- Richard Haywood
The new narrator for The Undead and your feedback.
I want to explain what happened in relation to the audio books and the new narrator.
Dan Morgan narrated The Undead Parts 1 to 10. That equates to the written books from The Undead Day One to Day Fourteen. That is a huge chunk of work and a massive project for anyone to take on. In fact, I think The Undead may be the biggest series that Audible UK have commissioned, so this is new ground we’re playing on.
Everything was going well. Dan was forging ahead and to a certain extent, he became “the voice” of The Undead. Dan was doing a brilliant job and everything was going great.
Then we got to Dan narrating The Undead Day Fourteen which was Part 9 and 10 for the audio books. I was contacted to say Dan was halfway through narrating that book and was refusing to continue. The material was too dark, too morbid, too horrific. We were stunned. It’s a horror series. Yes, I totally get the material is dark and Day Fourteen (Part 9 and 10) are hard books and they do go dark with the reflection of barbarity that is humanity, but to simply stop and refuse was a terrible situation.
The only way we could get through was by me re-writing the material to a level that Dan was happy to narrate. That was done in order to get through the problem and get the next audio book out. This was a conflicting time. On the one hand, the material is dark and someone not happy with that genre may struggle to delve into the gore and nastiness of horror works. On the other hand, we were building a brand that is unique and solid and er….um….it is a horror series??
I never spoke to Dan Morgan. We’ve never messaged, spoken or anything so I really don’t know the reasons but it’s fair enough. If someone is totally unhappy then what can you do? Once a writer sells a book to Audible the process is taken away from them. The writer has no input in that process and the only time I hear the finished product is when it is released and I have to buy the books the same as everyone else. I did get a few free copies of Part 1 and 2 for prize giveaways. (The process is different if a writer self-published an audio book as the writer organises everything including hiring the narrator / producer.)
I’d also only ever listened to bits of the audio books. I tried listening to the whole thing but it freaked me out hearing the work I created read out by someone else. I think quite a few writers get the same thing. It would be nigh on impossible for any narrator to completely match the voice inside the writer’s head.
We then waited to see if Dan would continue. That took time. Months went by. Eventually, he said no, he was out and wouldn’t continue. Again, that is fair enough. Everyone has a choice and all we can do is respect that decision. Dan had done an incredible job and I am eternally grateful for what he has done.
So, we had to find a new narrator. I went through loads of people. Had auditions. Some were very close. Some were very good. Audible then suggested Joe Jameson. I listened to a bunch of his work and thought yeah, this guy is great with an incredible range. He narrated The Danish Girl which is an amazing book and went on to be a brilliant movie. The more I listened to him, the more I realised that actually, Joe Jameson is an exceptionally talented actor and to get him for The Undead was a coup for us. I was thrilled. Joe is totally the right person to carry the series forward.
Joe was booked and commenced narrating / producing Parts 11, 12 and 13.
There would always be difficulty with changing narrator after so many books. Good lord, The Undead has a huge cast of characters and all with a unique flavour and tone. Howie, Dave, Clarence, Nick, Cookey, Blowers, Lani, Paula, Roy, Marcy, Mo Mo, Jagger, Maddox, Lenski. The older characters from previous books, big Chris, Malcolm, Darren, Ted, Steven, Tom. Sgt Hopewell, Terri, Sarah then plus all the other sub-characters. I think by The Undead Day Twelve / part 7 I had over thirty named characters unique to the series. So crikey! Anyone coming in would have a mountain to climb.
Now this is the beauty of the modern world and the interactive nature of the series. Listeners contacted me to say they were unhappy with Dave’s voice. This was on the first and second day after the new parts were released.
I immediately downloaded and listened to the books. Joe has done an incredible job. Seriously good. I mean, to take on a series of this size and do what he has done speaks of a huge talent. Yes, Dave is different to how Dan Morgan portrayed him but therein is the differences of perception. I wrote Dave in a certain way. Dan Morgan portrayed Dave in a certain way. That way was different to how I perceived Dave. Joe has come along and his perception differs. The shock of it is that listeners have got used to Dave in the way Dan Morgan did him but with so many characters it would always be that one of them might be a bit too different, it’s just a shame that in this case it’s Dave who is perhaps the most iconic character in the series.
The fantastic thing about all this is that Joe and I have now spoken and exchanged messages. He is totally open to feedback and fully takes on board and is happy to tweak, alter or adapt for the next one and that, to me, is very cool. I love how Joe does Cookey and Blowers. I actually laughed out loud listening to some of the parts and what a wonderful thing to have someone on board who is professional enough but also grounded enough to say yeah, no worries, i can change that bit or alter that bit. I love Joe’s pace, his tone, his inflections and pitch. It’s great. If Dave needs to be altered then we can do that. You the listeners have said what you like / don’t like and we’re on it. I love that about this series and the interactive nature. It’s the same with the written books. Readers express how they like certain characters so I can work to bring them out a bit more, or develop certain storylines or go certain places. Even down to a certain character using a certain weapon in a later book was done in reaction to reader feedback. That’s the beauty of a series like this.
Yeah, it was a shitty thing to lose Dan Morgan in that way, but a blessing to gain Joe Jameson.
The most important thing here is please do know that me as the writer, Joe as the narrator, Joanna the agent for the series and the chaps at Audible have honestly listened to the feedback and we’re all working to make it the best experience for you. If this change has upset your listening experience then I can only apologise. Things happen sometimes that you can’t control. We’ve got some cracking “Days” ahead of us. Some real stonking rip-roaring storylines to come. I can only hope you’ll stay with us on this journey.
I hope that helps explain what happened.
Out now. The Undead halloween special. Two short stories from The Undead world.