By Paty Jager
Whenever I start a book, I have a glimpse, in my mind, of what my main character will look like. That image slowly builds in my mind as I think about the story or the series I want to create, and over time the character comes to life.
Many times after I’ve fashioned a character in my mind, I’ll be looking through a magazine or see something on the internet and I think- That’s my character! When I find the person or image that looks like them, I cut it out or print it out and put it in my binder for that character’s series.
Describing them, what they wear, how they act, how they talk, how they look, are easy. Everyone can picture them in their own mind molded to fit what they know and how they think the person would look.
When I started making audiobooks, of my two mystery series, it was hard, really hard, to find a voice that matched what I thought my characters should sound like.
I started with the Shandra Higheagle books. It was the first mystery series I’d written and I wanted her stories to be in audio. I listened to 15-20 female narrators. I narrowed it down to three and then asked them to make a demo for me.
The narrator whose voice felt more like Shandra’s to me was Ann Thompson. She is a Cincinnati radio news anchor. She was new to narrating, but I loved her voice and she was willing to work with me as we both navigated the world of making an audiobook. I’m so glad I went with her. She gave Shandra a deep rich tone that I had imagined and she does a good job of making each secondary character sound unique. She can even give Ryan, the male protagonist in the books, a male sounding tone in his dialog.
The reviewers have mentioned Ann’s portrayal. With each book she gets better and better. She has been willing to take direction if she doesn’t say a sentence the way it sounded in my head when I wrote the book and works hard at learning how to pronounce the Native American words that turn up in these books. We are working on book 10 now, Artful Murder.
Finding a voice for Gabriel Hawke, my Native American State Trooper/ Game Warden was even harder! I went through lots of demos. Thought I’d found the right voice but when he read the first five pages, I didn’t like the way he phrased things. I liked one thing he did and asked another narrator to add that to his demo and I decided he was my character.
Hawke is a man in his fifties. I wanted a mature, soft spoken voice. I found that with Larry Gorman. His first recordings were a bit stilted. I asked him to speed up his reading and not leave as much space between the sentences. Now working on the 4th book in the series, Chattering Blue Jay, I find few things that need to be fixed when he sends me chapters to listen to.
He has the soft voice, I’m looking for, though he doesn’t have as wide a variety of voices as Ann. But I like the way he presents the story. I had one person who listened to the first book say she thought so-and-so, a narrator of another book, would be better, but I picked my narrator and in the middle of book 4 I’m not changing now.
Do you like to listen to audio books? I do when I’m out walking. It’s a way to pass the time and walk farther. 😉
You can find my audiobooks on this page of my website: https://www.patyjager.net/audio-books/ They range in price from $10 – 14.99 and can be found at most audiobook vendors. Though the first three in the Shandra Higheagle series were made through ACX so they are only available at Audible, iTunes and Amazon and will be bit higher in price.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 45 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. This is what Books a Plenty Book Reviews has to say about the Gabriel Hawke series: “The blend of nature tracking, clues, and the animals makes for a fascinating mystery that is hard to put down.”
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I’ve never done what you’re describing! I enjoyed reading about how you’ve gone about it. Great post.
Thanks, Marilyn. It has been a fun process. I enjoy listening to my books being read by the narrator.
Thank you for having me on your blog again, Thonie!
It’s always a pleasure, Paty!
I like Paty’s books! I don’t listen to audiobooks, although four of mine have been published in that format, and I like the way Paty describes finding the right narrator both for the book and the characters.
Hi Michele! Thanks! Finding a narrator is a lot like when you first construct your character, you see them a certain way and you hear them a certain way. Thanks for stopping by!
I fall asleep to an audio book every night. (smile) love ’em. Enjoyed your post!
I’m going to start listening after all this testimony!
MM, I listen to audio books when I walk. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Your comments were helpful, especially for those of us who haven’t done audiobooks. Thank you.
J.L., Thanks! If you have any questions you can contact me and I’ll see if I can help explain things.