The new narrator for The Undead and your feedback.

Hi,

I want to explain what happened in relation to the audio books and the new narrator.

Dan Morgan narrated The Undead Parts 1 to 10. That equates to the written books from The Undead Day One to Day Fourteen. That is a huge chunk of work and a massive project for anyone to take on. In fact, I think The Undead may be the biggest series that Audible UK have commissioned, so this is new ground we’re playing on.

Everything was going well. Dan was forging ahead and to a certain extent, he became “the voice” of The Undead. Dan was doing a brilliant job and everything was going great.

Then we got to Dan narrating The Undead Day Fourteen which was Part 9 and 10 for the audio books. I was contacted to say Dan was halfway through narrating that book and was refusing to continue. The material was too dark, too morbid, too horrific. We were stunned. It’s a horror series. Yes, I totally get the material is dark and Day Fourteen (Part 9 and 10) are hard books and they do go dark with the reflection of barbarity that is humanity, but to simply stop and refuse was a terrible situation.

The only way we could get through was by me re-writing the material to a level that Dan was happy to narrate. That was done in order to get through the problem and get the next audio book out. This was a conflicting time. On the one hand, the material is dark and someone not happy with that genre may struggle to delve into the gore and nastiness of horror works. On the other hand, we were building a brand that is unique and solid and er….um….it is a horror series??

I never spoke to Dan Morgan. We’ve never messaged, spoken or anything so I really don’t know the reasons but it’s fair enough. If someone is totally unhappy then what can you do? Once a writer sells a book to Audible the process is taken away from them. The writer has no input in that process and the only time I hear the finished product is when it is released and I have to buy the books the same as everyone else. I did get a few free copies of Part 1 and 2 for prize giveaways. (The process is different if a writer self-published an audio book as the writer organises everything including hiring the narrator / producer.)

I’d also only ever listened to bits of the audio books. I tried listening to the whole thing but it freaked me out hearing the work I created read out by someone else. I think quite a few writers get the same thing. It would be nigh on impossible for any narrator to completely match the voice inside the writer’s head.

We then waited to see if Dan would continue. That took time. Months went by. Eventually, he said no, he was out and wouldn’t continue. Again, that is fair enough. Everyone has a choice and all we can do is respect that decision. Dan had done an incredible job and I am eternally grateful for what he has done.

So, we had to find a new narrator. I went through loads of people. Had auditions. Some were very close. Some were very good. Audible then suggested Joe Jameson. I listened to a bunch of his work and thought yeah, this guy is great with an incredible range. He narrated The Danish Girl which is an amazing book and went on to be a brilliant movie. The more I listened to him, the more I realised that actually, Joe Jameson is an exceptionally talented actor and to get him for The Undead was a coup for us. I was thrilled. Joe is totally the right person to carry the series forward.

Joe was booked and commenced narrating / producing Parts 11, 12 and 13.

There would always be difficulty with changing narrator after so many books. Good lord,  The Undead has a huge cast of characters and all with a unique flavour and tone. Howie, Dave, Clarence, Nick, Cookey, Blowers, Lani, Paula, Roy, Marcy, Mo Mo, Jagger, Maddox, Lenski. The older characters from previous books, big Chris, Malcolm, Darren, Ted, Steven, Tom. Sgt Hopewell, Terri, Sarah then plus all the other sub-characters. I think by The Undead Day Twelve / part 7 I had over thirty named characters unique to the series. So crikey! Anyone coming in would have a mountain to climb.

Now this is the beauty of the modern world and the interactive nature of the series. Listeners contacted me to say they were unhappy with Dave’s voice. This was on the first and second day after the new parts were released.

I immediately downloaded and listened to the books. Joe has done an incredible job. Seriously good. I mean, to take on a series of this size and do what he has done speaks of a huge talent. Yes, Dave is different to how Dan Morgan portrayed him but therein is the differences of perception. I wrote Dave in a certain way. Dan Morgan portrayed Dave in a certain way. That way was different to how I perceived Dave. Joe has come along and his perception differs. The shock of it is that listeners have got used to Dave in the way Dan Morgan did him but with so many characters it would always be that one of them might be a bit too different, it’s just a shame that in this case it’s Dave who is perhaps the most iconic character in the series.

The fantastic thing about all this is that Joe and I have now spoken and exchanged messages. He is totally open to feedback and fully takes on board and is happy to tweak, alter or adapt for the next one and that, to me, is very cool. I love how Joe does Cookey and Blowers. I actually laughed out loud listening to some of the parts and what a wonderful thing to have someone on board who is professional enough but also grounded enough to say yeah, no worries, i can change that bit or alter that bit. I love Joe’s pace, his tone, his inflections and pitch. It’s great. If Dave needs to be altered then we can do that. You the listeners have said what you like / don’t like and we’re on it. I love that about this series and the interactive nature. It’s the same with the written books. Readers express how they like certain characters so I can work to bring them out a bit more, or develop certain storylines or go certain places. Even down to a certain character using a certain weapon in a later book was done in reaction to reader feedback. That’s the beauty of a series like this.

