I always thought — and this surprised quite a few people — that the audiobook of Baby Grand should be narrated by a man — even though my protagonist, Jamie Carter, is a woman and carries a significant number of scenes. (There are a slew of main characters in Baby Grand, each of whom helms a certain number of scenes. Frankly, I still can’t figure out if I’ve written this thing in third-person limited or third-person omniscient narration, even with reading helpful blog posts like this one from Nathan Bransford. I’ll leave that to creative writing professors for now).
I remember talking with my former agent about the decision and she totally thought the novel should be read by a woman, as did my best friend and others. Yet, this was one of those decisions in which I decided to go with my gut. (My feeling has always been that if you feel strongly about something, you should go with those feelings. That has served me well in my career.)
And I felt strongly about this. Why? Still not quit sure — you know, those unexplainable gut feelings — but I came up with these three reasons:
- Men’s voices are scarier. At least they are to me. (Unless we’re talking Kathy Bates in Misery.) Since Baby Grand is a suspense thriller, I wanted its telling to be pretty darn creepy. And I got some pretty creepy samples sent to me too. But, keep in mind, I also needed this male voice to be able to carry those chapters in which Jamie was the narrator, so I needed a male voice to have a pleasing quality, with only a hint of creepiness. It was a tall order, but in the end Bob Thomley’s narration did the trick. Am I alone in thinking men’s voices are scarier than women’s? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that virtually all computer voices — like those of my GPS — are predominantly female. Scientific studies have shown that people generally find women’s voices more pleasing than men’s. Sorry, guys.
- There are more male main characters in Baby Grand than female characters. Of the nine lead characters, there are seven men: Don Bailino, Mark Nurberg, Phillip Grand, Edward Carter, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Bob Scott and Gino Cataldi (plus several minor male characters), and only two females: Jamie Carter, the “hero” of the book, and Katherine Grand. So the narrator chosen would spend the majority of their time narrating male-oriented chapters. It seemed to make more sense to go with the numbers.
- The profanity. The bad guys of Baby Grand like to curse. A lot. And since these four-letter-word-loving characters were guys, their dialogue seemed to sound more authentic being narrated by a guy. Truth be told, of the two or three females auditioning to read Baby Grand, only one made it to the sample round, and, after taking one look at the profanity, turned down the job. I respect her decision, but, between you and me, I thought she was a bit of a wimp. What can I say? I’m from New York.
Note: All this week, we will be celebrating the audiobook release of Baby Grand. Tomorrow: A guest post by Matthew Burns of audiobooknerds.com.