A matter of character and voice

Last week, I was a guest at a book club (MGLitBC) and had a question from one of the participants about the audiobook version of Spell Sweeper (yes, there’s an audiobook!), and what that process was like.


The book is narrated by Sandy Rustin, and the excerpts I’ve listened to are amazing. When I was listening to samples of other books Sandy had narrated, I knew she could capture the voice of main character Cara perfectly.

However, full disclosure: I haven’t listened to the entire audio book of Spell Sweeper yet. This is partly because I already know the book inside out and the various (and towering) TRB stacks located throughout my house are forever calling to me. But I plan to rectify this situation soon; the audio book is cued up and ready to go!

One final note of interest . . . I didn’t actually know Spell Sweeper would get an audio book when I was writing it; otherwise, I might have changed some of those names (like Dörgés!). It wasn’t just Sandy’s job to pronounce those names; I had to record audio samples of all the character names and made-up terms in advance of audio book production. During that process, I fell into this whole trap of thinking how Cara would pronounce certain names and words. The book is first-person narration and I’m not sure how accurate she would be—she’s not exactly obsessed with the finer points of politeness. So, there’s this line between getting things right while trying to remain true and authentic to Cara’s voice. Ultimately, I pronounced everything as accurately and authentically as I could and advised that we let Cara’s voice shine.

Magic is messy—and so is making brooms

Magic is messy—and so is making brooms

We read—and discussed Spell Sweeper—in my creative writing workshop with tweens and teens this weekend, so a natural activity was to imagine our own magical brooms and write about them.

Check out these amazing creations!

As you can see, there is a lot of “hair-cutting” that occurs to get the brooms to the desired length and shape. By the end, it looked like wow had experienced an ill-advised encounter with Rapunzel!

This is a pretty simple activity that involves basic supplies: sticks for handles, twine for the straw, some black thread, and white glue (paint optional). For full instructions, check out the Teacher Resource Guide that is available on my website.

I can’t wait to read the stories that accompany these brooms!

As for the book discussion itself, well I really work hard on my students to be honest in their appraisals of books. It’s especially hard to do when the creator is standing in front of you, so in previous years I never led lit circles on my own books for that reason. But then I decided that it’s a better idea that they read their instructor’s work, so now we tackle it as best we can. We rate our books out of ten, and I’m happy to report that my book received an average score of 8.15/10. (Actually, I’m extremely happy with that because it proves that they were indeed honest).

I will mention that Zuki, the magical fox creature (kitsune) was by far the favourite character.