Yeah, it was a shitty thing to lose Dan Morgan in that way, but a blessing to gain Joe Jameson.

The most important thing here is please do know that me as the writer, Joe as the narrator, Joanna the agent for the series and the chaps at Audible have honestly listened to the feedback and we’re all working to make it the best experience for you. If this change has upset your listening experience then I can only apologise. Things happen sometimes that you can’t control. We’ve got some cracking “Days” ahead of us. Some real stonking rip-roaring storylines to come. I can only hope you’ll stay with us on this journey.

I hope that helps explain what happened.

Take care

RR Haywood

 

Out now. The Undead halloween special. Two short stories from The Undead world.

 

The Undead Halloween Special

20 Comments
  • Claire
    Posted at 15:43h, 03 November Reply

    I’m now listening to part 12 and loving it, I will be honest and say that yes I struggled a little bit with the change of voices but by the end of part 11 I could pretty much tell what voice was what character, Joe is doing a great job X X X

  • Craigan Barnett
    Posted at 17:19h, 03 November Reply

    It’s hard to get used too, but I’m now enjoying all the voices, Joe is doing a fantastic job! I’m so pleased I have the series back, well RR Haywood your book is the best on Audible! I’ve paused Robert Galbraith’s latest to continue ‘The Undead’!

  • Mark Allen
    Posted at 19:46h, 03 November Reply

    I am having trouble with the voicing of Dave. The original reader gave him some humanity in his voice. The new narrator makes him too robotic. Like a bad Forest Gump.

  • Chris Bane
    Posted at 03:40h, 04 November Reply

    Thanks for the explanation! I am a die hard fan and love the characters to whom you’ve given life! I initially struggled with Dave’s new voice, but I love Joe’s portrayal of everyone else! I think that Joe’s version is more realistic to the character – who he would be if human. However, the original voice made Dave relatable and human. That, for me, was a big reason for loving the character immediately! The fact that Joe is open to feedback and willing to make changes speaks to his professionalism and character. We, the fans, benefit from your partnership! This world you’ve created and made “real”…it’s a world of loss, pain, horror and tragedy…But also, love, honor, integrity, family and brotherhood…ultimately, it brings so much joy to so many of us. Thank you R.R. and Thank you, Joe!

  • Rich
    Posted at 05:40h, 04 November Reply

    Joe has gotten off to an amazing start and I think has settled in pretty damn well. Only one small little thing that is niggling a little that is how Joe voices Lenksi. Dan I thought had her down perfectly……Joe I think has her a little flat somehow, not sure I can explain it….Lenski just doesn’t sound quite right. Maybe that changed in parts 12 and 13 but I haven’t got there yet. Got to say though, given the enormity of the task that Joe has taken on he is on the whole bloody marvelous. I hope he sticks with it, and us 🙂

  • Dan DeLuca
    Posted at 08:18h, 05 November Reply

    Just started part 11… i pre-ordered the latest 3… but was hesitant to listen after I realized the narrator changed.. Then.. started listening.. so far it’s awesome.. the female characters are a bit off… as well as Dave.. but everyone already mentioned that.. …. but thats just from me being used to them for so long from Dan Morgan… the fact that Joe Jameson is open to feedback is relieving… The fact that he took over after 10 books of someone else’s interpretation is amazing enough.. I would have caved under that amount of pressure… Thank you Joe Jameson for taking this on.. because if I had to wait any longer for the next audiobook I was going to eat my own arm… I mean.. I COULD actually read the books.. but I feel that doing so while driving an hour and a half to work every day might not the SAFEST option.. ~\_(0.0)_/~
    Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  • Victoria Campoamor
    Posted at 01:08h, 07 November Reply

    Thanks for explaining. Still, what a shame – Dan Morgan was the voice of the undead. Not much to add to what everybody else is saying: Joe is a great replacement except for Dave (great to hear he’s considering changing) and Paula (who went from amazing to spoilt annoying and nasal). Love your books! Thanks again for engaging with your fans and explaining what happened

  • Andrew skipper
    Posted at 13:37h, 20 November Reply

    All good but with the exceptions:
    Dave too slow and sounds retarded
    Paula too nasal and sounds too old.
    Bowers too close to Clarence

    Other than that, very good for a tough job

  • Marie
    Posted at 14:32h, 22 November Reply

    I will admit to not liking the way Joe portrayed Dave at first, but after only a few minutes I started to like it even more than before. I got the feeling Dave was always meant to sound like that, without emotion in his voice and just very monotone.

