I am especially pleased to introduce today’s guest. I have had the pleasure of working with Jessie Clever, proofreading and editing some of her work. Her books are fantastic! Historical is not my preferred genre, but her stories definitely kept me engaged. Her characters and premises are unique and compelling. She has a knack for bringing you into the story, the setting, and makes you want to keep turning pages.
Today, she is sharing an interesting article about working with a voice artist on an audio book. I had the experience myself, and it was quite an adventure. Please help me welcome Jessie with her take on the process….
The Voice in My Head: Working with a Voice Artist to Bring Your Story to Life
As an author, I jumped on the audio bandwagon with unstoppable glee. I could not wait to turn my Regency romances into audiobooks in order to reach the voracious audio listeners I knew I was missing. My main goal in writing has always been to share my stories with those who crave them, and romance readers are an exceptional bunch. We are always looking for more, and audio has allowed me to reach even more wonderful readers.
So when I first approached this business of audio recording, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I used an online service called ACX that allowed me to audition voice artists for my manuscript. Now, I’m sure like many of you, when I read something, a certain voice appears in my head. Depending on the book. Depending on the genre. Or depending on my mood at the time. The story has already taken on a voice before someone reads it aloud. So the auditions became something for which I was not prepared.
None of the auditions sounded like what the story sounded like in my head. They got it all wrong! That was not how Jane sounded. She was not a cranky old lady. She was very much a debonair, refined lady of the ton much like Maggie Smith’s performance on Downton Abbey. Nora was not whiny and weak. She was demure and controlled. Her very voice spoke to her struggles as a character. My unstoppable glee was quite quickly, well, stopped. I didn’t like the “sound” of this business at all.
And then I received one more audio file from a voice artist outside of London. (That is the magic of the Internet, isn’t it? We creatives get to collaborate with folks from around the world while sipping coffee in our bathrobes.) I reluctantly clicked the play button on this audition, steeling myself to hold back the disappointment that I knew would be coming in waves. But then—What was that? That clear, concise voice. Those softly rounded consonants. That contrasting crisp voice of authority and surety that said nothing more than dignified. That. That right there was the voice! That was Nora. That was Jane. That was even rascally Alec, the Earl of Stryden. Yes! Finally, I heard it. The thing I didn’t even know I was looking for.
The very voice in my head.
The one that had tripped along silently as the Black family spun their tales of espionage, war, and romance.
How could it be? How had this amazing, talented person “heard” what I heard? How could she have interpreted these characters so precisely as I had? It didn’t seem possible. But as I finally came to understand, this is the mark of a truly talented voice artist.
I immediately accepted the audition of this brilliant artist, and so began a journey I will treasure as a very special part of my writing endeavor. Rachael Beresford took on the Black family and their many misadventures, their trials and tribulations, their passions and joys. She took these characters that until then had only existed in my head and pulled them out, fluffed them up, and made them like real, tangible things. Now when I heard my stories performed back to me, it is as though I could reach out and give Jane a hug. (And oh, what a wonderful thing that would be!)
Once Rachael completes the narration, I receive the files for review. That is one of my favorite times as an author. I covet that time. I treasure it. I curl up in said bathrobe, steaming cup of coffee in hand, and click play. And Rachael reads me a story. A story completely unlike the one I wrote. That, too, is the magic of a talented voice artist. The story becomes something else. Something more. It is no longer the black and white text you’ve carefully created on the page. It’s suddenly alive and three-dimensional. The characters shape the sounds that until then had only been black lines on a page. And that’s just it. They’re sounds. The characters are suddenly human.
While I relish reaching the end, I’m saddened to no longer have the anticipation of discovering the story again through Rachael’s performance. I usually listen to her narration all in one sitting, because I cannot bear to interrupt it. Once approved by me, the files are whisked off into the ether of the web, and Audible and iTunes suddenly have a packaged audiobook ready for hungry readers. It looks so mundane, that thumbnail of the final product. But beneath that quiet exterior, magic awaits. And more, as a reader, you know it’s there. Waiting.
That is the power of a talented voice artist. That is the magic that only a true narrator can weave. As an author, I would advise other authors not to settle on the first audition if it doesn’t seem quite right. Somewhere out there is the right narrator for your story. You need only wait and listen.
To celebrate the release of the final book in the Spy Series on audio, I am giving a copy of the audiobook of the first book in the series, Son of a Duke, to a random commentor on this blog post. Just answer this question: audiobooks – do you love them or hate them? And if you love them, what is an audiobook that you fell in love with instantly and forever just from the sound of the artist’s voice?
