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Talking with Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech

I wanted to be many things when I grew up,” says Sharon Creech Rigg. “A painter, an ice skater, a singer, a reporter. It soon became apparent that I had little drawing talent, very limited tolerance for falling on ice, and absolutely no ability to stay on key while singing. I also learned that I would make a terrible reporter because when I didn’t like the facts, I changed them.”

Naturally, the author of Walk Two Moons (Newbery Medal, 1995) and The Wanderer (Newbery Honor Book, 2001) became a fiction writer. “I seriously considered reading Love That Dog myself because I so enjoy reading it aloud, and I hear the narrator’s voice and his distinct rhythms so clearly in my head,” says Creech (who uses her full married name only on her adult fiction). “However, I have a low, gravelly voice, and I wasn’t sure it would be as appealing to listeners as a professional reader’s voice. Besides, I had to choose between working on the next book, Ruby Holler, or stopping to schedule recording, and I chose to continue writing.”

This is hardly a surprising choice for the author of nine published books for kids and two for adults. Creech is married to Lyle Rigg, headmaster of the Pennington School in Pennington, New Jersey, and has two grown children. In an email interview, she speaks candidly about the intensity of her audiobook experiences: “I can’t be doing anything else (driving a car, for instance) when I listen to an audiobook. I get so drawn into the story, I lose all sense of where I am. I tend to listen to audiobooks in the summer, when I can lie in the hammock and give in completely to the story.”

Creech prefers to do her listening after reading. “I’ve just purchased the audiobook of Karen Hesse’s Witness, after having read the book,” she says. “It will be fascinating to hear this book, with its many voices, read by others.” But when it comes to her own work, Creech says, “Audiobooks sound very different from the way the story sounded in my head. I flinch every time a rhythm or emphasis is different from what I heard when I wrote the passage. And the main character’s voice is never the voice I heard while writing the book. Walk Two Moons and Chasing Redbird are my favorites of my audiobooks, perhaps because the voices on them are closest to what I heard in my head. It usually takes me ages to get over the differences and allow the story to be ‘transferred’ to this new reader’s voice.”

Despite the competing voices in her head, Creech says she’s learned a thing or two about writing by listening to audiobooks. “I’m always happily surprised to find some of my passages are quite funny,” she says wryly. “But I also become aware that some passages seem too long or it’s not clear who’s speaking. Now, when I edit my work, I find I think not only how a passage will work for a reader, but also how it will sound to an audiobook listener.”—Marty Crisp


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