I briefly alluded to the technical challenge of recording these books in the last update a few days ago; allow me now to elucidate. Each of the three books, Nekropolis, Dead Streets and Dark War are about 400 pages in length and each was scheduled to be recorded in three four-hour sessions. That's a recording average of 130 + pages per four-hour session. To put that into perspective, a regular Big Finish script usually comes in at around 180 pages and takes sixteen hours to record over a two day period. Because of a computer glitch on Monday, we lost a bit of time, which meant that yesterday, instead of 130 pages, we actually had to record 152 - yikes!
The most I've ever managed to record is 200 pages over seven hours, which apparently is also the most Neil has ever managed to record - what a team! So, anyway, as you can imagine, we had our work cut out. As usual, I'd done quite a bit of preparation for these books so that when I went into the studio, I'd know exactly what I was doing, where the story was going and who the various characters were. I also usually give each character a different highlight colour so that my eye/brain can assimilate who's to be played next as the narration progresses - with 130 + pages to record in four hours, it's not a bad idea to have done a bit of homework!
With a regular novel, there might be a handful of central characters and a few more peripheral characters; maybe ten or so altogether. So, no problem there, just come up with ten different voices, easily remembered and off you go. As an aid, I also note down any details I might need to refer to about each character on a 'crib sheet', which I can have a quick look at if necessary. However, so many characters appear in these novels, that my crib sheet ran to 8 sides of A4 - eight sides!!! Excluding the minor players, I've made notes on 87 recurring characters, each of which, in theory, has a unique, distinctive and identifiable voice!!!
Now just in case you're tempted to think I'm overstating the trickiness and mind bending complexity of this, let me also throw into the mix the fact that only a very few of these characters are actually human; the vast majority are aliens of the most varied and bizarre kind, some without mouths, some without heads and many of them are 'shape-shifters', so each of the 87 might also have a number of 'guises', which racks up the character count considerably. An extreme example of such a character is Lord Amon, who appears in book one of the trilogy, Nekropolis.
Still with me? Ok, so, as I was saying, Lord Amon - a Darklord and shape-shifter supreme - here's a resume of his various character 'guises':
1) a giant were-rabbit 2) a 'British' sounding man in fox-hunting attire 3) Frank Buck - a Big Game Hunter with a gravelly American voice 4) a 'Daniel Boone' type character with a Kentucky accent 5) an African Tribesman 6) a Native American 7) a Caveman 8) a "a beer-gutted, flannel-shirted, John Deere-capped, shotgun-toting hunter" 9) a Large Grey Wolf 10) a Grizzly Bear 11) a Blurry Amoeba and 12) a Giant Serpent - oh, and underlying all of that, he is also a Lycanthrope - naturally.
By 10.30 last night, my voice was fine, but my cheek/face muscles were really starting to ache and almost 24 hours later, they still do - it feels like I've had a thorough work out at the dentist. I mention all this to you now, because I'm just happy to have survived!
Here are the details:
Dead Space by George Mann read by Greg Wise
A Girl, Sitting by Mark Morris read by Jilly Bond
Finding The Path by Kaaron Warren read by Trevor White
The Hairstyle of the Devil by Martin Day read by Arthur Darvill
Down by Gary McMahon read by Stephen Rashbrook
Visions by Cavan Scott read by Michael Maloney
Half Life by Dan Abnett read by John Banks
Hidden Track (part 2) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards
With Her In Spirit by Stephen Gallagher read by Frances Barber
Tabula Rasa by Alasdair Stuart read by Lalla Ward
One Hit Wanda by Kim Newman read by Samuel West
A Glass of Water by Mark Wright read by Gemma Arterton
Ghost Pit by Simon Clark read by Jeff Harding
I Wish by Johnny Mains read by Steven Cree
Hidden Track (part 3) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards