DEAD OF NIGHT – A ZOMBIE NOVEL: A Conversation With Audio Book Reader, William Dufris
My new zombie thriller, DEAD OF NIGHT, is now available in print, e-book and audio from St. Martin’s Griffin. I took a few minutes to speak with William Dufris, the narrator of the audio book. Bill is a fascinating guy and his narration chilled even me (and I wrote the thing!).
DEAD OF NIGHT by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin; Trade paperback $14.99; $9.99 for e-book
(Also available from Macmillan Audio read by William Dufris)
Once you’re done reading the interview, check out the special audio sample of DEAD OF NIGHT.
JONATHAN MABERRY: What’s your process for preparing to read an audiobook?
BILL DUFRIS: It’s kind of a triple process:
1.I like to simply read the book to myself, just to gauge my reactions to the material as a whole. I’ve always been an avid reader, and reading’s always been an enjoyable past-time, and so this the effortless part of my process. While reading, I’m also filing away character voices, which I tend to hear in my mind’s ear. Also, an overall feel for the material is taking place, a very organic aspect, difficult to explain.
2.I then conduct a second pass through the book, marking passages and dialogue, noting which character is speaking with an initial for their name, indicating vocal level with up or down arrow for volume, ensuring that pages begin and/or end with a clause, allowing a page turn to take place during a natural break – the noise of which is later edited out. Prior to recording, the manuscript is filled with additional notations in my own special shorthand.
3.Finally, a third pass, or reading, is made of the pages I anticipate recording the following day.
JONATHAN: Walk us through the steps of recording a book?
BILL:I have my own home studio, so I engineer and read, while recording the material. A level is set, ensuring a listenable volume is established. A sip of apple juice is had, to lubricate the mouth. Chapstick is applied, so as to limit lip smacks. And recording starts. Each time there’s a slip-up in the reading, either a fluffed word or misread, or a noise from outside (passing planes, gaseous eruptions, etc), then I stop the recording, which creates an edit point. I retain original take, and resume recording, with the edit point clearly marked and waiting to be cleared by my editor later that day. After recording and editing is completed, the sound files and manuscript are delivered to my audiobook proofer, who then listens to the recording, while reading the manuscript, ensuring that every word as written is read correctly, and that there are no nasty noises. I am provided with a corrections sheet, detailing any such mistakes, and I go through sound files and re-record, fixing errors. Then the sound files are broken up into chapters, and uploaded to either Dropbox or publisher’s ftp site.
JONATHAN MABERRY: How do you pick the voices for each character? What goes into that process?
BILL: I tend to see and hear characters, as I read them. For example, Dez felt very much like Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica to me. So I gave her more of that attitude in my reading. Other characters in the book, if they’re described well enough (as yours most certainly are), are given attributes, to a greater or lesser degree, of minor and major tv/film actors. Also, what a character says, and their emotional level while speaking, determines how I’ll deliver a line. How a character is described physically will also dictate to me a particular way of giving them a voice (Gibbon was especially fun!). My face and body will also mimic the character, as I see and hear them, so I’m essentially acting out each part as I say their lines. My background is stage and radio theatre, so playing characters is what I enjoy most.
JONATHAN MABERRY: Most people don’t really understand the difference between an actor narrating a book and someone simply reading it aloud. Can you give us some insight into those qualities an actor brings to the art of narration?
BILL: It’s being able to make discoveries along the way. The narrator is guiding the listener through the story, but it’s a story that the narrator is also seeing for the first time, albeit a few steps ahead of the listener. It goes so far beyond a simple recitation of words. Again, it’s somewhat difficult to give words to what is an intuitive and organic process. But the end result is why computerized voices will NEVER match what the human voice can deliver, opening up an entire world for a listener, that is divorced completely from their immediate. This is also why computers can’t write a story, either!
JONATHAN MABERRY: DEAD OF NIGHT deals with some dark themes. Are you a fan of horror fiction?
BILL: I LOVE Horror Fiction!!! (Are you reading this, O Mighty Audiobook Publishers?!?) And Sci-Fi. I actually have a series of audio theatre pieces, entitled HorrorScopes, consisting of original and classic pieces adapted for this medium. My short-lived foray into writing (back in the 5th grade) was a horror piece. I love horror flicks. I prefer horror that has a fantastical element to it, something that kinda says that, don’t worry, this could NEVER really happen, as opposed to something on the line of a slasher film, or like the barely tolerable (to me) Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
JONATHAN MABERRY: DEAD OF NIGHT is a zombie novel. How do you feel about that genre?
BILL: Love it! As do my teenage kids. We spent quite a few enjoyable nights together, watching Walking Dead, The Crazies, and others of that ilk. We also watch Shakespeare productions, Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton movies, and zany comedies as well. (That’s for their mom to read!)
JONATHAN MABERRY: Do you have a favorite character from the books?
BILL: Dez! Absolutely. She rocks “hard-assed chick, built like a brick outhouse, with an attitude to boot. Plus a soft side. Yum!
JONATHAN MABERRY: After reading so many audiobooks, do you still have the energy to read for pleasure?
BILL: I do. But more often than not, I’ve got my headphones on, listening to an audiobook. I’m a subscriber of Audible, and I have my iPod packed with books, and am listening to one on my walks, drives, while vacuuming! Love em!
Click here to check out the special audio sample of DEAD OF NIGHT!Â DEAD OF NIGHT – A ZOMBIE NOVEL