Today I am so pleased to welcome Nicole Kimberling and narrator Gary Furlong to Joyfully Jay. Nicole is here to interview Gary about his audiobook work, as well as narrating the Bitter Legacy series by Dal Maclean. They have also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
Five Questions for Award-Winning Audiobook Narrator Gary Furlong
One thing I really enjoyed about your performance of Bitter Legacy was the characterization put into even the tiniest characters. Even people who only appear in one scene such as my fave from Bitter Legacy the smarmy “Ned from the Gallery” get their own distinct voices. What is your process around that? I mean, I get that it’s that wonderful art called “acting” (lol) but do you have some special rituals surrounding the performance of characters in the book? Does it all take place on an unconscious level? Somewhere in between?
Thank you for saying that, I really appreciate it. The only way I can think of describing it is “Getting to know the humans behind the characters”. That is a quote I have stolen from narrator Dion Graham. He is absolutely right.
Every character in these books is a person with their own lives and their own personalities. I’m not saying I wrote a family tree for Ned, his husband Brandon and their two dogs Millicent and Bogart, but you do have to imagine them as people with their own eccentricities and quirks. The simple fact that he was smarmy instantly put a type of voice and personality into my head.
On a more practical note, I was lucky to be able to get in touch Dal and get some great information on the characters. Things such as actors who might sound like them, their overall personality, their accent (is it posh, drawly, cockney etc).
That really goes a long way to getting the most accurate audio version of these great characters.
Seriously tho—you can do a gazillion accents. Have you always had that skill or was it something you developed specially along the way?
It really started out as being something I did for fun. Robin Williams was a huge influence on me when I was younger so, naturally, I would “do voices” any chance I got. I wasn’t annoying at all.
I think I was also lucky in the type of television and films we had growing up. Being from Ireland we did have our own TV programs but like most people I watched a lot of American TV giving me huge exposure to American culture and accents. Being next door to the UK and having a lot of UK friends it was also very easy to come across authentic British accents in my daily life. And the Australian soaps “Home and Away” and “Neighbours” were massive in Ireland when I was growing up.
I do think if I have a skill at all, it is for mimicry. I like to try to copy what I hear and see if I can replicate it as authentically as possible. I don’t always succeed, but that just means I have something to work on!
Your bio states that you’ve been a teacher in Japan and that you can do a Irish accent in Japanese. I just have to know: what’s the call for that? Video games? Romance novels featuring hot Irish characters? Commercials for…whatever the Japanese equivalent of ‘Irish Spring’ soap is? (The curiosity is killing me.)
I was indeed a teacher in Japan. I spent 5 years there teaching English to the wee children of Itoigawa city in Niigata prefecture. I can definitively tell you that an Irish accent in Japanese has no use whatsoever. Haha
In fact my Japanese language knowledge has really only come into my career once in any major way. I narrated a book called Afro Samurai which was about an African slave who was taken to Japan by the Portuguese but distinguished himself as a warrior and extremely close to Oda Nobunaga. There was some Japanese phrases and lots of Japanese place names, so it was useful to have some background in Japanese.
I have recently started to do some background voices in Anime and it helps there a little too.
As the editor and publisher of Bitter Legacy, I’ve read every single sentence of that book multiple times. I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be able to listen to the audiobook because I already know what happened on every single page forwards and backwards. But when I started listening some strange magic occurred that brought me right into the moment with the book—so much so that I found myself wondering who done the murder when…I mean, I SO already knew. And I realized that the performance in a new medium made all the words new. As a veteran of he medium you must already know this, but why do you think that happens?
Personally I prefer Audiobooks to e-books. That is just due to my attention span. I tend to lose concentration when reading a print copy and zone out. That doesn’t happen to me with audiobooks.
I think when the narrator has a tone and style that you enjoy, it can really enhance the story. They are taking the material and putting their interpretation into the performance. Their interpretation may be very different from what the listener had in their head and hopefully they will agree with it. It also helps to be reading great material. I knew what was going to happen in the books too and I still got chills when I was reading certain plot points come to fruition or discovering something for the “first” time.
I also think it is nice to have someone tell you a story. It can make the solitary experience of reading a book (which is also enjoyable in its own way) into a nice two person experience between you and the narrator.
Back to your bio: it mentions that you spent time in Prague working as a puppeteer. One of the most affecting pieces of theater I’ve ever seen was in Prague–a black light theater review of Beatles tunes which took some very old, familiar songs made them shockingly new (and way, way darker than I’d ever imagined they could be.) Do you have any special anecdotes or insights from your time working in Prague?
I went to Prague for a week back in the early 2000s to work at a puppet festival. It was a very odd time, but lots of fun. It was with an Irish street theatre company called Bui Bolg. These puppets were full body affairs. We mostly walked around and just tried to interact with shoppers, tourists etc and see if we could make them laugh/make others laugh by frightening the shi*t out of them. We were definitely on the lite entertainment side of things.
I really enjoyed Prague.
Bitter Legacy and it’s subsequent books, Object of Desire and Blue on Blue, are set in London. Like all massive metropolises it seems like everyone who goes there sees a different city. Dal Maclean’s London is full of glitz, fashion, crime and unexpectedly posh cops. What’s G. Furlong’s London like?
I have actually been to London once. I think we got the perfect weekend. It didn’t rain once!!! The main things that stick out to me were the buildings. Everything was so well designed, and just very impressive to look at. We had afternoon tea at F&M and ate our weight in scones. We met up with an old friend of mine and just had really great time. All in all I have very fond memories of London.
If I were to just construct it from my head and mix in every piece of fiction mentioning London that I have experienced then I think it would be something like this:
The year is 1856 (In London! It’s still 2020 everywhere else, but my London is still in the 1800s). The eel has never been more delicious and the bowler hat is aggressively in fashion! Ace detective Sherlock Watson has taken on another mysterious case. There is a man/monster prowling the streets at night. He is frightening the locals and he has been dubbed “Hyde what Rips Things”…No washing line is safe. Everything runs on steam!
Would you like a chance to win a copy of Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean in audio? Comment below! You can listen to a sample here.
Like what you’ve read? Try this selected bibliography of other LGBT titles narrated by Gary:
- Shatterproof Bond Series by Isobel Starling
- Soulbound Series by Hailey Turner
- Timekeeper Trilogy by Tara Sim
- Blood Divine by Greg Howard
- Apple Boy by Isobel Starling
Detective Sergeant James Henderson of London’s Metropolitan Police Murder Investigation Team is no ordinary police officer. His remarkable gut instincts and relentless detective work have put him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector. When the murder of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, he finds himself drawn back into the insidious world of London’s privileged elite where men like James’s father possess wealth and power enough to hold the law in contempt. As James navigates the promiscuous, secretive and corrupt spheres of the rich, the murderer strikes again. Soon James begins to fear that these crimes lead dangerously close to his own heart and home. And now, he risks losing everything he’s made of his life unless he can expose the sordid truths that have bred this bitter legacy.
Gary and Nicole have brought an audiobook copy of Bitter Legacy to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, April 19th at 11:59 pm ET.
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