currently lives in Southeast Asia with her highly tolerant husband and two cosmopolitan felines. For more information on Lisabet and her writing visit Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory (http://www.lisabetsarai.com) or her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com).