The Marylebone Drop AudioFile Best of 2019 Mystery & Suspense
The Gold-Son AudioFile Best of 2017 Young Adult
Twisted River AudioFile Best of 2016 Mystery & Suspense
Gun Street Girl AudioFile Best of 2015 Mystery & Suspense
In the Morning I’ll Be Gone AudioFile Best of 2014 Mystery & Suspense
�Torn from Troy AudioFile Best of 2013 Young Adult
Toothiana AudioFile Best of 2012 Children
E. Aster BunnyMund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core AudioFile Best of 2012 Children
The Cold Cold Ground AudioFile Best of 2012 Mystery & Suspense
Time Quake AudioFile Best of 2010 Children
Seeing Redd AudioFile Best of 2008 Children
Mothers and Sons AudioFile Best of 2008 Fiction
Brisingr AudioFile Best of 2008 Young Adult
Dead Yard Audie Award 2007
Eragon AudioFile Best of 2004 Children
�Talking with Gerard Doyle
5 Questions with Golden Voice Narrator Gerard Doyle�
This June has been an exciting month here at AudioFile Magazine as we continue to celebrate Audiobook Month and honor our Golden Voice narrators. If you haven’t already, take a moment to catch up on the blog posts, listen to our podcast, and follow us on Twitter so that you don’t miss a single moment of this month’s celebration.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to the talented Gerard Doyle in today’s Take 5 post. Did you know that Gerard was an immediate narrator star? He won an Earphones Award for his very first audiobook, A STAR CALLED HENRY. Since then, he’s given voice to dragons and wizards, detectives and killers, and many everyday people, both fictional and real.
It’s hard to list all the reasons I love Gerard’s work on audiobooks, but his impressive spot-on timing is near the top. I love the way he pulls me along during high-action scenes, amping up the excitement and danger, and that he can also keep me in the present during more poignant moments, giving me time to react and think. I have a weakness for audiobooks set in Ireland, and Gerard’s native accent is always welcome, adding authenticity and atmosphere to my listening hours.
Now it’s time to take a moment to learn more about one of the busiest voice actors around. I’m so pleased Gerard agreed to answer some questions for us.
AudioFile Magazine: What is the one thing you wish you knew before you recorded your first book?
Gerard Doyle: I wish I had known in advance how difficult it is for an absolute beginner to record a book to an acceptable standard. My first audiobook audition was an absolute disaster because I found no connection whatsoever with the material. For my second audition, three years later and for the same company (my first audition was so awful that the same producer had absolutely no memory of me!), I was far more connected with the material and was offered the book. Even though I was more involved with the story and the characters, my approach to the first 100 or so pages was quite tentative. After a while I got into my stride and, when the book was completed, producer Claudia Howard called me back in and played me both the beginning and the end of the book to demonstrate the difference in my delivery. She then had me sit in the studio and record the first chunk again and matched them seamlessly. That book was A STAR CALLED HENRY, by Roddy Doyle, for which I won an AudioFile Earphones Award and which, 20 years and 300 or so audiobooks later, remains one of my favorite audiobook projects. Bless you, Claudia Howard! I always try to remember the lessons I learned through that experience.
AFM: Tell us something surprising about yourself.
GD: In addition to my audiobook recording career, I have a full-time job as a teacher of theater-related studies in a private school. The curriculum allows for the integration of theater into the classroom in grades 6, 7, 9, and 11, and I also direct two extra-curricular theater productions with the students each year. I’m fortunate in having a comfortable recording booth at home, so I can schedule my recording sessions around my teaching commitments. In a busy recording year (and, thank goodness, most of them are), I effectively have two full-time jobs. This means recording in the evenings and weekends pretty much throughout the year. Exhausting, but very gratifying.
AFM: What are you doing when you’re not working?
GD: My answer to the previous question pretty much covers my answer to this question as well. I tend to be so busy that I have very little time for actual hobbies as such. However, we are extremely fortunate to live very close to a number of beautiful ocean beaches and wetlands, and my very favorite thing to do is to sit on a beautiful day in a comfortable beach chair, under a large umbrella, with a picnic lunch and a glass or two of something refreshing, and work on preparing my next audiobook project. Absolute bliss!