    I think Joe has done an amazing job so far and I’m enjoying the books way more as I feel he doesn’t “hold back” as much as Dan did.

    Thank you for the amazing series!

  • Christine Jackson
    Posted at 22:09h, 29 November Reply

    I’m a reader rather than a listener so they all have their own voices in my head. I have laughed and cried but now I’m panicking because I only have Day 20 left to read. These books are amazing snd I don’t want to leave the pack – slow reading for me then.

  • Alan Wolffs
    Posted at 14:39h, 28 December Reply

    Hello Mr Haywood,

    Firstly thank you for explaining the narrator change, I have in the past stopped listening to a series due to this but have got the latest and is next on the list to listen to. I was just curios as I am an audio listener what some of the re-writes where so that Dan M would finish them?

    Thank you.

  • John P Howells
    Posted at 16:21h, 03 January Reply

    As with everyone else I was really upset with the narrator change. It was like I had lost my closest friends. However, after reading why Dan Morgan left, I suppose there wasn’t much choice except to find a replacement. Same issues as everyone else, Paula sounds nasally and annoying, Blowers and Clarence sound almost identical, and above all, Dave sounds like a retarded robot. Dave was the most upsetting, he was destroyed for me, and I almost stopped listening rather than suffer through Daves intolerable new voice.
    However, I can’t turn away from my zombie killing family. No matter what Dave will always be Dans version for me, this new Dave is just wrong

  • Sue Davis
    Posted at 05:01h, 09 January Reply

    Thank you for your explanation. At first I couldn’t figure out why Dave’s ‘voice’ sounded different, then I figured it could be a different narrator, and sure enough it was. I have to admit at first I was a little ‘unhappy’, but because the rest of the ‘crew’ sounded good, I got over it. All three of you (RR, of course, Dan and Joe) are and have done a fantastic job! Re-listening to them again!!

    Thanks for the great entertainment!

  • Bucky Hunsicker
    Posted at 20:38h, 09 January Reply

    Agree with all the other comments… Dave took some getting used to… Dan was a great narrator and is missed, but Joe has found his niche and doing quite nicely. Have 2 hours left on Book 13 and can’t wait for Book 14. on Audible. Bucky from “the colonies”.
    PS: Loved the character explanation video on Facebook. Keep it up.

  • David howgill
    Posted at 15:21h, 10 January Reply

    Hi there
    Love the books on audible and have listened to them all and have had to buy and read days 18 to 20 on e books, can you say when day 18 onwards will be on audible and when will you be releasing new ones
    Regards Dave H

  • Karyn
    Posted at 02:19h, 06 February Reply

    I got use to the new narrator very quickly. I think he did a great job jumping in on th 11 th book. I listened to al three books very quickly. I am waiting for 14- 20 are on audible. I hope it will be soon. Love the series, thank you RR Haywood.

  • Kristi
    Posted at 23:07h, 08 February Reply

    Just finished part XII tonight. Agonized over the sex scene with Lani! I kept yelling at Howie to GET OUT! in more ways than one…

    Only complaint is Dave. Dan Morgan had Dave down to a tee…gave him his own personal style. Now he sounds like a slow Blowers or something. I’ve gotten used to it, but miss the old Dave. Love the Marcy voice, and The Boy…Joe really does have a great range!

    Thanks for filling us in. Best to Dan Morgan.

    • Yuuta
      Posted at 15:48h, 12 March Reply

      I think i just ruined some future surprises in the next books by reading your comment….sigh

  • Peter Vee
    Posted at 09:23h, 30 March Reply

    “Yes Mr. Howie” voiced by Dave is iconic throughout the 10 parts that Dan Morgan narrated. It is the single most repeated phrase that we as listeners are locked into and identify as the reassuring affirmation by Dave…the coolest head amongst our lovable Band of Brothers. It is the only thing that really irks me about the new narration, so much so that I have to now read the remaining books rather than listen. Joe Jameson. is a great narrator and had some big shoes to fill taking over from Dan. I could accept all the other characters he voiced, some female characters needed a bit of work but I could see him tweaking the voices and me growing into the changes….but Joe needed to nail Dave’s voice and I know he can…so why doesn’t he? Did the Audible team totally miss this?

  • Suzanne Gair
    Posted at 05:59h, 13 August Reply

    I’ve now finished part 16 in the series and have to say while I was shocked at first by the change in narration (it was like walking back into a room and finding all the people in there totally different) I’ve not just gotten used to it but prefer it .

    I notice at the beginning of each book Joe states ‘performed by Joe Jameson’ whereas Dan said ‘read by Dan Morgan’ and that is the difference.

    I’ve went back over a few books and Dan really was just reading the script. He had some differences but most of the characters sounded the same so you had to wait to be told who had said something. With Joe each character has an individual and unique voice so it’s immediately obvious. I did prefer the old Dave though

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