A reader’s perspective on dialogue. Or maybe Audiobooks. Not really sure…
It always makes me laugh when people say that Kim and I sound alike. Maybe we have progressed so far in our relationship that not only do we look alike (not in my opinion) but we now share the same voice. I don’t really see how this is possible since she has the soft hints of Kentucky and I have the groovy sounds of California. But not only sound, I think the way we speak as in express ourselves is pretty drastic as well. When I get pissed I start swearing like a sailor. Kim is a sailor but does not swear- even if she is pissed. In my ears, we sound extremely different and that is important to me. I love it when she visits her family and calls me on the phone because her accent becomes more pronounced. Just hearing her say, “sweat tea” has me swooning just a little bit more. The way we express ourselves is part of that combination on how we create an impression for others. The words we choose, the accent, the emphasis, or even if we speak all create part of our individuality.
It’s kind of how I know I’m reading an excellent lesfic novel. I can hear the characters when they speak. The author writes it in such a way that I can hear the accent, the cultural influence, possibly even the education level or profession of the individual characters. And sure descriptors like deep voice, or high pitched, or other sorts of things can help me hear it but really it is just the words in the conversation that allow me to hear those individualities come through. Dialogue can play a really big part in my enjoyment of a book. And if it is well done- it just bonds me to those characters even more.
So having this appreciation I ran into a bit of a conundrum recently. I haven’t wanted to speak to anyone. I mean to the point that if it looks like someone might start a conversation with me I want to turn and walk quickly away. So what better way to discourage people from talking to you than to shove earbuds into your ears! The ultimate don’t bother me vibe. AND it’s possible to make this better- have those earbuds be piping in a LesFic novel! Oh yeah! Much better. No talking and someone reading a LesFic story to me.
I have to give credit to an amazing podcast, for this realization though. If you haven’t tuned into the The Lesbian Talk Show and discovered all the fun podcasts, you are truly missing out and you should sign up immediately by following this link here. In addition to getting a hysterical podcast review of the weekly blogs done on the Women and Words site hosted by Andi and Jove, you can listen to a whole range of topics and thoughts about the lesbian world. This is where I found a podcast on “The 10 Best Audiobooks To Get You Started.” Check it out here. A pretty thorough list if I can chime in with an opinion. Sheena and Tara (the hosts) offered up a selection of stories that I’ve read and some that I hadn’t read. So why not listen to them in my attempt to not talk to anyone? I started my selection with one from the already read pile and one from the haven’t-read-yet-but-it’s-on-my-wishlist pile. That seemed like a good plan. And one of the things that Sheena and Tara spoke about was how important the narrator was for selections. These two stories apparently had excellent narrators PLUS it was going to be a combined 28 hours of entertainment. That is a lot of avoiding conversations with other people time!
Selection number one was a story I had previously read, Robin Alexander’s Just Jorie. How can anyone go wrong with a comedy by Alexander? But I have to admit that it was somewhat strange to have an actual voice to the characters. It was sort of like flipping back to the cover art and trying to decide if the model the author used actually looks like one of the characters in the story. The narration portion of the story was fine, but when the characters actually engaged in dialogue it truly took me a bit to adjust to hearing something compared to what I had imagined in my head. What was amazing though is how incredibly talented Lisa Cordileone, the narrator, actually is. She did an outstanding job of making each characters voice recognizable vocally the same way Alexander does on paper. As I was listening Cordileone was able to modulate and accent her voice that did truly create two separate characters. Without the benefit of the dialogue tags I was clearly able to distinguish when Lena was speaking, when Jorie was speaking and even which one of the crazy relatives was cracking a joke. So yes, it was an adjustment, but overall it definitely made for a fun listen.
Next up was Ann McMan’s Jericho and like my first listening experience, the adjustment to the voices was there. In a different way though. First, I feel like I am smarter just by holding a McMan story because of her vocabulary. But also that the story captures life in Southwest Virginia. Christine Williams, the narrator, contributes to the southern feel through the cadence of her voice. It almost seems slower and for lack of a better descriptor thicker than my first audiobook experience. This is when I discovered and started experimenting with the speed settings. Sort of like playing the 35 records at the 45 speed! Ultimately I reset it to the original 1.0 speed and just settled into the voice. Again, I was impressed with the inflections, accents, and pacing of the various characters all portrayed by Williams ranging from gay men, a five year old boy, teenage girls, lust crazed women, and sophisticated doctors. To be completely honest the number of characters that Williams creates with her voice is amazing and that it stays consistent through the 20 plus hours of narration is awe inspiring, but I did and still do struggle with one character and each time she speaks, I just think to myself that’s not how I hear her speaking. I am still laughing at some of the scenes that are depicted and I really did enjoy this story and would suggest it to others. I’d also be curious about their thoughts on hearing the voices.
Oh, and you know how some stories finish with a special offer of the first chapter of the sequel as a little teaser? I have to say, that the majority of the time I would be able to read such a teaser and not be too bothered by it or have any brash impulses. So I don’t know if it was just because I listened to the teaser, McMan is that amazing or maybe both, but I fell for it. I was thinking, hey! a free extra 20 minutes of listening! Yay! And next thing I know I am on the audible.com website buying Aftermath. But now I’m curious and ready to throw out a challenge to anyone who has read- not listened to Jericho to go and read the Peak-Inside option on Amazon of Aftermath and let me know how quick it ended up in your cart.
Alright readers- how many of you are listeners? Have you had any adjustment to hearing the characters come alive after reading them visually? For me it just seems that dialogue really is a chance to shape a character and not hearing through my ears what I was hearing in my head while reading was a challenge. Ultimately though, I’ve been incredibly impressed at how talented these narrators are with creating the voices and giving the stories depth through pacing and tone. I have started listening to the samples of the books but is that the best way? I don’t want to miss out on an excellent story because the short clip didn’t grab my ear. And with that though I must digress because, well, speaking of voices that I would NOT mind listening to all day long how about Cheyenne Blue? Wow! Just to reference how influential that voice is as soon as I heard her read an excerpt from Never Tied Nora I immediately obtained a copy and started reading. Check out her reading an excerpt from her story Fenced in Felix here, another amazing podcast from The Lesbian Talk Show option. But back to the audiobooks- what are some favorites out there? Do you choose by author, narrator, or story? Have you read any LesFic stories with those perfectly created dialogue exchanges but have yet to find it as an audiobook? I would love to know and start expanding my library!