Audiobook Narrator Interview – Suzan Hennen

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Emma Thorpe

*Name: Emma Thorpe

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production?  I was listening to an audiobook one day on my commute to work and I found myself wondering how you became an audiobook narrator, so I decided to search on the internet and find out for myself. I have always enjoyed reading (I read a lot to my two children) and I’ve been involved in amateur dramatics from a very young age (I was 8 when I first went on stage). Audiobook narration seemed to be a perfect way to combine my love of reading and performing. I took a free course with Krystal Wascher to learn about the process and just went for it. Within 5 minutes of submitting my first audition, I had an offer.

Is this your day job? I also run my own handmade jewellery business (Atlantic Rose), designing and making sterling silver jewellery.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I’m still very new to the audiobook world (I only started back in March 2019), but I now have produced 10 titles. I have enjoyed narrating each one of them so it’s hard to pick a favourite, as I have a few. I loved narrating Ann Carroll’s adaptation of “The Children of Lir” as this is a story I would listen to my grandfather tell when I was little and coming from Northern Ireland, it is a story that is very close to my heart. I recently finished narrating a childrens’ trilogy- “Magical Chapters Trilogy” by Victoria Zigler, which I really loved. The characters were such a joy to read (Daisy the Dragon being my favourite) and Victoria was kind enough to allow me to determine the accents for each of the characters.

Do you have a preferred genre? I love narrating children’s books

Do you have a genre you do not produce? I tend to narrate books that I myself would be interested in reading

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I recently just finished narrating my first novel for adults – “December Girl” by Nicola Cassidy.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I always start by reading the book cover to cover. If it’s a book with multiple characters, I’ll make notes on each, to help me ‘find their voice’. If no directive has been given by the author regarding a character’s accent, I’ll use this process to determine what their accent may be. Depending on how the book is written, I’ll either record the book, in sequence, chapter by chapter, or, as in the case of “December Girl” were each chapter focused on a different character, I’ll record all the chapters featuring one character first, then all the chapters featuring another character next and so on, until the book is recorded. I find narrating this way really helps me maintain a character’s ‘voice’.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Interpreting the characters and bringing them to life is my favourite part of narrating.

What do you find least enjoyable? Submitting the finished files. But only because it makes me feel as though I’m back at school and waiting for exam results 🙂

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? This hasn’t happened to me yet.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? I tend to look at the book and decide if it’s something I want to narrate, irrespective of whether its Royalty Share or not.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Yes I do. I usually listen to them when I’m in my workshop working on a piece, or if I’m travelling on my own.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think that audiobooks will play a big part in how people enjoy books and storytelling, especially adults, who don’t tend to have books read to them by others.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? I think that in a world where everything is becoming faster and faster, where many people have very little time to just sit down, relax and read, audiobooks are a wonderful way to keep enjoying books. As I mentioned earlier, I often listen to audiobooks while I work.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Stephen Fry’s “Mythos”

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far, yes it has. I love that I’m not obliged to produce X number of books in X number of months, so it’s really up to me how much work I take on.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book?  Not so far

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? She who risks nothing, has nothing. I’m planning on making that the family motto 😀

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? I would love to narrate any of Enid Blyton’s “The Faraway Tree” books. I loved reading these books as a child and I loved reading them to my own children and bringing the characters to life or them.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I talk to myself…. a lot. Even when there are other people in the room with me.

Check out Emma’s narration of Victoria Zigler’s books on the links below:

 

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Book 1 – Witchlet
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Witchlet-Audiobook/B07SW9RGYY
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167766
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/witchlet-victoria-zigler/1111650082
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/witchlet
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/witchlet/id540402721
iTunes: https://books.apple.com/gb/audiobook/witchlet-magical-chapters-trilogy-book-1-unabridged/id1468691085
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witchlet-1-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy/dp/1512358533/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Witchlet-1-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy/dp/1512358533/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Witchlet-1-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy/dp/1512358533/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Witchlet-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358537

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Book 2 – The Pineapple Loving Dragon
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Audiobook/B07T14QJW3
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260695
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-pineapple-loving-dragon-victoria-zigler/1114043058
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-pineapple-loving-dragon
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-pineapple-loving-dragon/id585949046
iTunes: https://books.apple.com/gb/audiobook/pineapple-loving-dragon-magical-chapters-trilogy-volume/id1468684612
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Magical-Chapters/dp/1512358622/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Magical-Chapters/dp/1512358622/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Magical-Chapters/dp/1512358622/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358629
A Magical Storm Audiobook Cover.jpg
Book 3 – A Magical Storm
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/A-Magical-Storm-Audiobook/B07SZ3FVQH
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303746
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-magical-storm-victoria-zigler/1115113126
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-magical-storm
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-magical-storm/id634577504
iTunes: https://books.apple.com/gb/audiobook/magical-storm-magical-chapters-trilogy-volume-3-unabridged/id1468692149
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magical-Storm-Chapters-Trilogy-x/dp/1512358681/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Magical-Storm-Chapters-Trilogy-x/dp/1512358681/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Magical-Storm-Chapters-Trilogy-x/dp/1512358681/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Storm-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358681

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14743914-witchlet
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16192834-the-pineapple-loving-dragon
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17736387-a-magical-storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Stephanie Montalvo

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*Name: Stephanie Montalvo

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a retired professional dancer. I’m also a trained actor and singer. 14 years ago I started a production company. We’ve produced videos, voiceovers, shows and special events for private clients, municipalities, Fortune 500 companies, and brands such as Nickelodeon. I also have a strong connection to nature and so I founded a non-profit dedicated to environmental education and inspiration. Creativity and nature are my life force.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? As a multi passionate artist it was natural to move my storytelling skills into audiobook narration. I love to tell stories and create characters.

