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I used to think that audiobooks weren’t for me. I’ve always considered myself a visual person. Tell me your name when we’re introduced in a social setting, and it’s gone five seconds after I hear it. Write it down where I can see it, and I’m the elephant who never forgets.
But after my science thriller Freezing Point sold to Audible.com as part of their “Breakout Thrillers” program, suddenly, I had reason to pay attention. I listened to samples of my narrator’s reading on Audible’s website, and fell in love. His voice quality, and his wry, sardonic tone, were perfect for my novel.
Before he began recording, Mark Boyett called me to go over a few pronunciations. “I always like to have a conversation with the author if at all possible before I go in to record,” Mark says. “I like to give the author a chance to talk about his or her novel and express anything they’d like me to communicate as I narrate their book. After all, people are downloading the book to experience the author’s work first and foremost, so my work needs to serve that end.
“As I prepare the book, I’ll make margin notes, sometimes about the mood of a scene, or the subtext of a character. Or I’ll score sections with little notations that only make sense to me to remind myself to link up these words, or drive through this part, or make this paragraph start as a fresh new thought rather than a continuation of the previous one, and so on.
“Colored markers are also important. In scenes where there are multiple characters, I assign each character a color and then dot each line they speak, so I can read right through, changing the voices as needed, without having to stop and figure out who’s talking when. Luckily, in the event that a narrator needs a reminder about the voice he’s using for a particular character, the engineer can go back and replay earlier clips as a refresher.”
With that level of professionalism and attention to detail, us it any wonder I was delighted with the result? An audiobook, I discovered, isn’t just a reading. It’s a performance, like listening to a one-man play. The emotion my narrator conveys through his voice adds a whole new dimension to my written words. And the accents – Irish, Brazilian, English, Australian – until I heard my book read out loud, I had no idea I’d created such an international cast.
On Dec. 28, 2010, the print and audio versions of my second environmental thriller, Boiling Point, published simultaneously. Because Boiling Point brings back two characters from Freezing Point, Mark Boyett narrates again. I just finished listening to the book, and Mark’s reading is FANTASTIC. If you’ve never tried listening to an audiobook, you must. It’s a fabulous experience!