Narrator Braden Wright sees audio books ‘very convenient’

March 23, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

The Summer of ’42, the best-selling book from which the Oscar-winning movie was made, is now an audio book and its Canadian narrator is Braden Wright.

“It was a honour to narrate this book,” Mr. Wright told us. “Reading it was a pleasure – it’s so well written. A coming of age book, full of ‘language.’”

After the so many hours of work, both doing the reading and editing it all himself, Mr. Wright is very happy that the audio version of Summer of ’42 has been released into the market.

The timing is interesting as this Friday sees the BookNet Canada Tech Forum, a convention about audiobooks, taking place in Toronto. BookNet has done a second study about the sales and interest in audio books in Canada and discovered a sharp increase in both. Audiobooks sales are increasing 27% per year.

“They are very convenient,” Mr. Wright observed. “Especially when doing chores or just while at home or commuting.”

He has been doing audio books for about four years but he flirted with the idea long before that.

“My wife has been listening to them for 30 years,” he remarked. “When I was doing voice-over work in LA, I thought it would be cool to do audiobooks. So, I started studying with Frank Muller and a couple of other coaches until my voice agent said, ‘There’s no money in audio books.’ And then, I didn’t think I could maintain voice over eight hours.”

He explained, “Most books are 300 to 400 pages – that’s an eight-hour book.”

What Mr. Wright meant by that last remark was that the reading voice tone set for a book, as well as all the character voices must be kept absolutely consistent throughout. If  the eight hours worth of reading can take three weeks to record, you begin to understand the challenge involved in the necessary consistency.

For a self check: “I know I’ve done a good job when, listening to my own work, I forget that it’s me reading.”

With some 30 books recorded, he has plenty of experience to know how he feels about the work. “It takes a love of text. As I am also a writer, enjoying writing helps me understand and bring out the inflection of different writing. It is acting – it’s not the same as standing on a stage. It’s different from all that: you are the stage: you bring life to the story or information [in the case of non fiction]. A third of people get their audio books from the library. People can be turned off by the reader, too.”

A person can go online to, owned by Amazon that can deliver synopsis and samples for the asking.  and, of course, the digital form of books is coming into fashion, listened to on a MP3 without a CD.

Before recording begins, the book must be read to eliminate surprises. In response to whether he has turned books down, Mr. Wright confirmed that he can tell from the synopsis whether he and a book would do well together.

He went on to say, “I have been fortunate in the books that I’ve read; each one has its own validity. Before I was doing audio, I had never read a romance book but I’ve been very lucky with Tanya Anne Crosby [a romance writer] with whom I have an ongoing collaboration.”

Of the pitfalls: “You can get the giggles but, as an actor, you commit to the job. An actor is not there to comment on the work but to deliver it with sincerity and heart. We are trained not to pass judgement on what we’re bringing to life.”

Admitting to one moment when “I did an audio audition and, then, re did it: I sounded as though I think I’m too good for this book.

“What we’re doing – this is a performance of the book.”

There are authors who read their own books which works better with non fiction but only 30% succeed.

The technical details are the need for some sort of studio and editing. There are professional studios, set up for recording and Mr. Wright has been invited to record specific books in studio, like Maggie’s War by Canadian writer Terrie Todd, which he went to the States to do. This is a  faith-based war story.

“The studio was all set with recording, editing – I had a director – it was all organized.”

However, Mr. Wright has gone to a lot trouble to make his own arrangements at home. He has a sound proofed cubicle in which he records and a complete computer set up for editing.

“Generally, readers send the files of their recording and someone else does the editing.  I do it myself because I’ve done the training. The editing and finishing is a large part of the whole job. An audio book is all interaction between the narrator and the editor, watching the narrator’s breathing: all the quiet and loud reading has to be all the same volume. After doing over 20 books, I had not a single one kicked back for technical reasons. I am now an Audible Approved Narrator/Producer.”

He is also a member of ATA and SAG- AFTRA.

It takes a certain kind of person. So, just in case you think you are one of them, here is the standard test through which you should put yourself: take a book, any book, not necessarily one you think you would love reading and close yourself in a closet for two hours a day, reading that book aloud for two weeks. If, at the end of those two weeks, you still think you are suited to the work, get some training and have a go.

Surprisingly, some movie star actors also produce audio books.

“Some actors feel there’s a cache to doing them. They’re very difficult because you are everything – acting is seasonal – this is perennial. I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me I got the part.”

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