Is this your day job? Yes

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I’ve narrated a wide range of genres. I love voicing children’s books because they have so many fun characters to create. I also like working with authors who really understand their characters and have created a detailed background story. Knowing the story behind each character helps you bring them to life.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I enjoy Romance, Comedy, Sci-Fi. I’m pretty open to all genres if the writing is engaging. I don’t think my voice is the right fit for historical work, although I do love to listen to them.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I just wrapped the Healing Springs by Rhavensfyre.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I like to read the whole book cover to cover first. I make notes about what touched me and any questions I might have for the author. Then, I like to meet via phone or Skype with the author and talk about their inspiration for writing the book and get to know them. I find that hearing the author speak about their characters helps me get a good idea of where they are coming from. I ask for specific details about each character even the smaller characters. I like to know what the authors are thinking about their characters. When an author can give me examples or match characteristics to popular figures it really helps create a better sense of the person and how they would sound. Then, I go and pull images or I draw features I like about the character and start working with my voice to give them their sound. I do lots of research on vocal styles for specific regions. I always keep samples of the voices I’ve created for each character to reference later on. If I need more information or confirmation on a particular character I contact the author with a sample. Once I feel solid about each character’s voice I go into the studio and start to tell the story.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  I love creating characters and telling their story. It feels good to listen back and hear their voice, not yours.

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing is hard at times. You spend many many hours in the studio all alone looking at a waveform on the screen. Your arms can fatigue which isn’t enjoyable.

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Unfortunately, yes. I’ve had an author that just disappeared. I didn’t hear from them for months. I had to move on to the next project. Sometimes life happens, I understand. I’ve never had any issues with a difficult author. I research them before accepting a project.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes, I do consider royalty share. I’m happy to collaborate with an author if they have a nice following and good reviews.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I sure do. I love them!

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes, I do believe that audiobooks are the future of storytelling. You can listen on morning commutes, while waiting in line, anywhere!

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? Audiobooks are calming and comforting. I’ve found that humans, and some animals, love to listen to stories. It is like having a good friend in your pocket. Audiobooks let your brain relax into the drama of a character instead of the day to day stress that many people encounter. They also stimulate your imagination. You create the imagery to the story. That is powerful!

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I had books on tape as young as 5. We would get them from the library. I loved them then too.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I’m currently working on a book and I will produce it. I made this choice because I know the work and the story and would enjoy telling it.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I truly enjoy working with ACX/Audible. I find it easy to use. I’ve met some great authors there. It is a fantastic platform.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? I’ve had some authors that don’t explain their vision well upfront which makes it harder to produce but nothing negative.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? The devil is in the details. Always find out exactly what the author’s full vision is for the main character from start to finish. The small details can shift a book and that is very important to know before you record the complete work.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? Don’t read the book before you voice it. Ouch!

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? I’d love to narrate the Wizard of Oz. There are so many fun characters and it is a wonderful story.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I love bunnies. I had 12 at one time, all spayed and neutered rescues. They are not the easiest animals to care for but if you love them and learn their language you will get mountains of love back.

Where can we learn more about you? www.stephanievo.com

 

Social Media links:

Twitter: @StephanieVoice

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanievoiceandvideo/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/StephanieVoiceandVideo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Judith Bareham

*Name:   Judith Bareham

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am  British born,  married to Jonathan (a Brit also) and mom of three children –( a daughter 23, and two boys 20 and 15) who moved to the USA in 2000.  Now I live in Charlotte NC and until recently was a stay at home mom, who home-schooled my sons for three and 8 years respectively.   Until now,  I didn’t have the capacity to pursue being a voice actress but the time was right this year to step into it fully and embrace it!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Well last year I began training with a voice acting coach and decided this was now or never to pursue

That dream.  I want to pursue other voice acting realms too, but I think narration will always be the solid foundation of what I do.

I have always narrated for as long as I can recall, from High school back in the day to amateur dramatics in plays, and I was asked to narrate because I was a good storyteller.

I have always loved acting but love being behind the mic as well as on stage.

Way back, I read newspapers for the Blind, near where I lived in the UK as I believe it’s vitally important that there are great resources available. And of course, audiobooks fit that brilliantly.

I began with Audible this year and auditioned for titles which interested me and were a good fit and here I am.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? Well, as I have just started out I don’t have a long list to my name yet, but I completed Mathamagical in the spring which was a brilliant rendering of a teenage boy who is struggling with math and generally down on his luck. Until he discovers a magical world of math and is able to succeed in solving problems along the way.

I am working on a “how to book for teachers”  which although is not a story, is motivational in style and I am finding I really enjoy this style of book too – I like to solve problems and help people so I feel a passion for what I am reading.

I volunteer for the Library for the Blind in Washington DC too, when they have titles for me and as time allows.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)

A book with multiple characters like Mathamgical (there were 19) I have to think about how they would sound of course, but I begin to imagine how they would move, what they would wear, their characteristics – are they snippy or patient, do they zip through life or are they moody or grumpy about life?

This helps me tap into the voices better and help them become believable.

In the case of Lilie, she just fit a Scottish voice because of her breed but I have a dog Nelson, who I believe is very human in his responses so I took facets of him too and applied that to her voice.

Prior to the recording I spend time editing and looking for any misprints or issues which might cause me a problem as the narrator, so I try to fix those before recording.

That’s harder for a long book but it saves headaches down the road!

Then I begin recording and that’s the fun part.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Definitely doing accents and dialects and acting in my booth.

I love it when I can really get into a part

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing – it’s a beast.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? I think they always have been popular but increasingly so in the age of people being more mobile and able to access great content more easily.

It used to be incredibly expensive to buy a hard copy of an audiobook on CDS and you were limited to what your library had perhaps.

But now there are hundreds of titles made accessible – we can listen anywhere, anytime.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Black Beauty and I wore it out

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Oooh that’s tough.  Specific titles are hard ………

I love Maeve Binchy novels because the Irish accent is one of my favorites to do

And I love the lilt and pace of it.

But equally children’s’ stories with trolls, knights, pirates, or woodland creatures – I love mice, rabbits, badgers and live in a world in my head where animals talk – a combination of any of those would be fun to do!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I am pretty competitive and so I have this hang up from childhood,  where my brother and I used to outwit each other by being the last person to have sweets or chocolate left from Easter or Christmas.  He beat me every time. So to this day,  I still have little stashes of chocolate and sweets I haven’t eaten yet,  in the house – it drives my family insane! They’re just jealous they don’t have the same will power…….

Where can we learn more about you? My website – Judith Bareham tells a little more about me.

I have a blog which I write approximately every other week and you can access on my site.

