Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Audible.com-The AudioBook Adventure

See below for news on Sime~Gen in audiobook edition.

A couple months ago, Wildside Press put my novel Molt Brother

Molt Brother (Lifewave)

and the Sime~Gen novels into Audible.com's program for audiobooks which are distributed on audible.com, on iTunes and on amazon, and I don't know where else.

A couple weeks later, a reader was assigned, and a couple weeks after that Wildside sent me an MP3 of the first few pages of the novel.

The accompanying note just said the editor had reservations about the accent the reader used during the opening.

I recently upgraded my ebook reader to an iPod Touch 4, and was easily able to listen to the MP3 on it that evening.

When I listened to it, I knew what the problem was.

But at the same time, I was suddenly extremely pleased with myself, I'd venture to say insufferably pleased.  Molt Brother is one terrific book.  It got a new review on amazon from Carol Buchanan, a writer I met on twitter who is not an SF reader at all, and she said,

------Carol Buchanan----------

I don't read science fiction. Or fantasy. And I hate snakes. I don't believe in reincarnation, or karma. Yet I think _Molt Brother_ is a work of high imaginative quality. Translation: It's a great read.
....While wholeheartedly recommending _Molt Brother_ to anyone who reads English, and I'll be happy to read anything else by Ms. Lichtenberg, I have to admit I still hate snakes.
---------END QUOTE-------

I so wanted the audiobook version to live up to that review! 

I introduced you to Carol Buchanan here:


And you heard from her here in a later post with writing craft advice:

She's a great writer, and you really should read GOLD UNDER ICE.

So back to my problem with the audio opening of MOLT BROTHER.

The opening works very well on paper, but read aloud with an "alien" (i.e. non-human) accent that kinda sounds like the sort-of reptilian amphibian species -- there's a brick wall between the listener and the story.  There's no reason for a listener browsing book samples to waste time trying to understand that opening.

I offered 2 solutions and asked if the editor had a third.

I said we could ask the reader to re-do the opening scene, which is just 3 non-humans having an argument.  Later in the recording, the accent used for the non-humans becomes better, clearer and more practiced, so a re-recording will probably be more intelligible for the opening. 

Or I could write another opening to put a frame around the scene before the aliens start having at each other.  This would give listeners a chance to hear the great dramatic reading Voice and realize the audiobook is worth its price before hitting the accent. 

I had particularly suggested the aliens speak differently from the humans because their mouths are shaped differently -- and because a listener can't see a whole page of text in front of them and know who's talking to whom and what species they are at a glance.  You hear one word at a time, so to know who's talking, you need a suggestion of verbal style.  After a few pages, she got it just right, so I think this will work very well.

The editor at Wildside emailed right back and said BOTH solutions. 

When I suggested that I'd write something, I had no idea what to write.  It had been many years since I'd read the novel or worked with that material.  And having just heard the opening read so nicely (this reader is really good!), I didn't want to touch a word of it.  I feel that MOLT BROTHER and its direct sequel CITY OF A MILLION LEGENDS showcase my "Voice."  

We discussed "Voice" a little in the last two weeks.

So how could I frame that opening in that same "Voice" -- I didn't know, so I just started typing.

In my mind, I was thinking of the opening sequence to the old film.

And I just typed.  In a very few words (for me) I achieved my objective, so I attached it to an email and wrote the editor:
Attached is what might be the opening "voice over" for a panoramic
opening of a film -- as the titles roll, we start with STARS, focusing
on a blue planet, close on an island with a big excavated
archeological site, swoop to a nearby house, cut to the interior pond
room and Arshel's confrontation with her parents.  (I'm thinking of
the opening of the film ISLAND IN THE SUN - 1957)

So here's what I wrote to go before the opening dialogue: 
Way off the beaten track of the Galaxy, a space ship full of humans crashed on a verdant water world occupied by the Kren.  The humans crafted an alliance with the Kren natives which functioned well until the galactic civilization rediscovered them.

Generations later, the Kren and human natives have begun to integrate on a deeply personal level – in some parts of their world.

Arshel Holtethor, a young Kren female, does not live in such an integrated place.  She has grown up on an island where human archeologists are excavating a city that is hundreds of millions of years old.  Enamored by that project and by a human boy of her generation also working on the excavation, Arshel dares too much, then must confess her situation to her parents. 

It is not going well….


He wrote back with a couple tweaks I've included above I think, and I said fine, and he wrote back that he'd sent it to the reader.

At this writing, I haven't heard the re-recording of MOLT BROTHER with my new opening. 

If you get a chance to hear it, let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, I ran into an old friend on Twitter, @MichaelSpence , and we got to talking about Sime~Gen, which he thought he should re-read now it's out in ebook edition.

So I mentioned that Wildside was looking for a reader, and since he's spent the last few years doing voice acting, he went and applied to Wildside for the job of reading House of Zeor.

A few weeks later, I got the audition recording of the opening of House of Zeor that Michael Spence had made, and before I could get together with Jean Lorrah to discuss that, Wildside sent a different audition for House of Zeor -- so we suddenly had a choice.

Jean Lorrah and I agreed, and later two more of our simegen.com staffers also agreed, Michael Spence was the one for the job.

The other reader had used software that allows for background sound effects and for filters to change the reader's voice when "doing" other characters.  All very nifty, and actually very well done by this reader, but none of us liked the overall effect.  That is so strange, but totally unanimous, a conclusion we all arrived at independently.

Just last week I was told that Spence had turned in the first chapter done with better technicals on the audio, but I haven't gotten a copy yet.

Meanwhile, upon my return from Coppercon (held over Labor Day weekend this year) where I was on several panels with Gini Koch (whose novels I've discussed here ...
) I found the final-final proof of the 12th Sime~Gen volume in my inbox.  So the new novel, The Farris Channel, will indeed be out in e-book and paper editions soon.

 Meanwhile, if you download from audible.com, iTunes, or Amazon, the audiobook editions of either of these novels, do please let us know your reaction - drop a note on this blog if you like.  There will be more opportunities to make choices like this.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

No comments:

Post a Comment