I’d like to welcome the very talented Matthew Lloyd Davies to my blog today.
Matthew is the narrator for the audio book versions of The Dating Game and Not Just Friends, which were released recently. He’s also been working on recording The Little Things, which is due out soon.
For full details and audio samples, please visit my audiobooks page.
He agreed to let me interview him, and I asked the readers in my Facebook author group to come up with the questions.
What drew you to being a narrator of audio books?
Really? I love story telling, it’s what my life as an actor and director have been about, so now I get to create my own, one man show, with me as producer, director and the only actor, marvellous. Oh, and I was getting very grumpy as a waiter, which was the job I seemed to spend most of my time on as an actor.
How long does it take to record an audiobook?
Well, a recorded hour may take an hour and a half to actually record. Then it needs proofing which means listening back with the book in front of you, following every single word to check that there are no mispronunciation, no mouth clicks, no ‘chair scrapes’, no excessive ‘plosives’, check the pauses are the right length, and of course check that ALL the words are there, that they make sense and that they are in the right order. You’d be surprised how often ones brain goes into ‘auto-edit’ when reading aloud. All of these are noted and then corrected. That can take double the time, so now we have two more hours.
Then all the chapters need to be ‘Volume Matched’ to make sure the listener gets every chapter at the same level, apply some noise reduction and a ‘high pass filter’—this takes out unnecessary ambient noise (room tone and possible intrusive background noise)—then it needs to be mastered, which can be a long process but usually once a narrator has done a few books they find a process and stick to it for their voice so it is ‘batch’ treated. This can take quite a few hours but you can leave the computer to do this work.
Then I listen to a few random pieces throughout the book to check all is in order. You are now ready to send to the author or publisher who will listen and maybe give you some of their corrections, pronunciations that they wanted specifically or character choices they don’t like. If there are changes to be made these must be made to the unmastered, untreated files otherwise the edits won’t match. Then master again if there are edits, and hope the Author/Publisher likes it.
Oh… and all of that is after first reading the book slowly, making character notes. You don’t want to get to the end of the book and find out that one of your Welsh characters is in fact from Cornwall, it can happen.
So, in short (which is what you probably wanted in the first place) I reckon about four to six hours work for every finished hour is about right.
Do you read the book beforehand all the way through before recording?
See above. I didn’t once, the deadline was too close, and as a result I had a very posh English woman suddenly confessing the secrets of her past and revealing the reasons for her South American accent. Oops… a lot of editing.
Do you read the chapters/scenes in order?
Always… it keeps the dynamics truthful. It keeps the story immediate.
Do you ever blush when reading the sex scenes?
Nope. I do laugh quite frequently though… and I do get a lot of ideas!
What sort of editing usually needs to be done to prepare the final version of the audio book?
Again see above. But to be honest, the more books I do, the easier it gets. I am getting very sensitive to my own errors as I go along. I hear them and correct them straight away. I usually have a couple of ‘mis-reads’ per chapter nowadays. It used to be a LOT more.
Then of course there are the ‘mouth sounds’… and tummy gurgles…
What makes you a suitable narrator for Jay’s stories?
Matt: I think that’s a question for Jay. I just do my best and if an author likes my voice and my reading of an audition piece, I trust their judgement. One can’t read a book constantly thinking ‘the author wanted me to be like….’ The author has to like what I do, and then I’ll do what I do… does that even make sense?
Jay: I was thrilled when I found Matt, because I love his easy-to-listen-to tone and his beautiful British accent. I also like his light touch with the narration and the humour that he injects where appropriate. I think it suits my stories perfectly.
What did you enjoy about reading The Dating Game and Not Just Friends? Do you have a favourite scene you can tell us about?
I hadn’t read any gay fiction before—so much more interesting as a love story than the conventional romance novels. All the problems were about the PERSON and not the gender, very refreshing. But I hate the term ‘Gay Fiction.’ As far as I’m concerned it’s just Fiction, and it has some characters that happen to be gay.
Did reading The Little Things make you cry?
Tough one for me. I have a daughter the same age as Evie. I didn’t cry; I was concentrating too hard. But it did make my mind wander to ‘possible’ other lives. It could have been depressing if I thought about it too much.
Do you read for relaxation, and if so, what type/genre of books do you normally choose?
I like ‘odd’ books… hmmm… I don’t get to read much for pleasure any more. I’m reading all day. I do the Cryptic Crossword. But when I say ‘odd’ books I mean The Wasp Factory sort of thing.
We’re all keen to hear more from you. What audio book projects do you have lined up for the future for us to look forward to?
Well, Jay seems to like what I am doing thus far, and Dreamspinner, her publishers seem to like it too. So…more Jay Northcote, and well… I have other offers too. Lots of Fiction with gay characters seem to be coming my way!
Thanks for letting us grill you, Matthew. I appreciate you giving up your time to answer my readers’ questions J
You are so welcome. It’s nice to communicate ones love of ones job/life. It’s pretty solitary up here in my voice booth in my loft. Thank you for asking, and thank you for reading. I hope some of it is interesting!
About Matthew Lloyd Davies
Matthew has spent 30 years developing his vocal qualities in award winning theatre, television, radio and film.
Matthew is also a professional singer and has been seen regularly in London’s West End (The Lion King, Chicago, Mamma Mia! Sweet Charity), The National Theatre (The Madness Of George III, A Small Family Business) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (The Taming Of The Shrew, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Just) and has been nominated for Best Actor; OFFIES 2008: In addition his directing work has won him the Argus Angel 2013 Brighton Festival. Other highlights of his career include International tours and award winning TV, Film and Radio and theatrical British Classics such as Wilde, Ayckbourn, Whelan, Agatha Christie and many others.
Which all sounds very grand, but basically means that he barely gets to live in his own home and his own daughter won’t let him in the house without ID. The most resounding memory from his West End career hits him in the knees every day when he remembers the two years bouncing up and down as a hyena in The Lion King on a steel stage—resulting in a walk like a giraffe on ice for the first half hour of every morning, probably for the rest of his life! Of course the joy of these jobs is also remembered and the image of sitting in the middle of a field on a summer’s day with Alan Bennett, Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren having a cup of tea before bundling Nigel into a straight jacket and carrying him around for the rest of the day is one never to be forgotten…especially as he got to witness and be a part of an Oscar nominated performance and an Oscar winning film (The Madness Of King George).
Audio books are where Matthew hopes he has found a home. The wonderful responsibility of reading books to so many people around the world, of taking an author’s words and giving them another form, another life… is a true joy.
Matthew’s voice is described as friendly, warm, smooth, professional, trustworthy, authoritive and exceptionally easy to listen to.
Matthew’s extensive history of acting and character work combined with his directing ability gives him a unique skill-set in the production of audiobooks where he is now making his mark as a Narrator for Audible UK/Bee Audio/ACX/Prospero Media. With most UK regional accents covered Matthew is also able to give authentic accents for many European countries and USA
The only (at time of writing) England based ACX AUDIBLE APPROVED Male British English Narrator/Producer.
Matthew has studied the Bee Audio HSCC. (Home studio certification course).
I’m giving away one audio copy of Not Just Friends. The winner will need to provide me with their Audible email address (either for Audible.com or Audible.co.uk) in order to receive the prize.
Giveaway now closed!