She should have dialyzed last night, but she’d fallen asleep too soon, cocooned in fading dreams, down, and enchantment.
The next round of belly noises came with spikes.
“That shit was good. You ever think of going into politics?”
“Only with a bulldozer.”
Helen is also one of the driving forces behind the BestSelling Reads authors cooperative. She took time from her incredibly busy schedule to tell Written Words just how she writes the way she does.
How would you describe your own writing style?This question makes me want to tip my Fedora and dangle a cigarette holder from my lips, dahling.
Thrillers tend to be dour works, so I weave a thread of humor throughout because that’s how I live my life. I’m the kind of person who finds something to giggle about at a funeral.
The Avengers aside, I don’t believe in superheroes. I prefer to watch the everyman rise to an occasion. See what he’s capable of when pushed to an extreme. Count his beads of sweat as he faces danger.
Are there any authors whose style you admire? Do you try to emulate them?John le Carré, Len Deighton, even the put-upon John Grisham. All of these authors inspired my work in some way, but I write nothing like they do.
My first completed novel will never see daylight. It’s like that scene in Apocalypse Now where Captain Willard loses it and trashes his hotel room. That’s what a first effort should be: messy, destructive, and ultimately defining. When you come out, you know there’s some stuff you don’t want to do again.
Are there authors whose writing style you dislike?Yes, but it’s not my place to call them out. I just don’t read them. Some are commercial giants. I often disagree with millions of people over matters of taste. In the end, I have to acknowledge that the author did the job—emotionally connecting the reader to the story world.
I enjoy juxtaposing ideas and creating metaphors that ring true. Technology imbues my story lines, so I hide the occasional Easter eggs for liked-minded geeks. I really do write to please myself. I figure if I’m having a good time others will too.
You seem to like metaphors. How important is your writing style to you? Are you happy with your style, or are there aspects of it you try to change during rewriting or editing?
Mechanically, I tend toward short, choppy thoughts in my first draft, and when I edit, I restring the pearls.
What are the important elements of your style? What are you trying to achieve?I don’t see life in particularly black-and-white terms. I may have decided how I plan to live, but it doesn’t mean I don’t see the other facets of a thing. When I write, I try to turn the gem over a bit and give the other sides a chance to glint.
How can readers identify your writing style? Are there particular words or kinds of words that you tend to favour? Sentence structures? Or is it more in the story, the pacing or the characters?Thrillers for Geeks. That’s what I call my novels. My protagonists all understand and use technology for their work and survival. Hackers, spammers, robotics engineers, satellite tech executives. None of this capability was around fifty years ago.
But people haven’t changed. They still want hot dates for Saturday night and wonder if they appear too needy.
I try to write smart, deadly, witty and to end every chapter with something hanging.
Do you think your genre imposes certain restrictions on writing style?No. The thriller genre isn’t a monolithic entity. It runs the gamut from the literary lyricism of John le Carré to the raspy rhythm of Dashiell Hammett.
To quote from the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella: In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be.
Do you think your audience responds to your writing style, consciously or unconsciously?I hope both. I absolutely expect them to laugh out loud on particular lines because I did when I wrote them. I plan for them to wonder if the guy is going to make it out alive. But I trust the finer points to return for a reader’s consideration when he least expects it.
How important do you think writing style is to an author's commercial success?It’s everything. Or nothing. I’m not sure how one measures the effect of style. One can fail miserably in grand style.
Eye of the beholder, baby. Eye of the beholder.
Thank you, Helen.
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And visit her website: Helen Hanson, Thriller Author.