How much acting is involved in narrating a story?
Quite a lot, actually. I think listeners can always tell the difference between a narrator who is performing a cold read (has never seen or read over the text before the recording) and a narrator who has read the text at least once, analyzed and developed the characters, and rehearsed the lines thoroughly before entering the recording process. Characterization is particularly important when the story is told through a first-person perspective, as with The I Spy Stories, because the narrative is driven almost solely though the thoughts and opinions of the protagonist, so if the narrator does not fully understand—and to some extent identify with the motivations, desires, and flaws of protagonist, the result can be unnatural, which, considering the narrator’s job is to breathe life into the characters s/he portrays, could potentially compromise the believability of the story as a whole.
narrated all three of the I Spy stories. Mark is probably one of my most
cold-blooded and ruthless characters. You did a wonderful job of humanizing
him. What feelings or emotions were you focused on conveying with your voice?
Did you consciously change his voice as the stories progressed?
First of all, thank you very much! Mark is a fascinating character: I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that I would consider him cold-blood necessarily, but it is certainly one of the facades that he has come to assume as a result of his profession’s perspective on the expendability of human life. He is incredibly disillusioned because of this perspective, though in many ways has a greater understanding of people’s motivations. This level of experience in the human condition leads him to be constantly disappointed when his expectations of people do not match the reality. On the other hand, he is quite often correct in his assessments of people, which over time has given him a bit of a superiority complex.
As the narrative opens, Mark is essentially a broken man: isolated and alone, exhausted and both mentally and physically wounded from his last mission. The last time he had any warmth or joy in his life was when he was with Steven, who, he rightly assumes, has moved on. He has to physically remove himself from the situation that is causing him to act cold-bloodedly before he can regain his humanity, which means turning back to that point at which his warmth and joy was derived, Steven. He does so only to find that, on the surface, Steven no longer wants to fulfill this role for him, though even so, Mark’s hopefulness does not altogether falter.
As the love between them begins to spark back up again, we see Mark coming out of his damaged state and gradually he becomes more and more alive. At this point, we realize that Mark is not ruthless at all, but rather a consummate romantic and optimist who had lost his love and thus, his human side. As he begins to put himself back together with the aid of Steven, he becomes more confident and realized. My goal with Mark was to covey this transition from broken and despondent to fulfilled and content.
What character was the most fun to narrate? Why?
Which character was the most difficult to narrate? Why?
Was there a particular scene you think you read especially well? Or that you particularly enjoyed reading?
Readers have remarked on how beautifully you read the moments of intimacy between the characters. How awkward is it to read erotic scenes aloud?
What’s the most satisfying or rewarding part of narrating/producing an audio book?
Do you ever find yourself wishing the author hadn’t taken the story in a particular direction? Or is narrating a much more detached process?
Where can readers/listeners find out more about you and your work?