Daniel Weyman won the title of Narrator of the Year at the Audio Production Awards last year and has read Peter James' Roy Grace novels since 2013's Dead Man's Time. Here, and as part of #LoveAudio week, we asked about the process behind recording an audiobook.
How do you prepare for reading an audiobook?
I read the book through out loud and mark up the script to indicate who is about to speak and how they deliver it. This is important, as many authors only describe the character who spoke and how, after they have delivered their speech e.g., ‘Why didn’t you tell me?
’ Alison shouted. Prepping like this means my reading can be more fluid.
I also mark-up inflexion, intonation and pacing to help convey the drama of the story. I make lists of all the characters and note down what the author says about each character to help me imagine their voices, and then I record their voice so that I can keep it consistent over the course of the book. I use dictionary sites and other international-pronunciation websites to research unknown words – it always amazes me how many new words I learn with every book!
Once I’ve done all the prep, I will chat to the producer and/or author to discuss the book as a whole and the style of narration we should adopt, and to get answers to any questions I may have about the plot or storyline. During the recording, I stick to quite a strong routine of when and what I eat and drink in order to avoid the notorious tummy grumbles that can interrupt your flow!
Does reading a series present different challenges to a standalone?
Reading a series like Peter James’s Roy Grace books does present unique challenges! Peter uses a lot of recurring characters, and sometimes a character may not appear for several books and then return. As the audio books may be listened to out of sequence, it’s really important that character voices are consistent, so I keep recordings of all characters in a special Peter James voice library.
Certain things become easier, though, as you come to really understand the atmosphere of the books and can give the series an identifiable sound that the listener will respond to. Sometimes with long running series, a new audio narrator takes over half-way through, which means one has to listen to the recurring characters and try to match the voice as closely as possible, but also retain the personality of the character the voice depicts.
Who are you favourite Roy Grace characters to voice?
The villains in the Roy Grace books are always vividly coloured. They can be from anywhere in the world and often present a real challenge in themselves. I loved voicing Tooth, a really nasty American killer who only really loves his dog. His voice is described very fully so I had to get it just right for the listener.
I love voicing Roy himself too, as he carries such a noble weight in the books. He strives to be as good a man as possible, but every so often events around him (whether his infuriating boss Cassian Pewe – also a joy to voice – or a desperate killer) cause his composure to break and we get a glimpse of the man underneath –sometimes powerfully violent, sometimes terribly vulnerable.
I also loved voicing Sandy, Roy’s first wife. She has a unique place in the stories and her voice has something unworldly about it.
What’s your favourite Roy Grace book?
I love reading the Roy Grace books but the most recent, Need You Dead
, was as good as anything before. A really gripping drama unfolds with each page and I couldn’t put it down!
Listen to the first four chapters of Need You Dead below:
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