The mad man Benjamin Gunn

Chapter 15, The Man of the Island
Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Wild characters are such a joy to create. They function on a different tempo and rhythm from all other characters, although the challenge as a narrator is you still have to keep them decipherable for the listener. Ben Gunn has such long looping stories, he created a cadence for me to tap into as a narrator. This is largely do to the mighty writing of Stevenson, yet the interpretation is based on a more modern British comedic actor Michael Palin.

What is great about the character Gunn as a function for the story itself, is he sums up a lot of loose ends rather quickly. First, he proves Long John Silver’s history as a pirate. Second, he gives a detailed history of the treasure. Third and finally he offers the wild card a writer needs in any story to make up for the portions that wouldn’t be believable otherwise. For instance, the small boat he mentions in passing, later when a boat is needed, it wouldn’t do for Jim Hawkins to simply find one on the beach.

Gunn’s madness is a further diabolical plot device, as in if he were not mad he would have no cause to convey all this information in such a brief moment in time. Yet if a person were forced to live a lone on a island for three years it makes since they would not want to stop talking.

As a writer, Gunn is a magnificent device. As a narrator, he is both a challenge and a joy. He speaks faster then any other character in the story, yet he says more then almost all of the other characters combined in his introductory chapter. The trick was, how do you say this and make it fun?

I hope you enjoy my choices. Please feel free to leave comments about the work.

~ Scott

Narrating Audiobooks – Creating A New Chapter

Creating A New Chapter

My process for narrating audiobooks is developing as I go. I work from home, recording essentially from a closet I have soundproofed with egg-crates and old blankets, transforming it into a recording studio.

The technical stuff I use is the “Avid Recording Studio” for recording and editing, an AT2020 microphone, and I finish the sound with Adobe Sound-booth. The last step is to digitally label and brand the work, which I do with iTunes.

The process of actually recording is much more entertaining. After I’ve chosen a book to work on, I’ll read it through several times, focusing on characters and different tones and moods throughout the story. I learned the hard way, not to just jump in and start narrating, because your tone might not match the attitude of the book, or you might spend to much effort developing characters who only appear once.

The trick is finding a comfortable tone for the main character, since this is the voice you spend the most time with. Although, developing outlandish character voices is a lot of fun. One trick I use to create a strange character voice over and over again is to give them a face, and I’ll make the same face whenever that character speaks. Sometimes this is as simple as only speaking with stiff upper lip and in other instances, like with “Treasure Island” and the Character Long John Silver, I gave him his own body posture, a squinty eye and he always seems to speak out of the side of his mouth. Here is an excerpt of his voice:

There are a lot of challenges to creating a good narration. I work alone, so I have no way to check the work until I have finished recording. If something is wrong with a line, or an interpretation, I have to go back and read the line again to correct the mistake, while doing my best to match the tone of the previous recording. To combat this I will read a paragraph several times through, not moving on until I have it perfect. This means to create one nine minute chapter, I will take anywhere from one to two hours to record, two hours to edit, finalize and brand, and finally, another hour to post the chapter to all the social media outlets.

All told one chapter is roughly six hours of work.

But it is really cool when you get it right.

Working with the podcast ABC ~ AudioBook Classics has been great as a performer. I get to hear feedback on the novel I am working on while still recording it, so I feel a lot closer to the work and the audience. It also provides an awesome tool needed for every creative person, a DEADLINE, which I strive desperately to meet. Although…well, that there is an although is enough.

My goal in the future when working with new narrators is to require at least five prerecorded chapters before they can participate with ABC. This will eliminate the hindrance of missing a weekly post because of rain, flood, construction crew or visiting mother in-laws…

Hope you enjoy the work.
Thank you,

Treasure Island, Ch 13

Treasure Island
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Narrated by Scott David Reeves

Part Three
My Shore Adventure

Chapter 13
How I Began My Shore Adventure

Jim Hawkins arrives at the anchorage of Treasure Island with a mutiny close at hand.

One of the great joys of this work is getting to interpret the surroundings that are so artfully described. In this chapter Stevenson takes the audience right into the bay of Treasure Island. He sculpts the landscape with enough detail to make it clear, while broad enough for the reader to transform it into a place of dreams.

Follow the podcast of this reading at ABC ~ AudioBook Classics