When an assassin threatens England’s spy network, Lady Margaret Folton must find the killer before it’s too late. Hardened from being forced to witness the murder of her British spy parents by French revolutionists, Margaret approaches this mission like any other, with steely determination and a resolute focus on the necessary outcome at the cost of all else.
Commodore John Lynwood, newly returned from the Mediterranean, finds himself granted the title of viscount in honor of his service during the war. Plagued with a string of good luck throughout his life, the title serves as another reminder that Jack has done nothing to earn the glory and prestige that comes with his position, and he’ll be damned if he’ll enjoy such an honor.
But when Jack is accidentally granted a title meant to be used as bait to lure the assassin into the War Office’s trap, Margaret must face the tragedy of her past and decide which is more important: the assignment or love?
The books in the Spy Series:
1/2. Inevitably a Duchess (A prequel novella)
1. Son of a Duke
2. For Love of the Earl
3. A Countess Most Daring
4. To Save a Viscount
He had grown so accustomed to the sound of gunfire that he did not hear the shot that was meant to kill him.
This would have worried Richard Black, the Duke of Lofton, if he had had time to think on it. But as the situation inherently required immediate action, prolonged and abstract thinking on the subject was neither prudent nor wise. So he refrained. Instead, he wondered whom it was that smashed into him at incredible speed, sending him tumbling backwards off the walk along the Thames and into the bitter, black water below.
He had been meeting his contact there along the water at an unholy hour, and darkness had lain all about him. The exchange had gone as planned, and he now held the knowledge that he knew would prove key to his current assignment with the War Office. But as the inky water of the Thames closed over his head, he wondered if he would ever get that information to the necessary people.
And then as the last of the light disappeared, he thought of Jane, his wife. His Jane. He did not think of her in specific instances or certain memories that lay in his mind. He thought of her in pieces. Her smell. Her laugh. The sound her hair made as she brushed it at night. The way she always laid her hand on top of his whenever they should find themselves sitting next to one another. Her amazing talents with chestnut roasters.
He would have laughed if such an action would not speed up the inevitable drowning that suddenly became all too real, flushing thoughts of Jane from his mind. His arms began to push against the water as his feet began to pulse, driving him toward the surface. Only he did not move. Whoever it was that had slammed into him still held him about the waist, dragging him deeper into the water. He began to struggle, the need for air and life and Jane surging through his veins in a way he had never felt before.
And then a hand brushed against his cheek, and slender fingers came to rest across his mouth. He wanted to open his eyes, but he knew it would do no good in the black water. But he let the feeling of his attacker’s hand brush against his skin, the shape of it press into his face, the narrowness of limb and the delicate arch of bone.
It was a woman who held him beneath the water.
And he stopped struggling.
Now available on audio!
Also available at these etailers –
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1tddN6P
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/YXK6dd
Google Play: http://bit.ly/10FAmFc
About the Author:
Jessie decided to be a writer because the job of Indiana Jones was already filled.
Taking her history degree dangerously, Jessie tells the stories of courageous heroines, the men who dared to love them, and the world that tried to defeat them.
Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds. For more, visit her website at jessieclever.com.
Connect with Jessie…
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/2kKoZcH
Get a free book when you sign up for Jessie’s Newssheet http://eepurl.com/cpHMa1
12 responses to “Working with a Voice Artist by Jessie Clever ~ Historical Romance: To Save a Viscount”
Thanks for sharing your experience with ACX. I’ve been anxiously waiting for it to come to Canada and now I know what to expect. The excerpt was great, best of luck!
Your experience was very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes on this exciting series.
Thank you, Diane!
Thank you, Jacquie!
Fascinating experience, Jessie. I don’t listen to audio books, but I know they’re really popular with some people, especially on long car trips. Sounds like a fabulous story! Wishing you much luck with it!
Thank you, Leah!
Great post, Jessie! Audiobooks are on my to-do list for my Regency books, and it’s great to hear that you found a good voice artist. I don’t often listen to audiobooks because I’m not often alone and my husband isn’t really a fan of the genre (imagine?). I do enjoy listening when I know I’ll have a big chunk of alone time when I don’t have to concentrate on my own writing.
I can completely understand that!
I’ve still not learned to appreciate audiobooks although I have a friend who is very fond of them. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Awesome excerpt! I can only imagine hearing it! Thanks for sharing!
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