Today is the official release date of my audio books for Deception of a Highlander and Possession of a Highlander. Most of my reading comes from audio books since I’m always so busy, so this is just the coolest thing ever to see my books on Audible! And I have the best narrator, Liam Gerrard.
I love finding out how stuff works behind the scenes and Liam was kind enough to allow me to interview him. These questions were put together predominantly by a wonderful group of women from Facebook, who are way better at coming up with questions than myself.
Where are you from?
Ireland, Irish family, but raised in Yorkshire in the UK, then moved out to the Middle East (Dubai) when I was a kid and grew up there. My family is still out there although I now live and mainly work in the UK. My dad’s family is Scottish (St. Andrews) so the Scottish voices, accents and pronunciations, etc weren’t too tricky, and I’m also Irish so the Gaelic and Celtic names and places were ok for me; if it were set in a different country I wouldn’t be saying the same!
How did you get into narration?
I am first and foremost an actor, and trained as an actor. I have always loved stories and storytelling which is the foundation of what the actor does. There is a lot of crossover between live and recorded work, and although the technical differences may vary, whether you’re on stage in front of 1500 people or recording into a mic on your own essentially you are doing the same job, telling the author’s story as best you can. I have always loved voice-over work as I’m a bit of a techy-geek so it suits me down to the ground!
What are some other books you’ve narrated?
A new book coming out on Audible; Little Caesar by Dutch best-selling author Tommy Wierenga, A Christmas Carol, a lot of Shakespeare, biographies, everything really!
Did you read romance novels prior to becoming a narrator?
I have to say I didn’t really; I’m more into biographies and classic fiction but really enjoy reading them!
Where do you record the audio book?
I have my own professional recording studio at home which is soundproofed with all of my recording equipment in, so don’t have to travel far!
Side note by Madeline: (Aren’t the pics of his studio so cool?)
How does the recording process work?
So for these books I research the book first which means reading; re-reading and defining any strange terms / words etc Then I do a character breakdown for every character and try to find their voice. It’s a subtle shift but each character needs their own distinct voice. It can’t be too different or ‘out there’ though, because that would be distracting. So for a woman’s voice, it might just be a subtle shift of tone, lightening it up a bit as opposed to the whole Mrs. Doubtfire thing! Having said that Some characters cry out for something like that; Innes for example! Then when I’m happy with my research, (looked up the geography, place names, history, political change at the time etc) I start recording. I send my edited script to my ‘proofer’ and send them files each day I’ve recorded. They ‘proof’ my work for misreads I have missed, slip ups, the odd word accent slip-up, if anything doesn’t make sense, extra noises that shouldn’t be there etc and she lets me know. Once I’ve finished recording the whole book I go back and record all the corrections. Then an editor begins editing it all together making it sound as awesome as possible with fancy technical skills, eq, compression, etc Then it is mastered by someone else and finally sent off to the client. I am here in the middle of the UK, the proofer might be in Florida US, the editor in Australia and the masterer in France so all these files are whizzing all around the world being pieced together before going live on Audible ready for download. It truly is a global operation!
Can you describe a typical ‘recording day’ for us?
Get up, good breakfast, have an apple (they’re good for reducing mouth noise; sibilance, clicks, pops etc) lots of water and start recording. I’ll usually record for around 4 hours and then edit my work which might take a couple of hours. I edit out all the gaps, noises etc and make it as perfect as I can before it goes off to the proofer.
How long does it typically take to record one book?
Each of the Deception books took around a month each, including researching, narrating etc from start to finish.
Do you listen to audio books? What are some of your favorites, if so? Do you have favorite narrators?
I don’t listen to a great deal I’m ashamed to say; (I do love Stephen Fry reading harry Potter though!) I suppose I spend so much time recording them I like to listen to the radio if I’m in the car or walking the dog; however I LOVE radio plays which aren’t a too dissimilar thing, I record them and listen to them all the time.
Do you approach narration like acting where you really feel the emotion or do you detach?
You do feel the emotion and have to try and convey it with your voice to take the listener on a journey with you, but you have to remain detached in a sense as you are also constantly checking technical things such as levels, pace, pitch, tone etc.
Do you have a ‘voice catalog’ to choose from or do you adapt what you have to the character in the book?
I’ve done literally thousands of characters so a catalogue would be impossible! For each book you create a bank of the book’s character’s voices so if a character comes back after 400 pages and I’ve forgotten what they sound like (it happens!) I can go into that character file and hear them again, so I suppose I have a mini-catalogue that is unique to each book.
What do you do if you make a mistake reading? Do you have to delete the whole scene or just a few words?
I stop recording, go back to the previous sentence and re-record and carry on.
How do you keep your voice level at an even volume?
What’s your favorite thing about narrating books?
The intimacy. It’s the same for radio plays. It is an incredibly pure field of work; just the listener and my voice creating this world and going on an incredible journey together.
What are the hardest voices to do?
Not necessarily any specific accents, but when there are similar sounding character having a multi-person-conversation. That is hard, to be able to distinguish between who is speaking and at who. For example in Possession of a Highlander there was one moment I think where Colin, Alec and Jonathan were having a conversation and that took a while to get right as they’re all burly Scottish men so not too dissimilar sounding!
More information can be found on Liam at his website: www.liamgerrard.co.uk
Or on Twitter by following @ukjobbingactor and @voiceoverchap
For samples and to buy either audio book:
And, yes, Enchantment of a Highlander will be available later once it’s out as well.
Thank you so much again to Liam Gerrard for agreeing to do this interview. I found it so, so fascinating and hope you did too!!
For a chance to win a downloadable audio book of Deception of a Highlander, please comment below thanking Liam for the time he took to answer all these questions in such wonderful detail.