As you know, the audiobook of “Fatal Forgery” has now been released. Sales are going well: twelve so far. It has been a great project, and one of the nicest things about it has been communicating with “my” narrator, Guy Hanson (or “AudioSam”, as he’s known in our house). And I thought that you might like to know a little more about the fine fellow who has brought Sam to life (if you’re not keen on buying the audiobook, you can still hear an audio clip of Guy/Sam on Amazon, Audible and iTunes). So Guy and I have done a little Q&A for you.
Me: I chose you as my ideal Sam after listening to dozens of voice audio samples on ACX. But of course it is a two-way agreement, so when I offered you Sam, why did you agree?
Guy: I think very simply because I liked the character of Sam; he is a chap you could imagine running into in a pub in his later life and being able to spend hours just listening to his stories.
Me: And having now spent hours in his company, what do you think are Sam’s key characteristics?
Guy: Sam is a quiet, thoughtful person but tenacious in “getting his man”.
Me: I have written “Fatal Forgery” (and indeed the subsequent Sam novels) in the form of a constable’s notebook – short chapters, with dates, concentrating on action and dialogue rather than description. Do you think this format works for an audiobook?
Guy: It works brilliantly and reflects Sam’s character too. Interestingly it more of a challenging as a narrator, because you don’t have much of a lead in and you’re hitting the characters straight away.
Me: Many of the characters in “Fatal Forgery” appear in later Sam Plank novels too, and you have said that – if this audiobook is a success – you would like to do the others as well. How do you keep track of each voice, so that, for instance, John Wontner always sounds the same?
Guy: I’m sure all narrators have their way of doing this, but my way is to start to build up a library of character voices. I often add a note or two as well if there are certain thing about a character which I have used to “find” them in the first place.
Me: Most of the characters in “Fatal Forgery” are male but there are some women and girls. How do you voice them without sounding like a parody?
Guy: Ah now, that an interesting question. I don’t think that audiences actually have a problem with male doing female characters or vice versa (look at panto!); I think the important thing, as in any performance, is that you must be genuine and believable.
Me: Can you tell us a little about your narration process – for instance, do you read the whole book before starting, or just the chapter you’re about to record? How long can you spend reading aloud before you have to give your voice (and perhaps your back!) a rest?
Guy: I first like to read through the first four or five chapters just to get a general feel for the piece. I will then speak to the author and get notes on particular character traits or anything that might affect the voice or the way they speak, so accents, lisps etc. I have to say that for the most part authors tend to let me get on with it, and then occasionally change something if it’s not right as we go along. I will often record chapters in sections and tie them together during editing. If you work on the principle that an hour’s completed and edited audio is around four hours’ work, you can see that a couple of hours’ narration is usually enough, before the voice starts to strain.