Is Maya’s Voice Real or Fantasy??

So many of you have written to me, asking when Harbor for the Nightingale, book four will be coming out? Thank you!! Your kind words, your patience and your encouragement have been a Godsend. I wish I could hug each one of you and tell you how much your emails and notes have meant.

AND . . . I have good news for you, we have finalized the cover!! And it is gorgeous! I can’t wait to show you. I will be sending it out to my newsletter subscribers in the next few days, along with a sneak peek at the story.

All of the girls of Stranje House take part in Harbor for the Nightingale, but Maya and Lord Kinsworth are center-stage. And what a pair they are; very unique characters, wonderfully mismatched, often at cross-purposes, and yet, in the end, so right for one another.

It proved enlightening to write from Maya’s point of view. She experiences the world through sound. A trait which is exciting to write, but also very VERY challenging. I am an incredibly visual person, so writing from her point of view stretched my understanding. But it also broadened my mind. The deeper I got in her story, the more the world of sound intrigued me.

A question readers often ask is whether Maya’s gift of manipulating her voice, is real or not?

All of my characters are amalgams (blends) of people I have known, and Maya is, too. Her gift is based on that of a real person. Here’s how Maya’s voice came into being…

My neighbor, Rashmi, is from India, and one day I intruded on a breakfast she was preparing for friends. With genuine Indian graciousness, Rashmi invited me to join them. So, I did. I listened as they chatted while we ate. Every time her friend spoke, I found myself mesmerised. Mind you, I have been to hypnotists, and it turns out I am one of those people extremely resistant to hypnotic techniques. This woman’s voice was a different matter. Her enthralling cadence contained an almost magical quality. She relaxed us as we listened, and something about the musical tones she employed made me see everything she was talking about in her stories. She conveyed emotion with a simple shift of tone and rhythm. We all leaned in to listen, riveted to every word. No one dared interrupt.

A young Indian student at our local high school helps me get some of my facts right about India. She confided in me that her mother shares Maya’s gift. She explained that without even raising her voice her mother can be irresistibly persuasive. Of course, most of our mothers can use a tone that makes us fall in line, but my friend explained that it is more than that. The gift of this kind of voice is an ability to convey compelling emotions through pitch, tone, and cadence. If you’d grown up in India or several other Asian countries, you would have an additional ability to hear quarter steps in music. These are the tones between the keys on a piano. To the Western ear they can sound slightly off key, but in the Asian world they are part of the normal tonal scales that they are accustomed to.

Singers study and learn to control their voices to achieve emotional impact in their singing. The same can be done with our speaking voices. Manipulating sound to a more complex Asian scale may have something to do with this ability. However, I think we can all learn to refine our voices to a certain degree. Naturally, just as with singing, there will be those who can do it more readily than others. It is still something of a mystery, but since the day I met Rashmi’s friend, I have met and observed several other people who have this fascinating gift.

With practice, I believe we can all learn to use our vocal cords more effectively. Speech-givers and politicians study cadence and tone, as do hypnotists. There’s more to communication than the sum of our words.

Try practising a persuasive voice in some situation. I’d love to hear how it goes. There’s as much power in how we speak, as there is in what we say.