Quatermain: The New Adventures is a New Pulp adventure fiction series that adds to the legendary stories of H. Rider Haggard's iconic character Allan Quatermain. Set in the jungles, mountains, and savannas of Africa in the late 1800s, these tales capture the air of danger, mystery, and myth that Europeans expected and experienced in their colonization of "The Dark Continent." In addition to the 17 original Haggard novels, there have been both direct and indirect movie adaptations, most notably King Solomon's Mines, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the Indiana Jones series.
The only character common to both of the stories in the first volume of Quatermain: The New Adventures is Allan Quatermain himself. He's described as being an Englishman in his mid-50s, with gray hair and beard, and short but strong. Most of the time he's calm, slow-paced, and reflective; but once the situation turns dangerous, Quatermain turns into a quick-thinking, precise-acting, calculated hunter. This wasn't an easy voice to develop, but from the beginning the only model I had in mind for it was Alec Guinness.
The first story, "Golden Ivory," is a first-person account of a riverboat pilot's journey with Quatermain and his party into the African mountains in search of the source of a piece of gold-infused ivory that the boatman receives in trade for service. The main character was based on Humphrey Bogart's performance in The African Queen (for the record, this is the second audiobook project I've narrated that had some basis in The African Queen; the first being The Not-World), so I also used that as a model for the voice of both the narrator and his dialogue. I took out the thick lower-class New York accent, but kept the Trans-Atlantic sound that modern audiences associate with early/mid-20th century Hollywood. For his dialogue, I added a mild Canadian accent, since that is his country of origin.
The other characters of note in the first story are The Frenchman, whom I imagined as Andre the Giant; Sergeant Cunningham, a British soldier; Rajesh, an Indian man with a British accent; and Tomasu, a Zulu chieftain also with a British accent. Since I do not have the kind of deep voice I'd need to do good voices for The Frenchman and Tomasu, I lowered the pitch on both voices artificially. While the real (late) Andre the Giant provided a good pace and physical image to base the character on, his actual speaking voice was too distorted by his abnormal size and French accent to easily understand. Therefore, I merely started with a low, rough voice with a mild French accent, and lowered the pitch by a half-step.
Tomasu's voice went through a similar process, except I gave him a mild RP/BBC accent, and used my friend and fellow voice actor Michael Marzella as the model for the intonation and pacing. (Actually, I wasted about two days of production completely screwing up Tomasu's voice by trying to give it more of a Swahili accent, then decided it wasn't working, and had to record most of it a second time).
Rajesh's voice was very difficult to do because it needed to be more RP/BBC than Hindi, like the Hollywood Indian movie actors of the 1980s. Today, most Indians speak English with more of a native (usually Hindi) accent. It took quite a lot of practice for me to keep from going too far in either direction.
Sergeant Cunningham is a bit of a rube; a typical arrogant British colonialist soldier, though he does eventually become a bit more human about halfway through the story. I imagined John Cleese in this role.
The second story is "The Temple of Lost Souls," and is an entirely different kind of narrative. I switched back to the usual third-person adventure fiction narration style that I've done for several other projects. Aside from Quatermain, the main character in this story is a 20-ish man from Atlanta, Georgia. I immediately thought of Tom Skerritt, and after much practice, developed a good character voice using him as a model. Then I had to make that same character into an old man for the prologue and epilogue, which I recorded together before the rest of the book.
Aside from the pitch changes for Tomasu and The Frenchman in the first story, the only vocal effects I used in Quatermain: The New Adventures were for the ancient ghost in the temple, and for Quatermain's dream. For the dream dialogue, I used the "internal monologue" reverb effect, which gives the impression that the conversation is taking place within someone's mind. The ancient ghost took more consideration to develop. His dialogue is slow-paced and mechanical, much like The Borg from the Star Trek series. Something about it seemed very Illidan Stormrage-like, though (from the Warcraft series). So I began with an Illidan-like voice: low, slow, simmering with arrogance and bottled-up rage, and with a slight Trans-Atlantic accent. Then I gave it a Borg-like chorus effect, minus the flange that I would use for a Borg voice, and added more depth with a second track that lowered the pitch and added the "internal monologue" reverb since the ghost only communicates in people's minds. Technically it's not much different from the supernatural effects I've done in other audiobooks, but this particular combination is unique.
Quatermain: The New Adventures is an excellent continuation of the Quatermain canon. Most of the Quatermain audiobooks currently on Audible are various competing versions of H. Rider Haggard's original stories, with the majority of them being either King Solomon's Mines or Allan Quatermain. This book, however, offers new Quatermain stories with immersive, dramatic narration. Whether you're a fan of the character or series, or just enjoy good adventure fiction stories, this is definitely worth your Audible credit.