‘The Imagined Child’, written by Jo-Anne Richards, has received positive feedback and acclaim from the literary world. Her first novel, ‘The Innocence of Roast Chicken’ published in 1996, was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, shortlisted for the M-NET Book Prize and was chosen as the 1997 Dillon’s Debut Novel in London.
In 2015, Cape Town based audiobook publisher Audioshelf, partnered with Jo-Anne’s publisher, Pan Macmillan South Africa, in order to produce the audiobook version of ‘The Imagined Child’. After a quick audition, Terry Lloyd-Roberts was eagerly accepted as the voice artist.
We at Audioshelf HQ decided to pick Terry’s brain, to see how she goes about the audiobook recording process.
Hi Terry. Thanks so much for chatting to us today. Before we get started, would you mind giving us a bit of background about yourself? Have you always been involved in Drama and the Arts?
Hi Devon – yes, I majored in both English and Drama at UCT and went on to do a Postgraduate Performance year at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. I’ve taught English, Drama, voice and presentation for a long time, as well as being a professional singer and voice artist. I love reading and I love radio (that well known metaphor ‘the theatre of the mind’ sums it up perfectly) so recording Audiobooks seemed like a natural extension , I guess.
You are currently an English/Drama teacher at the International School of Cape Town and also a part-time lecturer at AFDA, Cape Town. Do you enjoy imparting your wisdom to the younger generation? How is the future looking for the South African film and theatre industry?
I am passionate about teaching! AFDA offers an amazing proving ground and platform for young, aspirant actors, directors, singers, scriptwriters and voice artists, among other disciplines. I love lecturing there and I thoroughly enjoy working with a wonderful array of talented, committed students who are, in my opinion, set to make a considerable impact on the South African film and theatre industry.
Audiobooks are massively popular in the States, U.K and abroad. Had you ever listened to audiobooks or known anything about them?
I have! I think previously they were used and enjoyed by people having to endure lengthy commutes…what better way to while away the time than by ‘hearing’ a gripping, intriguing, well-written novel? Nowadays, and especially in the wake of the massive technogolical changes prevalent in our society, people seem to be reading (books) less, perhaps preferring immediately available ‘doses’ of culture or entertainment or information on demand! This is where Audiobooks can play a significant role. Audioshelf is amassing an impressive selection of fascinating books, catering to all tastes – and they are only a click away!
Let’s talk about the story of ‘The Imagined Child’. I was really impressed by the depth of the story and the beautiful way in which it was written. What were you thoughts about the book as a whole? (No spoilers here Terry! Haha)
I have to say that I was also seriously impressed with the novel…and as a voice artist, that is really an unlooked-for bonus! I thought it was extremely well-written and intelligently crafted. It was totally absorbing and the characters were all credibly and finely drawn and depicted. I found the novel both powerful and poignant. To be honest, I couldn’t wait for the next recording session to see how things would unfold!
Before heading into the recording studio, did you have a set idea of how to voice the characters? Or is it something you figure out as you go along?
Well, obviously I did some preparation – reading ahead, making notes for myself, developing and refining my sense of both plot and character, as well as the emotional nuances I felt I wanted to convey. There is also a fair amount of ‘figuring out’ in situ, as well – things change as you read and as you develop a keener sense of ‘the moment’ and what it demands of the reader. Often there would be chats and discussion, off-mic, to compare notes or confirm opinions and ideas. It was a fascinating process!
Have a listen to Chapter 1 from ‘The Imagined Child’
You must become quite attached to the characters as you narrate the book, specifically to Odette being the lead role. Did you feel as though you embodied the main character through telling the story from your perspective? How did that affect you?
Interesting question! I think there’s always a tendency for actors to over-identify with the protagonist and I needed to maintain some sort of perspective in bringing Odette ‘to life’ off the page. I did relate to her, though, and I found her a really engaging character to play – she is complex, troubled (as we all are, at certain points in our lives) – but she is also feisty, independent and compassionate. There was a great deal of depth to the writing – which is a gift to the voice artist, to be honest! I was deeply moved by certain aspects of Odette’s close relationships and found them compellingly and powerfully portrayed.
South Africa seems to be a bit behind in terms of audiobook production and distribution. Do you see the South African public embracing this relatively new medium of entertainment?
I certainly hope so! It’s simple, accessible and immensely enriching…what’s not to like?!
The old excuses such as “I’d love to read, but I just don’t have the time…” or “Books? They’re so archaic…” simply don’t hold any merit.
This is a fabulous, easy, inviting and entertaining way to be exposed to the works of great writers.
A lot of people would love to become a voice artist. Do you enjoy it? What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in the industry?
I love being a voice artist – even recording cheesy commercials! I love the discipline and rigour of it too, not only the creative aspects. You have to nail it … quickly, intuitively and intelligently!
Aspiring voice artists should work on samples of copy and record themselves to see how they can improve or expand their range. They should always try and find a good agent – I have an AMAZING one – because there is not a lot of work out there and it can be dispiriting at times! And finally – keep at it… even when the jobs are few and far between, always be professional, always be prepared and give it your ALL!
Thanks for the chat, are there any last comments you would like to add?
Such a pleasure! Only that I am grateful for the opportunity Audioshelf has given me and I look forward to more collaborations in the future!
***You can hear a sample and purchase the full audiobook of ‘The Imagined Child’ from the Audioshelf Online Shop HERE