I’m back again today to introduce Virginia Kantra, another of our nine conference workshop presenters. Ms. Kantra is the New York Times bestselling author of more than two dozen novels and the winner of numerous writing awards, including Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award and two National Readers’ Choice Awards. USA Today calls her Dare Island novels, set in North Carolina’s barrier islands, “contemporary romance at its most gratifying.” A popular speaker, she recently took part in Duke University’s event series “Unsuitable,” hosted by the Forum for Scholars and Publics.
Ms. Kantra has chosen as her workshop to present: Voice: What Are They Talking About and How Do I Get One? Sounds like something you might want to learn more about? Then register for the conference and sign-up for this workshop. I can’t wait to hear what she has to share with all of us.
Her latest books:
Recently we had an opportunity to interview Virginia Kantra via email. Her answers and the examples she gave were very helpful and interesting. And now our interview with Ms. Kantra:
Question: As the author of many sub genres (Children of the Sea, Dare Island and Sweet Home, Carolina), what makes them uniquely yours?
Genre fiction is about satisfying reader expectations. Readers investing their time and money in a book are counting on the author to deliver a certain type of entertainment. The first page of the book sets the tone and makes a promise to the reader about the story inside.
The woman scrambling over the stockade wall had a really nice ass. So it was a damn good thing she wasn’t his sister.
At least, Jack Miller hoped she wasn’t his sister. Because that would make things really complicated, and he had more than enough complications in his life already.
Concealed in the shadow of trees outside the militia’s compound, he watched as the woman’s head followed the rest of her over a ten foot wall of rough-cut pine.
If she didn’t have sex with something soon, she would burst out of her skin.
She plunged through the blue-shot water, driven by a whisper on the wind, a pulse in her blood that carried her along like a warm current. The lavender sky was brindled pink and daubed with indigo clouds. On the beach, fire leaped from the rocks, glowing with the heat of the dying sun.
Her mate was dead. Dead so long ago that the tearing pain, the fresh, bright welling of fury and grief, had ebbed and healed, leaving only a scar on her heart. She barely missed him anymore. She did not allow herself to miss him.
But she missed sex.
Matt Fletcher didn’t go looking for trouble. Most times, it just found him.
His life was changing around him, slipping away like the sand of the Carolina coastline, and there wasn’t a damn thing he or God or the Army Corps of Engineers could do about it. But a day working on the water gave him something to hold on to. Sweat and salt cured everything in time.
The smell of fish and fuel, mud and marsh grass thickened the air as he turned the Sea Lady II toward home. The September heat pressed down, flattening the inlet like glass.
You can see how the three sets of opening lines make a different promise to the reader about the kind of story they can expect.
Story choice—the ideas and characters that we choose to write about, that appeal to us—are part of author voice, certainly. But voice isn’t about reader expectations. Voice is about what the author has to say and how she chooses to say it. Whatever subgenre I write in, my cadence and vocabulary are fairly consistent. My world view, my experience, emotions, and beliefs, are all reflected in my voice.
Question: You are on the panel discussion of voice: your North Carolina stories makes the reader believe you are a native, what gives your voice this resonance?
North Carolina has been our home for almost thirty years, but I understand that doesn’t make me a native. Even our children aren’t considered true Tarheels. As a neighbor remarked shortly after we moved here, “Just because your cat had kittens in the oven, that don’t make them biscuits.”
But writing makes you pay attention—to your surroundings and to other people. It forces you to exercise your imagination. So while I am not a native North Carolinian (any more than I am a pediatric burn surgeon or a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps or the owner of a bakery), I can talk to all of those people. I can immerse myself in their settings. I can research their way of life. I can imagine myself in their skin. I can tell the truth the best way I know how. I think that gives my voice and my characters a certain authenticity.
Question What is the best advice on writing you have given?
About ten years ago, I was sitting at a round table of published authors, talking about writing schedules and time management. There was wine. There was venting.
The young woman next to me, who had just had her first book published and was struggling to write her second, was complaining about the constant interruptions to her work day: visits from her mom, phone calls from her kids’ schools, demands for snacks and homework help and errands and attention. I listened sympathetically. We all did. Because we all are torn by those demands. But when she finally, plaintively asked, How can I get my family to take my writing seriously?, I said, They’ll start respecting your time when you do.
Amazingly, we are now friends. And she says that was the most helpful writing advice she ever got.
I’ve shared only five of Ms. Kantra’s book covers and titles from her more than twenty-five books featuring contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. If you’like to see a complete list of her books, please check out her website at: www.virginiakantra.com
Whether you’re a seasoned writer, a novice or somewhere in between, you really won’t want to miss the 4th Annual Pamlico Writer’s Conference this year along with our Friday night Kick-Off on March 18th & 19th at The Turnage Theatre in Washington, NC. It promises to be our best yet, packed with so much talent, you really won’t want to miss any of it.
If you haven’t already registered, click on our website now and register today and remember to sign-up for Friday night’s Kick-Off too.
Looking forward to seeing all of you at the conference.