Carter Bowman is the author of Part Timers, his first novel. I asked him to tell us about his experience with the making of this audiobook, which is available right now for listening on The Surgical Fiction Podcast (and will be available very shortly for purchase on audible.com).
Here is what he had to say:
What was the process like of turning your book into an audiobook?
It absolutely flexed some different muscles than I was used to as a writer. Usually, I am in total creative control of the project, but while working with a voice actor, it’s my job to choose someone that will not only reflect the work, but also bring something unique to the story that will add more than I bring to the table alone. Working through the early phases, I had to turn my book inside out, dissecting my characters analytically to convey what necessary qualities made each character organically them. From that point though, I needed to sit back and let Edison work.
I am a believer that the more you tinker with another’s work, the more you subtract from the piece as a whole. In the same way that my book came together under a single vision, Edison needed to have that freedom to work as well. This involves putting a great deal of trust in his acting, but the result was fantastic. The Part-Timers audiobook feels like its own work of art, not only standing on the writing it follows.
Was what you heard in the recording what you heard in your head as you wrote the book?
In some cases, certainly, but in many of the best ways, absolutely not! And that is such a good thing! Many of the characters, like Joel and Jophiel were very reflective of my imagination. There is something great about the unexpected, though. In particular, the vocalization of Edgar was very different than the way I had imagined him in my head. Edison made him a more mellow personality than I initially envisioned, which turned out to work well with his dialogue, particularly in the scene with Peter on the train.
There will always be moments where, as the author, something in the narration goes off the beat of where I had pictured the tone going in my head. However, as with all artists, Edison was always envisioning a cumulative end to his acting. This led to more depth-filled conversations between characters that took even me by surprise. The relationship between Joel and Natalie, already existing in that gray area of relationship and friendship took on new and unexpected layers with the small pauses and vocal inflections Edison used.
Do you think about the potential audiobook as you write the story?
I did, though with Part-Timers being my first novel at the time, I was quickly realizing how little I actually knew. At a certain point, I knew that I needed to be alright knowing that I did not know everything, and that I would need to become comfortable improvising. I had to piece through multiple auditions, but Edison’s work was the only one that struck out as the obvious choice. If you had asked me in the beginning if I would have imagined a mature, african-american voice being perfect for Joel’s story, I would never have imagined that it would have worked out so well. Edison’s voice captured the tone of the story, and leant a gravity that the narrative needed.
That being said, my take-away from this experience was to have fun with the unexpected! Accept things that you would have never considered. Go against your own grain. That’s how both the art and the artist grows and evolves!
Would you do it again? Would you use Edison again?
I would, and would be more than happy to work with Edison again. Far more than just serving as a voice actor, Edison sought to push the project forward into new territory with the Surgical Fiction podcast and other great ideas. When you have that, there is nothing more you can ask!
What are you working on now?
My next novel, Deep, Deep Ocean, will be available in July from Ghost Pepper Press. This novel, while also falling under the supernatural suspense genre as Part-Timers, follows a wildly different narrative. Rather than focusing on a narrator like myself, Deep, Deep Ocean follows nine-year-old Silas, who has become convinced that there is something hiding in his home. Being nine, his perspective is limited by his maturity, and while we as the reader may understand the conflicts going on over his head, the young perspective also lends a lens of the world that I loved crafting. Even though the protagonist is a child, this is far from a novel for children. I have made the first two chapters available to read here: Read an excerpt from Carter’s latest novel.