Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Audiobook Narrators

The topic for today is Sound Effects in Audiobooks. I'm kind of indifferent to the sound effects. Rarely, if present, have they ever bothered me, but if they aren't there the audiobook is just as great. On occassion when producers put music at the end of a disc and I'm listening on my iTouch, the music will kick in and I'll wonder where the heck the sound is coming from. But other than that, I really don't take much notice. So, I chose one of the alternate suggestions and I'm going to talk about single narrators vs. multiple narrators.

I'm a great advocate for multiple narrators. I like for one person of each gender to be involved in the production of an audiobook. Very, very rarely can one person do both genders well enough that it isn't painfully noticeable to me. Women doing male characters make me think of a drag queen show, and men narrating female characters sound quite butch - or in their efforts to sound feminine all the females become whiny and driveling.  I grow use to it after a duration, but the best situations are when a man and a woman narrate together, each taking their respective gender roles. An excellent example of this is the audio of  Marcus Sakey's GOOD PEOPLE, narrated by both Joyce Bean and Dan John Miller. How about you? What are your audiobook narrator preferences?

Of course the multiple narrator approach also involves greater expense. That didn't prevent Hachette Audio from recording David Baldacci's THE SIXTH MAN with two narrators, though. And I have 3 abridged copies to give away, courtesy of Hachette. THE SIXTH MAN is narrated by veterans of the crime fiction novel: Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy.

To be entered for a chance to win one of the three copies, simply complete the form below by Saturday, June 11, 2011. US and Canadian mailing addresses only. If you have any questions, drop me an email or share them in the comments section.


Jen - devourer of books June 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM  

Oh yes, that 'the disc is ending' music. It IS helpful when you are listening to the actual cds, but much less so if you have put the audiobook on some sort of listening device. Maybe audiobook publishers need to start making that a separate track or something, so we can leave it off.

Nise' June 7, 2011 at 11:11 AM  

I don't mind the disc is ending music when listening on the iPod. I usually decide then if I am going to listen further or turn it off. I have enjoyed some great multiple narrator audiobooks. I have not come across any really bad female reading a male part or vice verse yet.

Kristin June 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM  

I don't mind the disc is ending music either - but I only listen in the car, so I'm not sure how it would be on the ipod.

My answer to today's questions can be found here.

JoAnn June 7, 2011 at 1:31 PM  

I'm not big on sound effects, but love books that lend themselves to multiple narrators. Will look into the ones you mentioned - thanks.

le0pard13 June 7, 2011 at 1:39 PM  

There are times duo narrators can be an asset. A couple that come quickly to mind because they worked so well together (at least for me): David Colacci and Susan Ericksen for T Jefferson Parker's L.A. OUTLAWS, and Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan for Dean Koontz's HIDEAWAY. IIRC, each took on specific chapters, though. It was less than a back and forth dialogue approach. I can see the latter causing some some challenges, depending upon how the book is written (first or third person, etc.). I'd really like to hear from someone like Dog Eared Copy chime in on this from a studio manager's POV.

I'm less bothered by narrators performing characters of the opposite sex unless they do so poorly with it. Willem Dafoe's narration of Stephen King's novella, THE LANGOLIERS, was like fingernails on a chalk board when he'd shift over to some female characters in the story. I guess all I'm looking for is the impression of a male or female character's voice that flows with the overall performance by the reader. Paula Christensen in FIFTY GRAND and Michael Kramer in the recently published THE INFORMANT did well with their gender counterparts, especially those central to their respective audiobook stories.

Now, what do you think of music clips being layered into the story of an audiobook? My example of this would be Michael Koryta's SO COLD THE RIVER (by our friends at Hachette Audio). I can see it being off-putting at times for some listeners -- though to be fair, in this instance it did enhance aspects of the haunting theme author Koryta had going in the novel.

Excellent post on this subject, Jen. Thanks.

Eileen K. June 7, 2011 at 7:30 PM  

I'm not with you on multiple narrators, Jen. I find it distracting--it takes me out of the book. Outside the crime fiction category, one book it did work well with was Water for Elephants. A young man read the sections from the young man's narrative, and an old man read the old man's narrative. Very nicely done. But I don't want to listen to a radio play. The best readers do fine with changes from male to female voices. Accents are a bigger problem. I recently listened to Billy Boyle by James R. Benn, read by Marc Vietor. Every accent was wrong. Now that's distracting.

bermudaonion June 7, 2011 at 8:05 PM  

I haven't listened to many audio books with multiple narrators, but it has worked for me when I have. Sometimes it is very strange when a man tries to do a female voice.

Sheila (Bookjourney) June 7, 2011 at 8:30 PM  

I like the ones I have listened to with multiple narrators in fact the first ones I listened to were James Patterson and he had two or three per audio.

Jen June 8, 2011 at 7:48 AM  

Some other multiple narrator books outside of crime fiction that are excellent, Eileen, are THE LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY and THE HELP. They were amazing. I definitely don't have the same effect of being pulled out of the story; I think the reverse is true for me. I was discussing a narrator with a friend the other day who made a 20-something young man sound like a pre-pubescent boy. That definitely pulled me out the story. I kept thinking, "he's older than that."

I mentioned ROOM on my Monday post. That's also a multi-narrator production. Beautifully done.

Jen June 8, 2011 at 7:50 AM  

Nise', I'm probably more critical of female narrators than male narrators. Males reading female roles doesn't seem to bother me as much as the alternate. I've found very few female narrators that I absolutely love...the way I do George Guidall or Ray Porter or Jeff Woodman.

lag123 June 8, 2011 at 5:38 PM  

I love audiobooks. Thank you for the giveaway!

fan June 14, 2011 at 10:54 AM  

As people have said, the best male narrators can do female voices well, i.e. George Guidall, Simon Prebble and others. The best female narrators can do male voices convincingly, i. e. Barbara Rosenblat, especialy in her earlier work, Jenny Sterlin, Davina Porter. I suppose if you have a more limited narrator, you will need one of each gender, but then they are usually not good enough to keep me listening. I prefer one narrator books, done well. I appreciate the suggestions, though, and will hear some of them. I did not like the James Patterson audiobooks.

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