If you are ever in the mood for a surreal experience, you might want to try this:
Pick up a book that you’ve just finished writing. Bring it to a world-class recording studio. Spend twenty or so hours reading it aloud into a microphone just inches from your nose while an expert engineer catches every goof and gurgle and asks you to re-record sentence after sentence.
Then listen to the edited version and try to remember that the guy doing all those different voices from the mouths of all those different characters is actually you!
The process is both humbling and exhilarating; humbling because you will probably sense the gap between your own best efforts on the one hand and, on the other, the greater range and versatility of a truly gifted voice actor. Good, trained voice actors just have a bigger toolbox. They’d better, or they’d be out of business. But here’s what I found so exhilarating about doing the recording myself:
An actor, new to the material, might have a done a slicker performance, but I don’t think anyone could have done a truer one.
No one knows an author’s cadences better than the author himself. No two people agree on exactly what is meant by the term “deadpan.” No two people have exactly the same instincts for how to set up a laugh-line, or how to play or underplay a plot reveal, or by what precise increments to ratchet up an argument. For that matter, no two people exactly agree about how much of a Brooklyn accent is endearing and believable, and at what point it’s just too-too.
In narrating a book, then, every spoken word is a decision–no less than when choosing words to put on the page. Every syllable matters; every space between the syllables matters. It’s damn hard work, believe me. But every now and then, when I was listening to the playback, something wonderful happened. I truly forgot it was me performing all the parts. I felt like I was eavesdropping on conversations between characters who didn’t even know or care that I was there. There was something quietly ecstatic and complete in the experience of mouthing the words I had first put into the mouths of made-up people. Somehow it all came back around…I hope my listeners will share in the joy I felt while doing my very best to bring the written book to fresh life in audio.
The audiobook will be released on November 12th, but you can pre-order it right here from Amazon or Audible
Just click on the company name…and enjoy!