Thursday, November 26, 2015

Beans have been spilled...

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. I have been sitting on some news and was waiting for my opportunity to spill the beans. As I mentioned last time, I am between published books, and with that in mind I decided to put my hat in the ring when the call came recently for judges for the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for 2016. I have always been interested in trying out for this. And having just completed the Diploma in Children's Literature, and with this window of opportunity of having no eligible books of my own (which may or may not come around again), I thought this might be my best chance to take on such a role. I applied.

I have known the outcome of my application for several weeks, and today it was finally announced I AM A JUDGE for the 2016 Awards. Suffice it to say I am very excited and I'm looking forward to discussing the submitted books with the other judges. There will be lots of reading involved as you can imagine, and then lots of secrecy as I meet up with my co-conspirators to make shortlists and winner decisions. I have strong secret squirrel game so I am READY! You can read all about it below.


picFiona Mackie, Kathy Aloniu and Melinda Szymanik have been appointed as judges of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
The judging team will deliberate over an expected 150 entries in five categories: Picture Book, Illustration, Junior Fiction, Non-fiction and Young Adult Fiction. They will select five finalists, then a winner in each category.
Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, Lawren Matrix, and Mereana Taungapeau have been appointed as judges for Te Kura Pounamu – the award that recognises and celebrates books written or translated into te reo Māori.
The supreme winner, drawn from the winners of the six categories, will be declared the 2016 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year.
Between them the judges have huge experience of reading, enjoying and working with books for children and young adults.
“The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is delighted to have such excellent judges for the 2016 awards,” says its chair Nicola Legat. “These judges stand out as having remarkable experience and expertise across many aspects of children’s literature.”
The finalist authors in the awards will embark upon a nationwide author tour, in the week prior to the awards being announced at a ceremony to be held in Wellington in August.
The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is sponsored by Creative New Zealand, Hell Pizza, Book Tokens Ltd and Copyright Licensing Limited New Zealand (CLLNZ). They are also supported by the Fernyhough Education Foundation and Nielsen Bookdata. The awards are administered for the New Zealand Book Awards Trust by the New Zealand Book Council.
For further information please contact:
Nicola Legat
New Zealand Book Awards Trust
ph: 021 958 887
Judges Background Information – Additional information
Convenor of judges Fiona Mackie has 30 years’ experience across the education and libraries sectors, having worked as a teacher, a reference librarian, the Social Sciences Selector and the New Schools Advisor while at the National Library. She is a Past President of SLANZA — the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa — and is currently the teacher-librarian at Pinehurst College in Auckland.
Riki-Lee Saua (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Tainui) is the Te Kura Pounamu Award Coordinator. Riki-Lee has worked in a number of Māori-specific roles at Auckland Libraries and Massey University Library. Currently she is a Subject Librarian at Manukau Institute of Technology in Otara, Auckland and is also a member of Te Rōpū Whakahau, the professional association for Māori who work in libraries, archives and information services.
Kathy Aloniu’s love of children’s literature comes from a rewarding 14 years spent as Manager of Children’s Services at the Invercargill Public Library. Kathy is currently City Team Leader at Dunedin Public Libraries and is an associate of the Libraries and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). In 2012 Kathy was part of the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards judging panel.
Melinda Szymanik is a highly regarded writer of children’s fiction. Her books include Jack the VikingThe Were-Nana and A Winter’s Day in 1939. Recipient of the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer’s Residency in 2014, Melinda recently completed a Diploma in Children’s Literature from the University of Canterbury.
Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau (Te Aitanga ā Hauiti, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tuhoe) is Principal Librarian Children’s Services at HB Williams Memorial Library, Gisborne. Te Rangi Rangi continues to ‘raise reading levels’ for kura kaupapa Māori children participating in the Kiki Taumata programme. The programme is conducted in te reo Māori and supported by senior students.
Lawren Matrix (Ngāi Tuhoe, Ngāti Koura) is the Children’s Librarian at Te Matariki Clendon library in Auckland. Lawren is responsible for the provision of Māori-specific programming, story-time visits and other programmes designed for children and youth on behalf of Auckland Libraries. Lawren has strong connections with Māori and Pasifika community groups in the Clendon and the wider Auckland area.
Mereana Taungapeau (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai) is Heritage Programme Adviser, Māori, at the Alexander Turnbull Library. Mereana is involved in a number of outreach programmes responsible for connecting Māori children, youth and adults to library collections. Mereana has wide experience of delivering library outreach programmes for local kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Excuse me while I do the limbo...

