A huge thanks to the author Syd Moore and Danielle @_DanielleLouis_ for organising this tour and @a_hogston and Isis Audio for having me along. I’m honoured today to be sharing a Q and A with you from the Narrator Julie Barrie.
Rosie Strange is back in the latest of the fabulously creepy Essex Witch Museum Mysteries
Secretly Rosie Strange has always thought herself a little bit more interesting than most people – the legacy her family has bequeathed her is definitely so, she’s long believed. But then life takes a peculiar turn when the Strange legacy turns out not just to be the Essex Witch Museum, but perhaps some otherworldly gifts that Rosie finds difficult to fathom. Meanwhile Sam Stone, Rosie’s curator, is oddly distracted as breadcrumb clues into what happened to his missing younger brother and other abducted boys from the past are poised to lead him and Rosie deep into a dark wood where there lurks something far scarier than Hansel and Gretel’s witch…
Get to know Julie Barrie – Narrator of Strange Tricks – Audio Book
My first ever Audiobook was one set in the north of England in Durham, about a small mining community during the time of the 1926 General Strike. It was The Hungry Hills by Janet McLeod Trotter.
Up until then I’d been acting solely in theatre and TV and, although was doing voiceover jobs had never before taken on a whole book or even really thought about doing one . But one day my voiceover agent rang me and said someone had dropped out of being able to narrate this book and so, although I didn’t have any experience, they were willing to take a chance on me as I could do a North-East accent. And the reason for that is my mum is from a small mining community in county Durham and my grandad and uncle were miners. It was lovely for me that this was the first book I narrated. (I grew up with stories my grandmother had told me of, when she was a girl, she and her family being thrown onto the streets and made homeless during that strike) So I felt very connected to my own family whilst narrating and very lucky to be able to tell the story of those miners and their families during that time.
I loved the experience of being totally immersed in a story and ‘playing’ all the different characters, really getting into the heads of all of them and giving them all a voice. This is something different from being in a play or TV drama where you are only responsible for expressing the inner life of the one character you are playing. So, I was hooked!
Recording the Strange series is one of my favorites. I like doing books with a first person narrator because you can talk in a direct, conversational way to whoever is eventually listening and imagine an intimacy there. (I suppose a bit like a soliloquy straight to the audience in the theatre). Rosie Strange is our narrator; she is witty, feisty, brave and romantic and through her Syd Moore challenges and subverts the derogatory stereotype of the Essex Girl. At the same time though Rosie kind of proudly relishes her own particular brand of ‘Essex girlness’ and, for me, it’s really good fun ‘being’ such an entertaining heroine and delivering her one liners!
Each time you get given a book to prepare I suppose the first and most enjoyable thing you do is to get deeply involved with the story so that your imagination ‘sees’ the characters the author is creating and the context they’re in and their voice then kind of comes to you. When you’re later recording in a studio where there may be technical things to deal with and you must observe your script markings, be careful of the correct pronunciation of names etc and try not to hold things up by making mistakes it’s this visualized imaginative place that you return to, reinhabit and hold on to, which gives you the energy to ‘live’ the book in the moment.
There is the preparation though….. In between your initial response to a book and recording it you need to read it (and sometimes re-read it) in a very detailed and concentrated way making sure to miss nothing. I mark my script with stresses, lines I want to run on, and put the initials of the characters next to all their speech marks. Sometimes you might overlook or change your stress when you get into the recording booth if something feels better in the moment but at least you have a framework that you can rely on and this helps things to flow smoothly. Depending on the book, there may be a lot of names and pronunciations you need to research, accents you need to perfect, sometimes even songs you need to learn, and you can spend quite a lot of time on YouTube! Not to mention what you do if you can’t find what you need online: I’ve rung up the Icelandic embassy and taken up the time of the kindly obliging woman on the switchboard, spent a long afternoon at The Imperial War Museum with volunteers there, who turn out to have real expert knowledge on how to say the names and numbers of various fighter planes and bombers, and a morning going in and out of the tiny Swedish Shop in Marylebone clutching an A4 sheet filled with words and expressions I had to have tripping off my tongue by Monday! When you’re preparing an audiobook you don’t have a production team behind you – you’re on your own. In my experience though, when you tell people why you’re asking what you’re asking they are very kind and helpful. On one occasion I was going to be recording a book about the childhood of Princess Haya of Jordan. Actually this time by accident I was walking near Green Park and realised I was outside the International Bank of Jordan. I had my notes in my bag and so decided to pop in. As I explained to the man on the front desk why I’d come in another man in the lobby came over and said “I overheard you, I’m a friend of Princess Haya, what do you want to know ?” !
Author and Narrator Bio
Before embarking on a career in education, Syd worked extensively in the publishing industry, fronting Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and is co-creator of Super Strumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes. Syd has also been a go go dancer, backing singer, subbuteo maker, children’s entertainer and performance poet, She now works for Metal Culture, an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes. Syd is an out and proud Essex Girl and is lucky enough to live in that county where she spends her free time excavating old myths and listening out for things that go bump in the night.
After graduating from Bristol University and joining The Bristol Old Vic Julia Barrie has worked extensively in Theatre; in rep, touring both nationally and internationally, as a member of the RSC, at the Old Vic and Royal Court and in the West End at The Duke of York’s and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For BBC Radio she recorded Anthony Shaffer’s Widow’s Weeds and her TV and film credits include Prisoners’ Wives, The Commander, Doctors, Close Relations, Our Friends in the North, Out of Bounds, Ghost in the Machine and Five Greedy Bankers.