Today’s guest is TL Costa, the debut author of the young adult novel Playing Tyler (Strange Chemistry/Random House), which has been called “One part Real Genius and one part War Games” by A.G. Howard, author of Splintered. Howard also said:
Playing Tyler has voice for miles, two damaged yet driven main characters who will simultaneously shatter your heart and send your pulse into overdrive, and disturbing plot twists that could too easily be real. The emotionally riveting prose and genuine relationships draw you in and won’t let go until the final satisfying sentence. Costa is on my auto-buy list from this day forward!”
And the lovely New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristin Higgins said this of Playing Tyler:
Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, Ponyboy Curtis…add another name to the list of unforgettable teenage heroes: Tyler MacCandless. Ty will break your heart and make your cheer on this fast and furious thrill-ride. A breathtaking new voice in young adult fiction, TL Costa weaves realistic adventure, heartache and first love in this amazing, fast-paced story. Fresh. Thrilling. Heartfelt. I’m running out of adjectives, but trust me. You will love this book.”
TL Costa has worked as a publicist, assistant gallery director, high school teacher and she’s a mother. Here, she talks about voice, including how being in a musical family helped her build her main character.
Develop Voice by Listening
Voice is a concept in fiction that stands out as an abstract. Terms like theme, pace, structure, character, can all be explained to an emerging writer in a comparatively straightforward fashion. A strong voice, on the other hand, is something that readers and agents and editors want, but very few can define in quantitative terms. It can also be divisive, as a book with a strong voice is typically either loved or hated.
Coming from a musical family, I grew up hearing loved ones slowly plucking out a song from the atmosphere. Hours of my childhood were spent with my head bent low over the piano, playing a tune again and again in my mind, my fingers desperately seeking the notes that would match my song.
To call a song into life is a realization of the relationship between musician and instrument, much like to write with a strong voice is the realization of the relationship between author and book.
This, to me, is the essence of voice. Voice is the music called into being by the writer and put into words.
How is this done?