Meant to post this earlier, but it's been a busy week...
We met in a tiny Italian restaurant in the East Village. Robin and I had walked down from our hotel near Central Park. We maneuvered by the trendy dog walkers, through the mobs of midtown, past the student- and art-laden NYU campus, down into the Village to this quiet unassuming little place at the end of a nondescript block. There, in a dimly lit booth was Tim Reynolds waving us over.
For those of you who don’t know Tim, you should. He is the voice of Riyria having narrated all the Riyria books and nominated for several Audie Awards—one of those for his work with Royce and Hadrian. The success of the audio versions of my novels is a testament to Tim’s talent and skill as both a narrator and actor.
This last Sunday evening, I met with him the night before he was slated to begin recording my new series: Legends of the First Empire. He had already read the first book Age of Myth, and I wanted to make certain he didn’t have any questions about the characters, but I also just wanted to take him out to dinner to say thank you.
We chatted about many things and Robin and I gave him some necessary spoilers. So right now, Tim knows more about the new series than anyone on the planet besides my wife. As lovely as it was, we couldn’t stay out late. Tim as it turns out, is a very busy man, and narrators need their rest.
The next morning we met him at the studio where Tim’s wife, Abby, was set to direct his session.
Robin and I sat in the back listening and monitoring. According to Abby, we were also directors, so I’m going to hangon to that title.
As Tim read, we followed along and stopped him when he mis-pronounced a word. This strikes me as utterly ridiculous given the words are made up. At one point Tim read the phrase Gula-Rhune. He said “Gulla-Rhune” instead of “Ghoula-Rhune” and I stopped him. I explained how I wanted him to change the pronunciation, and he actually looked at me through the booth glass and said, “Oh, of course.” As if he’d made an actual mistake, as if I hadn’t both, made up the word, and its pronunciation. Things like this mess with my mind.
People speak of Royce and Hadrian as if they are real people, going so far as to argue with me that, “Hadrian would never do such or such a thing.” I find it interesting how people adopt characters as real people, although perhaps I shouldn’t. Characters in books have just as much evidence of existence as people who we learn about second hand.
The character profiles I sent Tim were—at least in one case—misleading and I found myself uncomfortable with his interpretation of one character. After a whole scene I had to mention it, and Tim was wonderful about it. He understood the problem and went back and did the whole scene over again. I hate imposing like that, but the voice and the dialog didn’t fit for me. The rework was so much better. That alone was worth the train ticket to New York.
The remaining crucial characters, Tim nailed on his first try. Like Riyria, there are certain beloved characters (beloved I discovered during the taping is three syllables: be-love-ed, rather than two: be-loved) that need to be perfect, and I am confident now that they are. It’s amazing what Tim can do with the most subtle change in his voice.
Abby is amazing as well. She verbally slaps Tim around for mistakes while complimenting and reassuring him at the same time. She does all this smiling and slipping from an Irish to Scottish accent—neither of which are hers—and singing the opening guitar riff from the 1963 Surfaris hit single Wipeout, and handling the engineering audio board with fluid ease while eating cereal from a bag.
The two are a great team.
I did my Author’s Notemorning.
Abby was very patient with all my mistakes. I am getting better. I went through four pages and it was still morning when I finished! And everyone insisted afterward that I did not sound like a chipmunk caught in the a wood chipper. So that’s—you know—good. The bad side is that those of you who listen to the audio version of Age of Myth, will be forced to hear me talk at you again. My apologies for that and I should remind you about skipping to the next chapter.
We had to leave to catch our trainafternoon, but by then Tim was rolling along and didn’t need our meddling.
Having heard the first five-and-a-half chapters, I can say you’re in for an audio treat this summer. My only regret is that they didn’t save the outtakes. One in particular amused me. Tim had trouble reading a passage, not because he stumbled, or lost track, but because he started laughing.
“What’s wrong?” Abby asked.
“Nothing,” Tim replied. “It’s just—I know what’s coming next.”
He tried again, and laughed again.
“Sorry,” he said. “I just find this part so funny.”
Since it was supposed to be funny, I couldn’t help smiling. Making your narrator unable to read your work because you made him laugh is only beaten by making it impossible to read because they have tears in their eyes. Maybe I did that too, but we couldn’t stick around for that part of the book.
Thanks Tim and Abby, until next time.