You may have noticed the Audio Version of #DeathWatch hasn’t come out — but I have a good reason, I swear.
I started recording, and I was doing just fine until it came time to ‘do the voices’. In my head, it was to be just a read-aloud version of each episode, rather than having real sound-effects or anything post production, like a radio drama. As it was pointed out to me, one reader envisioned it as me reading it like I’ve read other books aloud — I ‘do the voices’, and I’m rather enthusiastic. I like speaking with accents that are different from my own. Makes for a fun time all around. Unfortunately, it occurred to me (much too late to gracefully handle it) to question these characters who will have different voices… as in: what kind of voices will they have? In my head, my set of characters, who are rather diverse along racial lines, class lines, sexual orientation/presentation lines, etc… could already be cast in a movie. I have a picture in my head, how they look, how they sound, how they move.
There’s a bunch of different accents in there — British, German, Russian, Scottish, Irish, American Deep South, Japanese, Egyptian, Indian, Saudia Arabian…. and then I hit a wall.
I had to ask myself “Self? Are you about to knock over someone with your invisible backpack?”
Then Self had to say “Uh. I don’t fucking know. Shit. A little help here!”
So since Self’s not any help, I’m asking you guys:
Is it okay for me to mimic the speech patterns and vocal tones of other people/races while creating this?
The setting of DeathWatch is a FAR FAR FAR flung alternate future Earth, after . I picked geographical areas that made sense in my head, and ran with it. I’m using Earth languages, earth dialects — the things my characters are saying could be translated back to English and/or I could show you the phrasing of what I’ve picked, in the languages I’m using, so theres a modicum of in-world justification for how/why people would sound like I think they do. Centralites are from certain areas, while the folks on the other side of the Luminora (Ilonans, Tenebrians, etc) are from other areas.
It’s possibly an overdone western-fantasy-trope, but by splitting the main cast so you get BOTH perspectives, I was hoping to avoid a strict ‘othering’.
But I still don’t know if it would be insensitive of me to ‘do the voices’ — to read aloud and pretend the accents, for the sake of fun, when reading. Is it a version of appropriation? Is it just outright racist?
I don’t know.
I’m positive this is a case of my backpack getting in my way, and I am way too close to the situation to figure it out myself. I’ve done a bunch of reading, and I’m learning more and more how to make sure I don’t write insensitively, but the audio version presents a whole bunch of new challenges, and my Google-fu simply isn’t giving me any real answers.
So I’m asking you, readers. Could I get some input? All you POC who read #DeathWatch — would you be comfortable giving your opinion? If not in the comments, then you could email me — catastrophe dot jones at gmail dot com — if you don’t mind? I want to do this well; it’s important to me not just that I’m not called out on it, but that I actually do the best I can to not be insensitive, or outright offensive. Please let me say I recognize that not any one person can speak for all others — I know I can’t get a single token POC to give me the go-ahead, but I definitely need some points of view that aren’t mine.