Sunday, December 22, 2013

All About #Narration, Part 2 of Karen Rose Smith's #Interview with Kristina Coggins

When I interviewed Kristina Coggins, my narrator for FOREVER AFTER, we covered a lot of ground.  In my previous interview with her, we discussed her background.  Now we get into the nitty gritty of character development and how she achieves it, along with tidbits concerning running a home studio.  I want to thank Kristina for the wonderful work she did on this book, bringing Seth--a cynical lawyer--and Darcy--a garage mechanic--to life.

Here is part 2 of her interview:

How do you know what voice to use for each character?

I look at all the clues in the text and sometimes create a list of what is said about each character, until I start to get a feel for who the person is.  I determine whether it is an incidental character, a supporting character or a main character.  I use the most authentic voice of myself for the main characters whether male or female, and then might change vocal placement, energy, pitch, pace or attitude for the others.

How do you keep them straight?

I make a separate file for each character and listen to it for consistency.

Do you feel as if you become the characters as you narrate?

Yes, definitely.  I think there is a little of all of us in every character.  Even irate fat old men.  That's the fun of it.

Do you read the book before you start to narrate scene by scene?

I always read the book and then re-read the chapters I want to accomplish before I narrate that day.

What is the toughest part of narrating?

It's really lonely being in a booth all day with nothing but your audience in your head and imaginary characters to keep you company.  I always am excited to see my real live people at the end of the day.  The constant deadlines are also hard to manage if you are trying to give your all to a book and treat your body and voice with care.

How do you protect your voice?

In spite of the deadlines, I try not to work too many hours so that my voice blows out.  I try to keep hydrated and well-exercised in my body.  There is a huge connection.

What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale?

Hire an engineer, buy a booth, buy and understand all the equipment, learn the computer software.  It took me about six months to pull it all together and learn how to use it.  And I'm constantly learning and upgrading.

Editing takes longer than anything.  It takes three to five more hours per finished hour to get it right and requires much patience and actually requires an entire other skill set.  Editing is a creative act all of its own with rhythm, pacing and silence well-placed.

What do you look for in an author's history to sway you toward narrating their book?

If they have a story or style that is compelling to me.  I also want to be sure they have a viable following. 

What do you like to do most when you're not narrating? 

Landscape painting, travel and being with my family and friends.

What are you planning next?

I'm producing a young adult book by the author Louis Sachar called THE BOY WHO LOST HIS FACE, and the file adaptation of the new Disney story FROZEN.

ABOUT THE MUSIC:  My son is 19 and a fine musician.  For every book I've ever done, he has always done the music for before and after.  He asks about the style of the book, sometimes does a little research, listens to some of the narration of the book and comes up with the music.  It always adds to setting the tone of every project.  It has been such a joy to collaborate with him in this way.

A big thank you to Kristina and Sam for a wonderful production.

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