This year is a year without a book. I have a small project which will be out in print next month and I have been writing, mostly on the novel which I began while at the Pah Homestead, but this has been a fallow year. Sitting on the sideline watching the book world move forward without me. Excuse me while I do the limbo.

After the hurly burly of the last few years this feels strange. But I am no stranger to strange. Much of the first half of the year was spent at the Pah Homestead. Several months ago my focus was on preparation for our big overseas trip and then we embarked on the trip itself, which was awesome and monumental, both literally and figuratively. And then we returned and the remainder of the year fell into a kind of limbo with few fixed dates. The most excellent NZ Book Week (in the last week of October) and the wonderful and full of warm fuzzies NZ Bookshop day (on Halloween!!) was a most welcome departure from this. Huge thanks to the NZSA for rescuing this incredibly important event, and to the two bookshops (Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden and the Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop in Ponsonby) who invited me along on the 31st to share in their celebrations. It was a day of mutual love and respect between booksellers, writers and illustrators, and readers, and every one felt very wanted by the end of the day. I have everything crossed and knotted that this becomes an annual arrangement.

But the rest of the time... well ... I'm mostly still in limbo. It feels like being in one of those flotation chambers where you have no choice but to be introspective. I've been navel gazing and reading posts and articles on the social media platforms I'm signed up to which can be a very dangerous occupation. And trying to fathom twitter which is a deep well of weirdness. Whether Essena O'Neill's reasons for quitting social media were honest or not she's right about sites like facebook, twitter and tumblr being a heavily filtered version of reality. Even if photos and comments are raw and genuine, folk still curate their images and words carefully to show the side of themselves they are willing to reveal. And people have agendas. Twitter, while it still feels like learning a foreign language, is a perfect example of an agenda driven medium. All sorts of strangers have started following me and I know it's not because of my phenomenal wit and stunning beauty (ahem - cough) as clearly neither of these are on display on the platform (cough, cough). For some, it's because they hope to sell me something at some point, whether it's their services or their books. I am allergic to direct selling, preferring to find my books by way of good writing and discovering an author is really cool and has interesting things to say, which seems to be a novel way of doing things these days. And I always (where possible) try and buy my required services locally. And yet twitter  is so interesting. Social media has multiple means of luring you in and turning you into an internet zombie ... anyways, as always, I have digressed.  

So, while I wander the labyrinth of social media like a modern day  Ulysses without a ball of string wondering whether I mind being lost or not, 2016 looms... looking mostly like a blank canvas. The thought of a new year is always a mixture of dread and giddy anticipation. So many possibilities, so much free time.

I do have a picture book scheduled for release next June. Yay!! Fuzzy Doodle. Illustrated by the marvelous Donovan Bixley and published by Scholastic. I don't have any pics to share yet and I am feeling a little coy about revealing any part of the story. Soz. But soon folks ... soon you can have a wee peek...

So, one key event for 2016, and the rest has still been feeling like a yawning chasm of nothing. An emptiness...

I booked a few things to give myself the illusion of busy and/ or important. Tickets for my SO and I to see The Tempest at the Pop Up Globe Theatre in March. And a follow up specialist's appointment in October. Woohoo! But after the schedules of the last few years things were still looking a leedle bit barren. Don't worry, my SO said, things will crop up. That's pretty much always been my philosophy too. Stay connected and involved. Keep writing - cos that's what I like to do. And have faith that things will arrive to pepper the calendar with busy and/or important. And fun!

