When I finished my last audio book I sighed a huge sigh of relief. It’s called “Economy, Society, and History” and this book is a transcript of a number of lectures given by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Hoppe is a conservative German-American economist.
I am by no means a conservative person. You might say that I lean very much left-wing, but that never stopped me from exploring other ways of thinking. I’m also Jewish, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam.
To be honest, I think it’s one of the many blessings of being an audio book narrator, that we get to explore different worlds, characters, and ways of thinking. As long as the book I’m working on is well-written, I enjoy the journey.
So, why did I sigh this huge sigh of relief? Well, it turns out that it took me quite a bit of energy to make content that wasn’t particularly thrilling to me, kind of exciting to the listener. I felt like a tour guide who didn’t really care about all the sites he was paid to talk about, but who had to put on a show to entertain the group he was leading.
Was I being disingenuous? A fake?
In a way, yes. But a very sincere faker.
I happen to believe that as a storyteller you have to be a model to your listener. If you want the listener to be excited, you have to get excited first. If you want the listener to feel sadness, you have to lead the listener to that emotion…. without overdoing it.
You see, if you become overly dramatic, you turn the focus on the narration, instead of on the narrative.
As an audio book narrator there is one golden rule:
It is never about you.
We serve the words on the page and the intentions of the author.
One of the things that puts me off as I listen to certain audio books, is the impression that the narrator seems to be very much in love with him- or herself. It’s almost an act of vocal masturbation.
Good storytellers make you focus on the story. You almost forget that they are there. Not so good storytellers make you focus on their performance.
This also happens in music, by the way. Self-involved performers are not a conduit, but a distraction.
Audiobook narration is an act of altruism, not of narcissism.