Wednesday, May 7, 2014

AUDIOBOOKS: LENDING AN EAR TO YOUR STORY by eden unger bowditch


When I write, I often hear the characters in my head. I hear the story unfold as I put the words on the page. When an audiobook is made, suddenly someone else is telling the story.

It’s exciting and terrifying. Someone else is having real impact into how your story sounds in the world. I am a voracious reader and, while I am rarely without a book in my hand, I also love audiobooks. I was a ‘please read me another’ kind of kid and I guess I still am! When I drive or do chores or work in the garden, it is a pleasure to have a virtual person sitting nearby reading to me. And I am very picky. A good reader is SOooOOoo important! When there’s a series read by a fabulous reader and, suddenly, in the middle, someone else reads one of the books, it is disconcerting and, if the reader is not as good- or my ear is refusing to accept the voice- it can turn me off to continuing.

So… when I received a mystery email from an actor asking if the audition script was still available, I was confused. Script? Then he explained it was for the audiobook. I forwarded the request to my publisher and they said it had been cast! Now I was confused and dismayed! I used to write theatre and dialogue is my thing. And here, my publisher went off and started an audiobook without me! I checked out the requesting actor’s reel and he was fantastic! He did all manner of voices. He was funny and flexible. My publisher sent me the name of the actor they had cast and I was anxious. He was a very good reader (very engaging, indeed) but I didn’t see him doing accents and there are many accents in my books. They sent me his audition clip and, again, I was worried. He had not done any of the voices.

Clearly, when he auditioned, he didn’t know who was from where or anything. He was cast because he has a wonderful reading voice. I sent him an email with a list of the characters. He was so kind and willing to work with me, it made the whole experience a pleasure. In the end, when I had some kids listen, they wouldn’t let me turn off the story.

The long and short is that the performance is engaging and fun. The most important thing is that I was involved and the actor had fun, liked the story, and was willing to work with me. He adjusted. And I did, too. Some pronunciations are different than they were in my head. But the fact is, listeners have been enthusiastic.

The book has just been released. Have a listen!

http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/The-Atomic-Weight-of-Secrets-or-The-Arrival-of-the-Mysterious-Men-in-Black-Audiobook/B00JOR0ZC8/


or at iTunes!!

-eden


15 comments:

  1. That's quite the journey, Eden! Thanks for sharing with us.

    While I'm still working on getting the print version of "Gabriel" final, as a lover of audiobooks myself, I have thought about an eventual audio version. The right narrator's important as you say above.

    The pronunciation thing hopefully won't be as bad in my case since I don't make up words and even my quirky names for some characters (like Rum) are from real words.

    The accent thing may be an issue in my case, not all my characters have accents, but a couple do, most notably one of Rum's friends who used to live in a New York-like city and I always hear this gruff Brooklyn accent when I think of him.

    If money were no object, I'd love to do Gabriel in full cast, but that may have to wait for a special anniversary down the road...

    The next best thing would be a great reader who can convincingly do numerous voices and keep it consistent.

    Speaking as a reader, I know the jarring feeling when the narrator changes during an ongoing series, but sometimes it's the best of both worlds. The first 20ish books in the Geronimo Stilton series have audio versions (Which I highly recommend as I've heard nearly all of them!)

    At first, I didn't like the current reader, but I now I love him and see the merit they both brought to the character.

    They both handled the character they inhabited well; the only difference to me is the first had a more even-keeled take on Geronimo.

    The current reader (Books 11+) gets more animated and expressive, and since some of the later books do get trippy (In a GOOD way) that this change in approach makes sense, it wouldn't surprise me if it was planned this way, and of course, changes in readers for audiobooks can be for semantics. That specific reader's booked up, is retired, or sadly dies before the series ends.

    Other great books with fab audio versions are the first three books in the Hermux Tantamoq series by Michael Hoeye.

    Another great pick is William Stieg's "Dominic" narrated by Peter Thomas.

    Also, Luci Christian, a voice actress I love from various anime series, narrates the first two books in Janice Hardy's "Healing Wars" trilogy and she is used to playing characters like the MC from this series and knows how to bring the raw emotions needed to do the first two books justice.

    The final book "Darkfall" doesn't have an audio version (at the time I write this, [5/7/14] it may change later), and part of me suspects they're waiting to get Luci back, and since she recently became a parent between "Blue Fire" and "Darkfall" (Books 2 and 3, respectively) and doing a couple long-running animated series, that's slowing things down a bit.

    For those of you who are fans of the HP audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale, he also did an unabridged version of "Around the World in 80 Days" for Listening Library awhile back, and I've listened to it once a month for the last few months. Yes, it's THAT good!

    Listen to a sample and hear for yourself!

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    1. I hear you, Taurean. My recommendations: be clear to your reader. Let him/her know the important things. I Explained Faye is upper-class Indian thus somewhat of a British accent; Jasper and Lucy are from middle class London; Wallace is from NY and is African American; and Noah is Canadian. My reader (who is from northern England) is not a voices fellow but did make the differentiation which is the most important thing so the listener doesn't have to work at understand who is speaking. Jim Dale is wonderful, indeed. If you heard the UK version of the audiobooks for HP, you will see just how wonderful Jim Dale is! The UK version was very lax in voices and expression. I think we are more demanding now that audiobooks are everywhere. I'd love to know what you think of The Atomic Weight of Secrets...reader!!

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  2. Hooray! Congrats on the audio book release! I love listening to audiobooks and agree that the narrator is a crucial component.

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    1. Thanks, Marissa! I know you understand.

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  3. It's interesting how different a story sounds in the head of one person versus another. I was still working with Eden's publisher when the audiobook concept first came up, and my first reaction to the idea was that the voice of the novel definitely required a female reader--one with a voice not unlike the novel's Miss Brett. The publisher felt just the opposite.

    Because I subsequently became a full-time freelancer, no longer working for Bancroft Press, I'd never heard the end of the story until today. My original idea for the audiobook may have worked fine. Eden's probably would have too. But clearly the guy Bancroft went with has done a great job, and even if it's not the voice I heard in my head when I was editing the book, it's still a voice that's *right*.

    Harrison Demchick
    Developmental Editor
    Ambitious Enterprises

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    1. Too right, Harrison. Alan Pelz-Sharpe did a great job. And, as you say, what we heard and what came out might be different. But once our ears adjust, as Taurean points out, we can appreciate what we have.

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  4. I love listening to audiobooks! Congrats, Eden.

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  5. I am one of the few who has never gotten into audiobooks, it seems. But your description of the process, Eden, makes me want to go and have a listen!

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    1. I love them. Not as a substitute for curling up with a good book, but as an added boon when doing tasks or resting eyes with a busy mind. They are a big part of the literary world, now. Awards are given to great readers, too!

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  6. I'm not into audio books but they are a great way to expand your readership. Congrats on getting the audio book done.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sheena-kay! I know that I've listened to books I'd likely never have read. Some, I've gone back and read for myself, as a result of listening. It's just a different thing.

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  7. What a fun side of publishing I hadn't heard talked about before! Have you discovered librivox--and can you stand the volunteer readers?

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!