Narrating an Audiobook #1


During the course of listening/reading all of the feedback on my new audiobook version of the novel ‘Ballad of the Northland’, I’ve had quite a few eye openers, and a slough of new ideas—and gained a much greater understanding of the audiobook experience in general.

I have a great appreciation for this particular artistic field—in fact, nowadays with children & ultra crazy work/travel schedule, I find that the only way I can feed my literary beast with any degree of regularity is through the use of my iPod, and in the last few years have probably listened to over 200 books whilst driving, doing chores, or running the dogs—a fete I never would have been able to accomplish with a stack of ‘real’ books!

So, here is one of the things that I learned (it feels kind of strange to say it this way, because I have listened to so many books you’d think I would already have known!); any one person can sit down and read the hard copy of any one story, and then that same person can listen to that same book on CD….and have a completely different experience, almost as if it were a different story entirely.

The 8-CD set of the audio version of 'Ballad of the Northland'

One person who did both, listened & read, summed it up best (and I’m going to paraphrase them) when they told me that the part near the beginning of the story where the two young boys are menaced by the wolf hybrid that got loose from Uncle’s dog-lot, the youngest actually gets torn up pretty badly, was a much more brutal passage to listen to then to read from the hard-copy of the book.

Here is what occurs to me: when you read something like a book, you read & visually edit at the speed you’re personally comfortable with, and have a greater degree of control over ‘moderating’ the tone of the narrative as you see fit, a process that is so second nature to you (you’ve been doing it your whole life, after all!) that you probably don’t even notice it.

On the other hand, when you have a set of ear-phones on and a narrator reading too you, you have no way to edit—you’re going to hear it & experience it at the exact pace the narrator thought was appropriate, which may differ considerably from the way you ‘heard it’ in your head while reading it to yourself.

‘Ballad of the Northland is a very black & white story, and its audio version proceeds at a very thoughtful pace—I read it to fit the somber nature of the subject material, which has a steady thread of  darkness running throughout, and I can assure you that the parts of the story that strike you as being particularly brutal…were.

I’ll dig into this subject of creating an audiobook with much greater specificity in future posts—thanks for joining in.

More to follow….

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