…believe me. Though it is, of course, in my best interests to plug anything and everything to do with my own work – I’m not the kind of person to endorse any old thing just because it is related to my writing. So you can take it from me that I mean every bloody word of it when I say, I Love Kate Rudd.
You might recall how happy I was when Brilliance Audio chose her to narrate the Moorehawke audio books. And you may have got as big a kick out of her guest post as I did, when she described her work on the trilogy. But none of that prepared me for just how terrific her performance would turn out to be.
I was at the Wexford Literary Festival last week, and I so spent quite a bit of time driving/ sitting about in hotel rooms/walking around waiting for events to start. This gave me ample opportunity to listen to the audio books. I must confess to being blown away. Kate’s acting is incredible.
I suspect that these are no easy books to narrate. Especially in The Poison Throne, there are so many emotional scenes, so much interaction which could be turned to melodrama if the performer chose to overdo it. In the wrong hands the entire narrative could have been oversold. Kate, however, seemed to just get it. She is portraying very controlled characters in an almost uncontrollable situation: people used to horrors, and used to repressing their feelings, caught in a situation which is almost crushing, and viewed through the prism of their most intimate and unguarded moments. Their dialogue needed the most delicate of touches – especially Wynter’s.
In the wrong hands, Wynter’s voice could easily have been misinterpreted as a tremulous wavering whine – but not by Kate. Kate portrays her as reserved, tough, sometimes almost cold, yet also warm and loving and kind. And Razi! Kate so perfectly captures the firm, almost hard tone of Razi’s voice; softening, in his most vulnerable moments, to tenderness. Beautiful. It took me a few scenes to get past my own internal Christopher voice before I totally got where Kate was going with him – a terrific choice that over the course of the first book really grew on me until he was as endearing as I could have ever wanted him to be.
It is amazing to me how Kate did this with each and every one of the very strong characters in these complex books. They just work. In The Crowded Shadows (and The Rebel Prince) I adore what she did with the Merron*. Embla, Ashkr, Sólmundr and Úlfnaor are so strong, so individual and so similar to how I imagined them. Take this scene for example, where our heroes have just met the Merron. Listen as all those distinct voices and personalities shine through in a scene which must have been a nightmare to get right ( most especially as these types of scenes will often also include quite a spattering of Merron (Irish)) This scene in particular, I think, really shows off Kate’s talent.
And this scene too, is one of my favourites and one that really demonstrates how well Kate gets the characters. Listen to this exchange between Lorcan and the ghost of his old friend Rory as they recall bad memories. (I love what Kate did with Rory’s voice! Very unexpected and brilliant!)
I’d love to play you my favourite sections of Rebel Prince – but it is so difficult to find a section of the book that isn’t just laden with spoilers! Suffice it to say, the characters are everything I could have wanted and more.
Kate, if you are reading this, I know you were nervous that readers (especially Irish ones) wouldn’t take to an American accent narrating what is such a European story. I know you were nervous that you wouldn’t do justice to the areas of dialect; the Irish language; the Merron’s twists of syntax; cat voice; ghost voice; Christopher’s voice. I’m telling you now, Kate, no-one could have done a better job. I love your performance. I love it. Thank you.
* For a person who possibly never even heard a word of Irish before this project, Kate’s use of the language is remarkably good. Due in no small part to the amount of time and hard work she put into her research before hand.