Thuvia, Maid of Mars


On April 12, 2008, I recorded and uploaded the first chapter of Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. When I claimed the project on the LibriVox forums, I set a goal of recording one chapter every two weeks, in order to complete the recordings by the end of October. Life got in my way, as it tends to do, and by the end of October I had just finished recording chapter 09. It needed to be re-recorded, and I didn’t get that finished until early December.

But now it’s done! Thuvia, Maid of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs is my first successfully completed solo project at LibriVox. I’m delighted that I’ve completed it, and I hope you enjoy listening to it!

I knew it was going to be an arduous task, but I must admit that it was more taxing than I expected. I’ve often been told that I have a nice voice, but it takes a lot more than that to successfully narrate something like this. I’ve changed recording equipment several times. I’ve tinkered and twiddled with settings and options in Audacity. I’ve recorded and re-recorded and re-re-recorded the same chapters several times as I learn more about how to properly create an audiobook.

The most helpful thing, though, has been listening to other audiobooks and podcasts. In the first couple chapters of my recording, I was very conscious to read in a deliberate, slow way. I have a tendency to speak very fast when I get excited, and some of the sequences of the story are fairly action-oriented. I didn’t want to spoil a listener’s enjoyment by rushing through the narration. An unintended consequence of this deliberate narration is that I sound (to my ears, anyway) somewhat stiff, and lifeless. That changed in the latter half of my recordings, though, specifically because of several audiobooks I listened to.

Most notably I listened to The Talisman, a story by Stephen King and Peter Straub, and read aloud by Frank Muller. Mr. Muller’s narration was superb, and he really brought the characters to life. I envied how well he could put emotion and feeling into his voice. I also really enjoyed his sense of tempo. He would read faster those sections of the story that were tense or action-packed, making me have a very visceral response as a listener. It wasn’t a mechanical reading, but rather one filled with feeling. I had to practice, and re-record a few sections more than once, but I think I did an acceptable job breathing a little more life into the later chapters of my recordings.

I’ve also been listening to stories by Scott Sigler. I listened to both Earthcore and Ancestor a long time ago, and just recently completed Infected and started Contagious. Mr. Sigler goes all out when he reads his stories, and I’ve always enjoyed how enthusiastic his recordings are. He gives each character a specific voice, and keeps those voices clearly defined throughout the entire story. I found it very difficult to get specific voices to “stick” to the characters in the story I read, and worry that I might cause confusion by inadvertently re-using the same voice for multiple characters. For any future recordings I do, I’ll definitely need to find a better way to give voices to the characters.

All in all, it’s really been a lot of fun to record Thuvia, Maid of Mars. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the other Barsoom stories available on LibriVox, and I’m glad that I can add to the collection. I hope that my recording is a satisfactory compliment to the existing works.

Now I plan to keep an eye on the Readers Wanted sections of the LibriVox forums, to see if another project catches my fancy. Any recommendations?

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