This year we decided that we would introduce you to some of our lovely narrators who work mainly behind the scenes, but without them our books would not be recorded, and we would not be able to provide the service that we do. Our newest offering is Ann Stutz.
What’s not to like [about being a narrator] - no audition, I get all the parts and I don’t have to learn any of the lines. And how wonderful on a grey day to be able to lock oneself away with a book and a laptop and read aloud.
Ann Stutz has been a Calibre narrator for many years and her love of the role absolutely shines through when you hear her talking about her work. An avid reader herself, with a great love for amateur theatre, Ann enjoys almost everything that has been sent through for her to record with one exception– sci-fi!
Ann belongs to a local amateur theatre company, although nowadays she is more often than not found directing or producing the production rather than acting in it. Ten years ago, she gave up her day job and took on various voluntary roles, including becoming a Calibre narrator and to date she has just completed her 150th book.
Whereas many people during lockdown were required to stop work for various reasons, Ann enjoyed the fact that she could continue with the work for Calibre. As well as online aerobic sessions and the obligatory 3-mile walk to get her through to the six o'clock news, Ann also took the opportunity to record some of her favourite books from her own bookshelf, with Calibre’s agreement, adding some titles by the likes of Dorothy Whipple, Noel Streatfield, Richmal Crompton, Lesley Glaister and Bernice Rubens to the Calibre collection.
Ann explains that the length of time it takes to record a book for Calibre is a moveable feast. But as a rough guide, you could take the length of the book you are listening to and then double it. Add onto that the time it takes for pre-reading/scanning and then what Ann calls the ‘stupid error’ time too. What she means by that she explains with examples, such as the time she didn’t realise that the minor American character’s husband was English and not American until she had reached the end of the book. Or the time she pronounced the name of the hair salon incorrectly throughout the recording. The salon was called ‘Kool Kutz’. Ann’s surname is Stutz. Understandably she pronounced the word Kutz the same way she would say her surname until she realised that the name was actually a different spelling of the word ‘cuts’. Both involved re-record time!
Describing the excitement of a new book arriving on the mat to record as like ‘christmas unwrapping’, Ann reveals that it’s a real bonus if it’s a book she would want on her own bedside table and she reads those through cover to cover before recording. If it’s not, she’ll pre-scan the book to sort out the protagonists, the location, the accents and the villain of the piece. Then she sets off to record, working for about two hours a day as that’s about as much as the voice can take in one session. If you catch a cold, that can halt recording for days.
Ann finishes by enlightening us on the mechanics of recording – things that the listener doesn’t have to consider when listening to the polished final recording. She describes how the sound of a hardback can deliver regular clunks into a recording and that the action of just turning a page can provide a whole lot of sound that can be heard– try turning a page noiselessly, it’s not easy! Then there’s the creaks from desks and chairs, the sound of water gurgling in your throat as you take a sip and that’s before you reach the inevitable birds singing, dogs barking and the local church bells!
To listen to the complete podcast where Ann describes her work as a narrator, listen here:
If you want to listen to the books that Ann has recorded in our collection, please follow this link.