Thank you Rhys for letting us (Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes) invade your blog to help pimp our new book, Running Blind, which releases on November 7th!
The main character in the book, Kyle Green, is a voice-over artist, or VOA. He speaks many languages, but Japanese holds a special place in his heart. VOAs bring the local language translation to anime (cartoons), movies, and books. Venona had a chance at GRL to interview two popular VOAs-Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie. Greg has given voice to many artist’s books, such as Rhys Ford’s Cole McGinnis Investigation Series (among others), Mary Calmes’s Mangrove Series, Alexa Land, Jamie Samms, Cardeno C, Nick Webb, and Kim Fielding to name a few. He was also a resource for us to help mold Kyle into the VOA he is in the book.
Joel Leslie is also a popular VOA, and has brought to life, from book to audio, for such authors as Haley Walsh (Skyler Foxe Series), Kim Fielding, K.C. Wells, N.R. Walker, J.S. Cook, and Grace Duncan.
So, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we had lunch and discussed books, authors, remedies, life, GRL, small rabid animals, conference attendance, and life in general while we debated over getting dessert and cappuccino. This is an excerpt from our conversation.
Joel: You’re recording this and typing this out?
Venona: Yes I am. You want a copy or be surprised when it’s transcribed onto the blog?
J: I want to be surprised. What is question one?
V: What is the hardest part of your job?
J: I think the hardest part for me, is working with an author that doesn’t listen to audio. Very often, when you get an author that doesn’t do audio, they think it should sound like the way they do their readings. Not to use the word monotone, but it’s uncolored with characterization and individuality.
Greg: It’s a non-dramatized reading.
J: There you go. See, Greg always speaks English better than I do. Which is the reason why we read other people’s words.
(Laughter at the table)
J: It can also be very tricky with writing pairs. They don’t necessarily always agree. So I have a rule to have one person that has the the power of Yes/No, and they (authors) can sort it out between themselves. I’ve done books where the one author wasn’t happy with the first fifteen minutes I recorded of a character which was a character they weren’t even writing. They had written another character, and it was just nuts.
G: Huh. The only one I did with a two author collaboration was for the publisher. So it was the publisher’s decision.
J: The other hardest/scariest part is not having contact with the author in some circumstances and having to do guess work. It’s really stressful because you want to given them (author) what is in their head or as close as you can. That’s my answer.
G: It’s a good one. You brought up a couple of things I hadn’t verbalized. You know, we’re striking the balance between wanting to create an internally consistent and artistically authentic performance that also properly represents an author’s intent. The vast majority of the work we do, I think, we do instinctively, comes very close to the author’s intent with some obvious interpretations. Every now and then, you get an author who writes something one way that does not read that way. That creates a disconnect, and it’s hard to get through. Trying to strike that balance preemptively, and make sure that you’re not simply becoming a recitation machine.
J: That’s right.
G: You’re still an artist bringing in something to the work. And that you’re paying attention to the work.
J: The more they listen to more audio…
G: The better that is because they recognize when you give them good audio, it sounds like good audio. It’s engaging, it has that performance note, and then it’s the feeling of “it’s my story told through good audio”, not “it doesn’t sound the way my story sounds in my head.”
J: When the process works right, especially on series, the author then starts to write with your voice…
G: They do, they do a little bit.
J: I know people said that about Rhys (Ford).
G: I think Cole’s voice changed a little bit to match mine.
J: In the Skylar Foxe series that I do, for instance, there’s a character I voiced a certain way in book one that she (Haley Walsh) loved, but when I was catching up with her in books two and three, she had that same character saying ‘dude’. I was like, the guy we created would never say ‘dude’! She said I know that now that I heard him! We started working together in book six, and the character’s voices have shifted.
G: I love that type of collaboration. It’s like a painting trust exercise. Some one blindfolds themselves and describes something that you painted. Once you become good at that, get a working relationship, you make amazing stuff.
J: I’ve sent Haley joke ideas. It’s a silly series of jokes and they (the characters) make puns on each other’s names. (And I suggest) What if a character says this? Then she says great! I’ll stick that somewhere in the book.
G: You get a sense in your head, when you work with these characters, not only how they sound but of how they talk. You get that feeling you can imagine spontaneous dialogue for those characters in the milieu of how they would say it.
J: The other thing that is the hardest is if they (the authors) never read their book out loud. Because there’s things that get past the editor.
G: Yeah things you don’t expect.
