Author: Kathryn Guare
Narrator: Wayne Farrell
Length: 11h 19m
Publisher: Kathryn Guare
Series: The Virtuosic Spy, Book One
Meet Conor McBride. He's even more interesting than the trouble he gets into. A talented Irish musician reluctantly reinvents himself, disappearing into an undercover identity to search for the man who ruined his career: his own brother. On a journey from the west of Ireland to the tumultuous city of Mumbai, Conor McBride's only goal is to redeem the brother who betrayed him. But he's becoming a virtuoso of a different kind in a dangerous game where the rules keep changing--and where the allies he trusted to help him may be the people he should fear the most.
Kathryn Guare lives in the Vermont town where she grew up, part of the third generation of her family to call the tiny capital city of Montpelier home. She spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization, worked as a tour coordinator in a travel agency, and has traveled extensively in Europe and India. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and loves exploring ethnic foods and diverse cultures. Her first novel, Deceptive Cadence was awarded the Audiobook Gold Medal in the Readers Favorite Awards. Internationally acclaimed voice actor Wayne Farrell began his professional career at The National Theatre of Ireland, where he met the legendary Irish seanachai Eamon Kelly and became fascinated with the art of storytelling. Using skills learned during this time, Farrell has worked extensively in both documentary and audiobook narration and is widely admired for the rich clarity and versatility of his voice. His credits include award-winning authors such as Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart won The Guardian’s First Book Award as well as Irish Book of the Year; and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Morgan Rice, author of the fantasy epic The Sorcerer’s Ring.
Q&A with Kathryn Guare
There are many challenges that one can face when looking to narrate a story. I’m not so much of a story teller as that is more a job for the author. If they have done their job properly, mine tends to go a little better.
As a narrator, my side of telling the story always boils down to whether I think I can do justice to the work of the author.
Have I understood what messages the writer wants to send? Can I make sense of the environment that they have set their scenes in and can I draw on personal experience to properly portray characters?
Those are the fundamental boxes that need to be ticked before accepting a project.
Next for me then is pacing. The question of what is happening in the text. Where is it going? How does the scene start and end? The narration needs to follow that pace either with a tempo that reflects the rhythm of the text or in some cases, with a pace that runs counter to the flow of words on the page.
The most important element of pacing for me though, is knowing where to pause or slow down. It’s vital to give the reader time to absorb things. If the author has painted a scene, it’s good to be able to describe that with the right tone. My voice changes according to the mood of the text but also to its environment. Sun, wind, snow, rain….they all generate different vocal qualities in me.
In a nutshell, you’ve got to be able to elicit emotions from a listener on a level that matches the text.
I know it can sound a bit petty and flies in the face of the age old maxim, but if I don’t like the cover of the book, there is a very high chance I’m going to pass on it.
I’ll still open it up and have a read though, as I’ve been surprised a few times in the past, but not that much. I find it almost impossible to narrate a book that doesn’t draw me in. If I don’t have that “suspension of disbelief” moment within the first two chapters, I’m not going to be narrating it. That is not to say that it isn’t a good book. It’s just not for me.
One of my main gripes as a narrator is being asked to read books where an author uses unusual words to describe something simple, thus alienating a large percentage of readers for example describing a comment as “asinine” instead of just simply saying it was stupid or foolish. Stuff like that unnecessarily breaks the story flow for a lot of folks.
There was a lot within the story that I could connect with. The stand out one being that the main character is Irish. The main location was another. I have spent time in India and know exactly what it’s like there. Again, we are back to the question about the key elements of good storytelling: can you apply personal experiences to the story?
Kathryn Guare writes exceptionally well, with great scene setting and her characters are very believable. I enjoyed “being” them as such. The challenge with any book like this is the wide variety of accents in it: Irish, English, American, Indian, Russian. In this case, you have to make sure that you get each one right, but at the same time, provide enough separation between characters so that the listener knows who is speaking. A lot of people can do a good Delhi accent, but not many people can do two or three different Delhi accents. Therein lies the challenge.
The next book in the series has a lot of American characters in it, and because of that, you will hear a different approach to how that audiobook will be done. Rather than trying to do many accents which may be confusing for some, I will limit accents and rely more on pacing and timbre for characters, leaving the text and the listener to intuit separation. It’s old-school narration but works far better for the direction that the series has taken.
A lot of time goes into the recording of an audiobook. When some authors take their first steps into the process, they can literally be blown away by the amount of hours it takes (not to mention how much the sum of these hours cost!)
Here’s the general process.
I read the book from cover to cover to work out the book: plot, moods, environments, unusual place names or words (we are back to “asinine” again), and a list of the characters. I will normally ask the author for a list of character backgrounds as well - a description of age, looks, moods, and also anything that may come up in future story arcs that may affect how I portray them.
From a voice perspective, I usually shape the character voice around several elements: Pitch (high or low), Tempo (Fast or slow), Rhythm (Staccato, Loping etc) , Placement (nasal, chesty, throaty) and Mouth Work (Accent, movement, twisting)
I make notes for each character and refer to them while I’m recording.
I like suspense novels, particularly in the spy genre. Another reason why I liked Deceptive Cadence. Some of my favourite books are “Day of the Jackal” by Frederick Forsyth and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by John le Carré.
Both authors bring realism to the books because they were spies in a former life. (Maybe Kathryn Guare is one too?!)
The audiobook versions of both books above are great.
I’m also very partial to some Agatha Christie books that have been read by the amazing David Suchet where he plays Hercule Poirot. The man is a brilliant narrator and I highly recommend “The Mysterious Affair At Styles” as evidence of that!
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