Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Open Book Blog Hop: Three Things Shaping My Voice

Winetasting in Paso Robles
What are three things that make you unique? That was the prompt for this week's Open Book Blog Hop. I think you'll see a lot of connection between my answer and my books.

Ultimately the thing that makes a writer unique is experience. Accident of birth places us in a certain range of possible experience and life directions. In my case, there are a few specific things which guide everything else.

First, and perhaps the most obvious, is the influence of my parents. My parents are both ordained Baptist ministers (it is one of the family occupations in my tree). However, their brand of religion is not exclusionary in the least. It is carefully considered, thoughtful, and deep. My father is a man of logic and learning, who enjoys everything life has to offer, from watching a finch take a bath, to winetasting, to playing electric bass or guitar in a funk band. When my friends meet him, they say, "Your dad is so cool!" Half the time they end up befriending him on Facebook.

My mother is a powerful person. She dictates the climate of every room she enters (a gift I inherited, for better or worse). She suffered prejudice in order to follow her calling. I think because of this, she determined not to pigeon-hole me into a gender label. Instead, as a child she gave me gender neutral clothes unless I asked for something "girly." She made sure I had all kinds of toys, from remote control cars to blocks to dolls. I had science and craft kits. Thanks to her, I never felt like I couldn't do something because I had a uterus.

Second, I experienced a lot of overt misogyny from toddlerhood through young adulthood. I write a lot about this in my memoir THRIVE, and while I won't go into the details of what happened here, it definitely shaped who I am and my voice as a writer (especially in the context of my upbringing). This made me hunger for compassionate justice for all people, no matter their identity or station. It definitely directs my themes in all my fiction, but especially in THE ROLLINS PACK, because I wanted boys to particularly understand how their actions can impact others.

Finally, I am an optimist. Despite whatever crazy things happen to me (again, see THRIVE for some of the nitty gritty), I look for the beauty and wonder in all things. This may be considered a quality or trait as opposed to an experience, but it definitely shapes how I view my life experience and how I approach new things. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. If I don't know I person, I never credit their reputation until I have seen and experienced it myself. If something bad happens, I always look for the lesson or opportunity available. When there is the option for adventure, I always say yes - because I see all the marvelous possibilities and potential. It's how I ended up studying abroad in Hungary at the last minute (I heard a professor talk and decided I was going a month before.). It's how I got married in India in the Himalayas (Because why not? A story for another time...).

These are the things that stick out in my head as dictating what I do and how I do it. These are the things that shape my work and my path through life. What about you? Leave a comment below or write a post and join the hop!


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Looking for a diversion this August? Be sure to check out P.J. MacLayne's books. If you like werewolves like I do, you might want to pick up a copy of WOLVES' PAWN. It explores werewolf social structure and has a love story, the kind of thing I love in paranormal!

Also be sure to read about MacLayne's Wyoming adventures. There are some super cool pics on her blog.

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12 comments:

  1. From this I can tell you're an immensely interesting person. I can't wait to read more of your submissions to the hop.

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    1. Thanks! When you say yes to adventures, life gets pretty interesting pretty fast. :-)

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  2. Very interesting upbringing. You keep doing what you're doing Alexis, it's taking you far!

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  3. It can be frustrating when people don't give you a chance just because you happen to be female.

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    1. That's true. My experience was more abusive and or violent in nature, but again, that's a story for another time. It's a major reason why I write the things I do. The more voices offering counter narratives, the better.

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    1. It makes life much more enjoyable. I highly recommend it!

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  5. Very interesting blog. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I loved reading your post Alexis! I grew up as a Baptist too and can relate to the points you make. Your parents sound like great people...thanks for sharing!

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  7. I chose to become a Baptist as a young adult, having not grown up in church at all. One thing about growing up in Alaska is the diversity. Men are men and women win the Iditarod. Nobody questions (or questioned much when I was growing up) that women could do anything a man could do. I remember being dumbfounded when my mother-in-law freaked out when I started changing her flat tire rather than calling AAA. Ladies in New Hampshire don't do that, apparently.

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