This Time The Role Of Author Is Played By Me
When I wrote my memoir ‘Paperboy’ I wasn’t asked to read the book for the audiobook edition. Instead, a charming actor was employed to be me. One day he rang me at home to get an idea of my voice, but although he had a very nice Received Pronunciation tone he didn’t sound at all like me. Consequently, I have never played back the audiobook, because I don’t really want to hear someone else claiming to have grown up with my parents. It was a bit ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.
So I was very pleased when Quercus heard me give a speech and asked if I would read the audiobook of ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ myself. I said I’d be very happy to give it a shot. I’d spent a lot of time in film and sound studios as a younger man and always enjoyed the process. I also knew that when actors became tongue-tied in long passages, they sometimes struggled to regain the speech patterns required to finish a script, so at first it was a little nerve-racking.
Studios don’t really change much. Scripts are delivered on tablets now instead of bits of paper, but the old problems still persist; chairs squeak, mics pop, tummies rumble, lines are fluffed. Tonight we finished the book and I have to say that I loved being back in an ‘office’, ie. going out somewhere to keep regular work hours and having an hour for lunch. It’s a discipline I miss at home. It really helped that I had a great sound editor, Abigail, who had an instinctive understanding of sound design. An actor, musician and V.O. artist, when she wasn’t polishing audio she was doing handstands to keep limber. I hope she achieves all her dreams.
It was inevitable that I would feel like the older bloke in a studio complex staffed by Millennials. They’re clearly hardworking and good at their jobs, but most seem to be on freelance contracts as opposed to having the protection of full-time employment. I guess that this is now the case for many – only those in public service have guaranteed benefits like decent life pensions. But it was an honour and a real pleasure to be working with them.
It was also enormous fun. Three days in studio, close to four hundred pages of text, and optimistic charming co-workers. You couldn’t’t ask for much more than that!