You loyal followers of this blog and WMG’s weekly offerings already know this: we do audiobooks here, too. Some, we produce in-house. On others, we work with outside narrators. Between you, me and the collective fencepost, our own Jane Kennedy is one of the best narrators in the business.
And we work with some fantastic outside narrators, too, like TJ Jones, Kendra Brown, Flora Plumb, Rish Outfield and Julie Eickhoff.
And sometimes, Jane asks some of us here to do some narration. For some pieces, we want the authors to read their own works. And our managing editor, Jerimy, has a musical and performance background that he can lend to voice work.
And then, there’s me. The first time I had to listen to my voice in a recording for the intros to WMG’s popular podcasts, I was horrified. I couldn’t believe my loved ones had let me go around sounding like that. I mean, I knew my voice sounded differently in my head, but c’mon. Ugh. I couldn’t figure out why strangers always seem to want to strike up conversations with me. You’d think I’d open my mouth, and they’d say, “Oops, sorry, I have a train to catch.” (Even if the train isn’t anywhere near here.)
But Jane calls on me for certain specialties. Authentic Spanish pronunciation (like I did for Fiction River: How to Save the World). And, apparently, New York accents.
This time, I narrated Lee Allred’s “Nice Timestream Youse Got Here” for Fiction River: Time Streams. Jane needed someone who could do New Yoark, and this Jersey girl was her best bet. I gotta admit, I was really looking forward to it.
You see, I find it remarkably easy to fall into a Long (hard g) Island accent because I was raised hearing it. My grandmother and most of my dad’s side of the family are all from Long Island or Staten Island or the City or north Jersey. And the accent is heavy. My dad has barely a trace, which I can only attribute to his time in the Marines. And my mom was raised in posh Connecticut, so no heavy accents allowed.
I’m always thankful when people tell me I don’t sound like I’m from Jersey. Few people do, actually. There’s such a thing as a Jersey accent, no doubt, but it’s in a pretty isolated part of Jersey—like the area my Jersey relatives are from.
I took a dialect test recently, which said I speak most like those from Allentown, Pennsylvania. You rarely hear anyone say: Hey, you sound like a Pennsylvanian, so I guess my accent’s pretty mild.
But when I need to, I can emulate a pretty darn convincing “New York” accent (there are actually a bunch of accents, and they differ for each borough).
So, that’s what I did for Lee’s story. I threw in a little classic wise guy for Vince and channeled my grandma for Maizie. I spent so much time thinking about my grandma, in fact, that I now have a strong craving for her Caldo Gallego (that’s a traditional Spanish soup from the northwest region).
It’s a fun story, and I had fun doing it. You can listen to some of the story in the audiobook sample on Audible.com. [link]
Better yet, buy the audiobook and take a listen to the fantastic lineup of stories and some entertaining narration, too.
For my part, the biggest compliment I could have gotten (and I was very nervous about this) was to have Lee tell me how much he enjoyed my reading of his work. He said he laughed out loud. I’m choosing to believe that’s because it’s a humor story…
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.