Sliding on the Snow Stone author, Andy Szpuk, tells us about finding the right voice:
It was back in 2007 when I conceived the idea of writing Sliding on the Snow Stone. I’d already written a box full of short stories and was developing my writing craft, taking small steps daily, and occasionally, bigger leaps.
However, when my father recounted the experiences of his childhood in Ukraine and subsequent journey through the horrors of famine, Soviet Terrors and Nazi brutality during World War 2, I knew I had no choice.
It was a story that needed to be told. Ideas began to form in my head about how to approach it. First, I considered producing it in standard biographical format. Biographies are generally written in the second person, but with much of my father’s material consisting of so many powerful personal experiences, I felt second person would create too much of a distance for the reader.
Often, biographies can become academic in their tone. Instinctively, this didn’t feel right for my father’s story. I felt I needed a way to project the emotional drama, to capture how it must have felt.
I spent many hours talking to him, and making copious notes, collecting details and building a picture. It was sometime during this process when I realised it was HIS story, so I needed to write it from his point of view. I decided it would need to be written in the first person.
It presented many challenges over many months. Managing a story in the first person presents obstacles: the viewpoint is limited, and the voice needs to be consistent and authentic, and also there needs to be variation in the first person delivery, i.e. starting too many sentences with ‘I’ can become over-repetitive for the reader.
Finally, after much editing, Sliding on the Snow Stone was published in 2011 by That Right Publishing. It was quite a journey to undertake, but I feel I’ve added a small piece of jigsaw to the history of the world, and I’ve given voice to a story that might never have been heard.
For details on my other written work, including a diary of a 10-day stay in Ukraine in 2012 when I visited my father’s old home, visit my blog: Lines from the Word Lab
Thanks Andy for being our first guest post writer. Your story is very interesting. War casts a long shadow. Please visit Andy’s site and if you like what you’ve heard Sliding on the Stone it’s available to buy there.
This guest post is the first in a regular series in 2013 where I will be showcasing emerging writers on this blog.
You can help by clicking through to their sites, buying their books, sharing this site on Twitter or Facebook and coming back, or by Following this site (click the button above right), to see who is next in a few days.
And if you are a writer and want to be featured send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the submission guidelines.