Cory Doctorow and I Narrate “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
Posted by: Keir Graff
…along with 299 other people. (Cory Doctorow, thanks for lending your celebrity to this blog post!)
As anyone who read “Do-It-Yourself Audiobooks” knows, I’m in love with the sound of my own voice. (The problem is finding other people who love that sound, too.) Give me a microphone and a script, and I’ll narrate anything. Heck, I’ll narrate the back of a box of breakfast cereal. I’m worse than Morgan Freeman. Before I headed off to Washington, D.C. for ALA’s Annual Conference, Mary Burkey, who calls herself an audiobook addict but is really an audiobook pusher, suggested that I stop by OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile and check out the “Lend Your Voice” promotion.
Random House Audio, in partnership with OverDrive, was recording a “community-sourced” audiobook of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz using the vocal talents of everyday people. Given that they parked opposite the convention center, the everyday people who stopped by to lend their voices included a fair number of librarians — and famous authors, too. Sure, it’s a nice opportunity for the sponsors to reap some free publicity (there’s a charity angle, too), but the crowd-sourcing angle seemed fun. And then there was the lure of the microphone . . . .
After getting a quick tour of the digitalaudiobookmobile from a nice, technically oriented young man, I got the lowdown on the recording process from Katherine Fleming, a publicist at Random House & Listening Library. My heart leapt in anticipation as she pulled out my page of the script — would I get a chance to voice the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, or the Cowardly Lion? Would I be required to cackle on behalf of the Wicked Witch of the West? — and then sank when I saw it. One paragraph. Three sentences. Eighty-eight words. I took it to be a chapter ending but, this morning, I found it located near the beginning of Chapter Three.
But, hey, it’s for charity. And I’m a professional. (Not an professional narrator, of course, but a professional all the same.) So, after demanding a bottle of room-temperature spring water, I cleared my throat and narrated.
Fortunately, they let me do two takes. Here is what take two sounded like.
And, for your listening pleasure, a diverse array of other voices: Cory Doctorow, Roy Blount Jr., librarian Kathryn Sanders, and Henry Sleeman (age 9). If you ask me, young master Sleeman knocks it out of the park.