Today we wrapped up recording the Mothers of Sparta audiobook for Macmillan Audio. We recorded for three days at Saturn Sound Studios in West Palm Beach, Florida. Rob, my engineer was extremely talented and very professional. I learned so much about the recording process, at least from the inside of the soundproof booth, or iso booth, as I have learned it is called. If you are thinking of that scene from The Pink Panther when Steve Martin asks, in his fake French accent, if "this is a soundproof booth," so am I. There was a similar incident in my iso booth, but I'll spare you the details because I still want to sell copies of the book without people thinking of me letting a fifteen-second ripper go when I think we aren't rolling when we are. Then there's the part where the engineer rewound the recording and I could hear the elongated fart in reverse through my headphones. Magnificent. Such a talent. And there it is. Please still buy my book.
Things I learned about recording audiobooks: it is hard to read aloud well. I had a lot of practice reading to my children for so many years, but there are so many things that go into making a recording sound somewhat professional, things you never think of when you are cuddled in bed with your kids reading Stellaluna or Blueberries for Sal or The Berenstain Bears. Thinks like not popping your p's, or not letting your stomach growl, or remembering to breathe in quietly before a long sentence so you will have enough power to get the sentence out without sounding like a dork when you come up for air so hard it sounds like you've been pearl diving.
Honestly, when you are reading to your kids at the end of the day, they're tired, you're tired, and sometimes if they are very young, you can make the entire story up, and they won't know. And you can use whatever voice you feel like using. Not when you are recording. When you are recording, if you say a word in the singular form when it is supposed to be plural, your eagle-eye engineer will immediately correct you in your headphones. Of if you flip your hair or move your foot, he will tell you to stop, when he is two rooms away and can't even see you doing it. Or if you can't get a particularly acrobatic sentence to come out correctly, you must do it twenty times until you do get it right, and if you have to take a break, you will be inconveniencing people and costing them money.
And, as a recovering bell's palsy gal, I found the right side of my face, which has retained a muscular lag, got mighty tired trying to make my lips jump through all those speechy hoops. I have trouble with "m's" and "p's" on that side of my face when I get tired, so it was like my face ran a three-day marathon. The muscles were actually sore. I'm going to us far fewer words in my next book. Either that, or I'll get someone with a schwingin' voice to read it, like Lily Tomlin or Gladys Knight or Dwayne the Rock Johnson. Mad props to voice actors! I'm certain I will never be one.