Thursday, 25 June 2015

Can You Hear Me? You Can Now!

Well, it’s not actually me, of course, it’s someone else. Reading my words. Because (drum roll and some fairly sinister music, with a crash of thunder in the background)...

The Pendle Curse is now out on Audio!

I had a unique experience this week. I have never had any of my books on audio before. Digital, paperback yes, but to hear my words spoken by another? Not until this week. It’s an exciting but strange sensation. When I'm writing a book, it's as if I have my own mental narrator speaking the words as I write them. My characters develop their own voices and, as work progresses, and draft succeeds draft, those voices become clearer, until by the time I type ‘The End’ – and really mean it – their accents, intonation, pitch and tone are indelibly etched on my brain.

Months - even years - later, I will flick through the pages of an earlier book and those voices will resonate as clearly as the day I created them. Needless to say, no reader will ever hear them as I do. In fact, I venture to suggest that no two readers will hear them the same way as each other. Readers who curl up with The Pendle Curse in many parts of the UK will probably be aware of the sound of a generic northern accent -  but not necessarily specific to any particular county - while those who live in the north of England will be almost certain to distinguish a Lancashire accent from a Yorkshire one. As a result, British readers will tend to hear my words – and those of my characters – with an accent at least close to the one I heard.

Readers in the USA though, may be unfamiliar with the widely different regional intonations and dialects in the UK. Their ‘reader voice’ may even speak to them with a mid-Atlantic accent. Of course, I would have just as much trouble distinguishing an accent from Colorado as one from California. Cagney and Lacey and Judge Judy have helped me recognize a New York accent – but I couldn’t tell which specific part of New York the speaker hailed from, and I believe there are quite distinct variations.

Of course, it is not just the difference in accent. Some will hear a character speak with a deep voice, some with a softer, more melodic pitch. As writers, we can convey a character's emotional state by showing their reactions to the world in which they are operating and the latest catastrophe that has befallen them, but the final interpretation of that by the reader will depend on a whole host of factors including their own experiences, people they know and so forth - even their own age.

One of the most famous audio book debates of recent years has been the divided opinion over who delivers the most accurate renditions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Both are read by distinguished British actors, but for UK audiences, Stephen Fry is the narrator and for the American market, Jim Dale delivers the stories.  So strong have been the voices in some readers’ heads that both Fry and Dale have been severely trolled by a plague of angry YouTube users. It goes without saying that this is clearly extreme behavior no one could, or should, condone. The author herself has wisely kept her own counsel on who she prefers – if any – and authors like me should equally keep our mouths shut when it comes to any criticism of the covering of our work.

We are not, after all, the intended audience for the audio book. Our readers are and, to them, I must say that the audio version of The Pendle Curse has been very professionally and sympathetically narrated by the talented and highly experienced voice artist, Maxine Lennon. She injects a great deal of passion where it is needed - along with chills, darkness and tension at the right moments. So, a huge thank you goes to her for all her hard work and attention to detail, and to Audio Realms for the quality of the production. It is also a great relief to me personally that the narrator's diction is so clear. I have heard other audio books that have seemed muffled. Not this one. Not for a second. Thank you!

If debate and dissension can rage over audio transcriptions, adapting books for TV and film is always problematic because, not only is the voice out there for all to debate, but also the appearance and characterisation. Thankfully Daniel Ratcliffe does appear to have been most (if not all) readers’ ideal of the ‘real’ Harry Potter. Not so with Agatha Christie’s two best known sleuths. I have had a couple of fairly passionate (albeit good-natured) discussions over whether Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan or Julia McKenzie has delivered the most accurate Miss Marple (Joan Hickson for me every time). This was swiftly followed by another friendly disagreement over Hercule Poirot (I am firmly in the David Suchet camp; my friend is a fan of Albert Finney’s portrayal in Murder on the Orient Express.)

One characterisation I could never get my head around occurred in the movie version of the classic Christie book, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. This stellar cast featured Angela Lansbury as Miss Jane Marple. I cannot imagine who decided to stick a cigarette in her hand. Miss Marple smoking? Never! Good job the author wasn't around to witness that! Although Dame Agatha would no doubt have handled it all with her usual aplomb and kept her reservations to herself.

Fortunately, I didn't have such an unnerving experience. and you can hear an extract of The Pendle Curse by clicking below to go to the relevant Audio Realms web page:

 You can buy it there too! You can also find it here:

Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there.

But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.  


"The final act unfolds that is nothing shy of spell binding. I for one look forward to embarking upon further reading adventures with this tremendously talented author"

"If you love a great story with witches and things that go bump in the night, you need to try this one!"  Long and Short Reviews

"The Pendle Curse is one of the best witch stories I've ever read." - I Heart Reading

"Dark, dangerous, and more than a little twisted. Just the way I like it!" - Reading The Paranormal

"It had it all, witches, cauldrons, spells, familiars, curses and more." - Scarlet's Web

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