• An interview with Shane East, narrator of the Orc Sworn series!

    Shane East, narrator and voice actor

    Brit voice actor Shane East is a completely brilliant audiobook narrator, and I was so delighted when I learned he’d be narrating the Orc Sworn series!

    After he finished recording The Lady and the Orc, he was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me about the process, the book, and what inspired his delicious orc voices!

    Finley: In The Lady and the Orc, Grimarr’s voice is very distinctive. How did you decide on his voice for the audiobook? 

    Shane: So typically, I’ll start by browsing through each book and looking at the author’s character notes. That helps to build the character in my mind’s eye. 

    Different pieces also have different demands — obviously this isn’t a horror series, so the orcs cannot sound as if they’re terrifying! There has to be some human element to them, and our Lady has to fall in love with Grimarr, and be won over by him. 

    Grimarr also needed to be a sustainable voice. These are long books, so I couldn’t choose a voice that was going to be too difficult for me to maintain and have conversations with. 

    I’ve also had a lot of experience with accents, and particularly over the last couple of years with these Scandinavian inspired accents. I wanted to bring that kind of deepness and that ability to sound kind of scary, but also still have listeners be able to fall in love with him. 

    You’ve created voices for multiple orcs throughout the series. How did you decide on those?

    Again, I decide those based on browsing the book, and going by the character notes. That’s why as a narrator, I’m quite insistent on trying to get as much information from authors as I can, especially on a long series — I want to know how the characters are going to develop, and what their underlying traits are. 

    So then I try and incorporate that in — whether that means they’re very stoic, and they keep to themselves, or if they can be quite gruff, but underneath there’s some softness. Or if they’re more of a joker type, or if they’re the younger brother or the older brother. 

    And then, within that realm, I’ll add in maybe more huskiness to one voice, or more up-and-down lyricism if someone is a bit more animated and jokey. Or if they’re not animated, then they might have the lowest voice of the group, without too much inflection. 

    So all of that comes into play, and then it’s there in the writing as well.

    How do you keep all the characters consistent? 

    I think that’s just from thousands of hours in this box! You kind of just learn where they sit in your voice. I don’t really know how else to describe it… it’s sort of like a muscle memory. 

    How do you prepare for a project like this?

    Beyond what I’ve already said, I actually have somebody prepare the manuscript. They will go through and highlight the different characters, so that when I’m browsing through the book and then when I’m recording, I have a visual reference. So on the page I’ll see the lines are in blue for that character, green for that one, yellow for that one. That’s very helpful to me, and saves me a lot of time!

    So by the time I come to the booth, I’ve already done all that preparation, and have that in my head, working away. And then you just shut that door and press record, and off you go! And it all comes together — through the performance, you’ll get the nuances and the subtleties and the writing. All the bits and pieces will come through.

    How do you prepare for each recording session? Do you have specific rituals or processes? 

    No, I just tend to do a bunch of mouth exercises, because like any muscle or part of your body, you need to warm it up, get it going! I can’t just jump in there and start doing page after page, and get my mouth around all the words… I need to get my tongue and lips and all of that moving and awake before I sit in the booth.

    Were there any parts of The Lady and the Orc that were particularly fun for you to record?

    I did like the banter between Grimarr and Jule. I liked that play of how they came together, and how we got to see the side of Grimarr that was more fun. He wasn’t just this scary beast — there was also a human side of him. And then they started to get comfortable, and they would joke between them and poke fun with each other. 

    Did you find any parts of this book difficult to record? 

    I do find when you’ve got voices that are so strong and based very low, action scenes can get tricky — or they can just be quite taxing, I should say. They flow just the same, but at the end of it, you sort of say, “Okay, it’s time for a good 20-minute tea break!”

    Thank you so much for this, Shane! You did such a spectacular job on this book!

    Thank you! I look forward to the next one! 

    Other purchase links: Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com.au

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