Rick Kennett is a writer we've produced on the show a few times before. He's submitted us quite an interesting array of stories, and nearly all of them would make for great episodes. The problem is, the guy's Australian.
No, no, it's not what you think. Not really. Okay, it's PARTLY what you think, but it's more that I can't do a very good Australian accent. See, nearly all my accents have started out as impressions or imitations of someone famous, only later downshifting into my own voice. And my exemplar for Australian is Paul Hogan in CROCODILE DUNDEE. Hate me for it if you like, but that was my first major exposure to the Aussie way of speaking, and whenever I think of that accent, it usually involves "that's not a knife, this is a knife" in some way.
And I am constantly reminded that Australians just don't sound that way. At least most of them don't. The actual accent is kind of lovely (when it's not coming out of Nicole Kidman, that is), a slightly-harsher version of the English accent that I love, with differences here and there, often minor enough I don't pick up on them. I'm aware that my Australian accent rings untrue.*
So we try not to read Australian stories ourselves. And in the past, that's meant we were at the mercy of anybody willing to volunteer to read parts for us, no matter how awful their microphones. It could take months between accepting a Rick Kennett story to actually getting it recorded. And one he sent us
just languished nearly eternally, because it was an Australian Naval Ghost Story (a huge subgenre with a section in every city's library). British Navy? Sure, hand it over? Oz Navy? Uh oh.
Rick seems pretty patient. I know I wouldn't be. But hey, you know my failings.
Well, recently, our fearless and hardworking submissions editor SuddenDeath Nicole managed to go out and get some voices from Down Undah, and we were saved. All we had to do was read the text, give Big one of the characters, and we'd finally get this story out. Big got an email the other day from someone volunteering to edit an episode for us, and he/we decided to send him our reading for this new Kennett story (entitled "Out of the Storm") along with the voices Nicole had acquired for us. Plus, it was a short story, an excellent one for a new editor to cut his teeth on.
Simple enough, right?
O, fortuna. I struggled unbelievably on this story, literally screwing up at least once on every single paragraph.
In the past, I think I've struggled most with the Popoca stories (they're the ones set in a Steampunkish past where the great Aztec empire stayed great, and Ulrich Popoca is an Amerazteclan ambassador to England, using phrases like "Cihuatecuhtli, Fellucci," as though that actually means something. So it was with horror that I discovered that naval terminology was not my forte (at least, that's what Big Anklevich claimed, sitting next to me as I stuttered, stammered, stumbled, squandered, spindled, spatulaed, and mispronounced. He's a supportive guy, which is why there's probably a woman looking longingly in his direction at this very moment). Over an hour we spent, reading the damn thing, only to realize that I had pronounced Lieutenant as "Lieutenant" rather than "Lef-tenant, which Big insisted I go back and re-record.
And the accents? We tried our best to give everyone not only an Australian accent, but a different voice, just in case Nicole only got three Oz volunteers instead of eight. And I wonder if any of them are usable.**
Luckily, Rick's sent us another story for the holiday season or the new year that a couple of semi-educated Yanks can narrate perfectly.
Or at least adequately. So all is not lost.
Rish "On To New Zealand!" Outfield
*And Big? Well, he's just Big.
**In Big's defence, he seemed to understand this was just a template track, and his voice would not be used for the main character. I didn't realise that, and constantly asked him to alter his reading or performance, so it would sound more like the part did in my damaged, malfunctioning brain. Like C-3PO, why doesn't anyone listen to him?