Social Media links:

Instagram

Facebook – Judith Bareham

Twitter

Linkedin

Pinterest

***

Judith is narrating Where’s Noodles? by Victoria Zigler. Check out the links here:

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Wheres-Noodles-Audiobook/B07JKBT76W
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880958
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wheres-noodles-victoria-zigler/1129141679
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/where-s-noodles
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wheres-noodles/id1415553711
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/wheres-noodles-unabridged/id1439954293
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1724843222/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1724843222/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1724843222/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40890298-where-s-noodles

Where's Noodles Audiobook Cover.jpg

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Matt Jenkins

*Name: Matt Jenkins

*Tell us a bit about yourself: Born and raised in a church (literally, in a church – the graveyard was my playground…) I have been reading in public since I was able to see over the lectern. Then I got dragged down the dark path of technology and computers consumed my soul. At least for a while. Then, thankfully, I escaped. Now I’m a Buddhist (much to the chagrin of my Christian folks) and a freelance electronic designer. One side-effect of all the technology is an understanding of audio production, and I am the chief audio engineer for the local Talking Newspaper for the Blind. I also sing in a number of local choirs.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? One of our reading team at the Talking Newspaper mentioned ACX to me one day, so I thought I’d look it up and see what it was. Sometimes when reading a book I’d secretly visualise myself producing it as an audiobook, and ACX has opened that door to me.

Is this your day job? Nope.  As I mentioned above I am a freelance electronic designer. I spend my days sat in front of my computer drawing lines on the screen. Industrial control and monitoring systems are my thing.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? This is a tough one to answer: I have only produced two books so far – The Watcher: A Jack The Ripper Story, and Beyond The Vale, by Kerry Alan Denney.  I’m not sure which is my favourite, as they are like chalk and cheese.  Both have been enjoyable to produce, and good stories that I enjoyed reading.  I hope for many more to come.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Not really a preferred genre. I do, though, think it’s important to enjoy the stories you read. If you’re not enjoying the story it comes across in your reading. You have to enjoy the story to take a proper interest in it and bring the story to life. There’s no genres that I won’t touch, but if the book doesn’t appeal to me I won’t bother with it. Mostly I gravitate towards fantasy and science fiction, but I’m not fixated solely on it.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? Just finished The Watcher. Nothing lined up at the moment, but I do have a few auditions out there – one I’d really like to get selected for is Among The Dead – a Zombie book.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) My first book was produced all manually. Lots of reading and re-reading, then cutting up, splicing together, etc afterwards. The editing took longer than the reading. That was the worst part of reading, actually – the editing. So, being a technofreak, I decided to do something about it and wrote my own software to do it all for me. Now the editing is done while I’m reading by the program itself at the press of a key and afterwards is just a brief cleanup to make it sound as good as possible. The editing for The Watcher (it’s only a short story) took about 30 minutes, and 25 of that was just listening through.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Getting to read books I’d otherwise never think to read – and (hopefully) getting paid for it 🙂

What do you find least enjoyable? The post-reading editing. Hence the spiel above….

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Not yet. But that’s only after 2 books…

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yep, I do. Being a freelance designer my income tends to come in lumps, with vast expanses of poverty in between.  With royalty share, I’m hoping to get a little bit of regular income to help smooth over those dearths.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Indeed I do. They’re great to keep the right side of my brain occupied while I’m working with the left.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I don’t know if it’s the future, but it certainly has a prominent place in the future.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? They’re great for when you’re commuting, jogging, working, whatever it is you do. You can listen and do other things (which is important in this fast-paced, need it yesterday, world).

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Probably a Terry Pratchett (read by my hero Tony Robinson). Sourcery + The Colour Of Magic I think it probably was. On cassette.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I’m not an author (yet).

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I’ll let you know next year 🙂

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not as yet.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? Pause. Just that. Pause. The silence is as important as the words.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? Is there such a thing as bad advice? If you learn from the experience it’s still positive, yes?

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Well, there’s The Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan). That’d keep me in work for the rest of my life. I am (of course) a Terry Pratchett fan, but there’s no way I’d be able to match up to Tony Robinson’s readings. I quite like Tom Holt’s works – they combine fantasy with the kind of warped humour that appeals to my twisted psyche. Plus doughnuts.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I spent 3 months living in Sweden when I was 4. When I came home, and started school, the teacher asked: “Who can count to 10?”. I put my hand up, stood up, and counted to ten, perfectly. In Swedish. Ett, två, tre, fyr…

Where can we learn more about you? I keep my personal life off the internet. But you can check out my company site if you like: https://majenko.co.uk

Social Media links: Social media is a mug’s game. You won’t find me on there. Twatter, Basefook, etc – not for me. I value my sanity, and I don’t need the rest of the world to tell me I’m fat: I already know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrator Interview – Ella Lynch

*Name: Ella Lynch

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a 31 year old mum of 1, with a passion for reading and living authentically.  I love food, books, living in each moment, my family, crochet, camping, fires, the ocean… I’m vegan and was brought up as a vegetarian.  I suffer with anxiety and OCD, and have found that being open about this helps others to realise that we all have our demons, but they don’t make us bad people, just human.  I got a triple distinction in my National Diploma in Performing Arts from Truro College in Cornwall.  I am trained as a dental nurse, started training to be a midwife (!) and am finally now living my life-long dream of narrating audiobooks!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I have wanted to be a narrator and voice actress for as long as I can remember.  I studied Performing Arts in College 15 years ago, and when I didn’t manage to get into Drama school afterwards I was so crestfallen I pushed the idea of following my passion to the back of my mind.  My anxiety felt too big to be able to find a way to realise my dream, so I didn’t try…

Fast forward 14 years and I have had many different jobs, am married with a 5 (nearly 6) year old daughter and 2 cats. I had recorded a couple of picturebook audios on YouTube a couple of years ago, and loved it, but my technical knowledge was nil, and what with working part-time as a waitress in a vegetarian restaurant and being a full-time mum I had no time to really invest the energy in to researching how I could make my dream into a reality.

My daughter started school in September and I thought maybe finally I could dedicate some time to at least *trying* to find a way to read storybooks out loud for the enjoyment of others.  I was visiting a friend Claire, and she asked me if I had started to do the voice work I so desperately wanted to, I said no, I didn’t see how, I didn’t know where to start, I would probably fail any way, so what was the point.  My wonderful friend said that that was fine, I could live like that, but I wouldn’t be living my authentic self.  I would only be realising half my potential.  She said she would help me find some voice acting courses and made me see that actually, you know what, I WANTED this.  Really badly.  And if I did try, and fail, I wouldn’t have lost anything.  And at least I would have tried.

