Monday, April 15, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Lucky Week 13

So, I finally finished recording the novel that was due on March 31st.  It was, hands down, the biggest challenge I've had since doing this audiobook thing (though trying to please a certain author's agent is obviously a close second), and part of that was my fault.  I simply bit off more than I could chew, not having paid attention to the word length, and not realizing that I could go onto and read reviews of the various works that were holding auditions.*

For this novel, three reviews there lie, and the one at the top distinctly says that the book would have been great had it been edited, the reviewer going as far as to say that it was difficult for her to keep from grabbing her red pen as she went along.

I accepted the job not comprehending how big a job it was, and that I'd still be pushing my way through it three months later, sweating, frustrated, voice-strained, and patience worn nearly to transparent.  I should have been able to soldier through it, but I couldn't spend more than a couple of hours a day on it (either recording or editing) before I was mentally drained, and other projects haven't been that way.

But, as the great poet Kelly Clarkson once said, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, fugneh monger, kthulhu mah cobah neeklai R'lyeh."  And yeah, I'm a tougher, more experienced performer after having passed through this particular gauntlet.  Being left 100% on my own for so long was also pretty empowering, because I had to decide how to pronounce some of the more outlandish names, I had to figure out how to convey when demons were speaking with their otherworldly voices rather than in their human disguises, and I had to pick voices and accents for the various characters (including four immortal demons and at least three transformed underlings), and I had to interpret which of the many confusing paragraphs were typos and writing errors and which were meant to be that way (and translating the former into spoken English).

I have complained, I know, but this audiobook, when published, will be a comprehensive example of what I can do with narration, using no reverb or music or sound effects or distortion (though that sort of thing would have made the demons a hell of a lot clearer to the ear, especially in passages when the text designates that the demon voice is slipping through the normal human voice).**

I'm too close to what I do to truly know how well it all works, but this is, to my ears, among my best work.  Or at least it's me firing on all my cylinders.

Regardless, I don't know that many people will hear this work.  The book is the darkest thing I've ever read all the way to the end (I've tossed away a couple of Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon books before finishing), and pushes boundaries beyond what I would dare in my own writing.  But if child murder, cannibalism, mutilation, possession, human sacrifice, bad Russian accents, and gang rape don't bar your door, then yeah, I guess I'd recommend you check it out.

I mentioned last time that there were a couple of projects I was considering auditioning for.  I told myself that I'd leave the tabs open on the computer while I finished up this novel, and when I was finally done, if they had not yet been assigned to anyone, I would go ahead and audition.  The first was that short story collection where the author wanted the person auditioning to read an entire short story.  I went ahead and recorded it, doing it as though I already had the job, and giving it my all, so that if I did get the job, I wouldn't have to produce that particular story again.  The damn thing ended up being thirty-three minutes long when I had it all edited, and as I may or may not have said last week, I was pretty certain nobody else would be foolish enough to do that, and the job would be mine.***

Within twelve hours, I had the job, and the author told me how much he enjoyed my performance.  That was nice to hear, and I was glad it was the author himself.  I'm sick to death of dealing with publishers and the authors' "people."  What the f-word do they know about the intent of the writer, the pronunciation of made up words, and the dialects the characters should have?  Rarely do they have anything of value to say to me, if they even deign to return my messages.

Of course, dealing with the authors themselves can be problematic in a different way, as I experienced recently with a writer that had a problem with me transposing two words in a chapter, claiming it didn't follow the text exactly.  Now, every time I discover a typo or an error in the text, I think, "Oh, but you don't mind me ignoring the exact wording of the text on this sentence, do you?"

Guess I'm just not a people person.

I also auditioned, in the same sitting, for a Science Fiction book that I pretty much only auditioned for because the author boasted how many hard copies he or she had sold on Amazon.  I looked up the reviews of the book, and people did seem generally enthusiastic about it.  Unfortunately, she wanted three chapters from the middle of the book performed for the audition, and I simply didn't have it in me.  

Having not read the book itself, I didn't know what the characters sounded like, where they were supposed to be from, or even if they were young or old.  I did one of their voices like an old man, since he seemed to be in a position of experience, but at the end of the chapter, the main character remarks that he wasn't much older than the other two were, leading me to believe they were all teenagers.  Whoops.

I not only didn't go back and re-record all of the "old man"'s lines, I didn't go on to perform the other two chapters, and just edited it and submitted it with a note about not knowing how to voice the characters, but if I got the job it might be fun to sit down with the author and come up with tones for them.

Did I mention not being a people person?

To my surprise, I also got an acceptance email on that book as well.  I wasn't completely thrilled at the news when it happened (in fact, Big told me I should turn it down), but I know that as soon as I'm done editing this novel, it'll be like a marathon runner who suddenly loses the barbed wire in his left shoe, and I'll feel free and energized and will take off like a shot.

Of course, I've been wrong before.  But time will tell.

Rish Outfield, Audio Guy

*Though it is possible that the reviews might not have been there when this book was available for audition.

**And there's another thing. I've been asking myself since January if it's alright to do vocal effects on my readings, since they serve me so well on my podcast. Ultimately, people around me told me not to do it because that's not how professional audiobook narrators do it. I grumpily had to agree with them . . . but then this week, I put in the audiobook to one of Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern" books, and for the psychic dragon voices, sure enough, they use a vocal effect. This surprised me so much I just had to call Big A. up and tell him about it, as if he would say, "Rish, my boy, you have indeed proven us all wrong. By all means, create audiobooks in whatever way thou seest fit. By the way, I worship thee."  He didn't.

***I did include a note with my audition, mentioning how atypical a request like this was and that "I must really, really want this job to have done this much work for an audition."  I figured that, even if I were not to get the job, the author would be unsubtly informed of his unrealistic expectations.

No comments: