Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Voice That Tells the Story

Day before yesterday, I finally received the audio version of The War That Saved My Life. I listened to it in the car yesterday while running errands. That took me up to the start of chapter 3, so I haven't heard the narrator read any of Susan's voice yet, and I'm dying to.

The narrator is named Jayne Entwistle. I don't know her. It consistently surprises people when I tell them how little control I have about various aspects of my own book. I don't, for example, have anything to do with the cover illustration, other than to tell my editor if something is factually wrong. ("Her clubfoot is her right foot, not her left.") For the audio of Jefferson's Sons I got some small say in the narrator (Adenrele Ojo does an amazing job, I could not be happier with her reading) but for TWTSML I mostly got none. My editor emailed me and said, we want Jayne Entwistle but she doesn't have much time available so we've had to go ahead and hire her already, do you object? I asked if she were British. They said yes. I said I didn't object.

It's really odd to hear my stories spoken aloud by someone other than me. I never could stand to listen to the audio of Weaver's Daughter. I like the narrator, but her voice was so different from the voice I imagined for the characters that it nearly made me anxious. Adenrele's voice, on the other hand, felt like honey on hot biscuits, so perfect for Beverly and Maddie and Peter. And Jayne's voice is perfect for TWTSML.

I don't write in dialect, for several reasons, but I try to write dialogue in a way that suggests dialect, if that makes sense. My narrators pick up on that. So, "You're nobbut a disgrace!" becomes "Yer nobbut ah disgrace!" ("Nobbut" might be considered dialect. But it's such an excellent word--British for "nothing but.")

Funnily, I didn't fully realize how awful Mam is, in my book, until I heard her read by someone else. She nearly makes my skin crawl. Many of the reviews comment on how detestable she is, and I thought, well, really, she's horrid, but not that horrid. I get it now.

Jayne's reading won an Earphones Award from AudioFile. It's like getting a starred review. That's pretty cool news, but even cooler is the message I got yesterday from a bookstore owner in Moscow, Idaho:  ..." My 8 and 10 year old boys are waking up and getting their lunches packed, dressed, teeth brushed, chores done and eating breakfast all by 6:30 a.m. so that they can spend the next hour listening to this audio book before catching the school bus. Nothing else has ever motivated them in this manner..."

Music to my ears!