Over the last week or so, there have been a couple cool new developments on the Artemis Awakening front.
I was sent the full cover and discovered that it’s a wrap-around image! The original half-face design is expanded to become a full portrait. I particularly liked this because, in a weird and twisted way, this actually makes the cover even more true to the original design image suggested by my friend, Cale Mims. (See WW 10-02-13 if you missed the really interesting fashion in which this cover evolved.)
Why? Because now instead of one half-face, we have two… This makes for a neat variation of the old saying “half a loaf is better than none.” Right?
The cover also includes blurbs from hotshot SF writers Vernor Vinge, S.M. Stirling, Jack McDevitt, and David Weber… Basically, it’s a design to warm any writer’s heart.
Late last week, I discovered who will be reading the audiobook version of Artemis Awakening when I received an e-mail from narrator Joe Barrett. Mr. Barrett has read over two hundred titles from a wide variety of authors. He was getting in touch in the hope that I’d agree to chat with him about the book.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a serious audiobook junkie – fiction and non-fiction both – so I was excited. Not only would this give me a chance to make sure that names and all were pronounced closer to the way I hear them in my head but, also I’d have a chance to slip in a few questions about a profession that has interested me for a long time.
Even before we chatted, I had one of those fascinating behind the scenes looks. I had asked Mr. Barrett if he would recommend something he’d narrated, so I could get feel for his performance style. His e-mailed reply was fascinating: “I never know quite what to recommend – mostly because I don’t listen to my own titles. Can’t stand it.”
I actually understood. I’ve been told I’m a good reader and I honestly enjoy giving readings. However, on the occasions where I’ve had an opportunity to listen to my own recorded voice – whether of a reading or an interview – I’ve shied away. My voice sounds odd to me.
So I went and searched the Audible catalog for Mr. Barrett’s work, and quickly settled on The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson. My friend, Paul Dellinger, had recommended the “Repairman Jack” novels a couple of times, but I hadn’t gotten to them because I wanted to start early in the series. The Tomb was listed in the catalog as the first Repairman Jack novel.
Anyhow, Mr. Barrett and I made a date to chat last Sunday. My phone rang promptly at the agreed upon time and a now familiar voice said, “Jane?” Talking to Joe Barrett proved to be very easy. He started out by making sure he had the pronunciation of the various character names correct. From there we moved to one of the odder aspects of the novel – the “Interludes” that close each chapter. The Interludes are written in verse – sometimes rhymed, sometimes free – and contain idiosyncrasies that would provide no problem at all to a text reader, but offer a real challenge to a narrator.
My favorite was from the Interlude that appears at the end of Chapter 10. Visually, it’s simple enough: “Seek + (you shall) = Find.” If I were doing this as part of a live reading, I’d read it as “Seek, plus, you shall, equals find.” Where the parenthesis occur, I’d sketch them in the air with a finger.
Mr. Barrett wouldn’t have that option. We agreed that having him include the punctuation verbally would interrupt the flow – as well as being jarring, since he wasn’t reading the punctuation elsewhere. We playfully considered reading the punctuation following the example of that comic – you know who I mean, the one who made sounds for all the punctuation marks – but laughed that off as just too silly.
In the end, we decided that the parenthesis would need to be ignored, as would those passages that ended with a trailing line of dots…. Pity…. But sometimes one form demands concessions that another does not.
The Interludes also originate from a variety of points of view. Mr. Barrett was on target with those we discussed but, to make life easier for him, I agreed to e-mail a list of attributions so he could match voice to point of view as appropriate.
In the course of our chat, I learned a bit about how Mr. Barrett works. He has narrated for a variety of companies – including Blackstone Audio and Audible – and has his own home studio, complete with professional quality mike, recording equipment, and sound-deadening equipment. His professional background includes acting, so he doesn’t just read, he performs.
He reads the entire book in advance, looking for possible typos. He checked these with me in advance, just to be sure that he wasn’t mistaking as typo a deliberate stylistic choice. In most cases, he had found typos (to be fair, he was working from an advance copy, not the final manuscript). However, in two cases, I was able to set him straight as to why I had chosen a particular word. (I thought everyone knew what a dhole was… but the copy editor also flagged this.)
I really appreciated his attention to detail and found myself wondering if I would listen to the finished book. I’m still not sure. I know how the characters sound in my head, how they interact. I’m not sure I want to superimpose someone else’s voice. On the other hand, I do love audiobooks and it might be interesting. I guess I’ll find out down the line…