J: For me, it’s repetitious words in a sentence…
G: Billy got up and walked to the window. Billy runs a hand through his hair. Billy turned around…
G: And the authors don’t realize they said Billy so many times…
J: Until they read it out loud.
G: Every now and then, you get a note back from an author asking “Can I re-write this section…”
J: (Laughs) Yeah…
G: “…and have you record it again?”
V: That’s funny because on a short story I got back from my editor, she pointed out each sentence for the past two paragraphs started with the character’s name, and to write it differently. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It’s nice to know when you’re reading it (out loud), you can pause and say, hey wait a minute…
J: I think every author should read their work out loud before sending it to print.
J: In their own room, by themselves.
G: Maybe before the final proofing—
J: Yeah, yeah!
G: After editing, content editing, streamlining it, read it out loud, fix those things and before you send it for final proofing, so they (editor) find the places you wrote, you know, “He had a hint of condensation in his voice.”
V: I remember that story!
J: A lot of the MM work that we do with independent writers, Dreamspinner has very good editors, but when you work with independent authors, sometimes the editing is scary.
G: Well, you fall prey, when you’re by yourself, to shortcuts because…
J: You don’t have the financial…
G: You don’t have the financial wherewithal, you’re the chief cook and bottle washer, you get so wrapped up in it sometimes, it doesn’t get what it needs. The proper editing process is there for a reason and it does work. You can get away with somethings that may not fly forever.
Kyle Green is on top of the world. He and Matt have been together for ten years, and—as the voice of Ecos, the wildly popular anime character—Kyle is treated like a rock star in anime circles. But in an instant, a stroke leaves him blind. When photographer Matt gets the opportunity of a lifetime, Kyle reexamines their relationship, discovers it has been a safety net rather than a true romance, and sets Matt free to pursue his dream. Kyle’s life and career as he knew them are gone, and he must now find the courage and creativity to draft a new plan.
After being away for fifteen years, Seth Caplan comes home to Chicago to care for his mother and to partner with a small start-up tech company. He and Kyle meet after Kyle’s collision with a child’s sidewalk toy, and they hit it off. Kyle wants to get back into running, and Seth becomes his guide. As they get to know each other, they start seeing each other beyond their three-times-a-week runs. But Seth’s revelation of the dark reason why he left his career in California sends the relationship into a tailspin and leaves both men running blind.
Kim Fielding is very pleased every every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others
You can reach Kim at:
Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carry on suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting in airports to the gate before the plane door closes.
Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.
Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boys, volunteers at an animal shelter, attempts to cook everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, is a seasoned triathlete, and enjoys swimming, biking, hiking, skipping, dancing, and her beloved overgrown garden.
You can reach Venona at:
Rafflecopter Codes and Giveaways!
Make a comment by November 14th and be entered into win a giveaway!
Giveaway #1 – Wordwide
Audio Books, E-Book, and DSP Gift Certificate
3 Audio Books (Treasure, The Downs, and Guarded)
E-book Coming of Age
$20 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate
Giveaway #1: Worldwide a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway #2 – US Only – Manga (Graphic Novels), Audio, and E-Books
Traditional Japanese Manga (translated into English):
Borders Volumes 1-5 by Kazuma Kodaka
Longitudes and Latitudes, Volumes 1 – 3 by True Teargem & Tprinces
Kindly Assistance (A Sherlock Holmes & John Watson Romance) by Halloween Panda
Audio Books & E-books
3 Audio Books (Treasure, The Downs, and Guarded) E-book Coming of Age
Giveaway #2: USA only a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway #3 – US Only – Bento Ensemble, Audio, and E-Books
Lacquered wooden chopsticks
Handmade drawstring cloth bag with decorative stitching
Audio Books & E-books
3 Audio Books (Treasure, The Downs, and Guarded)
E-book Coming of Age
Giveaway #3: USA only a Rafflecopter giveaway
Oct 31 – MM Good Book Reviews – I Fought the Law
Nov 1 – The Novel Approach – Kyle at Yaoi Con Short
Nov 2 – Rhys Ford – VOA Interview with Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie
Nov 3 – Mary Calmes – Exclusive Excerpt from Running Blind
Nov 4 – DSP Blog – Siblings
Nov 7 – Divine Magazine – Release Day Exclusive Excerpt
Nov 8 – Gay Book Reviews – The Lord and the Amnesiac Rogue
Nov 9 – Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter – Kyle and Ecos Short
Nov 10 – Love Bytes – Losing Sense
Nov 10 – Tammy’s Two Cents – Universities
Nov 11 – Sinfully Gay – Running