Whose Voice Do You Hear?

A friend of mine at work has recently been brainwashed aquired an iPad of some description. So off he went to Apple’s iBook Store and picked up a copy of Tales from High Towers’ Study since he’s been saying he’s going to try reading one of my books for ages. He’s having terrible trouble with reading it, however, and not because my writing’s terrible or the like. No, he can’t read my books without imagining me reading them to him. (He reads in bed. I’m just not going there!) I can understand the issue; I wouldn’t want to listen to me reading this stuff either.

But it got me thinking. Who do you hear when you read a book? You know, the little voice that reads along with the text?

I mean, sometimes it has to be easy. Urban fantasy in particular gets a lot of first person narrative. You presumably listen to the voice of the main protagonist. But then you hit the problem of: What does Rachel Morgan sound like? I’ve never been to Cincinnati, I have no idea what a local girl would sound like, so I guess I’m making her voice up. To me, Rachel likely sounds like “generic English girl.” I probably make her sound like someone from Hampshire.

And then, my stuff is written third person. You’re listening to an anonymous narrator, even if he or she is pretty much always looking over Ceri’s shoulder. It does seem sort of logical to think of the author as the narrator, but most of you are going to be lucky enough to have no idea what I sound like. So, what do you hear when you read a third person novel? Is it like a play and the characters have their own voices while someone who sounds like a BBC announcer reads the rest? Does it all come out read by Maureen Lipman? Does the sex of the main protagonist affect the voice you hear, or the sex of the author, or do you always your own voice reading along?

PS. If you don’t know who Maureen Lipman is, look her up on Wikipedia. She’s a comedic goddess, and also played a really awesome villain in Doctor Who.

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2 thoughts on “Whose Voice Do You Hear?

  1. For me, I have the voices of the characters in my mind when they are talking or thinking… And I won’t say what Lily sounds like… It isn’t what you would expect I think..

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