Anne here, with this month's ask-a-wench question, a thought-provoking question from Janice (and for which she'll receive a free book). Thanks, Janice.
With the popularity of audiobooks and the increasing ease of obtaining them, I am seeing more comments and reviews from readers talking about books they listened to rather than read in print. Has this affected your writing process at all? I know when I have to compose something I hear the words in my head and then I put them on the paper. I know some people put the words on the paper and then read them aloud or in their heads. The sound and the rhythm are very important – but I don't have to think about how they will sound if someone else says them. Is this a consideration for you?
Christina said: I don’t listen to audiobooks myself – I’m a very visual person and don’t like having things read out to me as I need to see the words. I don’t usually read my work out loud to myself either, except occasionally a bit of dialogue. Therefore, I never used to take them into consideration at all when writing my own stories. They were just something my publisher had done, and I never even listened to the author copies they sent me when audiobooks used to be on CDs. I received two and kept one for my shelf, while sending the other to a second cousin of mine who was blind. A couple of times, I had to provide a pronunciation list for the narrator as some of my books contained Japanese words, but I had no direct contact with anyone and never checked whether they got it right.
Then I changed publisher, and to my surprise they asked for my opinion on the person who was to record my first book for them. I listened to a few different narrators and agreed one of them was the best. As far as I was concerned, my input was over, but that turned out not to be the case. Again, I was asked about pronunciations, since I had included a whole bunch of words and phrases in Old Norse. When adding those, it never occurred to me that some poor soul would have to read them out loud. In my head, I’d pronounced them the way I thought might be right, using Swedish as my guide. However, for the purposes of the audiobook, guessing wasn’t good enough. So I had to consult with the kind lady who had helped me find the right words in the first place – she has a PhD in Old Norse and speaks Icelandic too. Then I had to learn to pronounce the words myself, before teaching the narrator how to do it. We had a session via Skype, which was great fun, both of us tripping over the unfamiliar sounds and laughing. There’s a lot of guttural stuff in Old Norse, and sometimes you sound like you’re just clearing your throat <g>. For every book since, I’ve had those sessions with the narrator and we are both getting used to Norse words and phrases. I’m even tempted to use them in real life sometimes! Doesn’t þegi þú! (pronounced THEY-ghi THOO – the TH as in the word ‘three’ and then a throaty ‘g’ as in the Scottish word “loch”) ) sound much better than ‘shut up!’ for example? So yes, these days I do think a little bit about what I’m adding to my stories, but if the words need to be in there, my reader and I will simply have to learn how to pronounce them.