Partly because of my broadcast journalist background, I’ve always regarded voices as extremely important. They reveal so much about a person, don’t they?
Voices may not ‘say it all’, but they sure give away a lot about who’s speaking. I like to think of them as the vocal equivalent of a fingerprint.
Except a voice can be changed; altered , perhaps, depending on who we’re talking to and what impression we’re trying to achieve.
As a writer, I’m keenly aware of the fact that people judge, and are judged, not just by what they say but how they say it. It’s why as well as developing what I hope is a distinctive ‘authorial’ voice, I try and create different ‘voices’ for all my characters. I want the words I put into their mouths to tell the reader who’s talking without the need to write a bunch of he saids, she saids.
Having said all that, I can’t tell you (sorry for the double-pun) how moved I was when I heard my characters ‘in voice’ for the first time. Thanks to my wonderful e- and audio publisher, Creative Content, WORKING GIRLS was the first Bev Morriss title to be recorded. Frances Barber’s amazing narration made me laugh, made me cry and had me – the author – on the edge of my seat.
The equally talented Clare Corbett has recorded the next three titles: DEAD OLD, BABY LOVE and BAD PRESS.
I went along to one of the recording sessions in London and hearing Clare give voice to Bev, Byford, Oz et al – characters I created more than ten years ago – was more emotional than I could have imagined. I had the broadest smile on my face, tears in my eyes and felt hairs stand on the back of my neck all at the same time.
I guess that’s the power of narration when it’s in the hands and vocal cords of an awesome actress. Hear for yourself with this clip.
As for me, once a journo always a journo . . . I grabbed the opportunity to pose a few questions and started by asking Clare how she prepares to narrate a book.
CC: There’s a lot involved in preparing an audio book to make the recording smooth and enjoyable. It is very personal but I firstly read the book and then reread whilst making notes of characters/accents/ages etc. I make notes at the side of the screen (I use a function on my iPad called iannotate) so that I can see as I am recording what is coming next.
MC: How do you look after your voice?
CC: I don’t actually have a regime for looking after my voice except not to go out late the night before. If I have a cold I might steam but if you use your voice correctly by supporting it with good breath control you should be OK. I don’t warm up before as I would with theatre.
MC: Dead Old has a large cast of characters – how do you keep track?
CC: With the characters in Dead Old I make sure that each character has a distinct voice. They seem to stick in my head quite well . . . probably the great writing!! 😉
MC: Do you have a picture in your head of the characters? And do you get involved with
CC: I don’t really visualise them. If the book is in the first person I tend to just become them (sorry if that sounds a little actory).
MC: Are you ever tempted to change any of the wording?
CC: I am never tempted to change the writing if the book is good!
MC: As a narrator, what makes a book challenging and/or fun for you?
CC: Some people write brilliantly but when the words are spoken aloud they don’t flow well. I’m not sure how this works and what the key is but sometimes the dialogue just flows and sometimes it doesn’t.
MC: How did you feel about having me along for the final part of the recording?
CC: It was lovely to have you visit although it is a little nerve wracking! The author’s lived with the piece for a long time and you want him/her to like what you do and hope that you’re portraying it as they imagined.
The audio books are available here:
Check Creative Content’s website for more digital publishing news. http://www.creativecontentdigital.com/
As for my own voice, here I am chatting – and choosing my Desert Island Discs – with Ed Doolan on Radio WM.