I write thriller/suspense and horror. That has always been my wheel-house—the stories that get you with a creeping feeling of trepidation, or ask some question about an odd ‘what if?’
Then someone suggested I write equestrian romance because I know horses. Their logic; you know the horse bits + you can write = simple... right? Well, no. Not really. That is a whole different genre with different rules, expectations and skill sets—not to mention mind set. But it intrigued me. Could I write a horse-y book where the horse stuff actually works? Hmmm.
No, though. Erica could not. She (excuse the self referred 3rd person, I know it’s annoying, but bear with me) writes stuff that creeps people out. But maybe someone else could. Then Isla was imagined. She could write romance, maybe, and I gave it a shot.
By creating this alter-ego I could pull out a different writing style and sweep into the romance genre with only a few missteps (sorry to those first early readers, who definitely did not get a romance!) A review on her latest book calls it ‘hopelessly romantic.’ That was the nicest thing to read, but to me, Erica, also hilarious. No one would ever use those words for me or the work I usually write. But here we were, with a beautiful review for something that did, in fact, come from my head. Thanks Isla.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I’m working on an anthology—a romance anthology. So of course Isla wrote a couple of stories for it—all well and good. I know her voice now. It (largely) works. Then one of the other anthology creators said she expected something from Erica too. Hmmm. But of course, you can write romance, she said. Just do it in her style/voice.
So I tried.
And got quick, emphatic rejections.
Not romantic. Creepy. Going to give me nightmares. Were among the critiques for Erica’s stories. And in their own way, great comments, but not for this anthology. I still needed something. But what? I was moody and annoyed that it wasn’t working. Then I just started writing. Something.
I didn’t know what to call it. I couldn’t even tell where it came from. It wasn’t Isla, and it sure wasn’t Erica either—it was some strange conglomeration of the two who turned out a... wait for it… A sweet space opera MM romance. It got accepted; excitedly—quickly. Huh. I’m not sure what this new voice is, or if I can replicate it anytime soon, but it is interesting.
Compartmentalizing writer voices allowed me to write distinctly in two genres/styles and now that both are comfortable in my head, they are playing nice. It’s created parts of a personality that I couldn’t have related to before, but now somehow inhabit as needed. I’m not an artist who will talk your ear off about my Muse, I don’t communicate with my subconscious very well, but I may just have found a way to pull some of that subconscious out and get her to play.