Audiobooks – narration technique (part 1)

I thought I might write a few words on how my learning and thinking about narration technique has changed since I started down this road earlier this year. But first, some basics.

On commencing a project, a narrator has several priorities and obligations to meet. The way I see it, the narrator firstly is obligated to the listener, secondly the author, thirdly to him or herself and, last but not least, to the company publishing the audiobook.

The listener is the customer, the person handing over cash in one form or another, for an enjoyable experience, an experience that one hopes will transport them to an imaginary world. The end product has to be a professional, seamless experience, in which the narrator’s vocal performance does justice to the work of the author. It must not get in the way or distract the listener from the story. There are some narrators who could read a phone directory and still attract an audience, their voices being their fortune, as it were. We’re not all like that, unfortunately, and have to work that much harder at the craft (not that such pro’s don’t work hard, of course).

The narrator or audio performer is obligated to honour the author’s work and to perform it well. And it is a performance, in that the narrator takes the elements of story, atmosphere, mood and character and weaves them into an enjoyable listening experience. The author has already laid out these elements and the narrator must find them, interpret them and develop them for a listening audience.

Thirdly, the narrator cannot be satisfied with ‘that’ll do’. If the narrator adopts the attitude of an artist – becomes an artist – second best is unacceptable. It follows that, even though the narrator is starting from a low base point, he or she is obliged to move forward and acquire and develop skills and techniques, in order to fulfil their role.

Finally, the publisher has exacting demands on what is essentially a commercial product, so that it meets certain standards related to quality and technical consistency. A bad product reflects badly on the narrator, author and publisher.

So…big talk from a relative beginner like me, isn’t it? Yes, but I think it’s important to acknowledge these basics, as a framework on which to hang a nascent audiobook career.

Part 2 of this particular blog will follow as soon as I’ve completed my quota of recording and editing today, but if you wished to see some samples of this ‘nascent career’ please have a look at Audible or iTunes for my work. Links are shown below.

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https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Unsuspecting-Witch-Audiobook/B07TKCT2PM?qid=1572251910&sr=1-1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=MGBBM3JRXCJC43RA770W&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1

 

the inquisitive witch cover

 

https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Unsuspecting-Witch-Audiobook/B07TKCT2PM?pf_rd_p=284b47b1-a5db-4711-9667-612f2ac7458e&pf_rd_r=Y4E0P6R7XH31VR9ST2T1&ref=a_series_Na_c5_lProduct_1_1

 

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https://www.audible.com/pd/Windrush-Audiobook/B07VWYDQG1?qid=1572252026&sr=1-2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=Y3TGPQBK9YDNMGA0ZV90&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2

 

To be published this week:

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On sale in December 2019 and January 2020:

The Last Roundhead – book 1 of the Sir Blandford Candy series, by Jemahl Evans. Books 2, 3,& 4 will follow next year.

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Windrush – Blood Price – book 3 in the Jack Windrush series, by Malcolm Archibald. Books 4, 5 & 6 will also follow next year.

Windrush book 4

 

Special guests

Not really an acting story (well, sort of) and I guess I’m basking in reflected glory here, but my daughter recently served a special guest at the hotel where she works.

Sophie and DJD

Dame Judi was staying at the hotel in Sussex with Isla Fisher, whilst filming nearby.

 

 

Audiobooks: plans for the future

My work in producing audiobooks so far has been a great learning experience. I was attracted to it because, first and foremost, I am an actor who enjoys reading and performing. This goes for stage work as well as books. It’s been a year since I gave up the day job, in the hopes of obtaining paid acting work and I have been moderately successful, but only moderately. This has consisted of a brief but successful run of ‘Skerryvore’ at the Barnstaple Fringe Festival, a longer run of ‘Twelfth Night’ at the Ellen Terry Barn Theatre in Smallhythe, a very short run at the Brighton Scratch Nights this week and an upcoming live performance of a radio play in Hastings in December. But it’s not enough to pay the bills, so that’s why I thought I would branch out into voiceover and audiobooks.

Again, some moderate success. In July I got a couple of voiceover jobs but since then I’ve had three audiobooks published, with a fourth to be published, I hope, this week. Fortunately, these are not one-offs: the Nature’s Magic series should have a third instalment coming out soon; I have contracts for four more Windrush books and, if the first Candy book is a success, there will be three more of those. My aim is to build up a fairly decent back catalogue of 12-13 books by summer next year. However, I need to put in some variety as historical fiction is not as popular as biography or romantic fiction (or erotic fiction, but let’s not go there). A broad spectrum of genres is what I’m aiming for and I’ll put an update on here every so often.

