Our Brilliance Week in Michigan!
We were in lovely (and we really mean lovely—it would be the picture in the dictionary next to the definition of “small American town”) Grand Haven, Michigan—home to Brilliance Audio to record our new book, Gotta Keep on Tryin’. We’ve wanted to do this for years and it finally happened! Whenever we are asked if our books are on audio (it used to be cassette, now it’s mostly CD, MP3, and download) and we say yes, the next question is always “are you guys reading it?” And we could always feel disappointment when we had to answer “no.” Not that people haven’t enjoyed the actors who have given voice to our characters in their audio versions, it just seemed (based on our very own “market research”—talking to y’all) that our readers wanted to hear our words—in our voices. So come January that’s what you’ll have!
Brilliance, the largest independent publisher of audio books on the planet has recorded both Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made and Far From the Tree. They were each read by the wonderful Fran Washington, an actor. Most audio books are done by pros—there are even voice over actors who specialize in this field—veritable one person productions with casts of characters at the ready, and primed to bring the author’s words to life—in a timely and efficient way. Sometimes authors who are famous get to record their own books, but it is definitely not the norm, so we are glad our agent convinced our friends at Brilliance to give us a chance. Thank you VS!
In the weeks leading up to the recording session, we had many conversations and emails with our audio editor and our director, about how two of us would actually get the job done. It didn’t seem like a challenge to us—we’ve always done joint readings of our books, treating the story much like a play. So once we’d agreed on the division of characters and narration, we each went through two highlighters (Virginia’s shocking pink, Donna’s bright aquamarine blue) marking our scripts before our Grand Haven Adventure. Donna even did some tune-up voice work with singer, voice-over artist (and friend), Lainie Cook, to learn some technique, and get her pipes in shape. (We’re going to try and post a video of Donna warming up—we’ll see if that works!)
We weren’t exactly nervous on the first day (flying in to Muskegon on a prop plane did sort of make us antsy)—but we will admit to being slightly apprehensive about doing something we’d never done—not that that’s ever stopped us before! Turns out we needn’t have fretted at all. We were whisked from our hotel by our editor, Liz Pearsons and delivered to Brilliance HQ, where we were greeted with a welcome sign (see picture) and met Our Two Lauras. Laura Grafton a/k/a Laura I, our director and Laura Stahl a/k/a Laura II, our engineer, quickly put us at ease—or as much at ease as you can be while being shown to a tiny, dark soundproof room that will be your home for eight hours a day—claustrophobics and those afraid of foam covered walls, beware. Our very first padded cell—probably not our last!
At any rate, we had a ball. We have so much fun together and are so used to timing our conversations, readings, lectures that we are able to anticipate when the other will pause, breathe or swallow. So having it all marked out ahead of time made it so much easier—not that it was easy. Reading aloud, even words you yourself have lovingly crafted and woven into a story, seven hours a day is WORK! Sometimes we definitely got tongue tied and were grateful for take two, but it’s hard to think of anything more satisfying. We brought Pat, Gayle, Marcus, Ramsey and all the rest of the Tryin’ crew to life on the page in 1997. Now we have had the opportunity, not only to bring them back to the page in Gotta Keep on Tryin’, we were actually able to vivify them—give them breath, anger, anxiety, sadness and laughter.
We finished a day early!! Got “good jobs” all around. Now the post-production wizards are at work, adding music, sound effects and finishing touches. In the weeks to come we will have a sneak-preview to post!
All you audiobook-philes, please be on the lookout for Gotta Keep On Tryin’ on your preferred audio medium in January!! (It’s available for pre-order now on Amazon.com and B&N.com.)
Below are photos from our week in Michigan.
Our Welcome Sign!
Virgina happy and ready to read...
Donna making additional notes on the script...
The vew from our hotel room...we told you it was lovely!
The temperature in the booth was kept low for the sake of the audio equipment so Virginia had to bundle up...
Our little home away from home for a whole week!!!
Our Two Lauras hard at work making sure we sound good! Thank you!!!!!