Name: Michael J Legate, by night known as Mike.
Tell us a bit about yourself: I was raised by theatre wolves. I grew up behind the stage, basically. My dad teaches theatre, as do I. I went to school to learn theatrical sound design and someone decided that was reason enough to give me a job teaching all aspects of theatre design! Sound design isn’t a huge part of my job anymore, so I look for opportunities elsewhere to scratch my audio itch. Besides that, I’m 33, recently moved to Colorado and enjoy dark beer, Rueben sandwiches, and watching my two boys Jameson and Salem chase my German shepherd Oskar around the house.
How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? When I was younger I acted in a few plays. I was never any good, but my favorite part was the cold reading that we’d all do at the very start of the production period. I was excited just to read aloud my parts along with other people. When I started going to college, I would work on a few shows and I would use my voice and I was always surprised whenever someone didn’t recognize my voice. I’ve always enjoyed reading to other people, and now that I’ve got kids to read to, I’ll never be out of practice.
Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Fantasy and science fiction are my preferred genres as they provide the widest variety of voice work. Trying out new voices on characters is immensely entertaining. I try to stay away from financial self-help books.
What are you working on at present? I’ve just up the short story collection “Tales of Erana” by AL Butcher. It’s been a fascinating book to work on, since each story has a different feel than the one before it – one story will be a tragic love story involving the thunderous wrath of a goddess and the next would be a lighthearted lesson in why you don’t mix your magical potions up. It’s been a lot of fun.
*Tell us about your process for narrating? Whenever I design a show, I’ll read the script all the way through for fun, and I’ll try not to think about designing, although inevitably my designer light seeps through the cracks a little. I try to look at the script from the perspective of an audience member first, and then I can go back and begin to read it from a designer’s point of view. Audiobook manuscripts are sort of the same way. I have to read it as unbiased as I can so I can be affected as a reader first, and then I’ll have a better idea of what the author wants. I’ll try a few different voices to use for the narrator, based on how the mood of the script feels. A dark thriller sort of novel would lead to a more serious sounding voice, that sort of thing.
I have a pretty cheap rig with a homemade pop filter in front of the microphone, so my first job is setting everything up and doing a few voice exercises. I’ll read for a few minutes first to let my voice warm up and then start recording. If I mess a word up, I’ll pause for a moment and redo the whole sentence again. I use Sony Vegas for all my mixing.
What aspects do you find most enjoyable? I really enjoy doing a mix of different voices. I grew up plastered to the television on Saturday mornings, and I continue to watch cartoons to this day and have a deep respect for animation voice artists. I’m also delighted any time I can add atmospheric sounds or music for added effect.
Do you listen to audiobooks? My day job and family doesn’t give me a lot of time to sit down and listen to audiobooks, but I honestly also have difficulty listening to audiobooks at length, since my mind sort of drifts away. I’ve always been a daydreamer, so unless it’s a very compelling story (or a short one) I generally tend not to listen to them. I love podcasts, however, so figure that one out.
With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of reading? The paperback will never die, and I think that’s a good thing. Every new bastion of technology brings about a new way to tell a story. Just look at how engrossing the storylines are in video games nowadays! There will always be something new and shiny to come out that can tell a story in a different way, but the key isn’t going to be in the tech itself, but how to really use that tech to help tell a great story.
Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? A whole lot of people travel to work by themselves, and everything we own is becoming more incorporated into our iPods and smartphones. Everyone is potentially carrying around a little book reader with them at all times.
Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I remember as a kid, I had a huge Disney collection of read-along books on cassettes. They were the kind that made a ‘ding’ sound when you were supposed to turn the page. I remember that I found the audio more much more engrossing than the book illustrations I was supposed to be looking at, so I’d just sit there and listen instead…
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have bent pinky fingers and can repeatedly crack all my finger joints. I am truly an endless font of talent.