Writing in Multiple First Person: Interview With Debby Mayne

I’m so pleased to have Debby Mayne back on the blog today. Debby was interviewed here a couple years ago, and in looking at that interview now it’s amazing how many positive changes have happened for both of us since then. Debby has written a very interesting new series that I wanted to share with writers here for a lot of reasons.
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She’s calling this set of books her Class Reunion series because it’s centered around a group of people who go to their 10, 15, and 20 year class reunions. The first book in the series, Pretty Is as Pretty Does was released this month. We’re lucky that we won’t have to wait for long for the next two. Bless Her Heart will be released in August 2013, and Tickled Pink in September 2013.

First of all, from the writing standpoint (and that’s what we love talking about here most), her series is written in multiple first person present tense point of view. That’s a challenge for any writer. You have to make sure the voices are distinct, get inside the characters heads and really understand their emotions, and you have to make it all interesting so the readers will enjoy it. I have to say, I read the first book in Debby’s Class Reunion series and I loved it.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m a character person. What I mean is, I need to love the characters in order to enjoy the book. Debby has really given us a fun and unique mix with her series. Priscilla, Laura, Tim, Trudy, and Celeste are all different in their own way, and yet I found myself relating to each one on various levels. I know readers will enjoy them, too.

Here’s Debby talking about the challenges and rewards in writing multiple first person.

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You’ve written your new Class Reunion series (Abingdon Press) in multiple first person present tense. What kind of challenges did you find in doing it this way?

Since I generally write third person past tense, I had to immerse myself in the characters’ heads quite a bit more. In fact, there were times when my husband didn’t know who he was speaking to each day since I wasn’t always able to turn it off after I finished each chapter. Once I got into the rhythm, I found it refreshing and fun, so I guess you can say the only challenge was in the very beginning.

What were some of the pleasant surprises you saw in writing the stories this way?

I felt what each person felt, and it was very entertaining to “watch” the characters react to each other through the POV characters’ eyes. I loved watching them grow and letting readers in on everything they thought and felt as they learned more about what motivated them.

Your series has five main characters (Priscilla, Laura, Tim, Trudy, and Celeste). The stories are told from each characters perspective. How did you prepare when getting into the mind of each character?

Before I write, I know backstory and motivation for each character, so everything they say and do starts with that. I had mental images of each character (actors who inspired them are on my Pinterest page). Before writing each chapter, I envisioned the people in the story moving toward their goal but not quite reaching it…until the end of the series, that is.

Was there one character that ended up being your favorite?

Every character was my favorite as I wrote their chapters because I found common ground with each of them. Priscilla is constantly seeking approval from her mother. Tim wants something he can’t have. Laura takes care of other people’s needs while neglecting her own. Trudy has a blurred vision of how things used to be, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t recapture what she once had. Celeste goes through a dizzying self-discovery that creates a new kind of awkwardness.

Class reunions seem to call up universal feelings in people. Either they go and love it, they go and have a hard time, or they avoid them altogether. Why do you think reunions have this kind of emotional pull with people?  

People have expectations of themselves and others, and regardless of how confident we all seemed back then, most of us were insecure during the high school years. No matter how successful we have become as adults, going back to a reunion brings us back to who we once were. The class nerd who became a successful business owner is torn between pride of his/her accomplishments and the old awkwardness. The beauty queen feels as though everyone is looking at her, so if she has put on a few pounds or developed a few wrinkles, she worries that she can’t live up to who she once was.

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More About Debby Mayne:

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Debby Mayne is a best-selling author who has published more than 25 books and novellas, 400 short stories and articles, and devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor, and a copy editor and proofreader. Her novel, Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida, Florida received 4-1/2 stars from RT Book Review, and was named a Top Pick for the month of July. To learn more about Debby visit her website.

Debby Mayne’s Books:

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