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How do you keep characters straight so that you use the same voices for the same characters, especially in a series. Or when a character has an appearance early in the book but might not come back again until much later. How do you remember what voice you used?
PA: I mark each character on the audio file so it is easy to go back and refer to the voice if I need to. But, as I mentioned, I’ve also already practiced each voice so that I’m familiar with it, too.
KH: Each character has its own audio track as we record, so Bruce can recall a character instantly. This is the ‘cast of characters’ for Finding Sarah
Photo courtesy of Kelley Hazen
These are the audio tracks for each character in Finding Sarah
Photo courtesy of Kelley Hazen
How do you deal with narrating men, since you’re a woman?
PA: I prefer not to try to “be” a character that I’m not! And although I have a low-pitched voice for a woman, I’m not a man and I feel that trying to produce a “real” male voice is distracting to the listener. So while I do try to “suggest” a male voice or child’s voice or old woman’s voice (as required) enough for the listener to identify the character, I don’t go overboard. Many people don’t realize that the narrator is also a distinct character and must also have consistency throughout.
KH: I’m lucky in that regard as I have a lower register, fuller-toned voice for a woman. But also I try not to press it. I try not to sound like a ‘guy.’ I mean everyone knows I’m not a guy. But I can imagine being a guy. And I can understand a guy’s motivations. So I feel like if I just play the guy’s truth as I see it, it works.
A writer uses a computer (at some point—although I’ve heard tell some people start by writing things out in longhand!). What tools are required for narrators?
PA: In my studio, I have not only a computer monitor and keyboard (the tower is outside the recording area, as its hum ruins a pristine recording!) but a number of different microphones, preamps, several sets of headphones, other audio equipment, and a comfortable chair (that doesn’t make any noise if I move!) Since I’m very near Mayport Naval Air Station here at the beach, I had to have my recording studio built so that I could record while helicoptors are flying overhead, and it does the trick beautifully! And I’m using a Neumann mic for recording What’s In A Name?, which is considered the Lamborghini of microphones and my favorite of all my equipment.
KH: Our studio has only the finest equipment and we went through a very lengthy search to find just the right microphone for my voice. With the invasion of home studios, there are a lot of actors in a closet with a USB mic.
What would be your ideal author/narrator relationship?
PA: I love getting to know my authors! They usually have very interesting lives in themselves and getting to know them helps in getting to know their characters. As you’ve found out, though, Terry, I do get a little too immersed in my work at times and my apologies again for calling you Kelli, the protagonist in What’s In A Name?!
KH: Let’s see …. A rich author with a really long book who thinks we are the bee’s knees and comes and hangs out with us in LA while we record the book and they bring their dog and all our dogs get along….Truly, we have had a great batch of authors. Each one has collaborated with us differently. Some haven’t come toward us at all initially, but then warmed later as they began to see our commitment and the quality we bring. And also that we are not trying to take anything away from them – only add to their experiences and wealth. Trust, that’s the key. When an author looks at who we are, we hope they see we know what we are doing and to trust us. That makes it possible for us to do our very best work. And it makes us want to produce for them the very best product we can.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society