So, my novel Dog Days (the first in the Wolf Winter series, which I have not got tired of saying yet!) has just been as an audiobook on audible. It’s very exciting, and I’ve found the whole process pretty interesting from my end. So I thought it might be informative to check with Dog Days narrator Derrick McClain (who is a superstar!) about how it went from his end.
1: So, Derrick, tell us just how much you loved Dog Days?
Well, obviously it was the best book I’ve read and every other book I’ve ever read or will read will forever pale in comparison.
But really, I’m always fascinated by how different authors approach werewolves, and I absolutely love the rich mythology and history involved in Dog Days.
2: More seriously, I know that Dog Days was your first book where the characters had Scottish accents. How do you approach something like that as a voice artist? And was it fun or do you secretly hate me?
I was pretty scared at first. I’m not exactly known for accents, and I tend to refer accent heavy titles to colleagues of mine who have more confidence in that. But….I wanted the challenge. And I kinda love shifter stories, and the idea of a dog shifter sounded good, and the cover was amazing and and and – ultimately I decided to go for it.
There are of course a few ways to handle accents, and as a voice artist you have to be honest and considerate about your own strengths and weaknesses as well as the desire of those who will be listening to your voice.
My approach to accents is the same as my approach to voicing women (or demons, or computers, or anything that’s not “me”) – my job is to convey the character, not trick the listener into thinking I actually am that character. So, I pick out a couple key characteristics of the accent, and stick to those. If you are Scottish, or intimately familiar with Scottish accents, you certainly won’t be fooled – but it’s enough to convey without being distracting.
Or at least that’s my hope.
3: As a writer I know how I find a character’s voice (rewriting until I am about to throw in the towel, and then it finally falls into place!), but how do you find the ‘voice’ when you’re the actual voice?
In my initial pre-read I keep a log of character personality and description, as well as any explicit vocal descriptions. With those in mind, I try to imagine the character – what exactly they look like, how they carry themselves, how they dress – then…well…I open my mouth and see what comes out.
I do play around with voices during the preread, but ultimately the less I try to overthink it and the more I just imagine them, the easier and more natural the voice comes out.
4: You have narrated a variety of books across different genres. Does each genre have their own particular rhythms and pitches?
Oh, every title has it’s own rhythm and pitch. How well do I match that rhythm and pitch? Well, I’ll let the reviewers decide that.
When it comes to genre, I try not to think of it too much. Authors’ voices vary, regardless of genre – and while the characters are who I play, it’s really the author that I’m giving voice to.
5: When you are narrating a book with a particularly distinctive ‘voice’, is it ever hard to leave it behind at the microphone?
Haha yes. I had plenty of accidentally Scottish moments after leaving the booth. My vocabulary and general style of speech definitely shift depending on what I’m working on too – for better or worse.
6: As I’ve told you, I’ve a Glaswegian in the next book in the Dog Day’s series. Like the comedian in this video. How do you feel about the ‘secretly hate me’ thing now?*
What do you mean, “secretly”? Lol
Thanks for the growth opportunity!
*Don’t worry! I’m not a monster, the Glaswegian character has a very slight accent! Just fun to tease!
If you want to check out the Dog Days audiobook, whether to buy or just check out Derrick’s work in the sample, here’s the link!