Friday, January 25, 2008


Back in Australia after my UK trip, and there was three weeks work and my mail to catch up on. It seemed to me that every one of my readers wrote in my absence. I cleared the backlog in one week between dozing off the jet lag, which makes me wonder why I couldn’t triple my writing output. I must admit, if I try to hurry I make more mistakes than I usually do. Then I have to do much more editing work. I guess it’s a case of what you gain on the roundabouts you lose on the swings.

In the midst of the scramble the audio version of “The Coal Gatherer” arrived. Listening to somebody else reading your work out loud can be bit unnerving. Sometimes the interpretation of the characters voices are different to the way the author pictured them when they were written.

I have nothing but admiration for readers, who manage to keep the various characters’ voices consistent as they juggle with them over 8-10 hours of recording. I also admire the different accents one reader can come up with. In my audio library I have Dorset dialects. I also have upper crust, middle crust, and lower crust. I have Welsh, Irish and Australian, and am looking forward to listening to a Scottish accent in a future book.

“The Coal Gatherer” is set in the Hartlepool region, in the North-East of England. When I’d flavoured the book with some Geordyism I wondered if I was doing the right thing, as it’s a difficult regional accent, one hard to get right. I grew up in the South of England, but luckily I was raised by a mother who came from the area where the book was set. Even so, the regional accent wasn’t second nature to me. Anne Dover has done a wonderful job recording the book and capturing the subtle musicality of the accent.

Some writers dislike using accented dialogue. If it is used an author has to be careful it’s not overdone, else it can become tedious. I’m of the school that believes that a few touches of regional accent can add authentic colour to the setting.

I usually donate my extra audio books to the association of the blind, here in Western Australia. It has been suggested that I do a reading for them when the new audiobook library opens. I imagine that those with impaired vision are extremely sensitive towards the human voice. I know I can’t compete with the beautifully modulated voices of the professional actors who read my books. I can’t do accents of any sort - except in my head. So if this reading comes about I can only apologise in advance from my lack of public reading ability.

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