So I got signed up to 2 courses that very day, a voice acting workshop with a renowned voice coach Jacquie Crago, and a podcasting course.  From that moment I spent hours and hours researching how to make the best studio and how to get work.  Another friend Ruth got me in contact with a friend of hers that has done voice work and he sent me the most invaluable email detailing all the things I needed to know, but didn’t know how to ask.  I bought the equipment and I started practicing.  I applied for jobs on Mandy.com and joined lots of different websites trying to find work.  I didn’t get anything, but I was fired up and excited.  I didn’t feel like every job I didn’t get was a failure, I felt like it was an incentive to do better, to try harder, to learn more, to hone my skills.  And then I came across ACX.com via a brilliant voice actor Howard Ellison; we met on the Jacquie Crago workshop.  I built my profile and started to audition for books.  I was then approached via my ACX profile and asked to audition for a book.  I couldn’t believe it, was this some kind of hoax?  I auditioned, and got it!  I had landed my first real narration gig and I was so thrilled!

Is this your day job? It is my day job, my evening job, my everything in between job!  As I said I have a 5 year old, my husband works all manner of shifts for the NHS so I have to do the school runs, and I am still working part-time in my local veggie restaurant.  I have just dropped a day waitressing, so now I have 3 days in the studio, and every week-day evening too.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I have narrated a range of titles so far.  The genres are quite funny in that I have narrated an erotic thriller alongside children’s books, short stories and lesbian romance!  My first job was “Always In My Heart” by M Claire Gager.  I loved it, but it was a bit of a baptism of fire as it was nearly 6 hours long.  However, by the end of producing that book I had learnt so much about editing, and that gave me confidence and valuable knowledge.

I don’t think I do have a favourite, as they are all so different, and they are all good!  I narrated “Photo Shy” a short story about an abuse scandal in the modelling industry – I enjoyed the challenge of making something enthralling in such a short space of time.  I loved narrating the Zeena Dragon Fae series as I had to think of different voices for the various magical characters, and it has a lovely moral message at the end of it all.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I have really enjoyed narrating from all genres so far.  I don’t have anything I won’t produce yet, but you never know.  If something didn’t sit right with me then I don’t think I could narrate it.  I need to be authentic to myself, and to the listener.  I am a good actor, but I think anything I felt uncomfortable with could come across in my voice, and that wouldn’t be fair on my listeners.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I have just finished narrating and producing the Zeena Dragon Fae series by Victoria Zigler.   This series is about Zeena the faerie dragon. She doesn’t think she’s special, even though she’s the only one of her kind to have mastered the magic for all five elements equally. But when a dryad named Kishi comes to her for help, she doesn’t hesitate. Together with her best friend – a mischievous pixie named Saarik – Zeena sets off to free Heidi the earth fairy, as well as to save the woods and the creatures of Earth.  The first 3 books in the series are available for purchase now from Amazon, Audible and iTunes, and the 4th title is just going through ACX’s quality checks, but should be available in the next few weeks too.

I am currently in the editing stage of “The Road Ahead” by A E Radley, which is a novel about 2 women from very different backgrounds, forced to share a long car journey home, and the relationship that forms between them.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I like to read the whole book through in my head first, so I have a feel for the story, and know how many characters there are, and what is going to happen.  Then I get to work!  With ACX you have to submit the first 15 minutes for approval before you continue with the whole book, so I narrate the first 15 minutes and then I edit it and submit it.  I use a Rode NT1-A microphone and pop-shield, with a Behringer Uphoria UMC204 HD interface, and MacBook Air.  I use Garageband to record and edit.

Once the first 15 minutes is approved I will narrate the rest of the book.  Depending on how long it is I will either record it all in one sitting (eg if it is a short story, or a children’s book less than 2 hours long) or I will record in a few sittings.  I record mostly in the evenings as that is when it is silent in my house!  I always do a vocal warm-up before I start recording, I guess I should say a body warm up, because you use your whole body when you are narrating, not just your voice.  I do head, neck and shoulder rotations, along with different vocal exercises.  I have a big glass of water near by, and I record.  I tend to read standing, but sometimes if it’s a long read I will sit down for a bit.

I don’t edit until I have recorded the whole book.  Once it is recorded I will work through it systematically chapter by chapter, and once each chapter is retail ready I will upload it to ACX so that I know it is good to go.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  The recording!  I love it.  I get totally in the zone.

What do you find least enjoyable? When my Mac has technical issues and corrupts files.  That is infuriating!  And when aeroplanes or too many cars drive past when I am recording.  I don’t have a completely sound-proof space so I have to just pause and wait for them to go past and then carry on.  That can be very frustrating when I am mid-flow.

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Yes I did have an author I couldn’t work with.  This was due to the content of their book.  It wasn’t clear in the book description when I auditioned, but once I started reading I knew I didn’t feel comfortable with the subject matter, and it wouldn’t be fair to me or them for me to continue with the job.  It was fairly easily resolved.  I sent their agent a polite email explaining how I felt, and apologising.  They offered for me to narrate under a pseudonym, but I declined, and then we contacted ACX and the contract was dissolved.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes I do plenty of royalty share deals.

Do you listen to audiobooks? YES!! I love them!  I grew up listening to audiobooks every night to go to sleep.  They were on cassette tapes, so they were “story-tapes” to me.  I had a few firm favourites that I listened to for years.  Five on Treasure Island, The Sheep Pig, Elidor and Danny The Champion of The World.  If I could tell my childhood self that I am narrating audiobooks as a grown up I would be absolutely over the moon.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think that it is great that more people are engaging with books now because of MP3 players.  Some people struggle to find the time to sit down with an actual physical book or kindle, but listening to an audiobook allows them the freedom to enjoy the stories in a different way.  I think there will always be space for real-life storytelling, you can’t take away from the magic of sharing a book with a loved one in person, so I don’t think people will stop physically reading to their children or partners, but I think that listening to an audiobook is so magical and relaxing, and the current market seems to be ever-expanding, it can only be a good thing.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? I guess like I said above, it’s a way for people to enjoy a story without necessarily having to sit down and dedicate their full attention to it.  They can listen in the car, on the bus or train, whilst walking the dog, or out for a run.  People like to be entertained, and audiobooks are entertaining, but in a relaxing way.  They don’t ask anything from you except your ears.  What’s not to love?!

