Exploring audio books: an interview with narrator Rebecca McKernan

Forgotten Places is now available on audio! I know, I know, it's way too exciting. Now you can listen on your commute and it will totally feel like you're lost in the Australian bush! (Cos who doesn't want that, right?)

Having composed for plenty of film, theatre and live performances, collaboration is certainly not a new thing for me. I'm used to hearing my music played or my lyrics sung, or my cello line hacked to pieces and buried beneath the dulcet sound-effects of a car chase. But writing a novel is obviously far less collaborative than working in film and theatre. Handing over my book for someone else's interpretation was a brand new-- and slightly nerve wracking-- experience for me.

I was very lucky to find my fabulous narrator, Rebecca McKernan, who I knew from the beginning really understood the direction I wanted to take the book. She not only brings the characters to life, but narrates the prose in such a lyrical way-- something which is so important to me as both a writer and musician.

I spoke with Rebecca about her career and how she got started in the world of audio book narration:

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a London based actor, writer and producer. My background is in musical theatre, stage, and a tiny bit of screen. Wine, pasta and greyhounds make me happy.

How did you get into audio book narration?

I was coming to the end of my previous career, and I left a friend a voice note on a messaging platform. She said to me, 'Bec, you have a really nice voice. Have you ever thought about narrating audio books?' So I looked into it, discovered I could do it from my living room, sat in my pants, and knew it was the job for me.

Why were you interested in working on Forgotten Places?

Although as producers we only get to see a small sample of the book before we commit to it, I knew I loved Johanna's writing style. It's so darkly beautiful, as are the books that I read for pleasure. As well as this, I found the storyline and the subject material fascinating-- though it's based in truth, it was a tale I had never heard of. I also have a personal connection to Australia-- my husband is Australian, and I've spent some time living out there, so I thought I might be able to bring an authenticity to the audio book's production.

What are some of the challenges you face as a narrator?

The biggest challenge I have when producing audio books is when you're contracted to produce a book you would never normally read, or which has subject material that you don't necessarily agree with. In these cases, I see it just as an acting job, and I'm playing the part of someone who does like the book, or believes in the words I'm saying. Fortunately, this is definitely not the case with Forgotten Places!

My second challenge is more technical- it can be a very interesting thing to switch, apparently effortlessly, between accents and voices from sentence to sentence! Forgotten Places has had challenging moments, but I'm currently working on another book due for release soon (Blackbird: A Warrior of the No-When by Martin Schiller) which has a cast of around 20 speaking characters, of different ages, genders, mostly from different countries, some from different universes and some which are different species! Oh, and that fictional language too, let's not forget that...

What's next?

I have a good deal of audio books set for release by the end of the year in a variety of genres- lots of romance, science fiction, fantasy. And a fabulous lesbian crime drama which is a lot of fun to read and produce! As well as that, I've just finished writing my own novel, so with any luck that will be available for general consumption in the next few months.

Find out more about Rebecca by visiting her website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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