AFM: What’s your go-to beverage when recording? How about after recording?
GD: My needs in my recording booth are simple. My beverage of choice when recording is bog standard English tea with a little milk. A little clichéd, I know, but it refreshes and sustains me throughout a six- or seven-hour recording session. After recording, if I have the energy, I like to relax (or prepare the following day’s session) accompanied by a glass of red wine. Purely medicinal, of course!
AFM: What’s the first task you tackle when given a new audiobook project?
GD: I’m such a dinosaur that I still prefer to work from a printed page. Then, if it’s a sunny day, I set up my chair and umbrella (and picnic lunch, along with a refreshing beverage) on the beach, and begin the pleasurable voyage of discovery through the story. I make notes as to character voices and physical attributes as described by the author and also pronunciation queries. If possible, I like to be in direct contact with the author in order to get the information, as it were, straight from the horse’s mouth. I am very fortunate in that there are a number of authors for whom I regularly record, and we have established a pretty good working relationship over the years. One possible exception to that is one of my very favorite authors for whom I have recorded 18 books and who, when we Skype and I ask him for pronunciations of Gaelic and Latin—which he often includes in his books—mostly replies in his still prominent Northern Irish accent, “I don’t f*** know! I heard it in a pub and wrote it down. Say what the hell you like.” I love my job!! (Seriously!)
Thanks so much, Gerard, for joining us today. I love the image of you on the beach, picnic at your side and book and notes in hand, as you prepare for your next audiobook project. How wonderful, too, that you are able to share your talents with young students. That’s one lucky school.
If you’re looking for even more Gerard Doyle audiobooks to add to your wish list, be sure to check out our reviews. No matter which audiobook you pick, you’ll be delighted by Gerard’s enchanting Golden Voice performance.
For even more on Gerard, don’t miss our discussion of his works on the Behind the Mic podcast.
CANDACE LEVY | JUNE 19, 2019
Gerard Doyle was understudying a role on Broadway when his agent called to say that Recorded Books was looking for an Irish voice. "I knew about audiobooks, but--embarrassing to admit now--I didn't know much. No matter, I thought, 'I can do that. I'm an Irishman.'" An Irishman who as a child often went to the local pub with his family. "I'd sit on the bench late into the evening listening to the stories and the lies. And the music! I even sang sometimes. They'd put me up on a table. One of my best was Ronnie Donegan's 'My Old Man's a Dustbin.'"
No wonder he won an AudioFile Earphones Award for that first audiobook, A STAR CALLED HENRY , by Roddy Doyle. No relation, says our narrator, but "Ah, that book was a lovely thing." He manages to make three melodious syllables out of "lovely."
That fine beginning was also almost the end of Gerard Doyle's audiobook career because when he called, rather hesitantly, to ask when he might audition to narrate more books, the person who answered the phone yelled, "What are you talking about? Can't you see we're under attack!" It was the morning of September 11, 2001, and Doyle hadn't yet turned on the news. Chastened, he put the whole experience on the proverbial shelf until established narrator Simon Vance called to tell him that he, Gerard, had won an award. "Novice that I was, I had no idea! So I tried again, and Claudia Howard at Recorded Books, bless her, she dug out something for me to read."
Since then, Doyle has won umpteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and in 2008 was named a Best Voice in Young Adult Fiction. He reads adult, young adult, and children's books as well as literary fiction, mysteries, humor, adventure, and lots of fantasy. "I do dragon voices really well." Speaking of fire-breathing winged creatures, Doyle narrated HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON , by Cressida Cowell, which has just been made into a film. "Clever, funny--heavens, that was a great read." And he is the voice of Christopher Paolini's bestselling Inheritance series, which he also loves. Admittedly, he received the first volume, ERAGON --"760 pages!"--only 12 days before he had to record it. "I could only read it through once," says the man who, when asked if he reads books before narrating them, answered, "Oh God, yes! I prefer to read them twice. Writers are forever introducing characters on page 20 and describing their voices on page 200."
