As I mentioned on Facebook a few days ago, I’ve just had my first experience of hearing one of my short stories, An Unbidden Visitor, come alive – through the skillful narration of audiobook narrator, Elizabeth Klett.
As I write, I hear the story in my head: the mood I want to create in the narrative passages and the sound of each character’s voice. I imagine most writers have clear ideas about how their stories should sound. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a reader will envision the story in exactly the same way as the writer. Each reader will have his own perception of it and that’s to be expected. But, listening to an audiobook gives the reader a chance to hear the story as the writer envisioned it.
An Unbidden Visitor is a ghost tale, and a tale of the disturbing effect the unnatural visitation has on a community. My main character, Bridie Murphy, is at the centre of the storm as she copes with the poltergeist that has invaded her house and family, and the fear and suspicion its presence evokes from her friends and neighbours.
The story is told in the first person from Bridie’s perspective so I wanted the narrator’s voice to convey her fear, despair and sorrow as events escalate and she is faced with a heartrending decision. I also wanted the narrator to convey the mix of hope and tension that threads through the story. And all of this needed to be done with a convincing Irish accent as the narrator is speaking with Bridie’s voice.
In order to find a narrator, I listened to audition tapes from several narrators who work for the company that produced the audiobook. I chose three who I enjoyed listening to and asked them to audition an excerpt from An Unbidden Visitor. When I listened to these auditions, I immediately liked Elizabeth’s rendition of the excerpt. She captured Bridie’s voice as I imagined it and also set the correct tone of the story. It was an easy decision to ask her to do the narration.
When I made the decision who would narrate the story, I had only each narrator’s short biographical sketch and their audition tapes to base it on. I only discovered after I hired Elizabeth that her audiobook narration credentials are impressive. She also has a background in acting and teaches English at college level so it’s not suprising she was able to analyse and interpret the story with only minimal guidance from me. No doubt, her acting experience also provided the voice training and skills needed to produce the required accent. It was a real pleasure to work with Elizabeth – and so exciting to hear the results.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to hear Bridie Murphy step off the page – and not only in my head. That’s the magic that a skilled narrator makes happen and I’m delighted that I decided to delve into the world of audiobooks.
On Writers Abroad this week I’ve also been blogging about audiobooks and shared my experience of creating this one. You’ll find that blog post here.
An Unbidden Visitor was released last week and is available on various online audiobook distributors, including Audible and iTunes.