So by and large everything that has happened around the Boone Shepard release has been pretty crazy for me, mainly in that it’s all new territory and I’ve had no idea what I’m doing. Not that that’s an especially new feeling for me, but the stakes have felt especially high this time around, high enough that my own special brand of amateurism has been a bigger hindrance than usual. But, so far I’m alive and nobody has thrown anything at me, written any hatemail or firebombed my house. In fact, the overall reaction to Boone has been pretty warm, and between the first round of royalties and the unceasing thrill of walking into a bookstore and seeing the book on the shelves I’m really happy with the whole endeavour.
But in many ways the endeavour is only just beginning and with Boone having been on shelves for almost three months now, it’s time to start looking to the next step. Right now that is the release of the audiobook.
To be honest, this has been one of the biggest challenges surrounding Boone. In terms of uncharted waters, it doesn’t really get much more uncharted than standing in a studio for days reading your own words out loud, picking up on so many things you want to change but can’t, all the while trying to sound confident and infuse it all with enough verve to make it feel fresh and exciting. And while it was a ton of fun, I won’t pretend that there weren’t aspects I found tedious and frustrating or that there aren’t moments I listen back to and cringe.
But hey, by and large I’m proud of it and I really enjoyed myself. Maybe there was a certain thrill in getting to once again flex my long dormant acting muscles bringing the voices of all of my characters to life, getting to emote during the intense parts, exercise my penchant for dramatic pauses during the action scenes and, of course, use as many silly accents as possible. As such you’ll be treated to the gruff Australian snarl of one character, the Texan drawl of another, a possibly offensive Scottish stereotype, many dopey British accents and my favourite of all, a certain character who is basically just my attempt at an extended Christopher Lee impersonation. I don’t know if any of these will work or if listening they’ll get any response other than derisive cackles, but hey, I had a good time.
I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert in the audio medium, but having done podcasting for a few years now I thought I had a reasonable understanding of what goes into recording. It turns out producing an audiobook is a little more complex than recording a bunch of nerds talking about movies, and catching just glimpses of the editing process was enough to give me a headache. I really cannot thank Joel Zammit and the rest of his team enough for how above and beyond they’ve gone to make this happen. Any time I start to complain about how annoying re-recording parts was or how sick I got of reading my own words, I’m immediately shut up by the thought of how much worse it would be to have to sit for hours listening to my gaffes and bad accents over and over again in an attempt to make the whole thing sound half decent. But I suspect it will be worth it, because it means that what we will end up with is a quality product that can stand head and shoulder next to just about any other audiobook you care to name.
Given the chance again, I probably wouldn’t be so quick to nominate myself as the voice of Boone. Recently a very talented actor friend of mine sent me an audio recording of him reading part of the book, and he gave it way more gravitas than I ever could have. As flattered as I was, it did get me thinking that maybe the audiobook would have been better in the hands of a real actor. But all that aside, I’m looking forward to having another crack at it when we eventually get around to recording An American Adventure and hopefully the rest of the series.
The audiobook comes out very soon, so you’ll be able to judge for yourself if it worked at all. In a lot of ways I’m feeling the same pre-release anxiety I got from the novel all over again; the audiobook will be potentially reaching an audience of thousands due to its release through Sanspants Radio, so if it’s rubbish I’ll know quickly and words will not be minced. But if it’s good? Boone will meet a whole new audience, and that’s a pretty exciting thought. So for now I’m optimistic.
Writing words about writing words.