Monday, 7 April 2014

Going the Distance

Some of my fellow Voiceover Artists utter shock, surprise or a degree of awe at my switch to encompassing Audiobooks into my repertoire. To me, this always seems strange, since I have fallen head over heels in love with the art form. It is an endurance test, it is a personal challenge, and it is a solitary experience. It offers performance challenges I never knew existed. Nevertheless, the rewards to be had are enormous just because of the gruelling demands on ones time, attention and concentration, and the potential for strain on the voice. Nothing good ever came with ease did it? Getting to the end of
an Audiobook project can feel like I have won the marathon!

In 1980's Britain we had a popular kids programme called Pigeon Street. I was always fascinated by the female trucker character who would pop into the village en route to whichever far flung destination she was going to for her work. 'Long Distance Clara' even had her own catchy theme tune. I didn't get it. Why do a job that takes so long to get from A to B? Now I understand a little better. By the time I have read, annotated, researched, recorded, corrected, edited, mastered and finally uploaded an audiobook I feel like I have been on an incredible journey. This of course is all the better if the book was well written in the first place, and I am fortunate that I am getting some very interesting projects thrown my way, especially since establishing my niche as a Young Adult British female narrator, I've been working back to back on fantastic stories.

Working as an Audiobook Narrator, I feel as thought I have truly created something that has not only been an endurance, but that may well be enduring. I read a quote somewhere, by someone (I'm a little hazy) saying that they loved narrating audiobooks because potentially they were creating material for people to listen to for the next 50 years. And I think that just about sums it up. When I work on producing and narrating a book, I never know who is going to be entertained by it, where in the world it is going to reach someone's ears, to whom my voice and my reading ability is going to give immense
amounts of pleasure. It isn't like theatre where the performance is over at the curtain call. My audience could be anywhere, doing anything, at any time now or in the future. There is something gratifying about that.

It isn't easy. I have been on a rollercoaster learning this side of the Voice industry, and I know others who are at the start of that journey, wondering if they have the stamina or inclination to continue. It isn't for everyone. Adapting to new methods of recording, perhaps even different mic techniques, and using alternative software. For some people accustomed to commercial work, this seems like an awful lot of hard slog. But for me, having worked on some corking characters in some gripping novels of late, I find it hard to get so much of a thrill out of a thirty second commercial. But my background is in theatre, performing, creating characters, and audiobooks give me an opportunity to do all of that.

So in short, it really isn't for everybody this Audiobook Narration malarkey. But it is for me. Now, if only there could be rapturous, spontaneous applause when I reach the last sentence of the final chapter in a ten hour novel, then that would be even better.