And you know what? It's already started happening...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Stewing in a soup of fear of failure

I joined twitter. If you notice my sentences getting shorter you'll know why. It was all part of the plot to be able to pitch some of my manuscripts to publishers and agents. This opportunity was offered at the Tinderbox conference and it seemed like a relatively easy way to gain the attention of some key players. I'd been thinking about jumping in to the twitterverse anyways and here was some very good motivation. So I jumped.

The astrophysical imagery is apt as Twitter does indeed seem like another planet after hanging around on facebook and blogger for so long. The pace, the brevity, the style and shape of conversations, are like nothing else I know. I guess it's probably good for my brain as I learn a whole new approach to social interaction.

But I digress. I joined twitter partly to satisfy my curiosity, partly cos of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and partly to be able to pitch. And the pitching was easy. Tweet the correct hashtag with a brief tagline for your story and publishers and agents could search the hashtag and check it out. For Tinderbox it was #TBPitMad. If they favourite your tweet you could then query them with the story, referencing the pitching opportunity. And the thing is people that the Tinderbox pitch session was only one of many springing up regularly on twitter (my latest go was with #PBPitch - you can go and search these hashtags to get an idea of how it works). And these are generally international opportunities (although the agents and publishers may not always appreciate that fact?). And in the end most of the publishers and agents are open to general querying even if you don't get favourited. Realistically I don't know what the success rate is like and I suspect it's no greater than other more traditional channels of querying but it's very motivating. I have emailed off a rash of queries in the last few weeks with several different projects. Exciting stuff...

But also, as I know all too well, subsequently terrifying. Weirdly for a published author, I am a very private person when it comes to my writing. I don't share it widely before I send it off to publishers. It seems waaayyy easier to have my work judged by strangers then it is by fellow authors, other friends and relatives. I get my story to a stage that I feel happy with on my ownsome and then I start submitting. Then it's the moment of stark unavoidable truth. Sometimes I show other folk after I've submitted. I am weird that way. By then it's too late.

As an author, if you are following the path of traditional publication, whenever possible you should have some work out there, submitted. If one of your goals is traditional publication, submissions are just a day-to-day part of your job description. Thought being a writer meant you devoted all of your spare waking moments to your craft?? Ha ha. Think again. An appreciable part of your daily grind will be researching who to send your work to, how to send it, polishing queries, worrying about the strength of your query, trying to summarise your work in one or two pithy compelling sentences, wondering if your word length will put them off, trying to locate the name of the editor, sometimes wondering if that's a woman's name or a man's. Sometimes that is all so overwhelming that you think I just can't even... and then you go on facebook for a while. And so the twitter pitch seems inordinately manageable in comparison. Too easy in fact.

I went a little crazy...

It sucks you in and makes you excited about the process and before you know it you've wrangled your query and the synopsis and the biography and cut and pasted some text into the body of an email and pressed send. And then the slow dawning realisation that I am staring down the barrel of  all their responses.The waiting. The wondering. The post posting analysis. Sure, I like my analysis to arrive after it's too late to act (see above). And it leaves me drenched in that heady emotional mix of hope and terror. Like stewing in a soup of fear of failure. The thing they never tell you about pigeons coming home to roost is how much pigeon poop there is. How thick should I be growing my skin? How much loin girding will be required? My mum always asks me if I have anything out on submission. Well mum, at the moment I do. I'll let you know how I get on...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A most excellent conference...

I have been to a few conferences over the years. One or two in my previous working life in Hospital administration and a bunch more since I have been writing for children. Tinderbox2015, held last weekend in Wellington, would have to be the best of the lot in my experience.

I'd hemmed and hawed a bit when registrations were approaching. I'm a big fan of the networking that goes on in our industry but there was money involved and I like to be able to justify business expenses to the taxman. Had I already heard everything I could possibly hear about the state of children's literature and it's publication in this country? I have been a member of the writing community for some time and providing master classes for experienced writers is something that even larger, more well-funded organisations struggle with. In the end the lure of catching up with my kidsliterary friends in Wellington was too great. I took a leap of faith and signed up, selected workshop options (including daringly putting my name down for the Illustration session with the most excellent Sandra Morris), booked my plane tickets and received a generous offer of accommodation from writer/illustrator friend Fifi Colston.

I flew in to Wellington with writer friend Maria Gill on the Thursday so we could attend WOW Wearable Arts Show that night and get an early start for the first day of conference on Friday. WOW was incredible - not least because we got to see Fifi's wonderful co-creation that was an awards finalist.

The next day, despite dour predictions, the weather made an effort to be congenial and the conference got under way on time in St Catherine's High School. First up was a double session with multi award winning YA writer Mandy Hager who ran a workshop on plot structure and planning. Her in depth analysis of character 'motivation' and 'change' provided fresh insights and inspiration. Prolific bestselling author Andy Griffiths then stole the show with a brief but energetic and irreverent appearance and then next up it was Understanding Metadata with Andrew Long from Penguin Random House. This offered insights and clarity on the murky business of metadata and how we can maximise our searchibility. Playwright Dave Armstrong ended the day's sessions taking us on a heartfelt journey through his own experiences and how these fuel and enrich his stories.

Day 2 saw us glued to the screen as we had a skype session with another prolific best selling author, Susan Kay Quinn. She talked about finding the creative life that works for you, about 'never saying never' (I am familiar with this lesson), about mailing lists, writing collectives (especially the group support and information sharing) about trying and retrying things, and the importance of knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. She talked about building fanbases, and growing a writing career organically (YES!!). After Ms Quinn I got to play with sculpy in the Illustrators workshop. After so much concentrated and focused listening and word digesting, doing something creative with my hands was a wonderful change. Not only did I enjoy the experience but I learnt some wonderful modelling tricks and made something I rather liked.
 My fox head, photo courtesy of Fifi Colston.

In the afternoon, Associate Director and Set Design lecturer Penny Fitt from Toi Whakaari talked about the stories we tell ourselves about failure. Failure can be the result of things outside our control, and can offer insight into possibilities for future growth and improvement. Ultimately failure wasn't an end of something, but rather offered a starting point to push off from. According to Suzuki, 'the real secret of the arts is always to be a beginner.'

Following on from that talk some of us had the opportunity to get some tips and advice on how to chair a panel or session.As with the other workshops, this felt too short and all of us wanted more on this topic. But the next session was just as interesting and we got to see Johanna Knox provide a skilled example of panel chairing as she led the discussion on Small Indie Presses. It was clear that passion for, and a belief in the titles they published was an essential ingredient for all three speakers (Mary McCullum, Greet Pauwelijn and Mandy Hager). 

That evening we dined at the James Cook as a group and heard about a very cool old project from skilled raconteur Fifi Colston, and an exciting new publishing project from Gecko Publisher Julia Marshall and author Kate De Goldi.

Sunday was my final day. My brain was beginning to feel like fudge but I had to hold together because there was still much to take in and enjoy. First up was a Pecha Kucha style session with a variety of speakers talking for ten minutes each on a range of topics. Many dealt with collaborations, which was one of the key themes for the conference. We heard from Adele Jackson talking about her wonderful Sketch Book Exchange project, Barbara Else who spoke on Query mistakes, Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins who shared the floor to talk about their book, A Book is a Book, Mandy Hager who did a condensed version of her talk on researching for her latest book about Heloise and Abelard, Sue Copsey who spoke about her experience with Booktracks, and Maureen Crisp who let us in on a special Tinderbox secret - we would have the chance to pitch our manuscripts to some publishers via twitter.

