Recording an Audiobook During Lockdown - Part Two!
So, where were we?
Well, when lockdown had come into force in March 2020, Listening Books closed its office. Like many others, we certainly didn’t realise it would go on for so long. But, also like lots of other places, we were in the position of trying to work out how to work remotely, and while we quickly adapted to remote work in lots of different ways, recording an audiobook during lockdown was a bit more difficult!
One of the audiobooks we recorded remotely was A Voice Coming From Then by Jeremy Dixon, published by Arachne Press. We spoke to everyone involved in the process to ask them how it went and now we’ll hear from Jeremy Dixon, the author, and Nigel Pilkington, the narrator.
If you haven’t read part one of our blog series about this, then do read that first!
Jeremy Dixon, Author
My first full poetry collection, A Voice Coming From Then, starts with my teenage suicide attempt and expands to encompass themes of bullying, queerphobia, acceptance and support.
In one of those unplanned cosmic coincidences that you just couldn’t make up, we actually recorded the audiobook on the 42nd anniversary of that suicide attempt. So, for me, lockdown recording was very emotional before we even started. Thenm the beautiful and varied ways in which Nige was able to read my work only added to making this one of the most memorable events of my writing career.
Usually the author would not be present in the studio during recording, but one of unexpected benefits of lockdown was that it enabled me to be involved via the wonders of Zoom. My editor Cherry was also there, and we could both give small directions in pacing, emphasis, and pronunciation, although Nige didn’t really need very much of this. His readings were so fantastic that I kept thinking, ‘I would love this poem if somebody else had written it’.
We recorded the audiobook on what was the hottest day of the year so far and so had many breaks for water and food etc, but I was still surprised that it took nearly five hours to record everything from introduction to poems to acknowledgements.
For a writer and poet, it was an invaluable insight into the processes involved in creating an audiobook and I feel very grateful that lockdown enabled me to be a part of it.
Nigel Pilkington, Actor
Being a voice actor during lockdown? The myth of the Hydra springs to mind! – we’ve needed to grow many more heads for the many more hats that have rained down on us.
When you record a book in an external studio, your entire focus can be on your performance. But when recording from home, you’re also tasked with the jobs of engineer, sound editor, and sometimes director, and it’s easy to let the performance be pushed to the back of the queue.
Not so when recording A Voice Coming From Then by Jeremy Dixon, published by Arachne Press, as we took our time, allowing Jeremy’s poignant and careful words to be intoned with sensitivity. After each poem, I’d break to label the files, and this actually afforded me a natural gear change between pieces, so that each one could be approached on its merits, rather than rattling through the entire script in one pass.
So, as much as recording in lockdown has been vexing, it did actually work to our advantage in this case… and I managed NOT to lose my head…!
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