I'm pretty excited because later on today (Friday, Dec. 19, 2:38 a.m. is when I type this) I'll be doing an hour long interview on the Speculative Fiction Cantina. We'll be discussing To Touch the Sun, among other things. They also asked me to do a 5-8 minute reading from the book and choosing a passage that fits in that time has been difficult but it's been fun practicing with the possible choices.
There are a number of accents in my book: Heavy Chicago, light Chicago, Indian, British, I've always enjoyed playing with accents so playing with these (not to mention trying to pin down the male voices without it being too obvious that that I'm "husking" my voice) has been interesting.
I'll say this, I've often wondered why most authors don't read versions of their own audio books. You would think it would be perfect since they know the rhythm of the words they put down on paper.
It can be quite a challenge, however, as I discovered when I read the prologue of TTTS so that the publisher can put something on Facebook the day it was released. It was me, in my living room with a headset and a computer, trying to accomplish the task in a hurry and luckily it was mostly prose so that I didn't have to go in and out of too many accents. Even still, I found myself having to pause frequently to attend to sinal issues, or because I had a tickle in my throat, or Oliver T. Kitty decided I was spending far too much time with that and not nearly enough praising him so he tried to steal my focus with a whiny meow. Or, and this is a huge problem, you tend to assume what the next words will be only discover you're off by a word or a tense.
Now I know that most audio book readers are locked up in a quality studio with technicians to help them. Still, it has to be a daunting task.
If you want to hear a reader successfully attack a variety of accents in a book, listen to John Lee's exceptional reading of Ken Follett's "Century Trilogy." I have gotten through the first and half of the second book (hoping to finish it soon) and was blown away. I was made fully aware of his talent after listening to the audio versions of Follett's Pillar's of the Earth and subsequent books in that series. It was like listening to a radio play. But in the Century Trilogy, Lee is taking on a variety of British accents, a variety of American accents, German, Russian, male and female...and he does it all seemingly effortlessly. It's astounding.
Of course the audio versions of the Harry Potter books are classics unto themselves thanks to the voice talents of Jim Dale. He doesn't have the vast amount of different ethnic accents, but he does have the male/female, adult/child accents to perform. I had a friend who made a ritual of reading the Harry Potter book and then made a ritual of listening to it on CD.
I really enjoyed Ron Perlman's reading of The Strain, the first novel in a vampire trilogy by Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan. His was a measured reading, but it was perfect for the subject and added to the tension.
Recently (well, several months ago--unfortunately, with my schedule, that's recent for fiction) I finished the audio book of The Martian by Andy Weir. It was a surprisingly engrossing book (I say surprisingly because it's very subject should have left my eyes glazed over from minutia). The performance by R.C. Bray only helped to pull me into the story.
Frequently I find myself listening to books on audio because my schedule leaves me little time to read. Popping a CD into the player driving from one thing to another is a lot easier. And if you have a great reader, it can be a fantastic experience.
If you would like to hear me take a stab at a live reading, tune into the Cantina tomorrow. And feel free to call in with any questions. I'll be on at 5 p.m. Central time. Visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writestream/2014/12/19/the-speculative-fiction-cantina-with-anthony-metivier-and-laura-enright