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Calling all audio book lovers! To accent or not to accent?

After some waffling (which is what I do best), I’ve decided to have audio books created for the Delta Crossroads Trilogy. I’m very excited, and I will keep you guys posted on the process.

But I need your help. As you know, the trilogy is set in the deep South. Initially, I thought I’d need to make sure the narrator had a southern accent, because that would add authenticity. Then I realized that brings problems. First, how would I know if she got the accent right? The South has several different dialects, and figuring out the correct one will be tough. Second, would the accent be distracting to non Southerners? I know heavy British accents in movies can be distracting to me because I’m not used to them. Obviously the story comes first, and I don’t want that ruined by highlighting the accent.

So I’m seeking opinions. If you’re reading a novel, does dialect matter? Would a southern accent be distracting, or would it bring you closer to the character?

Thanks so much for your help!

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10 comments on… “Calling all audio book lovers! To accent or not to accent?”

  1. You should talk to my aunts from Mississippi. ;-). I think the accents should be included. But I haven’t listened to too many audiobooks so my opinion should not have any weight at all! Go with your gut!!

  2. I think a kind of ‘non-specific Southern’ accent is almost a necessity. (That’s the way the books sound in my head, at least.)

  3. I know when I travel and listen to the newscasters with regional accents, an entire book, would not be as easy for the ears.

  4. One of the things I found striking in Tin God was how effectively you brought the Southern venue to life. It was one of the highlights of the story.

    One of my most favorite audiobooks is the Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens. It’s set in South Carolina and the narrator gets the dialect right. It’s not overly Southern (the kind that sounds false) and is pitch perfect.

    Bottom line: I think the accent is important and it is something you have to ensure is done appropriately. It will enhance the readers’ experience while listening to the details of the story. Just my humble opinion.


  5. Heather cathrall


    An accent is nice if done right but it can be tricky. If you can pick the narrator listen to that person talk for no less than two hours and make sure the accent doesn’t get to be too much or make any of the story difficult to follow. If you are unsure about an accent you usually can’t go wrong by using a narrator without an accent or with a very mild one. I’ve definitely listened to books where the narrator has ruined the story and also ones where the narrator has added to it. It’s like picking the right leading actor for a movie. I’d say no to mild accent and would stay away from really strong accents unless you have a lot of confidence in the reader, but that’s just my oppinion

  6. To stay true to the southern location of the book, I think you have to have the voice actor have a light Southern accent. A deep drawl would be distracting but a lit accent would remind the reader where the storymtakes place.


  7. Brooke Pratt


    Your actress doesn’t need to have a southern accent, but should be able to speak with one. As an actor myself, (pretension incoming) if I’m hired to do a specific dialect, then it is my job for it to be authentic. You pick the region, and she should do the rest. Don’t settle!

    Also, I would find it incredibly distracting for your narrator NOT to speak with a southern accent when voicing a character that is Southern. Your narrator should be able to vacillate between the narrative voice, and the character’s Southern (or not) accents.

    This is really exciting! Good Luck!

  8. Being from the South, I would love to hear a southern accent in these books. I think it would make it more authentic. Like the southern accent in the Dave Robicheaux books by James Lee Burke. It adds to the books.

    As far as having the WRONG southern accent…I’m not sure that’s a problem. I live in SE Tennessee, and there are many different accents. Some are so southern, they sound funny to me. LOL. Just have narrators audition and see what feels right. I think you’ll know when you hear the right one.

  9. Thanks so much for all of your replies! I really appreciate the feedback. Interesting to hear you’d prefer a Southern accent:) Right now, I’m talking with a company who leans toward telling the prose in “General American,” with the dialogue in the Southern accent. I think that could be doable if the narrator is strong.

    Again, thank you all, and I will keep you posted!

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