• Amy Bass

Calling an Audible

I headed into the city with more than a little trepidation -- I was going to Hachette, my publisher, not to meet with my editor or publicist, but rather to record the introduction to the audio book of ONE GOAL. I speak in front of people for a living, that's the nature of the professor game, and even as a writer I always enjoy doing public readings and talking about my work. But this was something different.

When I arrived at Hachette, I was whisked back to the in-house recording studio. It seemed benign enough -- a small room with everything one could want to keep the voice supple and with good timbre: tea, honey, water, cough drops.

My instructions had been explicit. Practice, practice, practice, the producer begged me via email. Get a lot of sleep. Hydrate. Don't put milk in your coffee. Eat apples.

Apples, especially Granny Smiths, apparently cut through the mucus that lives in all of us. Who knew?

I was only there to read the introduction -- a professional voice actor, chosen by me from a selection of audition tapes the producer provided, would have the task of the full book. And yet I felt the burden of being the first voice that audio book lovers would encounter if they were kind enough to download ONE GOAL. I had asked actor friends for advice, which they generously gave, and consulted my dear cousin, a professional storyteller. But once there, in the studio, the producer and engineer looking at me through the glass, I was on my own.

It was over in a flash. I read the pages in one sitting, with a few interjections from the producer to restate something more clearly. When I was finished, we went back in and I re-recorded four sentences, two of which needed a bit of honing in terms of performance, and two that had some kind of background noise impacting them. I was in and out in 45 minutes, done for the day.

I don't know if I'll ever listen to it. Recording your voice is one thing. Listening to your voice is entirely another. But it was, in the end, really fun. And I have a lot of respect for people who do it every day, day after day, reading someone else's words so everyone can enjoy them.

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