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Every Sunday we like to focus on a theme, author or narrator. This week it's a tribute to narrator Steve White.
Steve was our most prolific narrator and big favourite with our authors in the 2010s - he sadly passed away a few years ago.
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Steve White – a tribute from one of the authors he worked with
“One hundred. A ton. That’s how many audio-books Steve has narrated. And I am proud to say that nineteen of them are mine.”
I wrote those words two and a half years ago with not the least idea that two and a half years was the span of the time he had left. I don’t know Steve’s final tally of audio-books, but I am proud to say that we ended up collaborating on a total of my twenty-six stories as well as three one-man plays. That’s about a day of recorded material but far, far more time spent in making and editing the recording.
I write Sherlock Holmes pastiches. The stories I write place Holmes and Watson in the years 1889 to 1950. As well as Holmes and Watson, my stories have Scots, Indians, Germans, Italians, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Americans, Spaniards, Australians, and Russians. And, of course, there are Brits from all backgrounds. Men and women. And once I asked him to play the Almighty.
Steve did the voices for this enormous cast. All of them.
Convincing foreign accents, voices for different social classes, lots of foreign words and phrases. And Holmes and Watson.
It was an astonishing tour de force.
I would send him my text and wait to see what he would do next.
A few days later came the first version. And we would then bat corrections and sound effects through via email, voice mail, and telephone until we got what we wanted.
Steve was endlessly patient, and I was endlessly demanding. I wanted my count in fascist Italy to be coldly polite but menacing, I wanted Queen Victoria to sound frail but shrewd and shrewish, and I wanted Holmes to sound incisive with a hint of impatience. We both wanted to get things absolutely right and it was down to Steve to go the extra mile to do so. And he did. Every time. Sometimes we had to tweak the words or the stresses, but the voices were convincing from the off.
That hundredth story featured Edward Elgar from Worcester and Franz Kafka from Prague, along with Kafka’s bullying father, Hermann. As ill-assorted a set of bed-fellows as you can imagine. I wanted Elgar to sound gauche but egotistical and from Central England, the younger Kafka self-assured but evasive, and his father direct to the point of brusque. Oh, and the Kafkas had to speak English with a German accent and use some German and Yiddish words.
And of-course they did.
We had just started on one-man plays in which I made Holmesian versions of Macbeth and Oedipus as well as The Bruce-Partington Plans and its dark sequel, The Sleeper’s Cache.
Steve did music and sound effects wonderfully well as usual and all the voices – Mycroft, Lord Banquo, and James Windibank amongst others since you ask. And when there were problems with uploading the audio versions onto Audible, he took infinite trouble to get them through. I had no idea that he was so ill, but he kept going to the end. I will so miss working with him on my stories.
My next six months’ audio royalties will go to his chosen charity -Success4All. You can contribute at https://www.s4a.org.uk/donate/
Steve While and Orlando Pearson worked together on audio versions of five collections of books in the series The Redacted Sherlock Holmes as well as three audio plays in The Redacted Plays.