Friday, 25 September 2009

The most important part of a narrator's day - lunch!

This week, Creative Content director Lorelei King talks a bit about an audiobook narrator's day...
When it comes to recording audiobooks, I’m lucky enough to be tri-coastal (if the Thames can be considered a coast!). I record in London, New York and Los Angeles.

There are some differences in the way they work, sure... but the thing that really sets them apart – is lunch.

This is how it goes in the UK:

UK: What would you like for lunch?

ME: What have you got?

UK: Anything you like. Anything at all.

ME: Oh. Okay. How about a Cobb salad.

UK: Don’t think they’ll have that.

ME: Oh. Um... Caesar salad.

UK: Don’t think they do salads at all, actually.

ME: Oh.

UK: Sandwich?
ME: Okay. Um... turkey club on-

UK: Turkey’s unlikely

ME: Pastram-

UK: Don’t think they know what it is.

ME: You go first. Why don’t you tell me what they have?

UK: Ham or cheese.

ME: Ham and cheese?

UK: Ham or cheese.

ME: Okay. Um. Cheese. Could I have Swiss or maybe Gruy-

UK: Cheddar.

ME: Or...

UK: Cheddar.

ME: Okay. Maybe on pumper-

UK: White bread.

ME: Or?
UK: White bread.

ME: Okay.
UK: Lovely! Cheese sandwich on white bread. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

And then it arrives.

UK: There you are, darling.

ME: This is it?

UK: Yes. It’s what you wanted. A cheese sandwich.

Let me give you the heads up about something: when you order a cheese sandwich in the UK, the clue is all in the name. You get two pieces of bread. And a piece of cheese. That’ s it. Oh, and the bread will be ‘sealed’ with margarine. The cheese will probably be a little dried up around the edges – you could make stained glass windows with the stuff...

ME: I mean – this is it? Two pieces of bread and a piece of cheese?

UK: What did you expect?

ME: I don’t know. Maybe some tomato... or sprouts... or some lettuce or cucumber or something. I mean it’s just cheese. There’s nothing green.

UK: Oh darling that’s a bit unfair. I mean – look.

ME: Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I didn’t see the mould.

Then there’s New York – my favourite city. Unfortunately, I’m kind of used to the London way of doing things by now, so lunch in New York can mean a bit of culture shock...

NY: Sorry to stop you, but it’s important. Where are we gonna order lunch from? I want Thai, but Tony had Thai yesterday, so we’re thinkin’ Italian, but we might go Italian for dinner, so maybe we should stick to Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Ooh, or Cajun and Kosher sound good. Oooh. Or maybe Caribbean, Mexican, Cuban or Brazilian? Or Vietnamese, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Armenian, Polish, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, German, Belgian, French, Spanish or Swedish?

ME: (overwhelmed by choice) Um - could I maybe have ... (tiny voice) a cheese sandwich?

NY: A cheese sandwich? Sure. Swiss, American, Brie, Gorgonzola, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, Camembert, Limburger, Roquefort, cheddar...

ME: (grabbing onto a familiar word) Um... cheddar?

NY: Sure. Mild, medium, matured, vintage, sharp, extra sharp, smoked, Canadian, English...

ME: (increasingly desperate) English!

NY: What kinda bread? Wholewheat, pumpernickel, rye, multi-grain...

ME: White bread?

NY: White bread? Sure. Sourdough, ciabatta, Wonder Bread if you’re feeling retro, focaccia, bagel, chollah ...?’


There is such a thing as too much choice, you know!

Of course it’s quite simple when I get to LA.

They don’t eat. - LK

We'd love to know: What's your favourite lunch?

Friday, 18 September 2009

Nice guys win big

A few months ago we published “Top Tips for Wannabe CEOs” by Richard Charkin - who is Executive Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, publisher of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels among many others!

Many of the things Richard talks about in his book resonate with me - most of all, the impression he gives that being ambitious and getting ahead doesn’t necessarily mean being totally ruthless.

I’ve often wondered if you can be a “nice guy” and still “win big” in the work place and have always tried my very best to be a good colleague and not to get too involved in office politics - but sometimes this is very hard to resist. Let’s face it: we all love a good gossip over a drink after work and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on after a bad day!

But one of the things Richard points out is that in any workplace you are not paid to build your career, but to do the job you are paid to do - and this is a very salient point.

One of the other things he gives advice on is how to deal with any enemies you might make on your way up the greasy pole. He recommends that instead of getting even, it is much more worthwhile to just forget about it and move on.