Then we got the lowdown on contracts with author, agent, and assessor Chris Else, talking rights, territories, obligations and royalties. This was incredibly useful, and even more so with some of the questions the group asked. It confirmed some of the assumptions I've made about contracts over the years, and clarified other aspects. Then social media queen Alexandra Lutyens took us through the different forms of social media, explaining what they did, how to get on them and how we might use them to our advantage. Last but not least was a shared talk by husband and wife book design team Luke and Vida Kelly who gave us a peek into their world of design wonder. By now my brain was bulging and I was afraid I might develop a slow leak or just explode altogether. Everything I attended had given me useful practical tools I could use as an author. I'd taken notes and most of the folk running sessions promised to make their notes etc... available to participants. There was SOOO much information, and for all the workshops I attended there were other equally valuable sessions running concurrently. Johanna Knox ran a wonderful project all the way through the conference called Sparks which saw folk teaming up to produce articles for a nature magazine. Everyone looked energised and excited. Old friendships were renewed and new ones were forged. We were a happy bunch. 

So Tinderbox2015 set a very high benchmark. My hometown Auckland is next up to host the conference in 2017. Gulp.

Monday, October 5, 2015

When patience was a virtue...

You might be wondering where I've been.

The big O.E. is a bit of a kiwi tradition. We seem to be fairly well travelled as a population - according to Wikipedia 75% of New Zealanders hold a passport (compared with around 70% of Australians and 42% of Americans, while approximately 5% of Americans travel outside the country (Huffington Post).I don't know how many kiwis travel overseas in any given year but I think it'd be more than 5%. Out of my family I was the only one not to travel to Europe as a young adult. I was a little bit afraid of countries where I wouldn't know the language, with customs wildly different from my own. I wasn't won over by the notion of backpacking, youth hostels and shared bathrooms. I got busy with other things, working, getting married, buying a house and then having children. Getting the 2014 University of Otago Children's Writer-in-Residence post and taking a spur of the moment jaunt across to Melbourne with my eldest for her 21st last year gave me a touch of bravado, and before it could wear off I suggested to my SO that we finally head off on the big O.E. We quietly got excited about the idea, and then we got organised...

We got back just over a week ago after nearly a month of tripping and traipsing across Western Europe. Am I glad we waited? Well I felt like a young adult. And it was jolly nice staying in hotels and having a suitcase with wheels. Lots of people spoke English which was an enormous relief as my head for other languages is the size of a pea. A shrivelled pea. I can't tell you what I missed not going thirty years ago. I imagine a lot is different. But I got to go now and it was good. Great even. Okay, fabulous.

I touched the Louvre

Looked up the Eiffel Tower's skirts

Sighed over the Venice bridges

Adored the Duomo

Wished Gaudi had found his way down under 

And wondered at the whiff of modern in these 12th Century chessmen in the British Museum

I loved every monument, ruin, cobbled street and museum. I want to see it all again. I wish it wasn't all so far away but then I don't, because the effort required to get there makes everything seem even more significant and much more satisfying to experience. And in a fit of the most wonderful luck ever, and because I'd developed a willingness to queue despite the odds, I got tickets to see Benedict Cumberbatch play Hamlet at the Barbican in London, which was the perfect ending to our adventure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More on voice... and being brave

I keep rolling the concept of 'voice' over in my mind. Trying to find a way of simplifying it's definition, and come up with techniques you can use to find your own and apply it successfully to your writing. Writer pal, Sue Copsey, and I chatted at length about the importance and qualities of voice yesterday, trying to nut out what it is and how to produce it.

The short answer is, there is no short answer. The long answer is, I know it when I see it, and I can tell when it's missing. You can have technically great writing but the story won't work without voice. I guess then my definition is, voice is the beating heart that brings a story to life. And in different stories it manifests in different ways.

Sometimes voice is provided predominantly by the first person narrative of the central protagonist - such as Georgia Nicolson in Louise Rennison's Confession series that began with Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging.

