Welcome, J.F. Harding to The Book Nympho. I first fell in love with Harding’s narration through Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series. Now I’m looking forward to listening to more of his work.
Can you walk us through your prep work for a narration project? Do you prepare any notes to help decide the tone and voice to give a character when there’s not a clear description of their voice in the novel (when they do not have a distinct accent)?
It definitely depends on the book. Regardless of the material, I always scan the text front to back, looking for new characters, plot points, and surprises dealing with how a character should sound: “That guy you’ve been voicing for 400 pages? Surprise! He’s Irish!” That actually happened. I also scan for pronunciations of unfamiliar words. It can be A LOT of work, depending on the book. I usually like to start books on Monday or Tuesday, and will take the weekend to prep. We also contact the author or agent, and get preliminary questions out of the way…suggestions they might have for accents, geographical settings that may not be obvious, things like that. I take a lot of notes. I read off my iPad in the booth and have an app called iAnnotate that I use exclusively. I write notes directly on the page. There’s even a voice memo function in-app that I use for character voice ideas. I’d recommend it for any narrator that reads off the iPad.
I once read an interview with another male narrator who referred to a scene with many male characters as a conference table scene and how hard it is to make all the characters have their own voice. You do an amazing job with this in the Cut & Run series. How do you keep the male character different during your performance?
Thank you! That’s a combination of working with the engineer in the booth next to me, and getting the voice stuck in my head. I will usually try to commit the first line that a character speaks to memory, and use that line as a touchstone as he or she pops up in the book. If I remember the line, I’ll usually remember the voice. Also, the engineer marks each new character in Pro Tools, and we can play each marker when I need a reminder. I’m about to start a book that’s the third of a series…but I did the first two in 2012! Remembering four-year-old voices may be a little tricky.
You narrate a wide variety of novels. How do you decide which books to perform?
I’ve read pretty much every type of book you can imagine. M/M erotica to science fiction to mystery to children’s books to historical fiction to non-fic on too many subjects to remember…I love narrating, and the company I work with, ListenUp Audiobooks, knows that, and likes to keep me on my toes!
Since you spend so much of your time reading novels for work, do you enjoy pleasure reading in your spare time? If so, what types of books do you enjoy? And, do you find yourself thinking how you would narrate those books while you’re reading them?
I used to read a lot before I started narrating. Some of my favorites are Cormac McCarthy, Michael Chabon, David Sedaris, Tom Robbins…but lately, if I have enough time, I like fluffier stuff. I’m slowly making my way through the Chuck Hogan/Guillermo Del Torro trilogy The Strain. I sometimes imagine how I’d perform a book. McCarthy is one that I do that to…his descriptions are so vivid I sometimes catch myself reading out loud.
Name one book/series/character that you’ve read that you wish you could narrate?
Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy definitely. I’d have to brush up on my Spanish, though. Oh, and Spooner by Pete Dexter!
What narration job are you currently working on?
I’m narrating the Hades Hangmen Series by Tillie Cole! Look for it!
Audible is giving away ONE download narrated by J.F. Harding to ONE winner.