9 July, 2023.

Dear Readers,

Facing the Camera for the First Time

This week, I did it; I finally did it. In the video below, I show my face and actually say words to the camera! This was the final hurdle, and Mike, the cameraman, helped me over it. At one point, I was laughing so much that I feared for my mascara. At the end of the sequence, I’m planning to create a blooper reel, and then you’ll see why.

Filming this gave me great respect for anyone who gets outs in front of the camera when it isn’t natural for them. I don’t think I’ve even ever taken a selfie. Getting ready took a while. I had to think in terms of what my heroine Amanda Cadabra might wear (right down to the toes), as she would go from spring in the first video, outside in … well, you’ll see, to the transition between spring and summer in the … second place … on the picnic rug, and I’ll give you this one: the village green.

Click image to play video

The take-home for me from this experience was: actors earn their money, and I need to lose a few pounds.

Two Mysteries

First, where did the books go? They had, in fact, been thoughtfully hidden by my friends. The next video takes us on the trail of discovery.

A second mystery appeared about a week after shooting, and I’ll present it to you later because I think that right now you’ll guess too easily and where the fun in that be? But it took me a few days to work it out.

This week we practised shooting while the hat was back with milliner Jo undergoing a … modification that will lead to some … costume adjustments more in harmony with Amanda’s favourite colour and Granny’s pointed warning: ‘Nothing says witch like going about all in black like the Addam’s family!’

Audiobook Inside Track – Q & A with Voice Actor Simon

Now, the part of this letter I have been looking forward to the most: introducing you to Simon. You may recall that I recounted the hurdles to be overcome when producing the audiobook of the first-in-series, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. One of the final sticking points was the accent for the beloved Swedish inventor of magical equipment, Dr Bertil Bergstrom, from whom Amanda receives her most powerful tool.

Simon Grunditz voice over artist standing in studeo recordingSimon Grunditz is the talented voice-over artist who helped me solve my accent issues. I sent Simon the script, and he entered into the project with enthusiasm and brought his skills to bear on creating the good doctor. When I heard his recording, I was amazed by the accuracy with which Simon had caught the character and flavour of Bertil. All I had to do was copy his accent and intonation and slow it down in places on my own recording and send it to Simon for his approval.

Hear An Excerpt

Click on the image here to hear an excerpt from the audiobook of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth chapter 13, interspersed with Simon voicing Dr Bergstrom and my apparently credible attempt to imitate him.

And now, over to Simon. I began by asking …

How did you get into voice acting?

As long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed making silly voices and joking around with friends. I started accepting orders for work a little under 4 years ago.

What other accents do you do?

I have a cast of “characters” that I can call upon speak with different accents. My favourite character is ‘Kleetus’, a southern American with a thick drawl and slightly slurred speech pattern. Besides them I also have a ‘Billy’ from England and a few others I am developing along the way. For projects that are targeted to younger audiences I have a highly friendly, super excited teacher called ‘Kevin’.

Is this the first cozy mystery audiobook you’ve worked on?

While it is not the first audiobook I have worked on in general, it is my first foray into the genre of cozy mystery.

Why do people like me, with English as their first language, find it so difficult to get the Swedish accent right?

I think one of the key problems is the lack of a good reference or source material for what it sounds like. Most, if not everyone, knows what an English-speaking German sound like due to movies and films. Hans Gruber from the movie Die Hard for instance stands out as an iconic example of how words and syllables are pronounced differently.

There are however not that many examples of Swedish people portrayed with thick Swedish accents for people to draw upon. One recent one that does come to mind is the role of Dag Hammarsköljd, in the movie The Siege of Jadotville, cast by Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt.

That’s helpful. I did listen to different examples but I had no way of knowing for example what was regional or parody or unusual.

Ikea is correctly pronounced ‘i’ as in ‘bit ‘kay-ah’ yes? That’s how I recorded it originally then I realised that most listeners know it as ‘I’ as in ‘eye’ ‘kee-ya’, so I had to go through and change every instance of it. The adverts here in the UK teach us how to say it properly. How successful is that being? Are more and more people saying it the Swedish way?

I think they have been successful in teaching people how to pronounce it like us Swedes. While I have not personally noticed how much it has proliferated in the UK, I am happy that people are willing to learn the roots of the name and as a side effect, learning how to speak a bit like a Swedish native.

It’s always exciting to learn even a little of a new language, like cracking a code. And native speakers are so encouraging that it’s always a rewarding experience.

Portrait of SImon Grunditz Swedish voice over artistI have Swedish friends (who, unfortunately, are not actors) and Danish, Norwegian and German friends, and now I met you. And my question always is: how come your English is so amazingly good?

It is always a treat to be recognized and complimented for my skill in English, so thank you very much. There are two main parts that have contributed to my progression in mastering the language.

The first is that I am essentially a parrot. When I hear someone say something, my brain can store the cadence, tone, accent, and sentence and later utter it as close as possible to the original. This is not always a conscience acts so when I travel to other countries and meet new people, I will start to mimic their speech traits, sayings, and phrases. While most folks are thrilled by this, I do sometimes get some odd glances and suspicions of making light of their language.

The second part is that growing up during the start of the internet era, all the information and systems were only accessible in English. So, in order to explore more of it and communicate with others online, I had to improve my skill. The goal was never to become fluent in English, but it rather happened by accident.

You have a truly remarkable ability, Simon.

Is Swedish a difficult language to learn?

Having grown up with it is not fair for me to say if it is hard or not to learn. While learning it I always had other native Swedish speakers around which of course makes it easier to practice and get better. I do highly encourage people to try and learn new languages.

How about voice acting? What special skills do you need to have to become a voice actor?

One skill that is important is to be able to not just read the scripts you are given but also to read between the lines and correctly portray the emotions that fit the lines. For instance, you can say “Thank you” in so many ways by how your tone and pacing is set.

Well, you got Bertil Bergstrom spot on!

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in either becoming an amateur or a professional?

Start doing it as soon as possible. A think a lot of people are afraid to get started and feeling like they need to practice more until they are “good enough”. You are never going to be done with learning and improving, every project and recording is an opportunity to get better and learn from any mistakes.

If someone in need of your skills wanted to find you, where should they look?

You can find me on the platform Fiverr, https://www.fiverr.com/gditzz,  and we can discuss whatever your needs are and what deliveries you need.

Simon, you helped me enormously with my Swedish Dr Bergstrom’s voice. You got the character absolutely spot on and made it easy for me to copy your every intonation. I hope that you enjoyed it too. Would you be happy to help me out with the good Doctor in the future?

Absolutely! I’m very happy to have helped you so far and I would jump at the opportunity to revisit life of Doctor Bergstrom.

Thank you, Simon. I’m so glad I found you and that you were happy to speak with us today.


Coming Up: A Quest, and A First

That’s all my news for now. Next Sunday I’ll be back with the next video in the reveal sequence. The Great Book Hunt! And you’ll hear me speak Cornish for the first time. Until then, here’s the video in that beautiful Celtic language.

Click to play video

Happy reading,



PS If you want to start the series now:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

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About the Author

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Cat adorer and chocolate lover. Holly Bell's life changed in a day. A best-selling author friend telephoned and convinced her, that after years of penning non-fiction, she could write cozy paranormal mysteries. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Holly lives in the UK and is a photographer and video maker when not writing. Her favourite cat is called Bobby. He is black. Like her favourite hat. Purely coincidental.