The story of Famous Fiction

11 Jul

The second instalment of our Famous Fiction is about to hit the shelves and we have some real goodies in store for you!

Famous Fiction

I have to confess that working on this series has been anything but a chore.  Finding fantastic readers to tackle these brilliant abridged children’s classics is one of the most fun aspects of creating an audiobook: matching the perfect voice to a particular story.

The process always starts with the story or book and working out who is telling the story.  Is the person whose story it is female or male?  Of course there isn’t always a first person narrator and in those cases other things need to be taken into consideration.  What is the story about?  What kind of listener is going to be interested in it?  Usually those questions will tease out an idea of whether the story is best suited to a male or female voice.

The next big question is what type of voice should tell the story.  Some stories need the voice of a young person, while others might need something with a particularly creepy tone of voice, or maybe it needs a narrator with a special accent.  Once all these elements have been identified, then comes the exciting part of creating a wish-list of people to approach and the nerve-wracking part of waiting to hear if they can record the book.  Luckily, with this Famous Fiction range, we didn’t have to wait long to hear from those we approached.

The first voice-to-story ‘marriage’ in this Famous Fiction series was that of Dominic Cooper reading Oliver Twist.  I’d seen Dominic on stage when he was in The History Boys, as well as his more recent performances in The Duchess and Tamara Drewe.  He is fantastic at getting under the skin of the characters he portrays and when I found out he was a Londoner by birth I knew he would be perfect for this urban classic.  I knew he would have some fun in portraying not only Oliver, but also Fagin and his gang.

I was thrilled when Gemma Arterton agreed to read both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.  Not only is she a hugely talented actress with great range, but she has captured the precociousness of Alice perfectly as she finds herself surrounded by the most dazzling array of characters.

Well-known for her recent role in Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern was the perfect choice for Little Women.  Her accent works superbly with the North American setting of this story about the March sisters and their domestic adventures as they try to overcome poverty and find friendship and love along the way.

When it came to The Jungle Book, I knew we needed someone who could capture not only the excitement of the story, but also all the light-heartedness of the different animals who appear in the story.  Who better to take this on but impressionist, comedian and actor, Alistair McGowan.  His recording of The Jungle Book brings Rudyard Kipling’s world to life in the most entertaining way.

I hope you enjoyed listening to them as much as we enjoyed recording them!

Alex Arlango, Commissioning Editor

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