For some, this might seem too simplistic - but on reflection, I think he is absolutely right. My motto has always been “never burn bridges” - you just never know when and where you might require some help in the future. And who you might need that help from!

And by turning the other cheek, I think you prove that you’re much the better person in the long run…. And just how satisfying and rewarding is that? - AM

What do you think? Is revenge a dish too sweet to pass up, or should you just live and let live?

Friday, 11 September 2009

It's all in the voice

This week, Creative Content director Ali Muirden talks about what she looks for in an audiobook narrator.

When people hear that I work in the audio book industry, they often want to know what the actors that I’ve worked with are like.

Personally, I feel privileged to have worked with some of the best talent in the country over the last few years. And no! I am not going to name names as that could get me into a whole heap of trouble! But I must confess I do have my favourites…

But what do audio producers look for when casting a reader and how do we go about it?

The first step is to read the script for the book you are producing and more often than not, before you know it, a “voice type” will spring to mind. Some books require a flowing, mellifluous voice, some require a quality which conveys excitement and drama, some require someone with a catalogue of character voices at his or her disposal.

Sometimes you require someone with a particular accent skill, or the ability to switch from accent to accent at the drop of a hat. (These people are also probably brilliant at rubbing their tummies and patting their heads at the same time as spinning plates on poles!)

As you read the script, it becomes apparent what kind of voice quality is required and it makes the casting process much simpler.

Sometimes you have a tricky project where you just can’t seem to find the right voice for the job. Then it’s time to get on the phone to your fellow producers to request some help.

Other producers are always hugely generous with their time and help on this subject and can be a great source of inspiration and advice. When we find a new talent, we always tell each other. Likewise, if we work with someone who has not bothered to prepare for the job properly, we also spill the beans! Wannabe audio readers beware: Don’t rock up and think you can just ‘wing it’ on the day…. Your future could be on the line!

Reading an audio book requires great stamina, energy and preparation in advance, if you are going to do justice to the book. Most of the really good readers say it can be one of the most demanding areas they work in, as you need to sustain the level of performance throughout a long recording day (anywhere up to 8 hours in one session) and any loss of energy or signs of tiredness are immediately obvious in your voice.

But they also say it is one of the things they enjoy doing the most and it must give them a great sense of satisfaction when they meet someone who has heard them read an audio book who then says “all my kids love your reading of that story… they make me play it for them over and over and over again!”. - AM

We’d love to know: Which audiobook narrators do you love to listen to?

Friday, 4 September 2009

The green, green grass of home

These days I’m often asked how I “cope” with working from home! Sometimes it makes me laugh, because the person asking makes it sound like I’m having to live with some kind of affliction - like coping with a broken leg or the after effects of a flood!

I used to have a round trip commute of 4 hours, regularly getting home around 8pm and so the truth is - it’s absolutely fan-bloomin-tastic!

So here is a list of the top reasons why it’s great to work from home:

1. You can start work when it best suits you… not someone else!

2. It is totally peaceful and distraction free so you get masses done in a shorter time.

3. When you “finish” work you are instantly “home”

4. No commuting via train, car, tube and having to put up with other people’s smelly armpits in summer! And not paying a king’s ransom for the “privilege”!

5. You can nip out to the bank or shops when everyone else is at work and save yourself loads of time and hassle not queuing! (I’ve still not quite got the hang of this and find myself having a “lunch break” when everyone else does! It must be all those years of corporate conditioning!)

6. Not spending loads of money on lunch, coffee, drinks after work etc. means I am saving masses each month.

7. Having my cats around all day for a cuddle if I need one!

8. Seeing much more of my family and friends instead of cramming social events into the weekend only!

9. If I fancy a cup of tea and a biscuit, I can go raid the cupboards anytime I like.

And just so you don’t feel so bad, here are the things I MISS about not working in an office in London:

1. My friends and former work colleagues, especially as they were all very clever, witty and great company to be with.

2. Going out for a drink after work (I still do this but now I have to make an effort to go up to London especially for it!)

3. Being able to go shopping in Covent Garden or John Lewis on the way home

4. The IT Dept and the Post Room! It was a wonderful luxury not having to fix my own “computer” problems - and having someone to pack up and post off parcels would be utterly wonderful now!

5. If I fancy a cup of tea and a biscuit, I can go raid the cupboards or fridge anytime I like!
- AM

We'd love to know: Do you work from home? What are the advantages and disadvantages?