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50 Shady Characters & More

50 SHADY CHARACTERS or Voicing Curmudgeon Avenue

by Lindsay McKinnon

I had been searching through the list of authors looking for narrators for their books for a while, nothing excited me though.

Narrowing down my pursuit to focus on comedy and a Manchester accent, I discovered Samantha Henthorn’s book Curmudgeon Avenue: The Terraced House Diaries.

The instant I began reading, I knew – this is my book! I loved Sam’s quirky characters and that the house itself is the narrator. I could actually hear the characters’ voices in my head.

It took me two weeks though before I could even get the audition recorded, as whatever could go wrong did; as I battled with strange noises and glitches and hums when I was recording.

Not that this is unusual, you understand. I am one of those people who has a strange effect on electronic gadgetry… I’ve lost track of the number of phones, watches and computers I’ve sent doolally, or the amount of times I’ve heard the expression “huh! Well I’ve never seen one do that before,” when attempting to get aforementioned gadgetry fixed. (Hands up those who have had Siri refuse to speak to you for a week and then tell you to “F*** off!” when it finally did?)

Eventually, I recorded the audition piece and uploaded it at unholy:am on a Sunday morning, praying that I hadn’t been pipped at the post. Five hours later I received the best possible reaction I could have hoped for from Samantha who emailed me with high praise, which I am way too modest to repeat (but I do have a screen shot of the email on my phone if you really insist on reading it).

Samantha was so happy that I’d read her words exactly how she heard them when she was creating this glorious cast of characters. We were Sympatico.

Curmudgeon Avenue is the first audiobook I have recorded and, though I was used to recording and editing software from my days as a singer, the spoken word is a whole different matter. Every breath, pop and sibilant is captured and can’t be disguised by whacking the backing up a bit.

The fun really started though when the list of characters grew and grew and grew. 50 shady characters, all of them with distinct personalities that required equally distinct voices.

After a few faltering requests of; “do you mind if I do this, with that character?” I was so happy when Samantha gave me free rein to interpret them as they came through.

I was a kid performing in my back garden again! I let my imagination run free and practised silly voices and mad characters as they came to me; usually when driving, in the bath or doing the dishes.

Incidentally, both sets of neighbours moved out during this time, but I’m sure that is purely coincidental.

I hope I have done justice to the wonderful array of dodgy characters in Sam’s book and I look forward to the fun and challenges of the next in the series The Harold and Edith Adventures.

Oh look, the new neighbours are moving in… I wonder if they’ll stay.

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