I love the sound of the English language…the distinctive Scottish burr, a rich Irish brogue, the precise diction of the British, and the slurred enunciation with dropped consonants and elongated diphthongs that can still be heard in the American South.

As a reader, one of my great pleasures is listening to the voices of the characters. If I’m merely reading the words without hearing them, either the author or I have failed. I just finished reading a wonderful memoir by a British author. I heard an English accent the entire time. When I read Stephen King, I hear the clipped, laconic speech of New England. The characters of Charlaine Harris speak to me in a thick, syrupy southern accent.

My favorite authors have a strong sense of place in their novels. That’s important to me, because it helps me hear the characters. A good story is critical to holding my interest, but it’s not enough. Reading words on a page, no matter how well crafted, is no good if I can’t hear the characters speaking them. It’s like watching a television program with the sound off.

My books are all set in a small, rural county in the Blue Ridge mountains of southern Virginia. The characters speak to me in a southern accent. If you read my work I hope you can hear them.