Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Church and the atheist

It seems strange that the newest occupational venture for me should have started decades ago in a Roman Catholic church. At that time, at the end of primary school, a nun by the name of Sister Declan took a strange shine to me and decided that I was going to turn into the best gospel-reader our private school had ever heard. So, while other children spent their time running around the playground during recess, I was stuck in the church, standing at the lectern -- while Sister Declan sat in the very back pew -- reading from the Bible without shouting. "Project, don't shout," I can still hear her say. As well as, "That sounded muddled. Read the passage again." And her personal favourite: "Again!"

I went on to a short, but illustrious, unpaid career, doing the readings during Easter, Christmas and assorted other Holy Days of Obligation, speaking out to a congregation, mostly without the benefit of a microphone.

Later on, people would comment on my voice and I'd do some impersonations, just to get a laugh. A fellow I worked with told me I had the perfect voice for phone sex, but I didn't pursue that line :: rimshot :: any further.

Then, it came up again. (No, not that; my voice.) While in a chat with m/m author, Carol Lynne, and my UK publisher, Claire from Total-E-Bound, Claire commented that I had a great voice. In fact, she added, it was just the kind of voice they were after for their new line of audio books. They had been through quite a few voice actors and couldn't quite find what they were looking for, but I sounded perfect and would I mind terribly much forwarding them an audition tape?

* GULP * Uh. Okay. It's not often that I'm struck speechless, as anyone who knows me will attest, but I was that night. I put together a few minutes of narration, forwarded it on and got the gig. That was months ago, with the intervening time spent at various microphones, reading various books on voice work, taking courses on voice work, and generally ordering my DH around so he could construct a small studio in my office. Eventually, after many many many weeks, the payoff finally came, with Total-E-Bound launching their audiobook line this past weekend. I'm proud to say that I narrated the first six launched stories.

I mentioned in my official blog that I think it important for writers to have a few strings to our collective bows, especially when we're making the kind of money from our writing that makes the poverty line look darned attractive. For myself, a few contracts in technical writing are still not out of the question and, while narrating is not something that would've occurred to me in the first instance, I'm very happy to be doing something related to writing, but not directly involving it. It's always nice to have a different perspective on things, and this is what narrating gives me.

Just remember, authors, to pity your potential voice over talent. I've learnt not to make my character names too tongue-twisting, and not make my chapters too long! Amen, and thank you Sister Declan.


KeVin K. said...

Ha. The essay wasn't about what I thought it was from the title.

Anything involved in professional publishing keeps your name in the minds of folks making buying decisions. Trick is making sure your name has a positive vibe attached.

Sounds like you've found an interesting twist on this. You should link to a podcast so we can hear this popular and effective voice of yours. (And maybe send Sister Declan a thank-you note for equipping you for your audio book career?)

Maria Zannini said...

KeVin! Have you not caught Kaz's Radio Free Bliss? http://radiofreebliss.ksaugustin.com

She has a very sexy voice that kinda lures you in before she whacks you with some tough (and funny) questions. LOL! I know. I was a recent victim.

Kaz: As for exotic character names, I'd be thrilled if authors kept them simple even for silent reading. I tend to bastardize the weird names and I'm afraid that probably has the opposite effect of what the author intended.

I don't want to stumble over something as common as a name.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Congratulations on the new gig. I'll keep your advice in mind and add some more strings to my bow.

Genella deGrey said...

VERY cool!
I've done voic-overs for radio a few times - Acutally caught one of the ads once.
Have fun with it!!

Kaz Augustin said...

@KeVin: I actually thought you might think that, KeVin! It was a bit of a joke on my side. As for Sr. Declan, she died a number of years ago, and I don't pray so -- unfortunately -- she ain't never gonna know. But I know and, now, you know, and that's important.

@Maria: Aw shucks, M. But thanks for the URL. And I tend to steer away from the exotic character names too, especially the ones with lots and lots of a'pos'tro'phe's!

@Jewel: Glad to be of service, ma'am.

@Genella: That must've been really weird, hearing your voice emerge randomly while listening to the radio! I'd be startled.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Way to go on branching out!

Character names. I try to get away with three letter ones like Joe, Jan, Eve, Eva. My current WIP heroine's name is Ali.

Kaz Augustin said...

Ah, how interesting Phyllis. My heroine's name is Rae in one of my current wips. I've had Toh, Gil, Asha, Tera but -- like you -- nothing too outlandish, despite the fact I write mostly science-fiction romance. More power to us! :)

Liane Spicer said...

"...I narrated the first six launched stories." Kaz, that is fantastic! Congrats on the new gig! I remember being bowled over by your voice the first time I listened to one of your podcasts.

Don't suppose there's scope there for a character with a Trini accent? No? I thought not. :D