Why I Narrated This Book
For virtually my entire adult life, I've been told--by friends and strangers alike--that my voice "belongs on radio." My kids roll their their eyes every time they hear another person we meet say something about my voice.
For my first book, MURDER ON BIRCHLEAF DRIVE, my publisher allowed me to listen to auditions of narrators for the Audible version before finally selecting the ultimate narrator. During that entire process, it never dawned on me that I could narrate my own book. For some reason, I had come to believe that book narrators have a special set of skills I couldn't possibly possess.
But when I appeared for readings of MURDER ON BIRCHLEAF DRIVE, I could tell I was making a connection with audiences. Several attendees even told me that if I wrote another book, I should narrate it. That was my "light bulb" moment.
It made perfect sense to me. I knew who these characters I was writing about were. I had watched countless hours of courtroom video, had interviewed some of the characters at length, and knew how their voices sounded and how they conveyed their emotions--far better than any professional narrator would.
Long before I completed the manuscript for EVIL AT LAKE SEMINOLE, I told my publisher that I wanted to narrate the Audible version. And not long after I submitted the manuscript, I began learning about and acquiring the hardware and software I needed to create my studio, about sound editing and the technical requirements for producing acceptable sound files, and I was off to the races.
My wife's closet became my sound studio (if you squint you can make out some of her clothing in the picture above). For five weeks, during the early part of the global pandemic and stay-at-home orders, I read through a "pop filter" into a high-quality mic, my Surface laptop recording every word into Audacity sound editing software. For each chapter recorded, I would then have to re-listen, remove mistakes, change spacing, and use Audacity to compress and alter the sound waves to conform to Audible requirements. And then listen once more for safe measure.
The finished product is right at 13.75 hours. Yet the work I had to put in to get there was many times that--likely as many as 150 hours in all. Was it worth it? I hope so. Audible listeners--with their discerning preferences--will ultimately answer that question. Indeed, my very first Audible review was entitled "horrible narrator," making me question the wisdom of my decision to narrate the book (and piercing my ego just a bit). But now with 20 reviews as I write this on July 5, 2020, it appears that first reviewer was an outlier. I hope that will remain the case. And hope very much that Audible listeners feel the emotion I felt not only as I wrote the words, but expressed them with my voice.