A guest post from Toni Orans, actress and audiobook narrator

9 May, 2012

I’m delighted to share with you a guest post from Toni Orans, who helped to bring one of our agency client’s books, the novel CHICKEN DREAMING CORN, alive for the first time in audio through Audible’s ACX site.  It was a learning experience for Toni, author Roy Hoffman and me, but the result is terrific, and we are thrilled.  The audio version of the novel can be purchased on Amazon, on i-Tunes and on the ACX site. And now, over to Toni:

One summer night and one short exchange with a colleague changed my life for the next several months, and possibly forever!  That night that I got turned on to a relatively new site, ACX.com,  a site I would describe as a matchmaker site for authors/literary agents and narrators… As I was about to go out that evening, and didn’t have much time to do a ‘proper’ profile with all my necessary bits and pieces, I did just the basic stuff and then had time enough to upload just one demo.

Well, wouldn’t you know, it just happened to be my demo of a reading I did of an excerpt of a Barbara Kingsolver short story ~ with a Southern accent. I didn’t really think too much of it at the time, till next morning while still in my pjs and checking out my e-mails before doing my morning routine, I came across a message from someone who’d seen my profile and heard my demo that I’d put up only the evening before–Joelle Delbourgo, a literary agent with her own agency representing a ‘mere’ 100(!) or more authors, and she was interested in having me audition for an audio-book for one of her authors. The book was “Chicken Dreaming Corn” by Roy Hoffman, a novelist and journalist.

As they say, the rest is history… after deciding to audition and then accepting an offer to do the recording for a book that would require many, many hours of research, I’m pleased to report that “Chicken Dreaming Corn” (the audio-version) is a dream that’s come true for both Roy and myself! As previously mentioned, it took hours of researching as the book has numerous accents for the various characters, both male and female, who are from no less than 9 different cultures, a few of those international, as well as words and some expressions in Yiddish and Spanish and a few geographical names from Romania (in fact, Romania is where the title originates from!) And, there’s more, as the story starts out in Mobile Alabama in 1916 and continues (with a few side trips to NY and Romania, where the main character has originally come from), thru the next few decades till 1945, following the lives of the main characters and their families.

It was an all-encompassing challenge and I did what was necessary to meet it as well as I could. After hours and hours of recording and editing and mastering (I worked with a terrific Pro-Tools engineer who helped me with the mastering process), I waited to get the corrections from Roy and corrections there were! Suffice to say, they also took quite some time and then the mastering process had to be done all over again. With my numerous years of doing voice work (commercials, documentary narration etc. etc.), and even having read classic literature live on the air on public radio for 7 years, this was all a very different kind of challenge. Thanks to Joelle for sending this great opportunity my way and to Roy for trusting my voice to be the many voices in his novel! Also, thanks to Lowell for his technical assistance, and my dear friends and colleagues who worked with me on this endeavor, sharing their expertise with certain pronunciations and accents.

I’m so pleased that it’s now out there and I’m hoping that the resulting audio is enjoyed by the many who listen to it!

Blog Excerpt

Thanks for plunging in so fully and completely to my novel and making it come alive through your voice. The reading is brilliant — you are especially good with dramatic exchanges. And you finessed the many cultures, accents, and linguistic nuances beautifully.  It’s been a challenge, I know, especially with so many characters and accents.  Your voice is enchanting and you’ve got a great talent for dramatizing scenes.
–Roy Hoffman, NY Times journalist and award-winning author, CHICKEN DREAMING CORN