An audiobook taster and a Lakeland prize longlisting

Do you ‘read’ audiobooks? I often meet booklovers who express an interest in my novels and short stories but prefer to listen rather than read. About eighteen months ago, I bought some kit and did a record-your-own audiobooks course but, after much frustration, concluded it wasn’t for me.

But never say never. When my fellow Inspired Quill author, Clare Stevens, invited me to join her for a taster session at a recording studio, I was delighted to give it a go. Our afternoon with Steffan La Touche at the Happy Accident Studio in the Nottinghamshire countryside turned out to be great fun.

I was impressed with the soundproofing. I was impressed with what I saw of the software on Steffan’s extra-wide editing screen. But the thing that made it so much better than a DIY recording or an interview in a radio studio, was having Steffan monitor and guide me (through headphones) from a separate room. Slight exaggeration, but it felt like being a rockstar minus the musical instruments or having an MRI scan minus the roar of the machine.

We had an interesting chat afterwards about the relative merits of audiobooks narrated by actors, who are trained to use their voices, versus by authors, who know the significance of every word. My pronunciation of unmoored sparked a conversation on accents; you can check mine out towards the end of this three-minute recording from the opening of my novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, here:

Listen to the recording:

Reflecting on that discussion on the drive home, I wished I’d taken the opportunity to record a passage from my latest novel, Lyrics for the Loved Ones, which has one strand in a modified version of my native Cumbrian dialect. This was underlined for me when I opened my emails that evening to find a notification from the Lakeland Book of the Year Award to say that Lyrics had made the longlist.

The Lakeland Book of the Year Award is for books of any genre set in Cumbria. Of course, I’m delighted to have my work recognised in the area where I grew up. By an uncanny coincidence, that email was sent around the time I was at the recording studio talking about the provenance of my accent.

I’ll let you know if I get any further with the award. I don’t envy the judges having to decide between poetry, memoir, novels and non-fiction books celebrating the area’s landscapes and people.

If you haven’t yet read it, you can find out more about Lyrics for the Loved Ones here:


A version of this post was first sent to my newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to be one of the first to hear my news, fill in the details below to join my list and I’ll send you an e-book of prize-winning short stories.