Monday, 13 May 2013

The power of the spoken word....

At a select gathering of writer friends last year, I read out an extract from the book I'd recently finished, Eugenie's Story. One creative and positive person (thanks, Yang-May) told me I had exactly the right sort of voice for my heroine and I ought to think about turning the story into an audiobook. I must confess, at first I thought, 'Yeah, right. How on earth am I going to do that?' but the idea lodged in the back of my mind. And when another friend mentioned he had a microphone and recording facilities in his study because he'd begun doing voiceovers, it seemed like Fate was giving me a nudge. Maybe narrating my own story wasn't such an impossible proposition after all. I had no idea what I'd do with the recording once it was finished, but it might be fun to have a go. Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular as people multi-task their way through busy lives, listening to stories while they exercise, travel or do the housework. I also felt the humour in the story - the gap between Eugenie's inflated idea of herself and reality - would come out particularly clearly if it was read aloud. At the very least, if I'm knocked down by a bus tomorrow, there'll be some record of my dulcet tones for posterity.

Patient producer, Simon
So a few weeks later, I set off on the train with Eugenie's Story loaded on my Kindle and butterflies in my stomach. Would my friend Simon, who'd kindly agreed to act as my producer, be driven to exasperation as I fluffed and fumbled my way through the reading? Would I sound too amateurish? Could I possibly produce a convincing Irish or American accent? (The story takes the form of Eugenie's diary but there's a certain amount of dialogue from her American friends and a dashing young Irishman.) I'd practised by reading the whole story through at least once, and the difficult sections several times (it's a lot harder than you might realize to say the words 'off on an adventure', for example - just try it and see), but even so, I was distinctly nervous.

Unfortunately it looks like I've cut my own hair with nail scissors.
Just as well this is radio and not TV  
Well, as things turned out, I didn't need to worry. Once I'd hit my stride, things flowed very smoothly and the whole experience was a blast. I've noticed before that most authors seem to enjoy reading their work out loud; we have to be a little bit in love with what we write, otherwise we couldn't keep pounding away at it day after day. It was a huge treat for me to spend two solid days in Eugenie's company - and although it can't have been quite such fun for Simon, he bore the ordeal with great patience. Lots of coffee and biscuit breaks, visits from the resident studio dog, Harry, eggs from the resident studio hens for breakfast - what more could a wannabe thespian want? I won't ever pass for a native American or Irishwoman but actually, this is Eugenie telling her story, and I don't think she'd be very good at accents either, so that's all right.

Harry, the studio dog
Once Simon had cleaned up various fluffs and lip-smackings, we were left with nearly 7 hours of recording and it was time to call in the experts. The wonder of the internet led me to OpenBookAudio, a production and distribution company staffed by kindly elves - no, in fact by Andrew and Matt (amongst others), who have magically enabled Eugenie's Story to be stocked by retailers and offered up for sale! And what's more, you can even hear the beginning free, gratis and for nothing by clicking here.  Could that be any more exciting?

No, I don't think it could. Have a listen and see if you agree...

And Henny Penny, one of the studio chickens


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