Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Talk Time: Voice

Michelle Styles talks about the concept of voice.

When I first started writing seriously, the lovely Kate Walker did something on voice and how Harlequin was not looking for the new Betty Neels, Charlotte Lamb or even Kate Walker, but new voices -- powerful ways to tell stories. And I thought -- fantastic, as I can't tell stories like them but I can tell stories like me. A few days later, I happened to be a Maddy Prior concert and for a fun number, they did a James Brown song in the style of Noel Coward. Very amusing but it made the point -- you need to be true to your voice.
One of the other things Kate Walker said was something about how you can give a group of authors the same premise, and they will craft very different stories because of their voice. This fact was again brought home to me a few days ago when I could not get the Leonard Cohen song -- Hallelujah out of my head. It is the right song for the manuscript I am working on, BUT the Leonard Cohen with his gravelly voice works, even though I was uncertain the first time I heard his rendition. As the song has been covered a lot, I went looking to see if it was just the words and melody. and saw Other artists from Rufus Wainwright (Shrek version) to Katherine Jenkins to Il Divo to Alexandra Burke (winner of X factor) have put their own spin on it.The words and the melody remain the same but each performer brings something new to the table. It has to do with voice. And if you do not really understand the concept of author's voice, perhaps this might help.
So here is Hallelujah with different voices
Gravelly (my current favourite)


winsome romantic:



I also looked at the optimistic Alison Crowe and the Bon Jovi versions but I do not want to bore you. One song, lots of variations and moods. You can not mistake the Rufus Wainwright version for the Alexandra Burke. They bring something different to the table. Some strike a chord and other leave you a bit cold. It just depends. But they made the song their own.

And with writing romance, it is all about bringing your own voice, and telling a powerful story in your own way. You take the story and you make it your own.
Can anyone else think of a good way to illustrate voice?
Michelle Styles is currently obsessively playing Hallelujah as she tries to edit the manuscript due on 31 July. With her next US release: The Viking's Captive Princess Anthem from Chess (Josh Groban singing) ran through her brain. Her family are always very glad when she stops playing certain songs over and over again.


  1. Hi Michelle - Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about this song. In addition to the Cohen version, my favourite ones are Jeff Buckley and kd lang. Both mesmerising.

  2. Canuck --
    I will have to listen to the Jeff Buckley. And I did like the kd lang version as well. I just did not want to put too many versions on. Just enough so people could see how Voice can make the difference.

  3. Oh if anyone else has a favourite cover of this song, do say who sang it and what they brought to the table as it were.
    It does feed my current addicition!

  4. After seeing her in concert Allison Crowe is my favourite interpreter of Hallelujah (and quite a few other songs!) Of Leonard Cohen's own versions, I like his newest.

    There's an unique, very, very slow, rendition performed by Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. It's on a MOJO Cohen tribute CD released last Christmastime. It's not a Hallelujah I listen to often, but, it's unlike any other and could be part of your song fix!

    Simply a beautiful song for all voices.

  5. I'm a big fan of Jeff Buckley's version, but k.d.lang's is my absolute favourite as well.

    Very interesting hearing the different interpretations of the same song, Michelle - I listened to them all! A great way to illustrate how different writers can take the same story and make it their own.

  6. Right I will look fir Susanna and the Magical Orchestra.

    I have now listened to the Jeff Buckley version and it is great. I liked the Jeff Buckley version with Aragon and Arwen video.

    Jessica -- I am glad you approve. It just really struck as a good way illustrate how different voices can make something their own.

  7. For me, it's the Kathryn Williams version. Her voice is stunning and she put so much emotional depth into it - especially the end, which is a real rip-your-heart-out moment. (I use it as a Black Moment mood-setter.)

    I've seen her sing it live twice, and both times I was in tears. She really deserves to be *much* more widely known than she is.

  8. Okay, there is something wrong with all of you! Has no one just sat down and salivated over the Il Divo version! Gorgeous men singing gorgeous song = perfect romance inspiration!! My poor hero in my wip may just have to sing to my heroine now . . .


  9. I will go find the Kathryn Williams version, Kate H. Rip your heart is good!

    LOL Soraya. I know Doona Alward is a huge fan. I figured that it would really appeal to the Presents types.

  10. Yes - I LOVE the Il Divo version, and I didn't expect to. I actually cringed when I saw it on the DC jacket. And it is one of my fave tracks.