Ruby Allure's Books

Ruby Allure's Books
Ruby Allure's Books

Sunday, 22 November 2015

An Interview with Helen Lloyd, Audio Producer

An Interview with Helen Llloyd, Audio Producer
Image result for Helen Lloyd audio


Just to give you a little context: Helen first provided an amazing audition for the production of Money Farm, a book about the future of finance. It has been described as the Brave New World of Finance. What astounded me about her was how she switched between numerous accents and had such power in her tone when she delivered. What's more, she completely engages readers,which has been mentioned in the numerous audio book reviews.
Once Money Farm was complete Helen noticed I had written some comedy chic-lit books called Love Hunt. The premise is simple: two women are hunting rich men to remove them from their mundane office lifestyles. One woman is a tick-list fanatic and the other is a self-confessed Russian gold-digger. The pair are living secret dating lives and engaging with wealthy men in hope to live a better life. They email each other at work about their escapades and the happenings in the office. Of course there is an issue - nothing is good enough for Gracie and Eva, the Russian bombshell, intends to get her debt paid off and increase her collection of shoes.
When Helen provided me with her audition I was actually blown away. The Russian accent was astounding and in terms of portrayal of the Russian character, well she had me in absolute states of hysterical laughter. Honestly she was brilliant.  When Love Hunt 1 was finished Helen went straight into Love Hunt 2 and delivered a performance so excellent that I am proud to have written the book. Anyway here is her interview and I have to say she is so humble considering her phenomenal talent.
As I said I before, I feel it is a real joy to be able to work with such talented people.
Please enjoy!
Love Hunt II: The Love Game:, Book 2 | Ruby Allure
Q: How did you get into producing audiobooks?

I recorded my first audiobooks way back in 1980s … recording in a professional recording studio onto tape and the books were distributed on cassette tape – so my involvement with audiobooks goes back a long way – though there was a long gap in the middle when I was working as a television producer, when I just didn’t have the time to continue with something that is so time intensive, so audiobooks took a back seat until I took redundancy from ITV and set up my personal studio.    

I have always read for pleasure – and I guess heard characters in my head right from the very beginning of reading stories. I read to my son … and now read to my grand-daughter. I also think   that moving into audiobooks was in many ways a natural progression from my initial training as an actor and the first two decades of my working life as an actor.  Audio training and voice work was part of my drama school course (I trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and always felt quite comfortable in front of a microphone. I have done some radio drama as well and have played a wide variety of roles on stage in theatres up and down the UK and in the West End and also doing bits and bobs on television, so I am well used to interpreting other people’s words and creating credible characters.  
In the early 1980s, I moved into television as a presenter and began to do VO work, then moved sideways to behind the camera and eventually became a programme producer making documentaries for ITV and digital TV channels, while at the same time doing quite a lot of corporate and commercial voice over work as well as narrating over fifty broadcast television programmes.  I learned about production technically and artistically … and also how to edit (pictures as well as audio) and how to meet deadlines – all transferable skills, invaluable in audiobook production.
I took redundancy from ITV and returned to my roots – I went back into theatre briefly as a producer and director, also as a youth theatre leader and company manager and even worked as an actor once more. Eventually, I set up my home and got back into full time narration and VO work – often working remotely with Audiobok producers and production houses from my own studio, and I realised that this was something I really wanted to get more involved in. ACX was not at that time available in the UK, however it was increasingly seen as an additional opportunity for narrators in the US. I joined forces with an independent US based producer who, acting as a third party ‘producer’ gave me direct access to ACX in the US and I produced my first three independent reads through Push Play Audio in 2013.  When ACX opened up in the UK in 2014, I signed up and started looking for books to narrate and produce myself while continuing to narrate for audiobook publishers remotely through various producing houses in the UK and US. 

Q What so you look for when choosing to work on an audio book?  
It always has to be about the writing and the story for me, and I enjoy working in almost all genres of books. I don’t feel comfortable reading erotica – or overtly political or religious books. My favourite kind of read are those with a great storyline and a clear narrative voice combined with vibrant and original characters that move the story forward in an interesting way. I like multi-layered books where there is more going on beneath the surface – where there is scope for real character and emotional development.  If a book is badly written and poorly constructed, has clichéd characters and stilted dialogue, then that is a real turn off. It is just not worth the effort and time involved.  
It takes a lot of hours to produce an audiobook – and if a book does not engage me, how can I hope to engage the listener?  I am unwilling to spend hours and hours producing something that will always be substandard because however well it is read, if the writing is poor, it will never really work - you just can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear I’m afraid. So quality of writing is what I am looking for … always. 
I narrate all genres of book - heavyweight histories and non-fiction reads, short stories, lots of romances, fantasy, comedy, classics, horror and just about everything in between.  I prefer to work on books that offer a fee payable per finished hour (PFH rate) or at least offer a stipend if they are royalty share (RS). As a full time narrator - I don’t have another day job – narrating books and doing other VO work is how I earn my living – and as well as the time it takes and the investment in equipment that  have made, there are other costs involved. Though I am very happy to edit my own work, I prefer to hire a professional audio proofer. This makes such a difference to the quality of the finished read and it is notoriously difficult to proof one’s own reads.  I need to know that those costs will be covered. On a royalty share deal, there is always the chance that I will end up being out of pocket. 
Having said that, there are rare occasions when a book just jumps out at me and I just feel I have to do it … even if it is a Royalty Share. However, I can only afford to do that a couple of times a year – and at periods when there is no paid work in the pipeline. 