Sometimes it's structure, setting, or the domination of dialogue or dialect. Sometimes the genre of the material drives the voice, at other times it's the central underlying theme. If you think of the Harry Potter series, the voice is clearly more than just the character of Harry. The magic of the fantasy setting,  the myriad of imaginative invented elements, the colour and energy and complexity of the plot are all involved too. Some critics would probably argue it's the frequency of adverbs. In The Hunger Games, the character of Katniss provides a significant proportion of the novel's voice but the atmosphere of the physical setting, the dramatic and urgent sequence of events and the complex political themes also contribute. With some writers it's the ability to surprise, whether with the plot, or the word play, or both. Sometimes it's the poetic nature of their writing style. Or its elegance or spareness.

And how do you put voice in to your writing? Specific methods are elusive but here are some things worth contemplating as you search for your own writing voice.

An author's style choices, their tics when they write, their own linguistic preferences, all shape their voice. And most of all their own personality influences the way they write, the topics they choose to explore, the presence or absence of humour, the weight of the themes, or it just permeates the writing in a more general sense. Engaging 'voice' in your writing demands that you put something of yourself in to your writing. It requires authorial bravery - they don't talk about baring your soul for nothing. Fear of exposure results in a weak or absent voice. You have to put yourself out there.

And for all that I understand about how to compose sentences, and what I know about the fundamentals of plot and how to structure one, the search for voice requires that I push myself beyond these basics of writing. It demands that I 'let go', that I experiment and play with ideas, with metaphor and simile, with characterisation and tone, motif's and imagery, with dialogue and action. And I'm willing to do it, willing to try new and different things and share pieces of myself in my writing, because it's worth it if I find my 'voice'.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Writing voice...

I have been working on a commissioned project. The lazy part of me will tell you that commissioned projects are jolly hard because someone else comes up with the rules and the inspiration and you must then work within these constraints to find and create the story. While this does not sound that difficult, I come from the school of organic inspiration. You know: the one where you start with all sorts of seeds, and you have sunshine, and rain, and warm soil, and some good fertilizer, and time, and eventually something grows. I have no clues which way the wind will blow, but it does, and this helps decide which seed germinates. In fact my whole writing career owes a lot to the whole 'organic' concept. Not just in terms of finding and turning ideas into stories, but also growing my profile and promoting my books. It all sounds rather 'soft' and undirected and haphazard, but there is an underlying drive and philosophy that keeps me true to my purpose, and mostly focused on the writing and the stories which in the end are what it is all about for me. Anyways, I digress. Commissioned project. A bit like a university assignment. Totally impossible to do and why did I ever enroll and I will tear my hair out before I ever get this finished, until you have actually done it and then you can look back and say that was a jolly good challenge and I'm so glad I took it on.

However, when I was in the midst of all my angsting about finding a commissioned project difficult, the voice of a character popped into my mind. And before I knew it, my mind grew the story and I'd written it down. And it underlined something important in my writing. I write best when I have found the voice.

Voice is a somewhat elusive concept. It isn't just the way your central protagonist talks and behaves and carries themselves. It's the words you choose to tell your story with, and the style of your writing. It is also the personality of the story as a whole. Is it jaunty, hilarious, sombre, confused, desperate? Or a combination of some, or all of these things, or a collection of other qualities entirely? Having these qualities signals what kind of story it is to the reader, and gives them a sense of whether it is their kind of thing. It is a means of connection, and provides the reader with a sense of the personal. This isn't generic or formulaic.  Reading a good story with a strong voice becomes a conversation with a friend, a journey the reader and the story take together. I try to make 'voice' the heart of my writing and I am lost without it, but by the same token it is not the 'whole' story either. You still need plot and character and setting etc... Identifying 'voice' during a university assignment for a creative writing paper many years ago was my aha moment. That's what I was missing in my own writing until that point. Suddenly I was 'seeing' it when I read and knew what I needed to do. It began to creep out of my mind and in to my writing.

