Monday, 20 April 2015

Please welcome voiceover artist, Ruth Urquhart...

The audiobook version of The House on the Shore is now available.  Narrated and produced by the very talented Ruth Urquhart.

Ruth very kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Did you make the conscious decision to become a voiceover artist or did you have another career path in mind as a teenager?

I have been an actor for over 20 years, mainly in theatre, and that was always my vocation. Voice acting is, I suppose a natural extension of that and it was something that I just kept meant 'to get round to' but it took me until about 2013 to start assembling a studio and preparing showreels. Now I think all actors should do it as there is so much audio work out there!

Audiobook production is time consuming and I believe it requires a great deal of patience and skill. Did you undertake any specific training?
No. I went to East 15 Acting School many moons ago to train as an actor but l haven't had any specific training for audiobooks. My first audiobook was in January 2014 and a very steep learning curve. I think as I have gone on (I have just completed my eleventh audiobook), the process has become very much easier.

Do you have your own studio?

Yes. It started out as some duvets on microphone stands with borrowed stuff and I gradually built it up into a proper sound booth with high spec equipment.

Do you schedule a specific time each day to record?

This usually works around the little people in my household. (That's my children, not the fairies!). I usually try and get one chapter done in the afternoon and one or two (dependent on length) done in the evening after they've gone to bed.

Can you give my readers and listeners a brief idea of what is entailed in making the perfect audiobook recording?

First reading the book all the way through before any recording is imperative. Then researching any accents and pronunciations and making character notes is also very important. Characters are what I enjoy doing most and so I must also be careful to make sure that the narrative stays alive and doesn't play second fiddle to the dialogue. Pacing is also important: too fast and the listener can't make it out and too slow just doesn't do the book or the storytelling justice. In fact, as audiobooks are usually paid per finished hour I have occasionally heard of some unscrupulous narrators going deathly slow in order to increase their pay packet! Fortunately most narrators care more about co-creating something good.

The other part of creating a perfect audiobook is making sure the quality of the recording is high. No crackly distortion or dogs barking! And they must be mixed and EQued well in post-production. Patience throughout the whole procedure is key as one hour of recorded audio can take 3-5 hours to process.

When reading for an audiobook how do you achieve the author and character’s voice?
As a keen reader I think you can always get a sense of the author's voice if a book is written well. I am always happy when I have to do many varied characters in an audiobook. It is much more challenging when the characters are not so well drawn on the page or if you have several men of a similar age all hailing from the same place! Then you have to decide what personal characteristics will differentiate the way their voices sound. I take notes and do little recordings of each character voice separately so I can refer to them if I forget how I originally did it. (Easy to forget if a character shows up only in Chapter One and Chapter Twenty!)

How do you feel when you hear your own voice on a recording?

I think initially it takes some getting used to but I don't mind it. I have listened back to some of my audiobooks but mainly so I can learn from it: whilst I am listening I am always analysing it to see what I could have done better.

You’ve recorded books for a variety of publishers, is there any one book or genre that stands out? Do you have a favourite?

Of course I enjoyed 'The House on the Shore'! The characters were really well drawn and it was a relief to do a book where the author really did know and understand the Highlands of Scotland as opposed to some vague idea of what they are like. I have done mainly romantic fiction but also a science fiction title and a book about a Somalian refugee that comes to Glasgow called 'This is Where I Am' by Karen Campbell which I loved...although it was my first audiobook so it was a little stressful!

Do you have a regular fan base?

Erm…Not that I know of. Unless you count my children and my dog? :-)

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

Everything that is well written and draws me in. From thrillers to love stories. I absolutely love that feeling of being lost in a story and also the excitement of getting back to it when you can't read it all in one go...and that mixed feeling of satisfaction and sadness you get when you finish it!

Thank you, Ruth for taking time out of your busy recording schedule. I must also give a shout out to your talented husband Bruce Reid, who wrote the introductory music for the recording of The House on the Shore.

You can learn more about Ruth by clicking on the links below:



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