Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Between River and Mountain latest audio book

Earlier this month, I completed production of my latest audio book. “Between River and Mountain,” an historical romance, by Sally Walker Brinkmann.

I’m happy to say the book has just been released in time for holiday season downloading and gift giving.

The book is set during the American Civil War. Sally Brinkmann, born in Washington but a resident of West Virginia for more than half of her life, populated her story with a very large cast of characters whom she skillfully weaves in and out of the sprawling three hundred page novel.

The area in which Sally Brinkmann chose to live, as well as her strong interest in its history, strongly informs the narrative. The portion of Virginia that would become West Virginia, especially Morgan County, was a turbulent area on the border between North and South, its residents having conflicting loyalties, often paying dearly, during or after the war, for being on the “wrong side.” While the novel begins in this hill country, it also takes place in other parts of Virginia, including Richmond, as protagonist Rob Johnson’s activities include the transport of slaves northward via the Underground Railroad.

As a voice actor, I found it an irresistible challenge to delineate and bring life to the rich mix of characters.  Indeed, I remember telling Sally as I was working on the final chapters that I was going to miss this project when I finished it, as I genuinely liked so many of the characters, their strengths, their flaws, their grit, their special, often endearing, quirks.

The project was something of a departure for me. As I read the audition script, it suggested to me that the narration might be voiced as if contemporaneous with the events. I chose an old Virginia flavor, sort of on a lark, and with some amount of trepidation, as Virginia has many different regional sounds, to say nothing of the hill country regions that would become West Virginia. When the rights holder informed me that the author liked my read on the audition, the course was clear as to how I’d proceed. I hope this approach, as well as the portrayal of the wide range of characters will create some effective “theater of the mind” moments for those who purchase the audio book. 

Here is a longer clip. This second montage begins in the Point Lookout prison camp in Maryland, where a wounded Rob meets Irishman Tim Foley, who will arrange an escape. It also includes scenes subsequent to their escape as they return to Confederate territory and are initially taken for deserters.

The two month project even affected me as a photographer, as the narrative was so rich in descriptions of the terrain and the different kinds of light that mark the seasons in this hill country. I know I will enjoy exploring it with the cameras.

The audio book, which runs 10 hours 45 minutes, is available on, and, by the time you read this, should also be available for download on Amazon and iTunes.

If you are at all attuned to audio quality, I should mention the following. I’ve often been known to cringe at some of the brutal audio compression that appears on certain web sites. This is usually done in the name of the quickest loading, but, speaking personally, it does nasty things to my voice quality. Thus, while the audio book itself has none of that “compression nastiness,” if you’d like an idea of what the production actually sounds like before making your purchase, please use as your guide the embedded player above (or go to my SoundCloud page, accessible through my web site) to listen rather than the audio clip that appears on the Audible site.
©2015 Steve Ember

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