Audiobook Debut: "Shulamit Rose" a novel by Lawrence Greenspun


I have done some voiceover work in the past, but never have I recorded a narration of a complete novel... until now.


For the past half-year, I've been working on producing an audiobook for a novel by a prolific writer and lifelong friend, Lawrence Greenspun.


"Shulamit Rose" by Lawrence Greenspun is a compelling work of fiction with vivid imagery, beautifully written in such exquisite detail that I felt like I was right there in the story with the characters as I was reading it.

It has been an honor to work on this creation with such a brilliant writer and friend.


This is my audiobook debut, both as narrator and as the person responsible for handling the recording, editing and post-production. I'd like to share a few thoughts on each of those steps of the process.



Narration:

I love reading books to children. This, while sharing some similarities, was quite different. Being that it was my first foray into audiobook narration, I did a bit of research beforehand to get a sense of standard practices, how far to push different character voices and accents, potential issues and common pitfalls to watch out for, technical specifications, etc.

It was my duty to read the printed words clearly, accurately, with articulate enunciation and natural rhythm, while also conveying the emotional content, intonation, and every other aspect of the author's intention in every word, every sentence and every paragraph of the 39-chapter, 192-page manuscript.

Furthermore, as I recorded the chapters over a period of several months, it was important to maintain a consistent sound. This point was challenged by changes in my energy level at different times, temperature changes affecting the equipment, as well as my voice, variations in ambient noise and my computer's fan, and other natural factors. Slight variations in my narration volume and tone, distance and angle from the microphone, and matching the preamp settings each time I fired it up, could all potentially cause major unwanted shifts in tone color, which would distract the listener from the story.

I was mindful of all of those factors and did my best to mitigate them.


Part of what makes Lawrence Greenspun's story feel so real is his highly detailed, descriptive writing style. He also has a rich lexicon from which he draws to convey a wide range of experiences and extremely precise and relatable emotions and thought processes. This point provided another challenge for me as a narrator, as the sentences were sometimes long and full of words I don't normally use. My rapidly deteriorating eyesight was not helping. I did the best I could to read coherently, accurately and expressively, often reading sentences several times before finally arriving at a good flow. I learned a few new words along the way, so that's an added bonus!



Recording:

I recorded "Shulamit Rose" using one of my handmade CE87 microphones, through a Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity mic preamp, into an Antelope Audio Discrete 8 audio interface, at a sample rate of 88.2 kHz.


Handmade CE87 microphone at Clear Echo
The handmade microphone used on "Shulamit Rose"

Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity microphone preamp at Clear Echo
The preamp used on "Shulamit Rose"

The handmade CE87 microphone has a warm, round tone with a clear midrange and smooth top end. The Universal Audio preamp is unique in that the signal passes through two circuit paths: a transistor and a tube. The two paths can be blended to taste. With the microphone already providing plenty of warmth, what I mostly wanted from the preamp was transparent clarity from the transistor, with just a little bit of tube juice to help further soften the high frequencies and give some extra 3D depth to the soundstage.

Antelope Audio's pristine analog to digital (A/D) conversion and state-of-the-art clocking ensured a faithful capture into my recording software of what the microphone and preamp sent into it.



Editing and Post-Production:

Editing and post-production involve more technical tasks, which I will not bore you with in this writing, although if you are interested in hearing more about that process, please feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to share and discuss it with you.

In short, I selected the best reading of particular phrases (most often the last attempt), corrected errors, removed extraneous noises, long pauses, excessive breaths and mouth noises picked up by the sensitive microphone, etc. I did my best to make the edits imperceptible, to keep the narration sounding natural and pleasant to listen to.

In terms of tone-shaping, I didn't do much beyond very gentle EQ and compression... and I mean very gentle. The microphone, preamp and converter already sounded lovely to me. Finally, a bit of level matching for a consistent volume between chapters and some careful noise reduction for cleaner audio without harming the actual content.


I hope you enjoy hearing me tell you the fascinating story of Shulamit Rose, by Lawrence Greenspun.



Listen to the result for yourself


Download or stream the audiobook on Bandcamp FREE OF CHARGE by clicking on this button:


 

Here is a summary of the story:


“What’s in a name?” Juliet asks from the balcony.


A lot, it turns out, if that name is Shulamit Rose, which Jack Gordon finds on a memorial plaque in his childhood synagogue. Born just a few months before Shulamit and a few blocks away in the same Cherry Hill, New Jersey, neighborhood, Jack sets out to fill in the blanks of Shulamit’s story and her unusual name.


The journey takes him spinning back not just through his own suburban, Baby-Boom childhood, but to what he imagines as the source of Shulamit’s name in the Yiddish-speaking shtetls of Eastern Europe and the Nazi death camps. After creating Shulamit’s narrative from nothing more than her name, Jack confronts the reality of what Annie Lerner, Shulamit’s mother, offers as a summary of all of human history, as well as an apt epitaph for Annie and Shulie’s own experience as conceived by Jack: “Powerful men wreak havoc.”


In the end, Jack is left to consider his own role in wreaking havoc through the power of storytelling and the life-changing implications of what amounts to a visual typo.



Download or stream the audiobook on Bandcamp FREE OF CHARGE by clicking on this button:


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