I began writing this novel at a pivotal time in my life—everyone’s life, really. It was the fall of 2020, right smack dab in the middle of the covid pandemic. Where I lived in California was still on lockdown. Schools were closed; so I alternated between teaching online classes from a little card table out in our garage, to running inside to make sure my own three kids were doing okay with their online lessons.
My wife was doing the same. She’s a therapist, and all of her in-person appointments had become Zoom meetings where she set up a computer in the bedroom and talked to her clients, who were also in their bedrooms.
Suddenly, everyone was getting all of their information from the internet. More than usual. And adults, with no public spaces to socialize were diving deeper and deeper into social media echo chambers. Credible News Sites began disappearing behind paywalls, and algorithms began working in earnest to create tailor made realities for anyone active on the internet, which was pretty much everyone.
And it didn’t just affect adults. One of my own kids came to me one day with an odd question. She didn’t think birds were real. She had been convinced by something online that birds were, in fact, all flying, spying machines made by the government. I’m sad to say it took far too long to convince her otherwise, but she’s come around.
And so, the idea of Her Gilded Voice came to life. It is a story about the voices we listen to. And how those voices shape our reality.
The story’s protagonist, Lacey Clarke may be living in a futuristic American city, but the world she inhabits is not all that different from out own.
Like other teens her age, Lacey participates in the most recent online trends and challenges. She religiously follows the feeds of her celebrity crushes. And when things seem unfair, the voice inside her head is there to help. In a lot of ways, Lacey Clarke is inspired by my own teenage daughters. I tried to picture them in the world of Her Gilded Voice. Everything Lacey does in the story, it’s only because it’s how I think my own daughters would act in the same situation. I couldn’t have written this book without them.
Literature wise, readers will no doubt mark the inspiration pulled from classics such as 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Neuromancer, and Handmaid’s Tale, while also noting more recent nods to stories like Hunger Games and Squid Game. In addition, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2015 novel, The Sympathizer introduced me to the concept of a narrator under interrogation. It was such a cool idea that I fell in love with it right away and was desperate to put my own spin on it.
These books and many more were the voices I listened to while writing Her Gilded Voice. Those voices were the soil from which this story grew.
But it is a story. My primary goal was to craft an engaging story of love and strength in the face of impossible odds. At its core, Her Gilded Voice is a thriller set in a sci-fi world, also a coming-of-age romance threatened by a dystopian reality.
I hope readers will connect with the characters and the dangers they face. It would please me to no end if readers could see a piece of themselves in the characters. But it isn’t up to me. I did my best. I wrote what I hope to be a story readers will enjoy. What they make of it is entirely up to them.
And I can’t wait to see what that is.
Thanks for reading.