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I think the first one was this tape which had 2 stories on it – “The Princess and The Dragon” and “Scaredy Cats”.  I can still hear the Scaredy Cats song in my mind now.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Yes.  So far, so good.  It has only been 4 months since I started getting work through ACX so earnings wise I am a bit thin on the ground so far.  But I am so happy to be able to apply for any book that is up for audition, and to be getting work regularly doing my dream job.  It’s great.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not yet, no.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? It was from my friend Claire, telling me that if I didn’t try then I would only be living a half life.  I wouldn’t be being true to myself.  I will forever be grateful to her for making me realise my potential, and jump in head first, giving it my best shot.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? I haven’t had any bad advice with regards to narrating yet.  Everyone has been very positive and supportive.  I don’t have any other narrator friends though.

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Oooooh, the Harry Potter series because I LOVE HARRY POTTER, but Stephen Fry did an exceptional job with that, so I wouldn’t want to try and improve upon that.  Maybe an Isabel Allende novel.  I absolutely love her work, or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  That book really got me.  It was amazing.  So raw and painful, but so beautiful at the same time.  As long as I could narrate it with my British accent I would love to narrate that.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. When I was pregnant I had a mad craving for Broccoli.  At the time there had been flooding on the farms and all the broccoli harvest was destroyed.  I went into my local Tesco after a yoga class like a woman on a serious mission.  I couldn’t find broccoli anywhere and I was getting very wound up about it.  An employee managed to find me a bag of pre-cut carrots and broccoli, the only one in the store, and I could have kissed her I was so happy!!

Where can we learn more about you?

I am on Instagram as @voice_and_narration_with_ella

Twitter as @narrator_ella

Facebook as @voice.and.narration.with.ella

You can find Ella and Tori’s books here:

Book 1 – Zeena And The Dryad

Zeena And The Dryad Audiobook Cover

Zeena and the Dryad – Audible UK

Zeena and the Dryad – Universal Link

Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, I books, Monadori, Indigo

I-tunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Zeena and the Dryad – Goodreads

Zeena And The Gryphon Audiobook Cover
Book 2 – Zeena And The Gryphon

Zeena and the Gryphon – Audible UK

Universal Link books2read.com/ZeenaGryphonVZigler

Smashwords, Amazon, I books, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Indigo

Zeena and the Gryphon – Itunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Goodreads

Zeena And The Mermaid Audiobook Cover.jpg

Book 3 – Zeena And The Mermaid

Zeena and the Mermaid – Audible

Universal Link books2read.com/ZeenaMermaidVZigler

Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, I books, Barnes and Noble, Indigo and others

I tunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Goodreads

Zeena And The Phoenix Audiobook Cover

Book 4 – Zeena And The Phoenix

Zeena and the Phoenix Audible UK

Universal Link Zeena and the Phoenix Universal Link

I tunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Goodreads

Narrator Interview – Andrew J Pond

Name: Andrew J Pond

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a professional actor and drama teacher with over 20 years experience. I also have an eclectic set of skills, such as accents, Muppet voices, magic, juggling, balloon artistry, and Elvis impersonation. I also have a degree in philosophy so I can sound smart at parties.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I’ve always loved reading, and the sound of my own voice, so…

Is this your day job? It’s one of several. As an actor, you cobble together multiple jobs to avoid the 9-5. I am hoping it becomes lucrative enough to take the sole position.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Authors of Science Fiction/Fantasy seem most responsive to me. This is a genre I personally enjoy reading, so that’s helpful. I think it’s because of the fact I have a facility for character voices and, as an actor, storytelling is something that’s second nature to me.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’ve just finished a wonderful book for young people called Jinx and the Faerie Dragons by Victoria Zigler. It’s a great adventure for young readers. Lots of fun characters. I’m presently recording The Waters of Nyra by Kelly Michelle Baker, which is also about dragons. I’m sensing a theme…

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’ve built what is essentially a blanket fort in my office to help with acoustics, because I am a giant child. I like to read through the chapter I’m going to record to make sure I’m aware of any difficult to pronounce words or names, as well as figuring out voices for characters I’ve not recorded yet. So I do spend a good amount of time talking to myself. Then, once I’ve gotten a rough idea, I sit down to record. If I make a mistake, I don’t stop, I snap my fingers and then repeat what I messed up. This makes editing later one much quicker.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  The performance, honestly. Especially if I have a bunch of dialogue with multiple characters, which allows me to switch back and forth between voices quickly.

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing. Not because it isn’t interesting (I love learning new skills) but mostly because it’s tedious.

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Luckily, no.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I do consider it. It’s great if you feel confident the book will sell well, and of course, that means passive income. The only times I don’t consider it is if the book is exceedingly long or technical, because it means the amount of work is significantly higher. For that kind of job, I like to get payment at the end of the job.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I used to listen to them all the time, on cassette, which shows just how old I am. I used to have a job that required a lot of driving, and they were awesome for that. I am a bit old-fashioned and like having books in my hands, but I have started listening to audiobooks again, and it really is a lovely way to experience books.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? At this point, I wouldn’t bet against anything online or digital. I have an embarrassing history of not understanding technological trends…

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? I think it’s a combination of ease of use, since everyone’s so on the go, and free time nowadays is limited (not to mention everyone lives on their phones), and the performance aspect. People enjoy hearing a book performed.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) It’s definitely fulfilled my expectations as far as amount of work. I’m amazed by the selection.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Thankfully, no.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? The technology isn’t that hard. You can do this. Anything that deals with the tech side of it was always intimidating, but the entire recording/editing process turned out to be surprisingly simple.

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Watership Down, by Richard Adams. It was my favorite book as a kid, and I read it multiple times. It’s an incredible adventure story, and has a plethora of opportunities for voices. That or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Love that title.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I watched Sesame Street daily until I graduated from college.

