I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be able to read for my debut novel. Many writers don’t get the opportunity to record for their own audiobooks. Because my novel is polyvocal and comes from the heart of tribally specific communities, Kiowa and Cherokee, I was more than happy when Algonquin Books asked me to read for the male characters in my debut. Moreover, they hired a Native actress to read for the women characters: Rainy Fields.
You might know Rainy Fields from her work with Terese Marie Mailhot’s debut, HEART BERRIES. Rainy is an enrolled tribal member, Muscogee Creek/Cherokee, and born in Claremore, Oklahoma. I was elated when she signed on to read for the audiobook. She is an experienced Native actress and well-versed in recording audiobooks.
I on the other hand was not so well versed. This was my first time recording anything–much less half a novel. It was fun though. I learned a lot about the world of voice recording. Honestly, I hope I get the chance to do this again. I feel like I caught on quickly. I needed direction at the beginning and the more I recorded the more I caught onto moments when I’d miss a word or add one in.
I was especially interested in capturing the Kiowa and Cherokee inflections in the voices. I’ve said this before on previous blog posts. While both Kiowa and Cherokee people have Oklahoman accents, there are subtle differences between the two. Kiowa people can almost transform English into a Kiowa-sounding language, whereas Cherokees have a stronger twang to our inflections–a little more singsongy. It was fun being able to move between those subtle dynamics in the two tribal communities I hold so dear.
I have to give a big wado to Blue House Media for coordinating with Hachette Audio/Algonquin Books for these recording sessions. Joel was great, kind, and generous. He quickly took care of any issues and was pleasant company. He made the experience fun and exciting. And of course where would I be without Cameron Potts of John Marshall Media, who directed the entire recording and was an amazing coach, and Laura Essex from Hachette Audio, who oversaw the entire production and gave amazing feedback. I’m feeling very lucky to be a part of such a wonderful and supportive team.
As a Native writer, I was excited to be able to have Native people doing the voices for my audiobook. I’m very grateful Algonquin Books was considerate of this very important cultural dynamic. I’m excited how there are different aspects to the production of the debut novel of which have connected to the three intersecting cultures in my life, Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican. While there’s always going to be detractors and naysayers (those cliched crabs-in-a-barrel), I’m proud to have been able to connect with artists from both Native and Mexican communities.