Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jeff Woodman interview

Here's a very interesting interview with Jeff Woodman, narrator of the Lord John audiobooks.

Thanks so much to Laura P. on Compuserve for the link! I never would have known this interview existed if she hadn't mentioned it.

I think it's fascinating to see how these audiobook narrators work. Some highlights from this interview:
Q. I would think that keeping voices consistent would be a challenge, especially with a book that has a lot of different characters. Is there a trick? Does it just come naturally?

Jeff: It's easier than you'd think, because ultimately you're not playing voices, you're playing characters. [....] If you can latch onto character qualities and act them consistently, your listeners will know who's speaking without major changes in pitch or vocal quality.
How does he make the characters come alive for the readers?
Jeff: First of all, it has to be on the page. If the author hasn't written clearly delineated characters then you have to resort to vocal "tricks." "OK, since the characters are undefined and there's nothing to act, this guy is breathy, this one's nasal, this one's from Massachusetts, etc..." If the author hasn't done his job, I feel free to take whatever liberties necessary to do mine. There's a wonderfully accurate saying in the audiobook world, "A good book needs a good narration, but a bad book needs a great narration."
How long does it take to do one of these books?
Jeff: I generally put an hour in the can in just under 90 minutes, so a 10 hour book will usually take me two full days in the studio.
And I suppose that means the Lord John books take something like 2-3 days each to record.
Q. Do you have a kind of book that you prefer working with? Maybe one that makes you more happy to go to work than others?

Jeff:
I like books that are heavy on dialogue, because a really well written dialogue scene is so much fun to play. [....] When I'm going in to record one of Chris' Ceepak stories, I can't wait to get in there and play Danny! Chris has written the characters so well, and writes such great dialogue scenes, that my job is actually fun! Ditto any of Diana Gabeldon's [sic] Lord John series.
I would really encourage you to go read the full interview for yourselves. And if you haven't seen it already, check out the two-part YouTube interview from 2009 with Davina Porter, narrator of the OUTLANDER unabridged audiobooks. I thought it was really interesting to compare the way the two of them speak about their work.

If you have not listened to any of the OUTLANDER or Lord John audiobooks, I highly recommend them! Look here for some of my thoughts on the subject.

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