Eragon was a marathon production that involved recording for eight hours, reading ahead at night, and coming in the next day for another eight hours.
This may be why, when asked what keeps dragging him back into the studio, Doyle laughs. "I have no idea. Wait, yes, it's masochism. Definitely, masochism."
"Really? Well, then. Narrating audiobooks takes me right away. When I'm in the studio, I'm not really in the claustrophobic soundproof box. I've gone somewhere else, often far away. And I've become many other people, other creatures. I've been subsumed." There's nothing quite like it, he says. The "otherness" is so pervasive that after going into New York City to record, he can find himself wandering aimlessly. "I have to give myself a shake. 'Get a grip, Gerard. You've got a train home to catch.'"
Doyle records in the evenings, on weekends, on school holidays--"every spare minute"--because during the week, he teaches drama at the Ross School. Right now, he is directing the musical Pippin, which evidently ends in a conflagration. "Really, I must learn to read the plays before I choose them. But this has parts for more than 30 students, and the plot is dramatic and meaningful. It's perfect!" Except for the flames in the middle of the stage. "The thought of it quite worried the principal." So they're going to do it with lights. It will be a lesson, he says, in "using the power of imagination to take an audience to someplace else entirely."
-- Aurelia C. Scott
Whether he’s relating tales of dragons (see the latest in Christopher Paolini’s epic Eragon series, BRISINGR ) or gritty battles for Wonderland, as in Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars trilogy, Gerard Doyle’s narrating range and skill shine. How does he do it? “I tend to go largely by physical description,” he says, discussing how he prepared for narrating BRISINGR. “If there are specific details about the voices, I latch onto those as best I can. But if a creature’s anatomical features are described, I try to imagine, for example, how the jaw might work . . . and then try and adapt that and attach it to something that sounds okay to the ear and is still slightly stranger than normal.” SEEING REDD is the second in the Looking Glass Wars trilogy and follows Alyss--the real person Lewis Carroll based his Alice in Wonderland on. It’s a wildly imaginative series, and, as author Beddor says, “Gerard gives the characters fullness, creating just the right visceral momentum through some of the action chapters.” Our review agrees: “With SEEING REDD, Doyle once again shows what can be done with just a voice and talent. Clearly, Doyle has made this series his own." --2008
After conquering the elvish language invented for ELDEST and ERAGON, nothing fazes Gerard. He takes on the new Alyss of THE LOOKING GLASS WARS and SEEING REDD or the mean streets of THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD with compelling style. --2007 Narrator Yearbook
Gerard's audiobooks in the mere five years of his recording career show a stunning array of narrative skills. At one turn, he can be chilling the listener with the grittiest of Irish noir suspense ( DEAD I WELL MAY BE ); in the next, he's the master of mythology and humor in a fantasy of Vikings and trolls (Nancy Farmer's THE SEA OF TROLLS ). His many skills make him the perfect guru/guide to Christopher Paolini's dragon-rider fantasies ERAGON and ELDEST , which are destined to be perennial must-listen audiobooks. The recording of ELDEST —a marathon completed in 80 hours over nine days—includes Gerard using "Dwarvish," the young author's invented language based on old Norse. Producer Claudia Howard says this about Gerard's narration: "Worlds populated with supernatural beings and larger-than-life events require a powerful imagination and the ability to see these worlds as real and possible." His range astonishes, yet as he brings these fantasy characters to life, he's never over-the-top or cartoonish. Narrating as Michael Deehy, Gerard has been occupied mostly with Deborah Crombie's moody police procedurals. IN A DARK HOUSE and LEAVE THE GRAVE GREEN are just two in the Crombie series he recorded this year. His Irish heritage and English-drama training make the Scottish, English, and Irish accents sound both distinctive and completely natural. Gerard is definitely on a fast track-50 audiobooks in three years-and his consistently riveting performances show he has the acting scope and balance to be recognized as an audiobook star.--2005 Narrator Yearbook
Photo by Jo Anna Perrin
Photo by JoAnna Perrin
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