We don't all want to see the same 'voice' when we read. Different readers are attracted by different things. I don't think you want to aim to create a one voice fits all - it dilutes the magic. But working on developing voice may be one of the most important things you do. If you are not sure how to do this, a way in is to look at what sets the writing of your favourite authors apart from that of other writers. What underpins their style and what qualities permeate their stories. How does their 'voice' make the story more than just the sum of its parts. There is a reason we often like everything a particular author has written.

I think voice is evident in the opening paragraph of my story Crocodile Dreaming:

The teacher took Joseph Miller to the zoo. In fact she took the whole class, including Joe, who was the second smallest student. It would have been better to be the smallest, but that position was filled by Martha Eggleton, who was not only short, but also blond and dimpled. Everyone felt protective towards Martha. Joe had red hair, and more freckles than ‘you could shake a stick at’ as Granny Miller liked to say. Joe didn’t get how a shaking stick was a way to measure anything but Granny used it quite a lot. He also had teeth that refused to sit neatly in a straight row, and wore glasses because otherwise the words on the board looked like wet weetbix. His classmates found all these things impossible to ignore. Maybe if Joe played sports, things would be different. But he didn’t, and they weren’t. He wasn’t really the right shape for sports.

And you can also see it in this paragraph I think:

Albert Bertal hated the museum. “I don’t want to go, Mum,” he said. He rolled his eyes to show her how much he didn’t want to go. “Museums’ are boring. Tell them I’ve got a pain. Tell them it might be suspected appendicitis. Tell them I might need surgery. And I’ll be back at school tomorrow.”

There are similarities in the voices of these two excerpts but they are not identical. Joseph and Albert are very different people and this becomes clear as the two stories progress. But the stories themselves are also already showing their own natures. Part of this is creating questions in the readers mind that invites them to read on for the answers, and the shape of these questions is already taking on its own personality...  

And this one from further along in The Half Life of Ryan Davis (pp. 83-84):

We came to a stop outside Kim's. I patted the pocket of my shirt to check the tickets were there. I put my hand on the door handle again but Dad put his hand on my shoulder.
"I've got a girlfriend too, mate," he said.
I didn't know what to say. My stomach kind of flopped over. I figured he and Mum were never getting back together but this news punched that message home - right in the guts. I didn't want another mum. Girlfriends were what people my age have. Not old dudes like Dad. He had a bald patch on the back of his head and his stomach hung over his trousers.
I turned back in my seat. Took my hand off the door handle. "How old is she?"
"She's younger than me," Dad said. "Not by a lot though. She works at my office. Her name's Annabel. She's really nice, you'll like her."
I don't even want to meet her, I thought.
"She's got two kids too, although they're younger than you and Gemma. This is her car."
A surge of anger drove through my body. I wished I had that coin in my hand to run along the paintwork. Two kids? He already had two kids. His own kids. My eyes stung with tears. I didn't want to be hearing about this now.
"Does Mum know? Or Gemma?" I forced the words out. He shook his head in reply, this gumpy expression on his face.
"So why tell me?"
He shrugged and shook his head again. "I don't know. You were going to have to find out sometime."
"Not if it doesn't last."
"Don't ask me to babysit," I shot at him as I yanked open the door as roughly as I could and got out, slamming it behind me.

Point of view changes voice. As do our choices over dialogue and action, pacing and description. Like other aspects of my writing, creating 'voice' is organic. And if it doesn't come, the story is a struggle to write, and doesn't feel right. Sometimes I feel like I am casting around, fishing inside my mind for the right tone, the right feel, a voice that tells the story the way it should be told. And when it steps up and moves in to the story, the writing transforms. And flows. It's what makes readers, and publishers sit up and keep reading. As agent Janet Reid said 'Voice is one of those ephemeral "musts" that drive querying authors mad because there is no objective answer.  Unlike spelling, format and word count, there's no way to measure voice...but I know it when I see it.'