Jo Hiestand has several audiobooks available. She has one and (another coming soon) in her Linn House series. There are 7 books published in the McLaren series. But
in 2020 she came across a narrator that seemed to immediately be an almost
perfect fit for her series featuring Michael McLaren (the McLaren series). In listening you’ll see he seems to fall
right into that British lilt and yet his voice seems to capture that moody, strong, and yet
caring excop that I fell in love with in Book 1, Cold Revenge.
Now Callum Hale has 3 of Jo’s 12 book series narrated: Unfolding
Trap, No Known Address, and the newest one, An Unwilling Suspect.
Here, on Our Town Book Reviews we hope to give you just a
small taste of what you are missing if you don’t jump in and read or listen to
Speaking of getting a taste...here's a snippet of Callum narrating Jo's newest audiobook, https://adbl.co/3y5lDDp
Jo Hiestand is the author of the McLaren Series and a 2 time winner of N.N. Light's prestigious Book Awards....
Read about Jo and the research she does in her writing: HERE
Here's a little from Callum Hale about his background...
I trained as an actor at the East 15 School of Acting, based on the principles
of Joan Littewoods Theatre Workshop. I knew from fairly early on that I wanted
to be an actor, pretty much ever since I realised that playing make-believe
could actually be a career. I’ve been telling stories my entire life, and when
as a child I was given a Dictaphone I would record books for me and my siblings
to listen to, so you could say I’ve been narrating audiobooks for a very, VERY
I remember particularly
recording a number of short stories from a magazine my Scottish Grandmother
used to share with us. One was about a Clooty Dumpling that got into a scrape
with a spider in a cave. I read the entire thing in a Scottish accent;
which you can hear me doing plenty of in another McLaren audiobook; ‘An
My Mother’s family are from
the Yorkshire and Cheshire regions of England, not far from where McLaren and
his friend Jamie call home, so I was drawn not only to those characters, and
the sounds of those voices, but also to the landscapes, which Jo makes just as
important a character in her books.
I find it a real joy
to sit in my little corner, behind the microphone, and step into the world of
the book I’m narrating. Just as you would when reading alone for pleasure; I
can see the hills in my minds eye, I feel the emotion of McLaren; I let the words
effect me and, hopefully, effect my delivery so that the listener has the same
engagement as they would reading the words themselves. To my mind narrating is
acting, and acting is telling stories, and I’ve been doing that all my life.
Some questions we asked Callum
How do you prepare for a new audiobook narration?
The first step is to make sure that the author, or the rights
holder, is happy with the main character voices. So, I’ll liaise with them over
that and send a recording of the first chapter, to make sure the tone of the
narration is right as well. You don’t want to be reading a gritty murder
mystery like it’s a kids nursery rhyme book! Personally, I don’t like to mark
up the manuscript ahead of recording, I prefer to feel what’s right whilst I
record... this sometimes means more editing for me later, but, for me, I think
I give a better performance this way.
What if it requires different character accents, like Scottish or
Welsh? How do you know your accent is correct?
Thankfully, with most British accents, I’m fairly well practiced
already; certainly to differentiate between characters. If I know something
needs to be very specific and I’m unsure I turn to that wonderful research
tool- YouTube. There’s bound to be a video of someone talking in the accent you
need to hear. I’m pretty good at picking up the music of accents quite quickly.
There are times, as with ‘An Unwilling Suspect’ where a character may have a
slightly more obscure accent. There aren’t too many Yorkshire born,
French-speaking Swiss citizens that have returned to their home country... so I
did what research I could and just took a leap of faith! I hope not to have
offended any Yorkshire born, French-speaking Swiss citizens...
What if you have a sore throat, what happens if you're interrupted
during your narration, or better yet, do you have a funny story about a
coughing fit, your dog barking during the recording of an emotional scene, etc…
If I have a sore throat, the answer is very straightforward and
boring... I don’t record! It can be very frustrating, especially when you start
recording and realise; ‘No... I can’t do this today’. It feels like you’re
giving up, but at the end of the day, you just have to stop, walk away and give
the pipes a rest. After all, a painter could have all the inspiration in the
world but if they don’t have any paints; they’re pretty much scuppered.
Thankfully, I’m not often interrupted in my home studio.
Occasionally, though, there’s a loud knock at the front door, and it’salways when
you’re right in the middle of a deeply emotional moment... and some colourful
language usually follows... which I edit out later. In fact, all the times I
talk to myself, while the mic is still recording, could be edited together to
make a full length audiobook of it’s own; but those conversations will never
see the light of day... or reach the ear of the public, at any rate.
Here's Callum's FB page. Check it out! https://www.facebook.com/callum.hale.14