The Voices in My Head
Greta left a comment on something I wrote a couple of posts back that I was going to respond to in the comments section, but I quickly realized that I was rambling so much it made more sense to just write it up as a separate post.
Anyway, Greta was saying that she tends to hear specific voices for characters in books. I'm much the same way, although I find that some characters have very strong individual voices that I can "hear" in my head while many others don't. And, as with Greta, characters in books based on a movie or TV show inevitably have the voices of the actors who played them. Well, unless the characterization in the book is really bad. The vast majority of the time, I simply can't hear dialog in a character's voice if it's not actually something that character would say.
I'm thinking that it should be very interesting, by the way, to see what happens when I read the new Harry Potter book... When I read the first four books I had a very clear and distinctive voice in my head for Snape, and it was most definitely not Alan Rickman's. But in the movies, I totally accepted Rickman as the character, so I'll be interested to see whether the book version will now have Rickman's voice, the original voice I gave him, or some other voice entirely.
It can certainly be a bit jarring when the voice a character adopts in your head turns out to not be quite right. I remember reading a Hellblazer graphic novel a friend lent me a while back and immediately getting a very clear voice in my head for the main character, John Constantine. But I was about 50 pages in before I realized the guy was from Liverpool, not London, as I had assumed, and I'd given him entirely the wrong accent. The mental re-arrangement that immediately followed felt really, really odd. It was sort of like the auditory equivalent of erasing the wrong voice from some kind of mental blackboard and then quickly chalking in the right one. After that, he sounded perfectly fine, though. Same voice, different accent. I was actually kind of amazed by my brain's ability to make that change so efficiently.
I gather people who are more visually oriented than I am experience this sort of thing fairly often. They'll develop a mental image of a character only to experience a serious jolt when it's revealed on page 97 that he's brunette rather than blond, or will have trouble accepting a movie adaptation of a book because the characters look nothing like their own visualization of them. Not being a visually-oriented person, I'm not terribly used to that sort of thing, so I guess that's why I find it so startling when something like it happens.