Brighton Scratch Nights

This week I have taken part in the presentation of new writing at the Brighton Scratch Nights held at the Rialto Theatre in Brighton. Some friends who run a theatre company (‘George Lassos the Moon’)  asked me to play one of the roles in a new play called ‘Sammy’, written by Christopher Owen. Have a look here for further details:

http://www.rialtotheatre.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-events/the-brighton-scratch-night

It’s an intriguing piece, addressing issues such as Pro-life, religious views on the treatment of apparently untreatable childhood illnesses and the dilemmas parents have to face in terribly difficult circumstances. I don’t think we won the popularity contest but our performances were strong, on the whole. The winner’s piece will be developed and presented at the Brighton Fringe Festival next year.

Here’s a link for a review:

The Brighton Scratch Night 2019

It was an interesting experience – the Rialto is a tiny theatre and the first night was made even more interesting by six theatre groups all vying for dressing rooms, prop storage and rehearsal space.

The Last Roundhead

I have now started work on the next audiobook – The Last Roundhead, by Jemahl Evans.

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This is the first of a series of four books, being the fictional memoires of Sir Blandford Candy who is relating his experiences, adventures and escapades during the English Civil War.

Here is some information about the hard/paperbacks:

1642.
England has been plunged into a Civil War.
Blandford Candy is sent to London, after an illicit affair, and joins the Roundhead army to fight against the King, taking part in the Battle of Edgehill.
A reluctant hero if ever there was one, he becomes a spy for the cause – and, through luck or judgement, uncovers more than one Royalist plot. His love of wine and the fairer sex prove both a curse and a blessing for the agent. Blandford soon earns the enmity of the King’s spy mistress Jane Whorwood, and patronage of the great parliamentarian leader John Hampden.
As well as navigating the politics and perils of the Civil War Blandford must also deal with members of his family, who turn out to be to be far more duplicitous and ruthless than any rival agent.
To survive, Blandford must choose a side.

The Last Roundhead is the first book in the acclaimed series of novels, charting the adventures of Sir Blandford Candy during the English Civil War.

Recommended reading for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks and George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books.

Praise for Jemahl Evans and the Blandford Candy series:
“Blandford Candy is as endearing a rogue as you are likely to find in any work of literature.” Matthew Harffy author of the Bernicia Chronicles.
“The research is impeccable and the writing full of verve.” Antonia Senior, The Times.
“It’s great fun and a rollicking good read.” Historical Novel Society.
“Frankly, glorious.” Michael Jecks.

Jemahl Evans is the author of the acclaimed Sir Blandford Candy series of novel. He lives in West Wales.

My task is to bring to life Candy’s story, as if he was speaking directly into the listener’s ear. He is a bit of a lovable rogue, as a youngster, and a bit of a curmudgeon in his old age – he has led a very interesting life, during violent and troubling times. The research that has gone into this book is amazingly thorough and is done to enhance the story, rather than weigh it down. I hope I can do it justice.

This and all my other audiobooks may be found via Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Here is a link:

https://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=Bill+Allender&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=ZV5GZZTGC6XGRDR8S5E4&ref=a_search_c3_lNarrator_1_1_1

 

Jack Windrush Book 2

The second audiobook in the 6 part series will be on sale very shortly.

Written by Malcolm Archibald and again, narrated by me.

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Jack and his disreputable 113th Foot have to resort to ungentlemanly actions to get themselves posted to Crimea. A lieutenant in British Army’s worst regiment, Jack hankers for recognition to regain his true station in life.
At the Battle of the Alma, Jack is sent to General Campbell of the Highland Brigade to offer the assistance of the 113th. Having buried the dead, he meets the beautiful Helen Maxwell, but soon after receives orders to leave the country.
Facing the formidable Russian army led by the savage Major Kutozov, Jack learns that life in the front line is tough, with only the wayward Helen to alleviate the horrors of war.

Praise from readers:
★★★★★ – “The battle scenes are thrilling and descriptive of the bravery of both the Russians and the Brits. The book is crafted beautifully and the writing is superb.”
★★★★★ – “Archibald delivers a gritty tale worthy of the Charge of the Light Brigade, and he spins it masterfully with personal storylines. A scorching read.”

Jack Windrush Book 1

The first of six stories in the Jack Windrush series has been on sale since August this year. Written by Malcolm Archibald and narrated by me.

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Burmese War, 1852. Unable to join the famous Royal Malverns, Jack Windrush is commissioned into the despised 113th Foot.
Determined to rise in the ranks and make a name for himself, he is sent with the 113th to join the British expedition. But when they get involved in the attack of Rangoon, Jack realizes that war on the fringes of the Empire is not as honorable and glorious as he expected.
After a chance meeting with a renegade British soldier, Jack witnesses the true terrors of war, and begins to question the whole framework in which he has grown up.

Praise from readers:
★★★★★ – “A well-crafted historical novel.”
★★★★★ – “Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys military fiction.”
★★★★★ – “Archibald delivers one heck of a story.”
★★★★★ – “Impossible to put down.”

The audiobook is on sale from Amazon, Audible and iTunes.