I'm Getting Better at Accents with Every Book - Confessions of an Audiobook Narrator
Two reasons. One, I want to get better at accents. I don’t know of any way to get better at anything in this life without trying, failing, and trying some more.
Reason two, when someone is listening to an audiobook that I narrate, I want that listener to be able to clearly differentiate between the characters in a scene. Depending on the writer and the book, this can be a real issue. In New Mexico Fairytales, for example, there is rarely more than 3 characters present in a scene and even when there are that many, rarely more than 2 talk at any given time. It’s pretty easy and straightforward in those listening situations to know which character is which because there simply aren’t that many characters involved. In contrast, it’s rare in a Patricia Fisher Mysteries Adventures book for there to be fewer than four people in a scene. You get into some of the scenes in the climactic face-the-nemesis book The Godmother, and there could be anywhere from 8 to 10 people in a scene, many of them recurring characters that listeners have gotten to know over the course of several books. For ease of listening and ultimate enjoyment, the listener should be able to know who is who without the author having to spell it out in every paragraph with signals like “Jermaine said“ or “Barbie worried.“
My main goal when I narrate audiobooks with multiple characters and lots of different accents is for the listener to be able to discern the difference between the characters and recognize recurring characters easily. My secondary goal is to get better at doing accents.
So, if anyone wants to make the argument right now that some of my accents, particularly in the vast and varied landscape that is the world of Patricia Fisher Mystery Adventures, are anything less than perfect, I will concede the argument to you right now. I would also like to make an apology and a pledge to the excellent people of several nations whose accents I may or may not have completely butchered in the last year. These nations are:
- England (Which I am learning has rich differences in regional accents, as complete as anything that I experience here in the United States)
- Scotland (Where apparently even the Scotts can’t agree on how to pronounce the name of a particular shopping street in Glasgow)
- Ireland (where there is more than just a difference between accents in the north, south, east, and west, apparently there are distinct accents just within Dublin. It seems to be as rich and complex as the difference between Bronx and Brooklyn accents in New York City, New York, USA)
- France (I hope I didn’t botch the French accent as much as some of the others. If I did, I apologize not only to the people of the nation of France but also to my own ancestors)
- New Zealand
You may be wondering what’s it like to learn and perform so many different accents. It’s a lot of fun! Every time author Steve Higgs send me a new Patricia Fisher Mystery Adventures manuscript, I grin. I can’t wait to see what new challenges are waiting for me. As a listener, I think you’ll enjoy the experience too.
Patricia Fisher doesn’t just solve mysteries, she takes us with her on her whirlwind adventures. We get to travel with her and meet fascinating people from all different parts of the world along the way.