Principal recording for the "Outcast" audiobook was finished yesterday. You can't hear it, but that was a big sigh of relief I just let loose;)
Now that I'm on the other side of the experience, I can finally look back and reflect on what an undertaking it was. I'm not a professional VO artist, and while I had a good time recording my book, I'm not sure I would necessarily want to add VO to my repetoire. Even with the relative ease of reading my own words, which often eliminated potential errors in pronunciation and inflection, I still made numerous mistakes and did a lot of rerecording. If the chapter was particularly long or I decided, for schedule reasons, to record more than one chapter at a time, fatigue brought out even more errors. I can't even tell you the number of times I would simply stutter over a phrase, ruining a passage, or just plain read a sentence incorrectly so that it made no sense at all to the ear. Stop, cut section, rerecord. Each chapter took at least 45 minutes to record, sometimes much longer before I was satisfied. With 36 chapters, that represents more than a day's worth of recording.
A note about voices and dialects: good god, I did some questionable dialect work on this recording. Dialects are one of my specialties, and I'm usually pretty good at getting an accent to sound passably authentic. But, recording "Outcast" required me to snap very rapidly into and out of a lot of different accents, from Cockney to Deep South, to French to the twang of the West. And, in between, I had to snap back into my own voice, to read the narration. There were times I did this relatively well; Benjamin usually stays where he ought to be. There were other passages I struggled with, and overall I'm not terribly pleased with a lot of my dialect work on this recording. Poubelle in particular ranges all over the frigging map, her Cockney making it all the way to Australia by way of the South Bronx, stopping off in Canada a few times just for kicks. There was one day when I was particularly tired and feeling strung out, and I started to feel like all the characters were sounding like Jessie from "Toy Story". But, as much as I beat myself up for imprecision, I know my audience, made up of friends and family, probably won't wince too often, and will be far more forgiving than I.
All that being said, I'm still incredibly glad I decided to undertake this project. I started writing when I was in grade school, and one of my favorite teachers encouraged me not just to write, but let me read my stories aloud. I was already a burgeoning actor, and reading my own characters was exciting and incredibly fun. Now, years later, I remember that experience. The characters in "Outcast" are some of my favorite creations; I know I shouldn't show it, I should love all my characters equally, but damn if Jack, Ben, Jonah, Poubelle, Doc, and Jeremiah aren't some fantastic people I wouldn't mind hanging out with. And, there is something emotionally cathartic about taking characters I already care about deply and giving them a voice; they leap off the page now in a way they never did before. I could already hear them speak their words inside my head; it's kind of like letting everyone else inside my brain to hear what I hear when I'm writing something.
Now, I get to start burning CDs and putting together packaging. Next step: Holiday presents! I'm going to try to have a prototype done for when my sister visits at the end of the month, so I can send her home with hers. I'll take pics and post when I have them;)