Reading the voice

15 Jul

Zoe CharpZoë Sharp is the author of the highly acclaimed crime thriller series featuring her ex-Special Forces turned bodyguard heroine, Charlie Fox.

I’ve always loved radio dramas. The dashing strains of ‘Coronation Scot’ by Vivian Ellis heralding another thrilling adventure for the debonair Paul Temple and his wife Steve. Audiobooks were a natural progression for me. Long car journeys pass so much more pleasurably when I have a friendly voice reading to me along the way—not to mention keeping me awake behind the wheel!

As a writer, I find audiobooks fascinating. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received—and one I always pass on—was to read my own work out loud during the editing process. Nothing else shows up awkward construction, clunky sentences, or passages of description just that bit too long, quite like hearing the written word spoken.

Better still is to get someone else to read my work back to me. After all, as the author I know where the pauses and the emphasis should go. I write with a certain rhythm in my head and I try to put the words on the page in such a way that people are coaxed into that same rhythm when they read.

For me, that rhythm is what creates a writer’s unique voice—that instant bond with the reader. When I pick up a book by a new-to-me author, I know by the time I’m halfway down the first page whether I’m going to enjoy reading that author’s work. Something about that first sentence, the shape of the pauses, the way the words roll me into the story. Because for me it’s all down to the writer’s voice.

So, every time I receive a copy of one of my new audiobook recordings I listen to it all the way through, just once. There’s no vanity involved in this. Indeed, most writers will tell you hearing their own work is a form of torture. But it allows me to see if my voice still comes through. And, of course, at the same time I get to hear the wonderful interpretations that the narrator—in my case the talented Claire Corbett—have brought to the story.

Zoë Sharp

Browse Zoë’s audiobooks

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