“Then you need to have an accent that makes everyone stop and stare at you. Most of these people should say, “I just love your accent.” Any old accent will do, don’t worry. My accent is from Boringtown, Boring County, England, and it’s worked well for me.”
— from page 2 of Split by a Kiss by me
In Split by a Kiss, Jo moves to the USA and finds that her English accent gets her a lot of welcome attention. Split by a Kiss was my first novel and possibly features the heroine who is most like me. (Possibly not, though. Really they’re all a bit like me, and none of them are remotely like me in the slightest. It’s complicated.) One thing Jo and I definitely have in common is our accents, and the fact that we’ve both had experiences of travelling to the States and finding that people there seemed to be entranced by the way we spoke, when back home… yeah, not so much.
I had a mixed upbringing. I was born in Glasgow but I moved to Sicily as a tiny baby. My mum spoke English to me in Italy and we visited ‘home’ regularly, but even so, when I moved permanently to London shortly before my seventh birthday, I don’t think I exactly blended in at school, accent-wise. In fact, I sounded a bit Italian. I know this because after a couple of years of full-time English school, one of my friends’ mums kindly pointed out to me that the word is “It-AL-ian”, not “ITALY-un”, as I had been saying. Quite a lot.
Of course, I soon adapted to sounding like a proper suburban Londoner, so much that my Glaswegian mother still teases me for the way I pronounce ‘banana’. (“Ridiculously long ‘a’ sounds, Luisa!”) But it’s much harder to change the way you speak once you’re an adult. So when I had my Jo-like experience in Massachusetts – where my voice definitely stood out, and a few people told me I sounded ‘classy’ (ha ha ha!) – my accent didn’t change at all. In fact, I can’t even attempt any kind of American accent. Well, I do sometimes. But it’s rubbish.
When I do author visits to schools and I read from Split by a Kiss (set in the States, English main character) and Swapped by a Kiss (set in England, American main character), I always choose extracts that mean I don’t have to try to sound American. So I was very impressed when a brilliant actor called Penny Rawlins did voice recordings for both of these audiobooks*. You can listen to her accents below, and bear in mind that this is the same person reading both extracts. Actors are amazing! (*Note: these are teen novels.)
Sample of Split by a Kiss audiobook
Sample of Swapped by a Kiss audiobook – same voice actor!
Can you do different accents? If so, lucky you – and would you like to be a voice actor working on audiobooks? I think it would be a fascinating job…
Speech bubble image: Some rights reserved by StreetFly JZ