The Different Sounds of You

Last week, I received the good news that the audiobook for my most recent Sally Solari mystery, Murder from Scratch, had finally been completed and was now ready for purchase on Audible. Yippee! (You can find it here.)

The previous three books in the series will also soon be made into audiobooks but, because of its subject matter, I’m delighted that the company chose to record Murder from Scratch first. This book features a young blind character—Sally’s distant cousin, Evelyn, who assists Sally in her sleuthing—yet as long as it was available only in print, it was inaccessible by the blind (unless you were willing to listen to it being read by a robotic computer program).

Murder-From-Scratchcover of the print version

Eager to hear how the recording (narrated by Adrienne Cornette) had turned out, I took my phone downstairs to the basement to listen as I pedaled away on my stationary bike, staring out at the ubiquitous Hilo rain.

I’ve got to say, it was a strange feeling, hearing someone else read the text I had composed. Mind you, the narrator does a fine job, handling many different characters and managing to give each a unique and identifiable voice. But they weren’t the voices I’d heard in my head as I wrote the characters.

Well, duh, I immediately chastised myself. Of course they wouldn’t be. She’d have to be a psychic—or have done a Vulcan mind-meld with me—in order to accomplish that impossible task.

I guess it’s a bit like seeing a movie based on a beloved book you’ve read countless times, till you feel as if the characters are a part of your family. And then, not surprisingly, one of actors is not what you imagined the character as looking like. But then he ends up being terrific in the part, and you’re won over. Okay, so maybe Colin Firth is in fact what Jane Austin had in mind for Darcy, you eventually decide. Or if not, who cares? He’s great!

Scratch audio covercover of the audiobook
(looks more like Mexico than Santa Cruz, but quite inviting!)

Later that day, after listening to the first three chapters of Murder from Scratch, I thought more about this feeling I’d had upon first hearing my book read by someone else. It was also similar, I realized, to the reaction I’ve always had when hearing my own speaking voice on a recording: That’s not what I sound like! But of course it is. It’s just not how I sound to myself.

Subjectivity is a strange and powerful thing.

A few days later, I continued listening to the book, and as I did, the more it all started to seem perfectly natural. The voices were becoming familiar—and fun! And I finally found myself thinking, Okay, so maybe that’s how the characters really are supposed to sound, after all.


Readers: How do you feel when you hear a recording of yourself? And have you ever grown to love an actor’s portrayal of a character from a book which you’d initially rejected as “not at all right”?

32 thoughts on “The Different Sounds of You

  1. Does anyone like listening to recordings of themselves? They definitely sound off. But I think like anything else you get used to it if you listen to a long-enough recording. Same with audiobooks, I imagine, although I don’t listen to them myself. And at least now you’ll know what to expect when the other books in your series are recorded (assuming the same narrator is doing all of them).

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    1. I’d be surprised if anyone like listening to themselves speaking, Marla. But what’s funny is that I don’t mind hearing myself sing. (Then again, I’m a singer, so I’m used to it.)

      And yes, it will be the same narrator for all four books, so that’s good, since the voices will remain consistent throughout the series.

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  2. The reader of a story or book series has the characters voices in their mind. The longer it has been since reading the material the more accepting you may be of the audible reader or the actors. For example it has been many years since I had read the Outlander series so I accepted the actors in the Starz series as the characters. It had been several years since reading Michael Connolly’s series with Detective Harry Bosh. I love Titus Welliver in the part. I think he is perfect as Bosh. That said I love Colin Firth in many movies. I think in Love Actually and the Bridget Jones movies he is hilarious. I never read Jane Austen’s books so I have no opinion about the movies that are based on them.

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    1. True. And the better you know the book matters, too. I was appalled at most of the actors for The Lord of the Rings (which I’d probably read a dozen times before the movies came out), but have now gotten used to most of them and think they did a really good job.

      And Colin Firth is WONDERFUL in Love Actually–I adore that movie!

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  3. First – many, many congratulations, Leslie (insert balloons and champagne here!!!). How exciting for you.

