Morgan chats with Sean Crisden about Forging the Future!
Morgan: I know you said you pre-plan passages that look difficult. This whole book looks difficult! What was your process for making sure all the words are pronounced correctly, giving each of the many characters a distinct voice and making sure it also fit with the previous narrations? (There are so many characters and strange names!)
SC: Mary’s books are steeped in Egyptian mythology and lore, so I have a few resources that I use to at least steer me in the right direction with pronunciations, including those that Mary herself has provided. I’ll leave it at saying definitively that there’s possibly a good chance that most of them are probably correct sometimes, on occasion…maybe. No, no, no, no need to double check that, just take my word for it. The characters are always so rich and diverse that after reading and prepping the book I supply them with the voice that I heard in my head. I am fortunate enough to have a very wild and fanciful imagination so often these things just flow rather copiously from my brain. It’s a cluttered and terrifying mess in there though, I advise against vacationing there – at the very least wear a fine pair of galoshes. I have a spreadsheet for practically every book I have narrated with plot info, character notes and assorted miscellany, sometimes linked to a sample sound file. This helps to keep me organized and on track most of the time.
Morgan: I know that you do your own sound mixing. Do you record the different dialog (accents) one at a time or as a conversation? (Do you switch back and forth or do that with editing?)
SC: I am an audio engineer as well as a voice talent. I spent many years as a musician and in studios learning how to make my terrible audio sound marginally less so prior to becoming a narrator and voice talent. When I track a book, I track and narrate as it is written, correcting mistakes that I make as they happen with a method known as punch/roll. I don’t like going back after the fact and trying to reclaim the same mood, pace and intensity afterwards. Of course, after the initial narration is proofed by the publisher a number of corrections come back anyway with things that I unknowingly mumbled, garbled, burped or just plain misread. I like to keep those as minimal as possible, however. So, in terms of conversations, with the character voices, textures and colors already in my wacky brain, I simply read through and switch characters as I go. It’s much more fun that way…sort of like a one person performance with a cast of dozens. Oh wait…it is.
Morgan: I know you said you are a fan of this series – how did you feel by the end of the narration?
SC: I always joke and say that my favorite part of any narration is “This concludes [book title] by [author]. Thanks for listening, now go play outside.” Of course at the end of Forging the Future there is a sense of relief felt by the lazy-want-to-be-in-my-pajamas-again me, and a sense of eager anticipation for the next book and for the story to continue for the Mary Calmes-lover me. Ah, who am I kidding? I’m pretty much always in my pajamas.
About Sean Crisden
I have been a professional voice artist since 2006 (wait, people pay me for this?) but my history extends further than that. As a child, I was known as “Radio Man” for the articulate, listenable qualities within my voice. I don’t know any other kid who took quite so much pleasure in standing up and reading out loud “Tikki Tikki Tembo” or “Bunnicula” for their class.
This lead to an early pursuit of performing and I performed for nearly a decade with the prog rock band Divided Sky as vocalist and guitar player. I have expanded my abilities into on-camera acting, appearing in numerous commercials and films including M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender”. I was even fortunate enough to act in and choreograph the combat sequences in “Le Meduse Rouge”.
I continue to grow, develop and refine my talents in an ongoing effort to find fulfillment by drinking of my creative well. I also train in several martial arts and do my best despite the lure of my bed and apple pie to stay in excellent physical shape.
And be sure to check out Morgan’s review of Forging the Future!