Researching myriad pronunciations, marking up and highlighting the text in preparation to record, took something like 80-90 hours and for some of the prep, unable to find answers even via the internet, I had to directly ask colleagues if they could help me out, as indeed did Neil. I am grateful indeed to Susan Omand, Graeme Lyon and David Monteath, who very generously offered suggestions as to how a number of Irish Gaelic personal names should be pronounced.
Of all the many and various audio books I've recorded since this particular aspect of my acting career began about six years ago, Outremer has been by far the most demanding, both to prepare and to record and in that assessment, I include recordings of the unabridged NRSV Bible and the 1400 + characters and 215 hours of The Niccolo Books.
To give you an idea of what my text looked like in the studio, here's a screen shot example of a not untypical page (left), alongside an unmarked up page producer Neil had on his side of the glass (right). Part of Neil's job as producer, is to exactly follow my narration in case I unknowingly fluff a word or otherwise somehow go 'off-piste'.
In this example, my marked-up page features two characters; the adolescent 'Paul', highlighted in green and the much older man, 'Theodoric' highlighted in purple. Other colours within the dialogue are to bring my attention to 'tricky' pronunciations/words and text left unmarked, tells me to use my neutral narrator voice.
Much of the text was italicised, as you can see from Neil's screen shot. The scenes written in italics convey the background story to the main narrative and take place at an Inn, where ultimately, 15 characters are in conversation with each other - the mark up for those scenes took quite a while and looked dazzling on the page - as I'm sure you can imagine!
But enough of the technical stuff - on to the story! Here are some details:
Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakeable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles: religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.
Sometime between AD 1110 and AD 1120, in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights - the founding Knights Templar - recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former advanced civilisation beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée, Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.
Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms - from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives will ever be the same again.
The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic which sweeps across England, Scotland and France to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth - and crack the ancient code - behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself."
Length: 39 hours - 38 minutes
©2017 D. N. Carter (P)2019 Audible, Ltd
With any luck, we'll have been acceptably accurate in our pronunciations, engaging with our story-telling and hopefully, 'easy on the ear'.
...all for now, more very soon!