01 October 2009

“Sometimes the Voice Works, and Sometimes It Doesn’t”

From Publishers Weekly’s recent long interview with Richard Peck:

You often write in the first person. Why?

I was a teacher once, and as a teacher I was painfully aware of how long students would listen to me, as opposed to each other. Writing in the first person keeps me—the alien adult—off the page and off the stage. It also provides a healthy control on language. If I wrote in the third person, too many multi-syllabic words and adult locutions would steal in. First person controls that, and it increases the intimacy of the experience, as if one young person is saying to another, “Let me tell you a story.”

What is one of the biggest challenges for you in writing a novel?

Finding that young voice which will be the right one to tell the next story. Will it be a boy or girl? Now or then? Urban or rural? I have to do casting calls—sit down and start writing in a particular voice. Sometimes the voice works and sometimes it doesn’t, and I have to know when it doesn’t.
This interview comes on the occasion of Peck’s A Season of Gifts.

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