Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Patoss Magazine Reviews A Hard Lesson a Thriller with a Dyslexic Fictional Character

I am thrilled to see a book review of my psychological thriller A Hard Lesson in the summer 2015 Edition of Patoss Magazine. They have reviewed my novel because one of the main characters has dyslexia. I have yet to encounter any fictional character with dyslexia, but am sure they exist. According to Dyslexia Action, 1 in 10 people have dyslexia. But this does not seem to be reflected in fiction or the entertainment industry in general. This is a shame, as people with dyslexia tend to be more creative and think outside of the box.

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The Patoss Bulletin is a magazine for teachers and students dealing with specific learning difficulties. A book review section can be found in the back, which rates all manner of books and resources connected with different learning styles, as this magazine recognizes lateral thinking.

Fictional Character with Dyslexia

Here is what Patoss Magazine has said about A Hard Lesson:

“A psychological thriller which, after a slow burn start, reels the reader in to care for Sarah, the fledgling teacher. Shy yet tenacious, she learns the hard way how to help her dyslexic pupil, Josh who lives on the edge of criminality and is the link to his dysfunctional family’s secrets. The tense ending packs a surprise.”

This review can be found in Volume 28 No. 1 Summer 2015.

Having taught art for a few years, have encountered dyslexic students who really struggled with written tasks. I do feel that this condition remains generally unrecognized in society and wondered why dyslexia is not featured more in culture i.e., films and books? Surely, this would bring dyslexia more into the public eye rather than remain in the shadows.

But this was not the reason why I wrote A Hard Lesson. I conceived the story when I was seventeen, not with the intention of raising awareness of dyslexia. I simply wanted to create a formidable character with a perceived flaw. Josh’s dyslexia could pose a risk of him submitting to the criminal world, as he sees his life choices as limited. But Sarah, fueled by guilt of her dead brother, refuses to give up on her most difficult challenge. Incidentally, Sarah's brother is special educational needs (SEN) due to a difficult birth, causing severe learning difficulties. This equips Sarah with some understanding of Josh.

Research into Dyslexia for Fiction

Read more about how I conceived the story for A Hard Lesson.


A Hard Lesson can be found on Kindle, paperback, large print and audible.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Audiobook Reviewer Interview with the Narrator of Charles J Harwood Thrillers

The Audio Book Reviewer gives narrators the opportunity to complete a questionnaire about their experience of book narration. Questions like how did you get into narrating audiobooks? Which narrators do you admire and what is the hardest part of narrating audiobooks gives food for thought for every narrator.

Mastering Audiobook Narration
Narrating and producing audiobooks is one of the hardest things I have ever done, particularly since I knew nothing about audiobook narration before taking up the challenge in 2015.

Challenges of Book Narration

But after filling in the questionnaire, have become aware of what I have learned after this challenge and the sort of style I have developed after narrating 7 audiobooks. Accents are tough to master, since I do not have a strong regional accent, despite coming from the Midlands. As every narrator must be aware, differentiating between characters is important, or the listener may not be sure who is supposed to be speaking. I have had to crack New York, Welsh, Cockney and others.

But the most difficult challenge I found is mastering the sound equipment from scratch. I had to learn mic technique as well as read up on how to use the hardware and the software. Experimentation was the most valuable lesson.

Mastering Sound Equipment

And then there was the sound booth to consider. I tried out various locations in the house to find the quietest room, and then built a basic sound booth, lined with blankets and a little acoustic foam. This created a dead space, where sound echoes and exterior noise can be eliminated.

But I have deleted hours of recording during the learning process and have listened to other audio book narrators to see how they have mastered the craft. I found I liked Stephen and Maya Angelou. Both have soothing voices that are easy on the ears.

It is important to eliminate anything that could be potentially annoying, such as noisy swallows, clicks or audible breaths. This ensures the listener will not be distracted from the story by the narrator.

Read the narrator interview with Rachel Shirley and hear samples of my audiobooks on the AudioBook Reviewer.