I love doing character voices, and one of my favorite compliments when someone hears a sample of my work is “That’s all you? ALL of it?”. Obviously, having a lot of range to your voice is the starting place for creating different sounding characters, and a lifetime spent singing various harmony parts has certainly come in handy. What is a little more unexpected is how physical character creation is. You might picture someone recording as simply standing still and calmly speaking into the mic before her…but the reality for me is far more athletic. Every significant character has his/her/its own posture, head tilt, and mannerisms. For a large man, you will see me actually stand taller (no small feat considering I’m only 5’2″) – my stance will be “manlier” and I’ll throw my shoulders back. For a geriatric character, I will automatically shrink into myself… But one of my absolute favorites is what happens when I voice a “sexy” character. Perfect example? The sexy and savvy thief and con-artist Pepper Melange, who appears in the Starship Grifters novels and stars in her own novella The Yanthus Prime Job.
In this sample, you hear three “voices”. Pepper, her skeevy fence Blemmis, and the narrator voice. I let shades of Pepper color my narrator voice for this one, since it is her story, but there are slight differences in tone. The body stance for Pepper is a little slinky and slouchy, but with a saucy tilt to my head. I will actually toss my hair quite a bit and lick my lips when I’m being her…and I often wonder what would happen if I “wore Pepper” out in public. To do Blemmis (and who would want to? Dude is CREEPY), I have a mental picture of someone rather unappealing…. he faces more center than Pepper and my body is kinda caved in on itself. A little wrinkle to the nose and a dropped jaw help give Blemmis his distinctive sound.