Where can we learn more about you? http://www.andrewjpond.weebly.com

Social Media links: www.facebook.com/andrew.j.pond

Instagram: @thadhel1

If you would like to learn more about Jinx and the Faerie Dragons look here:

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Jinx-and-the-Faerie-Dragons-Audiobook/B079NMXF6R
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/447528
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jinx-and-the-faerie-dragons-victoria-zigler/1119744836
iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/jinx-and-the-faerie-dragons/id890071985
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/jinx-and-the-faerie-dragons-unabridged/id1347211105
Amazon UK: Amazon UK
Amazon US: Amazon US
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Jinx-Faerie-Dragons-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1512360074/
The Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Jinx-Faerie-Dragons-Victoria-Zigler/9781512360073
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22460426-jinx-and-the-faerie-dragons

Jinx And The Faerie Dragons Audiobook Cover

Audiobook Narrator Interview – JD Kelly and Spotlight for Cubby and the Beanstalk

*Name: JD Kelly

*Tell us a bit about yourself: This is always a tough question to answer. I am a full-time voice actor,  however, I’m also the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for a rock and blues band, as well as well as writing and recording my own solo music.

When I’m not using my voice for singing or acting, I try to share as much as possible on my YouTube channel, where I play Video Games and go to conventions across the country. See my answer to the ‘silly fact’ question below for one of my achievements!

Having my own YouTube channel also gives me the opportunity to film and edit video, as well as photography. I love meeting people in cosplay at conventions to create montage videos, I’ve also filmed music videos for bands and solo artists too.

One of my more recent interests is running, I’d never considered myself a runner before but now I’ve completed two half marathons (one was at Disneyland Paris) I think it’s safe to call myself a runner. In all honesty, I use it as a great way to get out into the countryside, a change from my recording studio!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Before becoming a full-time voice actor, I worked in the industry part-time working on radio productions and audio plays. A friend of mine actually runs a production company so after working with them on a couple of small projects and really enjoying it I discovered ACX/Audible. I started to complete short projects in my spare time and immediately loved it, I quickly realised I wanted this to be my full-time career.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I really enjoyed ‘Norse Mythology by Matt Clayton’ it was fun finding out about the myths and legends. ‘Summary of “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor’ was great too as Shawn Achors TED Talk was a huge influence on me, his book on positive psychology is fascinating!

But I am really looking forward to the next chapter of ‘The Fall Of Centuria by James A. Harris’ it was great to do the first book in this fantasy series!

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I love narrating Fantasy novels, it’s a genre I read often. Sci-Fi is great too but I guess because the first book I really got into was The Hobbit, fantasy novels have kind of stuck with me.

I don’t produce erotic fiction, I don’t mind some raunchy romance tales but, when it gets too explicit, I can’t keep a straight face.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m currently working on Alice In Wonderland and the third book in a series called 101 SNES Facts!

I have just completed Cubby and the Beanstalk an adorable kids book! (see links below)

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’m very lucky that I have a recording studio set up home so it makes it really easy for me to get stuck into a project. The process begins with my audition, I look for roles that interest me, books about a subject I’m interested in and other projects in genres I’ve perhaps not worked in before, I love to challenge myself.

The audition is usually a few lines or the first 5 minutes of a longer project – this is usually enough to give me some insight into the writing style so I can adapt my tone as needed. I sometimes record a couple of versions so the end producer or author has some choice.

Once hired, I then like to get some direction from the client, writers often have a tone of voice in mind for a character and it’s important to me that I stay true to that. This is also a great time to confirm any unusual pronunciations or dialects – which happens quite often in fantasy books!

Once I’ve recorded everything, I then use various programmes to edit my takes and upload them as a final audio file.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  The thing I find most enjoyable is becoming the character, it keeps my job diverse and interesting. One day I can be playing the role of a Military Commander, and the next a Welsh Polar Bear cub! I enjoy portraying these different characters, knowing that the end listener will use this to help paint the images in their mind while they listen to the books.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? This really depends on the project and the length of time involved. Royalty shares mean I get paid after the work is completed, when the project makes money. This can work well for shorter projects where I can complete the work fairly quickly, but for longer projects, I do charge a ‘per finished hour’ rate.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Sometimes for non-fiction I’ll listen to an audiobook, but I can’t quit the written word when it comes to fiction. I suppose I like to hear the voices in my head using my imagination.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think it is a storytelling media that will continue to become more popular as time goes on.

However, do I think that physical books (Digital too) will become extinct? Not really, I think we will find some kind of equilibrium.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? With media/work taking up so much of people’s time these days, and people looking for ways to continue learning and being told stories I think it allows people escapism and learning on the move. During travel, in the bath and at night before bed seem to be good moments for most people.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? The first audiobook I owned was The Hobbit, I had it on cassette tape when I was about 8 years old, I remember getting it when I was living in America and I listened to it countless times. I’m not sure where the cassette is now, however, I recently went on holiday to stay in some hobbit huts in the UK and downloaded The Hobbit on iTunes – listening to it while sitting next to the fire brought back some great memories from my childhood.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I am not an author…yet. But I think in the future it would depend on the project, and if my voice would be suitable. I hope that I have enough humility to keep perspective and make a good casting call on whether my voice is right or not.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Oh definitely, it’s a system that has allowed me to forge a career out of a hobby!

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Only one I can think of, the script I had received was not that well suited to audio production, so I just did the best I could with it. It is extremely rare that this happens but sometimes you just have to make the best of a script you are given.

Each difficult project you get teaches you something new, lets you know what your strengths and weaknesses are and allows you to get better!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have held a Guiness World Record for the Longest Marathon Time Playing Minecraft, I live-streamed it on my YouTube Channel raising over £2500 for Cancer Research UK!

Where can we learn more about you?

www.JDKelly.info

Social Media links:

https://www.facebook.com/JDKellyVA/

https://twitter.com/jd_kelly

https://www.youtube.com/themajikelone/

Cubby and the Beanstalk is available at the following retailers.

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Cubby-and-the-Beanstalk-Audiobook/B078THHWBL/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459061
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cubby-and-the-beanstalk-victoria-zigler/1120001996
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/cubby-and-the-beanstalk
Chapters-Indigo
:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/cubby-and-the-beanstalk/9781310906428-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cubby-and-the-beanstalk/id902823470
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/cubby-and-the-beanstalk-unabridged/id1333112178
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104/
The Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/9781512360103
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22798929-cubby-and-the-beanstalk

Cover art atatched.

