While I did all of the initial research for my Beneath the Alders series and for the first book in the series, The Innocent, I was greatly assisted in completing The Beleaguered and The Mending by the research skills of my good friend Colleen Mahoney, a pre-maturely retired librarian. For this newsletter, Colleen asked Lorna Dueck, narrator for The Mending, about the recording of the audiobook.

Colleen: I’m so excited to e-meet you and ask you these questions. I loved your recording of The Mending. You did a wonderful job bringing to life the characters of the book. Tell me, what inspired you to record The Mending?

Lorna: I think I have been an ambitious talker all my life - and now it was fun to put that passion for communicating into an audiobook project with Lynne. I have retired from a full-time career of broadcasting that spanned over thirty years, and now I have the leisure to choose projects that interest me. I also host a podcast for the Canadian Bible Society, called Scripture Untangled that explores how people in various walks of life are engaging with the Bible. I was passionate about Lynne’s book because I wanted to see more people get into this history of small town Canada—in this case, Brampton-- that she brought to life.

Lorna Dueck

Colleen: I wondered, as I listened to your recording whether you yourself listen to a lot of audiobooks and if so why?

Lorna: Oh yes! I have been listening more to audiobooks than printed page reading in this season of my life. It’s just so convenient for me. I can be driving, cooking, going for a long walk, and a good book playing just makes the time fly. I love the ability to undertake a meaningful activity, like absorbing an author’s ideas, while doing mundane tasks. Depending on the platform you use for your books, (I use Audible) you can still highlight passages with a tap on your device, you can scoot back and forth among pages to easily replay. I think I consume more books in audio because it enhances my chore time, my commutes, my puttering. I am always clicking on an audiobook. I find myself planning tasks to be able to listen to an audiobook. It’s also a wonderfully accessible platform, great for sharing with those who have a disability hampering their ability to read, but they can still be pulled into the beauty of story with audiobooks.

Colleen: I agree with you on all of that. Lynne told me that it was you who approached her about the making of the audiobook. What made you think that The Mending would work well as an audiobook?

Lorna: It’s true. As I was reading the book, I was hearing in my head how it would sound if read. I had barely finished reading it when I reached out to her and suggested that it be turned into an audiobook. She hadn’t expected the call but she was very excited about the concept. She then hesitated and said—Wait, would you be willing to read it? And of course, I said YES.

I loved how the entire series makes history come alive. Lynne has done a masterful job helping us hear the voices, see the characters, and picture their growing town and the tensions of patriarchy, the angst of youth, the complexity of war, and the struggle it was to build a town. Today, Brampton is a major Canadian hub of enterprise and has also become a city which is a welcoming entry for new Canadians, and I thought it was brilliant to have its founding history captured in a series like Lynne has written.

We need t know our origins. There are lessons, insights, and values in our history that can help shape our tomorrow, and I felt all of that as I read Lynne’s series and frankly, I thought making it an audiobook would make it more accessible on those busy commuter lines all around Brampton. To be getting to the Brampton area in 2024 likely means sitting in traffic somewhere on your commute - be it on transit or car - so what a great time to learn about the founding of Brampton in audiobook.

Photo of Jessie’s Family, 1909

Colleen: Where did you record it?

Lorna: To protect your voice, you should not read out loud for more than an hour a day, and I felt to do work just one hour a day on narrating, I should create a studio in my home. I reorganized a small walk in closet in the loft away from any interruptions. I had an audio engineer bring in buffer boards, and with the help of some clamps on my collection of quilted blankets, we quite easily created a padded audio room.

Lorna in her sound studio

You actually do not want a large space. You need to create a zone of silence, so we doubled some carpeting for the floor. Then I purchased a professional BOSE microphone, using headphones of course to silence any echoing of my voice. I really looked forward to going up to the loft for an hour most days and having a rollicking good read into my Garage Band software on my Mac Book Air. The characters were right there with me in that closet!

Colleen: Did you have a professional sound editor?

Lorna: Yes, sound engineer Dale Clyne of Burlington was painstaking in going through the audio files I downloaded over to him. He tackled the editing as soon as I would send it and for most hours recorded, there were almost 30 minutes of do overs to take out pauses, incorrect inflections, and breaths. Gosh, I need to figure out how to narrate without breathing to minimize that sound!

And then Lynne would listen to the final edit of each chapter and almost always came back with a short list of more improvements she suggested, or just outright mispronunciations. Lynne’s French is fabulous for accuracy of the WWI towns and cultural exchanges amongst the French landscape.

Lynne and Lorna

Colleen: What did you like the most about recording The Mending?

Lorna: I think when you read for an audience you learn and live the story in a deeper way. I most liked relating to the women’s roles, women who had to fight for their identity and their goals. That is such a big part of The Beneath the Alders stories that Lynne has written.

Colleen: What did you find the most challenging?

Lorna: That’s simple, the “closed door closet turned into a sound booth” got pretty hot on those August - September days I was recording, and of course, you could not have a fan running to cool things down - so you had to time that reading to be done in the earliest hours of the day to avoid a sauna experience.

Collen: People ask: why did you start with The Mending? Will you ever record the first two books in the series?

Lorna: Yes, looking back on it now, it was a little odd to start with The Mending. But we started with this one because it had just been released and we thought we could augment the sales of the paper books with sales of the audiobooks.

As it turned out, it takes some time to record, edit and upload audiobooks so there has been a delay between those two launches. Perhaps we’d have done it differently had we known all of that! And as for the other two books---well, we will have to see how we do with the distribution of The Mending. I can tell you this though, while it would be ideal to read The Innocent, The Beleaguered and The Mending in the order in which they were written, it is not necessary.

Each book contains a summary of the prior books and so, you can start with The Mending. In time, the other two might also be available in audio format.


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