Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Magic of the Audio Book: The Narrator

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Lately, I’ve been sharing some thoughts and insights from the recording and release process for the audio book of my 2013 SFR Galaxy Award winning novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM. The wonderful actor who narrated the book for me – Michael Riffle – has been kind enough to be interviewed for my blog last week, and also provided a few new followup comments for Here Be Magic today about the audition process.

Authors and actors have a lot in common, I think – as writers we’re always risking rejection and bad reviews and so are they. We write the words, set the scene, create the characters and the actors breathe life into all of it. The first time I listened to Michael reading MY words, portraying Captain Nicholas “Nick” Jameson, I was literally spellbound. I’ve said before, I received many auditions for the book but no one was quite right until I heard Michael’s audition. From the first word, I knew the character was speaking to me.

During the two month recording process, we did e mail and tweet about some aspects of the book, and especially the pronunciations – the book is the book, we couldn’t revise what was published a year ago. But there were moments when I sure wanted to! Listening to the action as Michael brought it to life, I heard a few things my Editor and I both missed. Having all the characters and all the action made so vividly real as he narrated just did wonders for my creativity on the new book I was writing during this time frame too! A nice side effect.

So I asked Michael to share some insight into the audition process today and what led him to select WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM:
M: Well, I narrowed down my search for books to what would fit my abilities, and I thought to myself "What kind of genre am I feeling.... SciFi.  I love scifi, so lets see what we've got available".  Wreck was the first on the list, so I read the synopsis and two things really enticed me.  1 - Titanic in space.  There was a game I played with my sister when we were young called Starship Titanic which was (I think) written by Douglas Adams who is one of my favorites, so I made that connection and was already sold. (VS sez: I’d never heard of this game till now but it’s fascinating.) 2 - My mother's name is Veronica.  I thought 'It must be a sign!'.

The thing that I love most about auditioning for things from my own studio is that I can do as many takes as I want.  My usual preparation for a VO audition is to read the material once or twice for content, and then I just start recording on the off chance that I nail it on the first read.  With Wreck I think I did four full reads before I felt I'd gotten the right pacing.  Pacing is, I think, one of the hardest things when recording an audiobook.  It's very easy to fall into the trap of reading too quickly because I want to get to what happens next.  I get too into the story and start speeding up, so finding the right pace is really key.

For all the voice-over work I've done I always had the pages in advance and could record the audition at my own pace.  I get to read through it as many times as I want before submitting, but that can actually cause problems because of audition fatigue.  If I read the same page 15 times it's going to stop getting better after about the fourth read and start getting worse.  I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to voice-over which can become a huge problem when I listen to what I did and think "Hmm...  Not _quite_ right.  I'll do just _one_ more read".  I've done some auditions where (looking back on them) I'm pretty sure I could've booked them if I'd sent in my third take instead of my twenty-third.

If you’d like to hear more about the audition process from my point of view as the author, here’s my blog from yesterday. If you’d like to hear Michael read the sample at Audible.com (“Listen > Play Sample”  right below the cover art)….
WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is available for kindle, as an audio book or a paperback at Amazon.

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