Cubby and the Beanstalk Audiobook Cover

Audiobook narrator interview – Jerry Fischer

 

*Name:  Jerry Fischer

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Studied voice-over technique with Ginny Tyler (voice of Minnie Mouse), Joanie Gerber (voice of one of the Smurfs & various commercials), & Julie Kliewer (voice of Robecca Steam in “Monster High”); was an elementary public school teacher for over 28 years & always read to my students utilizing different voices; past reader for The Learning Tree (Hollywood production studio for reading for the blind)

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? Fairview Felines (written by Michele Corriel, exhibiting 20 different voices), Ulrike’s Christmas (MY FAVORITE, written by Victoria Zigler), Hokey Pokey Pirates (written by Peyton King, Kristi King-Morgan), Why Are There Bullies … (written by Rich Linville)

Do you have a preferred genre?  Yes, Kids!    Do you have a genre you do not produce?  Yes, Adults. Why is this? The books are too long and boring

My preferred genre is: Of course, Kids

What are you working on at present/Just finished? Just finished Home Squeak Home (another wonderful book written by Victoria Zigler)

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) It takes tremendous patience and practice, practice, practice. A voice-over artist is always honing his/her skills. Knowledge of various software programs and mics is a must, along with clear diction, high energy, and a vivid imagination. And, for sure, a love for reading!

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Getting into the characters and becoming “them” as I narrate. Being able to bring the books “alive”.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate?  Yes, it tends to be much better than price per hour. That is, if you have a great writer and publisher who promotes and networks.   If not why is this? NA

Do you listen to audiobooks? Used to, more in the past than present, since I’m busy with narrating and producing, now that I’m retired (well, from teaching).

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Perhaps; however, my grandson encouraged me to stop narrating for anyone over 12 years old, because most teens don’t want to sit down today and listen to an audiobook. Sadly, many adults don’t seem to want to take the time to listen to stories anymore either. I really think we still need to hold onto the old-fashioned style of live storytelling.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? Maybe people would rather listen to books that are recorded as they drive in their cars or do things around the home. Sitting down and reading has basically become a thing of the past, even in public schools. Although every year I’m asked to return to my last school and read to different aged students for a special day of reading.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? It was a Christian fictional book, This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Earnings, not yet… Ease of use, definitely. Workload, you betcha, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the children’s books.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Yes, my first one, which cost me money. The writer was horrible with his grammar and I was continuously correcting the manuscript. Having been an elementary school teacher sure came in handy with all the corrections. Unfortunately, the experience caused me to doubt the validity of continuing as a narrator. Yet, I persevered and came into my own, especially with the last books written by Victoria Zigler. I really can’t say enough about this prolific children’s writer. “Mother Goose” move over!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. My grandchildren think I’m the silliest Grandpa in the world and I love it! They can’t believe it when I walk up to little children and start having a conversation with my “Donald Duck” impersonation.

Where can we learn more about you? Ask my grandkids or friends, or go to Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), or Facebook, or see me as “Cowboy Jerry 1” on YouTube (Yes, I’m even a prestidigitator.)

Social Media links: Facebook

Jerry has recently narrated – Ulrike’s Christmas

Ulrike's Christmas Audiobook Cover.jpg

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Ulrikes-Christmas-Audiobook/B076KWWL6Y/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/689169
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ulrikes-christmas-victoria-zigler/1125333618
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ulrike-s-christmas
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/ulrikes-christmas/9781370858835-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ulrikes-christmas/id1186265503
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/ulrikes-christmas-unabridged/id1299897702
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1541259998/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1541259998/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1541259998/
The Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/9781541259997
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33358687-ulrike-s-christmas

Narrator Interview – Danny Letham

*Name: Danny Letham

*Tell us a bit about yourself: Raised on a Scottish moorland farm, I spent much of my adult life in various Scottish and English cities and now live near the North Wales Coast.  My work background is software development and systems analysis, specialising in commercial, financial, and manufacturing systems. Born into a musical family whose other stock-in-trade was teaching, I was a mobile deejay in my teens, and these days I can gossip for Britain about many musical genres.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? While I’ve always liked to talk, the impetus came in the form of the usual story: suggestions from friends and relations. I was very aware that merely being the “natural” that those good folks suggested was not enough, and indeed the well-intentioned encouragement might not even have been true. So, from about 2012 onwards I researched and self-trained with the help of Patrick Fraley’s tutorials and a few other sources. Meanwhile, before my wife’s death in 2016 I had gradually withdrawn from the world of I.T. to become her full-time caregiver, and since then I have reinvented myself as a narrator, video maker, and digital artist. I first encountered ACX through Mr. Fraley.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? You’ll have worked out from the foregoing that I have only just taken the plunge. So, for the time being I don’t have much to say here. I have a computer full of material that will never be seen or heard in public, kind of like those early Beatles recordings made in Hamburg. (Dream on, Danny!)

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I’m a non-fiction kind of a guy really, who aspires to biography, history, the education sector, and corporate reads. I have a high regard for the better fiction narrators and am not averse to characterisation, but not every title is an Agatha Christie mystery and although I have my moments and can run the gamut of SATB timbres (baritone and mezzo are my best) I’m not quite in the same league as David Suchet. What folk tend to overlook, though, is that within the vast tract that is non-fiction there is every bit as much of a need for nuance and sense of scene. Which isn’t to rule out the right novel, of course; never say “never”. That said, I am minded to avoid so-called “Adult” material but I’d not reject an otherwise suitable title just because it had some adult content; however it would have to be very good read. On the other hand, given that I have a well-developed avuncular style for kids’ books there is an obvious conflict, so “Adult” is not a market I would target.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I have just arrived on Audible as narrator of a kids’ title written by Victoria Zigler, called “Eadweard: a Story of 1066”. That title attracted me partly for its historic interest but significantly also because of its ethic; as a lad who never wanted to be a soldier myself I identified with its busting of the myth. The ten-year-old Danny repulsed by the “It’s a Man’s Life” TV recruitment campaign would have loved that book.

