Saturday, 31 December 2011

My year in audio books 2011....

It seems like only a few weeks since I did my last audiobook roundup! 2011 has whizzed by.

In terms of audiobook narration, it’s been a busy year, with a lot of variety.

I started the year with River Marked, latest in the Patricia Briggs urban fantasy series. I found this one particularly interesting, as we learned a lot more about Mercy’s American Indian heritage. 

Then it was down to AudioGO in Bath for Mortal Remains by Kathy Reichs. Her protagonist, Dr Temperance Brennan, is a forensic anthropologist – I always learn something about the human body from her!

I followed that with another meditation title for Heavy Entertainment. I love recording these! So relaxing. 

Then it was Tony and Susan for Audible. This story within a story was a two-reader book, and I shared the microphone with the lovely Peter Marinker. The novella within the novel was really chilling!

It wasn’t long before I was back in Bath again to record more in the Kathy Reichs series – Bones to Ashes.

I was thrilled to be asked to record Second Grave on the Right for Macmillan Audio – second in the fantastic Charley Davidson ‘Grim Reaper’ series. Author Darynda Jones goes from strength to strength.

Then I scuttled back to Bath to do Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs.

One of the most interesting and beautifully written books I recorded in 2011 was The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu. There was quite a bit of Mandarin, which was challenging, but luckily it’s my niece Kathy’s first language, so help was at hand.

In April it was the eagerly awaited Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich – recording this series is like a wild vacation with a crazy bunch of friends. Love it.

Then it was dem bones again as I ping-ponged up to Bath for another Kathy Reichs - 206 Bones.

And of course I did some work for the digital publishing company I own with Ali Muirden, Creative Content Ltd., presenting The Lowdown: A Short History of the Originsof the Vietnam War by David L. Anderson. We debated having a female narrator for this title, as history is usually done with a male voice – but I’m pleased we took the plunge and did something a little bit different! 

One of the cleverest books I recorded this year was the fictional memoir of Wallis Simpson, Wallis: My War by Kate Auspitz. It’s a fascinating and witty imagining, supported by meticulous historical evidence. 

I was really happy to be part of the ensemble recording Gods Without Men – it was a privilege to be included among some fantastic narrators, like Kerry Shale and Rupert Degas. The book is a multi-layered, following several stories and several timelines. Eerie and gripping. One of my favourites.

Then it was Janet Evanovich with a twist – she paired up with Dorien Kelly to write Love in a Nutshell. If you like humour, romance – or beer-making! – this is a really fun romp.

I’m always eagerly anticipating the next Stephanie Plum adventure, so it was a real thrill that busy Janet Evanovich wrote TWO this year - Explosive Eighteen published in November. I was glad to see lots of Lula in this one, as she’s one of my favourite characters to play.

Then back up to see AudioGO for the chilling Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell.  Rumours abound that we may see Scarpetta on the big screen soon. Big sterile-shoe-covers to fill! :o)

Janet Evanovich isn’t the only one to produce two books this year – Darynda Jones also wrote Third Grave Dead Ahead, which I recorded in November. It publishes on January 31. Rebellious son-of-Satan Reyes is one of my favourite romantic heroes ever.

I’ve just rounded off the year with a recording of What Katy Did for AudioGO, produced by the lovely Neil Gardner. Hope to work with him more in 2012!

One of loveliest surprises and biggest thrills of 2011 was being named Narrator of the Year on Audible. I’m so very grateful to Audible listeners.

And I'm grateful to you! I’d especially like to thank those of you who’ve taken the trouble to write, tweet, Facebook message and email to tell me when you’ve enjoyed a title. It means a lot.

I wish you everything wonderful for the coming year!

Photo by flattop341

Monday, 19 December 2011

All I want for Christmas....

Are you looking for a last minute present for a voice-over artist in your life? Here’s a few suggestions:

If you want to push the boat out, get a piece of amber – particularly a necklace. Amber has long been connected to the health of the throat and the voice. On an ‘it can’t hurt’ basis, I often wear an amber necklace when I’m working. There’s obviously a wide selection for women, but guys can wear it too – just choose a plain design and thread it on a bit of leather if you want it extra-macho. Do a little research on the meaning of amber and write up a paragraph to include in the package.

There are some cute charms out there; headphones or a microphone would be great. Put on a necklace, or attach to a bracelet.

For something more practical, you could buy some accent or voice production cds or download a selection to a little mp3 player. There are tons of them out there, but (as co-owner of the company) obviously I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug "The Lowdown: Improve Your Speech” series.

If your VO is an audiobook narrator, what about a gift subscription to Audiofile Magazine?

If money is tight, why not make up a ‘studio kit’ for your VO to have in the booth? You could include some of these: a tiny bottle of Tabasco (the late, great Bill Hootkins swore by two drops in a glass of water – he’d sip it throughout the session), a small jar of good honey, a packet of throat lozenges like Fisherman’s Friend or Vocalzones, some enlivening essential oil to sniff when energy starts to flag, an energy bar or two for that afternoon slump (but nothing with dairy or chocolate, which can make the voice ‘claggy’ – something like Kendal Mint Cake is perfect!), and maybe a refillable water bottle – hydration is important, and you’re helping  your VO to be ‘green’ at the same time.

If you’re really skint, you could provide a list of useful, clickable links: blogs about voice over (like mine, or the excellent Dog Eared Copy’s ‘pink chair’ blogs) and educational YouTube videos (like Amy Walker’s terrific series on accent production), for example. You could send these in an email, or – if you want a little something to put under the tree - put them in a Word document and load them onto a memory stick. If you want something extra, you could download Creative Content’s free vocalwarm up and add that too!
I hope that's been helpful! Let me know if you can add to the list...