    Mine isn’t the voices, it’s the visuals. I didn’t know they’d look like that and then, as it progresses, my vision changes and I usually adapt to the director’s perceptions. Same thing?

    Happy Holidays to everyone! Ruth

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  4. Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy in my mind, so thank you for that gratuitous image, Leslie. 🙂

    I despise recordings of me and that includes videos. And yes, I understand the science and I know that’s how other people always hear me but…eeewww.

    I can usually get over how an actor looks if he/she is good in the role. The problem I have is when you get a remake and the new actor looks nothing like the previous actor (see the remake of Pride & Prejudice for an example – sorry, whatever-your-name was, but you are no Colin Firth).

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    1. You’re welcome! Every day should start with a photo of Colin Firth!

      And yes, it’s so annoying when they go and change the actors on you once you’ve finally accepted someone in the role. (Maybe Colin Firth should just play everyone.)

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  5. The audiobook of my novel, Stripper!, has been out for about three weeks now. I think my narrator, Lisa S. Ware, absolutely nailed Natalie McMasters’ voice. But not all of the characters sound like imagined them–Ms. Ware is a woman, and the men’s voices sound as if they’re being done by a woman. But she did a superlative job with giving each character a consistent voice, so you know who’s speaking even without a speech tag. As far as visuals go, I’ve found a few stock photos that I use for Nattie– they’re different women, but all are young, slim and bleached blonde, so it’s not a stretch for me to imagine it’s Nattie. Some people do look different in different phote.

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    1. Yes, I think that must be one of the hardest things about recording an audiobook–women doing men’s voices and vice versa.

      And as for visuals for my books, I always imagined Jennifer Garner as Sally Solari.

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  6. I’ve listened to some ling running series on audio – series that have switched narrators. It’s definitely strange to hear a different voice for the characters you think you know and love.

    And don’t get me started on the time I listened to something I’d already read. I had to stop because the narrator had the character all wrong.

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  7. Awesome! I totally relate to this. I can never listen to my books. They don’t sound at all like what I hear in my head. Also, I’m so not an aural person. I have trouble focusing. But many people are the reverse, so I’m thrilled there are audio versions our books. And how perfect they started with MURDER FROM SCRATCH!

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  8. Congrats, Leslie! It’s so great Murder From Scratch is now out on audio — especially since it features a blind character! None of my books have been released in audio, which would be cool. But since my characters are Southern, I do worry about how the accent might turn out!

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  9. Congratulations, Leslie! How exciting–and how wonderful to see your books come to life in this way!! And it’s so true about the images (or voices) we have in our minds. It can be hard to get used to seeing or hearing them differently than we had imagined.

    As for hearing my own voice, put me in the “hate it” camp. I actually had to voice a video for a non-profit because we didn’t have money for actual voice talent and were on a time crunch. Most painful thing ever!

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  10. That’s so very cool, Leslie! I wonder why they didn’t start with the first one, though.

    I think the more you listen to it, the more familiar it becomes. Like when I went from long hair to short, or got my braces off. SO WEIRD for a day-and-a-half, and then it was as if it had always been that way. but that day and a half was weeeeird!

    I don’t mind hearing myself. I used to do some recording for the blind. The last thing I remember reading was a camping manual. That was weird because you have to describe the illustrations and captions, and decide when to describe them. I didn’t hear the whole thing, but it didn’t freak me out and they told me I was good, so yay! Plus, I was a volunteer, so what were they going to say … go away lady, your voice hurts our feelings! Congrats on the audio! Very fun.

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  11. Congrats, Leslie! I am super happy they started with Murder From Scratch since I have that eBook. The rest I found are at our library! I think they will have the audio soon! Thank y’all for continuing the outstanding writing y’all do to keep the readers happy!

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  12. Congrats on the new format for Murder from Scratch, Leslie—the first of many, I’m sure! For me, the most recent example of two actors playing the same role (although at different ages): Harrison Ford and John Krasinski playing Jack Ryan. Very different, but…I love them both (sorry Colin!).

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