Eadweard - A Story Of 1066 Audiobook Cover

Ongoing, from a business perspective I am looking at ethical advertising both in sound and on video more so than audiobooks, but additionally in the medium term I have my eye on a couple of older works which are now in the Public Domain and for which I would assume the role analogous with rights holder as well as that of narrator.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)  Step One is, sample it and improvise reading one or two previously unseen passages. See how it FEELS. That instinct is important, and I try to carry it with me throughout the creative process at the same time as balancing it with self-directing. Next, read the thing end to end; if you don’t do that you can paint yourself into a corner either with a wrong characterisation as the plot unfolds or, in non-fiction, with a compromised counter-argument. Try a few more passages as you go along, and revisit former ones. Note how different the passages you improvised feel when they are re-encountered. Rehearse. Mark the text with cues and emphases while progressing, considering any surprise inflections that might work to keep the audience engaged. Rehearse again. Set milestones. Go on the mic, for no more than half an hour at a time; after that amount of time mistakes will multiply. Avoid becoming a slave to the punctuation, especially if that punctuation is mechanised. Repeat whole sentences or at least clauses where you notice at the time there has been a blooper, without pausing. Then get technical with NR, EQ, and all that stuff. When editing bear in mind that sometimes it’s better to splice than merely to cut. Sometimes there is no option but to overdub, but don’t do that yet. Open a list of overdub requirements. Listen back, repairing any pops or clicks etc, while identifying any more overdubs. Listen again, following the text closely looking for misreads. Rely on it; there will be some, and consequently more overdubs. Each overdub is a miniature run of the “mic NR EQ pop click etc.” cycle.  Cry, scream, and yell, when the sound palette of the overdub doesn’t match the main body of your narrative. Rinse and repeat. FINALLY (um, not really finally) submit your Thing Of Beauty. Cry, scream, and yell, some more when the rights holder sends a list of …. overdub requirements! Rinse and repeat. Oh, and that other chap who waves his arms? Me too.

I didn’t mention mixing just now. I always record vox in mono but where music or SFX is involved I will decide based on the specifics of the case whether or not to mix in stereo. If it’s narration only, it stays in mono unless I need to emulate physical activity. However, they never needed a stereo mix in the days of Steam Radio, did they? We have lost a lot these days, with the “live” imperative supplanted by all this tech, and yet I am mindful of babies and bathwater. I prefer to use Adobe Audition. Some freeware is absolutely magnificent, but Audition’s visualisations and its brush and lasso repair tools in particular are all but indispensable. In the end you get what you pay for.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? In a sentence? I like the sound of my own voice! No, in all seriousness, performing is the buzz; I can’t say that I love the technical aspects. I did discover recently when invited to do a live reading that the dynamic is entirely different from studio work, so now I am looking to add that to the repertoire on a permanent basis.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I certainly do. I think it unwise to dismiss either royalty share or finished-rate. Every project has its own business case. It depends on what balance you need to strike from time to time between visibility, prestige, and cash flow.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Not very often because in my limited leisure time I tend to read, looking for performance material! I spend more time listening to podcasts online. The audiobook that I have enjoyed the most – ever! – is David Suchet’s reading of “Death on the Nile”. Such characterisation! He is especially able when “doing” the women, and then there is all that over-the-top emoting, and excellent timing resulting from the great sound editing and audio engineering. What’s not to love? It is a lesson in the proper use of tech to give an enhanced performance experience. One of my bugbears is that the unavoidable pauses in “he-said-she-said” dialogue passages go unedited because of production time constraints. And people have been trained to like it, even to consider it best-practice. For me, while it’s fine in a live situation on a recording it just jars.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes and no. It’s unfortunate in some respects that the old way is almost extinct, of Wise Old Heads occasionally reading from a book but frequently improvising around a detailed memory. There is nothing quite like a live performance in which the narrator responds to the audience’s cues and maybe interacts with them. The best stories can be retold with near-infinite variation – consider how folk music works. In my dreams at least, I foresee that style of performance returning as ordinary people’s reading comprehension skills continue to diminish – which I believe they are doing regardless of the A-level statistics. For now, though, as a society we are going through a “more of the same” loop in which hearing the same story repeatedly in exactly the same formulaic way is the “four legs good” of our era, and whether we like it or not the playback device is king. Equally, the playback device is an ideal medium for disseminating listen-once material, superior to radio because of its on-demand nature. In that context word-of-mouth, social media ads, and the Infernal MP3 Machine are the narrator’s best friends. Just as the phonograph paved the way for excellence in musical performance we must hope the MP3 does the same for narration, although in my view we aren’t quite there yet.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? The commuter lifestyle has a lot to do with it. The world of the past that I have described has largely been mechanised out of existence, and indeed that is the case even away from the urban cycle – in agriculture, for example, productivity demands shackle us to our tractors and our milking machines more than ever before. Changes in the popular music scene have made recorded music significantly less attractive to many than it has been previously, so the advent of affordable and – importantly – portable technology with which to hear something interesting is bringing the audiobook to the masses just like the Dansette did popular music half a century ago.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) It’s too early to say as regards earnings, but actually, I think it more realistic in my situation at least to seek prestige and visibility than it is to expect Big Bucks directly. It is an easy platform to use in the technical sense, while in another respect it falls somewhere in between an effective hiring fair and a useful additional networking tool, not so much with peer-to-peer networking (to steal an I.T. term) as in the wider literary community. Having said that, I think the signal-to-noise ratio in terms of networking opportunity is less than ideal.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Every experience is a learning opportunity. If you don’t see it that way, that is a negative in itself.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. People perceive me to be fearless but… while obviously, I wouldn’t choose to do so I would wrestle a Rottweiler (and probably lose), and yet I have an irrational fear of chickens.

Where can we learn more about you?

Website with onward links is here: http://www.thevoiceofdaniel.com/

For repertoire and samples , go straight to soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dannyletham

If you want to check out Victoria and Danny’s work – please use the links below.

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Eadweard-A-Story-of-1066-Audiobook/B0778V7XDC/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/652726
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eadweard-victoria-zigler/1124182601
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/eadweard-a-story-of-1066
Chapters-Indigo
:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/eadweard-a-story-of-1066/9781370587865-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/eadweard-a-story-of-1066/id1137551399
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/eadweard-a-story-of-1066-unabridged/id1313336363
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1539534472/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1539534472/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1539534472/
The Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/9781539534471
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31199382-eadweard—a-story-of-1066