Q What are some of your funniest/ weirdest and most awkward

experiences within audio production?

I have discovered that I have a particularly noisy digestive system - I rumble
when I am hungry and also for an hour or so after eating, especially if I eat bread or wheat based cereal – so grabbing a sandwich is not an option when I am working. Fortunately porridge doesn’t seem to cause such a repertoire of rumbles!  
That aside, I cry at the drop of a hat. Anything remotely sad and I sob. I have
wept buckets at a baby alien saying goodbye to its master (! Yes really).  Things always go wrong in books, a hero is killed or injured, people get sick, a relationship comes to an end (or ends happily … I still sob); animals or people are shot, hurt, maimed, hunted, haunted, frightened lost.  You name it, anything remotely sad, and I cry. As you can imagine, this causes major problems - sniffing is not allowed – and when you really cry it makes your throat hurt and your voice sounds snotty for a considerable time.  I have also been known to get the giggles. Sex scenes can also be particularly problematical –highly educational they may be but mostly I just find them funny, especially at ten in the morning.  There I am … old enough to know better, shut away in isolation in my little box, essentially talking to myself – and when things get steamy I am often struck by the silliness of the situation and get the giggles.  Then there are the days when your brain and your mouth just won’t talk to each other. Even the simplest phrase becomes gobbledeygook and nothing sounds right … the only thing to do at this point is to give up for an hour or so … walk the dog, hoover the stairs, do something totally different, switch off and try again later. 

Q: What was it about Money Farm and the Love Hunt books that appealed?

I think the thing that drew me to Money Farm was the fact that the book was so inventive and so multi-layered.  It also echoed the real life situation where the Global banking crisis had made most of us ordinary mortals feel disgust and mistrust at the financial system – and the heroine of MF was so cynical, so tough and so anarchic that she instantly appealed. Also Money Farm was so original, unlike any other book I had come across … it was full of inventive characters and there was the full gamut of worldwide accents specified in the book. It posed a real challenge to come up with believable and original voices for so many people. I really enjoyed that and some of the reviews have commented on the range of voices in the read– very gratifying. 

Although The Love Hunt books have a similar financial theme (the heroines are definitely looking for guys with money) these books come at things from a completely different angle – and one which again I found original and challenging. The Love Hunt books are purely character voices … there is no narrative voice at all – there is also a lot of humour in the books as well as a lot of common sense. I found the two main women really interesting to play and particularly warmed to Eva the crazy Russian blonde bombshell. She just had the best lines! 
Q What are your favourite bits of Money Farm and the Love Hunts that the readers should listen out for? 
I don’t really have any favourite bits that jump out at me. I think taking any section out of context is almost impossible to do. That is why it is so difficult to find the right sample section to go on the ‘Audible’ listing … choosing any individual section is really difficult.  Hopefully people will be grabbed in the early pages and will just want to go on listening! 

To hear Helen's Brilliance!!!:
Money Farm | Ruby Allure
How do you feel about the value of your life being based on the amount of money sitting in your bank? If we are all inter-connected by money, then why do so few people pay attention to how money works? Fear and denial are perfect for generating debt and that is what the world is run on. Now imagine, if in the future, one financial institution became so powerful that it could choose to eradicate the present monetary system. Then what happens?
Love Hunt: Dating Game Audiobook

Come on admit it - as much as we deny it - we ladies like a good love hunt.
We have tick lists, ideals, and we hunt in high-heeled packs. Of course, we're all hunting for that elusive right man who ticks every box and even has tidy nostril hair. Okay maybe not you, but you know other ladies who love the hunt.
Well, it's time for Eva and Gracie to love hunt, and their "targets" are rich men - the golden sperm. Such exciting escapades would provide the pair with entertaining discussions during their dull office hours - or so they thought. What they did not anticipate was the discovery of the "booby man"; humorous but very hard truths about wealth, themselves, power; and the phenomenon.
The question remains: can love really be hunted?
 Love Hunt II: The Love Game:, Book 2 | Ruby Allure
The Love Hunt has returned. Gracie is back on the dating horse after a huge fall in her first tick-list-tastic love hunt.
Her new dating adventures take her and Eva into the depths of "the love game".
In the meantime, Eva, the ultimate Russian gold digger, has come to the conclusion that her poor "village idiot boyfriend" will never be enough. He will certainly not pay off her accumulating debts. She needs a rich man, and that means rich idiot dating.
In The Love Game, Eva and Gracie travel the journey of extreme love learning. On the way, they will discover their love and lust lists, their intrinsic issues, and experience some hilarious and jaw-dropping dates in pursuit of the wealthy ideal.
All of this in the pursuit of love.
The Love Hunt II is on!


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