The Growing Significance of Audio books and the Importance of the narrator in Reading Fiction.

Like many of us readers these days, my ongoing consumption of fiction combines both my treasured books with their bright covers and my phones and tablet. These are the mechanisms by which people now may  ‘read’ as they are walking, shopping, laying bricks, mending cars, or planting borders. These days our range of literature consumption has broadened in a way unforeseen a couple of decades ago. 

I learnt a lot about this recently when the stories in my collection   Siblings were narrated and recorded by Anne Dover and broadcast by my local radio – (Check it out at https://damselflybooks.com/bishop-fm/ ) 

Anne has in tha past narrated several of my novels and seemed to be the right person for me to ask to record these stories. Her actor’s skills shone out to me in her audio versions of my novels. I was delighted when she agreed to do this. 

This experience has alerted me again to the fact that no matter how well written good prose may be, in the audio form this writing will be judged by the quality of the narrator. Having listened to dozens of recorded novels in the last two or three years it has come home to me very solidly that however good the text may be  the quality of the narrative skills of the voice actors are crucial to one’s apprehension of any story. This is particularly so when a story is located in particular regions where some narrators assume cod stereotyped accents which ruin the true subtleties of the written fiction.  

This process may be taken for granted unless one has experienced both sides of it.   The subtlety, life and accuracy of all Anne Dover’s narration of the Sibling stories – set in South Durham – seems seemed to me to be outstanding. This is also true of my longer novels such as Sandie Shaw and the Millionth Marvell Cooker and The Woman Who Drew Buildings

You can read Anne’s own account of her life as a Voice Actor on my blog on Life Twice Tasted at http://lifetwicetasted.blogspot.com/  Inshe outlines the process of becoming a voice actor. 

At last I am beginning to understand how Anne Dover rose to her present level of excellence, recording a thousand novels with an actor’s grasp of subtlety of characterisation and the profound sense of place which she manages to evoke. I’m fascinated by her story of starting out as a preacher’s daughter in a place called Mount Pleasant in South Durham and becoming a professional actor on the national scene. 

So this was why I asked her to write a piece for my blog  Life Twice Tasted   – see   http://lifetwicetasted.blogspot.com/     You can hear her interview with Gary Burgham on BishopFM on Friday 19th Jan between 8.30a.m – 9. bishopfm.com 105.9

Afternote: I am now looking forward to working on the print version of Siblings which Damselfly will publish later this year. Anne’s narrated version is a great foundation for that.  

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