Reading at Brilliance Audio Studio

Many people ask me why I choose to read my audiobooks, and what is it like to do it?  It’s definitely hard work.  Very, very hard.  To give you some idea, if you think you’d like to become a narrator, do what director Laura suggests: Try going into a small room and read for eight hours.  If you can do that, then continue every day for five days.

I had read my books at signings for years and many people had told me, “You should read your books on tape.”  When I was young, I took acting classes, as well.  So when the time came that an audiobook offer was made, I talked to the head of Brilliance Audio, Eileen Hutton, and told her that I’d like to give it a try. If my voice was worthy, then I’d read the book.  If not, I wouldn’t.  My feelings would not be hurt. We both wanted the audiobook to be the best it could be. I went to the College of Charleston, made a brief CD using their equipment and sent it off.  Eileen later called and told me, “That’s exactly how I heard the voice of Toy in my head!”

I read my audiobooks at the Brilliance Audio studios located in Grand Haven, Michigan.  It’s a beautiful spot, especially in the summer, but I always end up recording in mid winter! Once I was there when they got hit by a blizzard. It was both exciting and beautiful, especially since we rarely see snow on Isle of Palms. I stay at the Harbor House, a charming Inn overlooking Lake Michigan. My first book was Swimming Lessons and it took me five days to complete reading the abridged and unabridged. Since then, I’ve read Time is a River, The Beach House (we read that one in a studio in Charleston), The Butterfly’s Daughter, and now Beach House Memories. I must be getting better since I finished this last one in 3 days! Professional narrator Sandra Burr has read my back list.  

The recording booth
The routine is: I get picked up at the Inn and arrive at the Studio before 9 am. I wear soft clothing, no jewelry or make up.  I don’t drink coffee during the day as it dehydrates or soda while reading as it makes the stomach bubble and burp. Instead, I drink warm or hot water with lemon. It’s important to keep the throat hydrated during the recording.  My director and engineer are in an outer room with the script and computers, and I go into a second interior room behind double doors that is padded for sound.  There is a small lectern, a bright light, and a microphone, earphones and my script.  First we set up my mike and volume.  After that, I wait for the engineer’s signal from the window.  When he waves his hand, I begin to read.

The Brilliance Audio Team
First, you can’t get nervous.  That’s when mistakes are made.  A good run is when I get through several pages without error.  It’s like being in the zone for writing.  I can get caught up in the story and have fun with it. But sooner or later, I make a mistake and we have to stop. An error includes any noise, like a page rustling, a click, or body noises.  Then I can simply slip in my reading, like substituting the wrong word (could for should), making a singular word plural, switching pronouns, or sloppy pronunciation caused by a tired tongue or jaw.  And sometimes, for a really long sentence, I didn’t use my diaphragm to get a good breath and simply run out of steam.  Try it, and before long you’ll see what I mean.  When I make a mistake and we stop, the engineer tries to find a “hole” where he can let me jump back in seamlessly.

I’m not an actress so getting the accents right can be tricky. I do my best, and when I get into trouble, my director steps in to help me out.  I have a new appreciation for narrators who can really get great voices.  On the other hand, my readers know that I’m not an actress.  They want to know how I perceived the character in my head and how I heard the line spoken in my mind as I wrote it. For me, the story truly comes from my heart.  For example, for Beach House Memories, when I read the scenes between husband and wife, Stratton and Lovie, as they argued, it grew heated and highly emotional.  I felt these scenes intensely.  My tears were real as I read.  It’s a tough day.  So when the day is done, I’m spent.  I go home, eat alone in my room, and fall asleep early so I can be fresh the next day.

So why do I do it?  While I read aloud and create the voices for my characters, the story comes alive for me in a whole new way than when I wrote it.  I imagine watching your story world come alive for a film is as—or even more—thrilling for an author.  In reply, I read my audiobooks for the same reason I write my books—I love telling a good story.  I love bringing to life the characters in my head.  I hope you enjoy them!

AUDIOBOOK CONTEST GIVEAWAY: "Like" my Facebook fan page and you will automatically be entered to win a free Mary Alice Monroe audiobook during the month of March, courtesy of Brilliance Audio.  You will be contacted through Facebook if you are a winner. 

Click here to learn more about Brilliance Audio. 

BEACH HOUSE MEMORIES will be released in hardcover May 8, 2012.  Visit http://www.maryalicemonroe.com/ for details.  

1 comment:

  1. Mary Alice, I am not sure if this is where we are supposed to leave our comment to try to win your new book, but it was the only place I could find to put one...?...Anyway, I have loved all of your books, and it was so hard to pick between them. I narrowed it down to my two favorites, Last Light Over Carolina and Time is a River, but in the end, I had to pick, Time is a River. It was such an awesome story of someone triumphing over such bad circumstances. Plus the element of mystery that was woven throughout the story made it impossible to put it down! Thanks so much for always producing such wonderful stories about life and love and loss. I would just love to win your newest novel! Thanks and God bless! Tina Blackwell, 116 Red Coat Lane, Columbia, S.C. 29223


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All the best,
Mary Alice