Monday, November 21, 2016

Listening to Books

By Vicki Delany

I love audio books, as both a reader and a writer. I drive long distances, often by myself, and an audio book is a great way to pass the time. It’s a different reading experience, for sure: often difficult to pay close attention, and hard to go back a sentence or two to get something you missed. But I do enjoy it when driving. My library has a very limited stock of books on CD and not much by anyone other than major bestsellers (and me! As a local author) but I have occasionally been able to find a gem I wouldn’t normally read.

Case in point: I am a huge fan of Iain Pears (An Instance of the Fingerpost: one of my favourite books of all time; Arcadia: so hugely disappointing I wondered if he got a ghost writer to do some parts). I bought his small book The Portrait some time ago, and was never able to get into it. It’s just a stream of consciousness novel as some guy chatters on. But when I listed to it on audio, I loved it. The experience of listening to some guy chatter on was totally different than reading it on paper.

As for my own books, all my Poisoned Pen titles are on audio as are the Lighthouse Library books by me as Eva Gates. I always listen to them one time through and enjoy hearing it spoken out loud. It’s a very different experience.

The LL books are narrated by Elsie Arsenaut, who has a perfect soft gentle voice for narrating the cozy genre. The narrator of the Constable Molly Smith books and the standalones is Carrington MacDuffie, who does an excellent job of it, particularly switching between male and female voices so you always know who is speaking.

I have only one complaint, and that is that Carrington doesn’t even seem to try to get the Canadian accents or pronunciation right. It’s Traf-ALL-gar, not Traffic-AL-gar. A junior officer in the Canadian army is a LEF-tenant, not a LOU-tenant. And every person in Canada knows that the Canadian Security Intelligence Services is pronounced Csis, not C.S.I.S. The (former) Canadian International Development Agency is Cida, not C.I.D.A. I expect a lot of Canadians wouldn’t even know what C.S.I.S means, spoken like that.

(Is that a Canadian speech pattern, does anyone know? To take initials and turn them into a word? When I got my first contract with N.A.L., I told someone I was with Nal, and I was corrected: N.A.L. Is proper. About the one thing we don’t make a word of is RCMP. Probably because Rurcump wouldn’t sound quite right. But we do drop the period between the letters.)


Sybil Johnson said...

I don't think it's exclusively a Canadian speech pattern. In the U.S., we certainly have some instances of turning initials into words, like NASA. I don't know anyone who calls it N.A.S.A. Though I would never have C.I.A. or N.S.A. be a word. Maybe Canadians just do it a bit more?

Vicki Delany said...

That might be it, Sybil.