The Waverly Place novels in audio format – why did the narrator change?

Category: Waverly Place novels

Usually before an audiobook goes into production the narrator gets in touch with me to ask about pronunciations of unusual words and accents.  For some reason I never really understood, that vital step was missed for The Gilded Hour.

When I first heard the recording I was really taken aback.  Major character names were mispronounced, and the bits in Italian were not well read.  Worse still, the narrator gave Sophie a French accent, which made no sense at all. Sophie came to Manhattan at age ten.  At ten, a kid will adapt to the language of other children she comes in contact with, and lose whatever accent sets her apart.  This is not an opinion, it’s based on decades of research in child language acquisition.

If they had contacted me prior to recording I would have made this clear.  You may not be aware that I have a doctorate in linguistics, but that has a lot to do with how I write characters and describe their language varieties.  Changing the accent really rubs me the wrong way. It’s like a substitute hairdresser deciding to use a different color on your hair without consulting you first.

It was possible for the sound engineers to fix the pronunciation of names, but otherwise there was nothing to be done.

This was the first novel of mine produced by Blackstone Audio, and I was unhappy with many aspects of their process. I had given them the names of multiple possible narrators, but they did not contact any of them. So when it came time to record Where the Light Enters, I was insistent about a different narrator.  Working with Kate, she was in touch with me multiple times with the relevant questions.

Kate Reading did a fantastic job on the Wilderness series. If she had done The Gilded Hour I think there would be no reservations about her reading Where the Light Enters; it’s just that people get used to one voice and don’t like change. But I am very, very satisfied and happy with her performance.

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