Narrator Interview – James Watkins

*Name: Hello, my name is James Watkins

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I live in sunny San Diego California, which has been my home since 2011.  I took a long time to find my home in voice work, but this year has seen the completion of my home studio, and I’m never looking back!  I love reading, singing and writing songs, hiking, and playing in the ocean.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I am a lifelong lover of reading.  I really enjoy being able to explore through words and ideas.  Because I am a bit of an amateur musician, I ended up with some simple recording equipment at home.  When it first occurred to me to combine reading and recording it seemed natural and perfect.  I am so glad to be living in this time where I am able to bring these things together in such a simple way. I have had a learning curve, too, but it’s a good thing that I also love to learn new things!

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I recently narrated a series of four short books for kids, called “Degu Days”, written by Victoria Zigler.  They are short but wonderful tales written in the voice of pet degus.  They are small South American rodents who are amazing jumpers, and extremely charming little creatures.  Victoria Zigler is a talented writer whom I think is well worth reading.  Her stories beautifully capture the simple perspective of the young, but there are serious matters she deals with powerfully in the space of a very short story, too.  Degus are cute fuzzy little creatures, but a lot of kids learn some of their earliest lessons in caring for a pet from small animals like these, and are even introduced to their first experience of what death is through living with these lovely, innocent animals.  A lot of people say that reading stories really helps develop children’s capacity for empathy, and seeing things from another perspective, and Victoria has a nice touch with this stuff. Her books are true literature, aimed at meeting children where they are, and gently, kindly, lovingly helping them to grow and understand.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Being able to do lots of different stuff is a big part of what keeps things interesting!  I like to do kids stuff, science fiction and fantasy, history, business, self-help, Christianity, medicine and life sciences, earth sciences, criticism, meditation.  These are just some examples of things I’ve worked on recently.  What’s really important to me is good writing.  Good writers are a treasure, and I am excited to be able to help take something great and bring it to a wider audience.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m pretty excited to be putting together a podcast of spooky stories right now, called the bonefire.  The first episodes are going to be ready to go in the next few weeks.  It’s exciting to have my very own project.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) First, I’ve got to read and understand.  I take notes, use a highlighter, draw little pictures and maps, so that I have a really strong sense of the voices, the arc of the story or the structure of what is being written about, and what the tone of the writing is.

Then it’s time to read and record.  I like to read in the later part of the day.  For some reason my voice gets more and more limber as the day goes on.  I like to be active when I read, and probably look very silly waving my arms around.  Taking lots of little breaks is important, too.  Focusing and refocusing, so that I’m always fresh. Between what the writer has done and what I can do, there’s a lot of life you can give to a piece of writing.  It’s important to pay close attention to that aspect, and give it what it really deserves.

The last step is editing, taking out any mistakes or things that don’t sound right.  Then I process the signal.  There’s not much processing an audiobook reader has to do compared to what some other kinds of voice artists have to do.  This work is technical and procedural, but the truth is that it’s more about finesse than anything. It’s all about trying to get the best sound you can.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? So many things!  I have the attitude of a craftsman.  The pursuit of perfection is what really gets me excited more than anything.  Making something well is time well-spent, and being engaged with great material inspires me.  Being able to read and really explore other people’s ideas and stories is pretty wonderful, too.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this?Of course I consider royalty share!  Like anybody else, I’ve got to pay my bills and make money.  But if a project comes along that I really want to do, and I believe in it, then for me, it’s worth it.  I’m doing a job, and work is not all about fun and games.  But I’m blessed to be able to do a job that gives me the opportunity to do a wide variety of things that I can get excited about, and to make choices about what kinds of projects I take on.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I started listening to audiobooks at the same time I realized how much is becoming available, how many great books there are being produced in audio format, which was also the same time I decided I wanted to do it myself.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? It certainly is an exciting storytelling form today.  And I think it will be even more interesting tomorrow.  There is a lot of room for growth and development in audiobooks, and we are just starting to scratch the surface now.  Human beings will always find new and exciting ways to tell stories.  It’s what we do.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? It’s easy to understand why on a practical level people like them so much.  We like to have something that engages our minds when our hands are busy.  We have the opportunity to learn, to be engaged, and entertained while we are driving, or doing chores, or working, or we want something to keep the kids’ attention.  But it’s also great to realize that as this art form emerges, we are hearing better and better storytellers all the time.  The audience that writers can reach is a lot bigger, and the narrators who produce these books are honing their craft.  It’s an art form that has a lot of room for creative people to really show what they can do, and people love to be engaged by something that fits into their lifestyle.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned?  I sure can!  It was The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs.  I knew my love affair with audio books was going to be a long one, and I thought it was only right to start out with a classic that I had been meaning to read for a long time.  I have lived in a number of different cities, and had a lot of things to compare as I listened to Jane Jacobs eye-opening insights into urban planning.  Donna Rawlins was such a fantastic narrator for this book.  From the beginning, I was listening to it thinking, “I want to do this”, so I listened very carefully to her consistency, her tone, the cleanliness of her enunciation and production.  I chose my first audiobook carefully.

 

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?)  Well, I’m not making a living from it (yet?) but I have had really nice interactions with everybody I’ve dealt with from authors to the folks at ACX.  They have created an effective and well-made interface that puts authors together with narrators.  There is a range of quality that is available, but it puts tools in the hands of people, allowing them to create something for their audience. It’s a lot of work to produce an audiobook, but it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything ACX/Audible could do to make it any easier!

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Nope.  I’ve found myself overwhelmed, certainly.  But so far it’s been all positive.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a tuxedo cat named Clarence who workshops my voices with me.  Every new voice I try gets run by him first of all.  He doesn’t give much feedback, but he’s a great listener.

Where can we learn more about you?

Social Media links:

Coming soon!  Homemade, chilling and scary audio stories!  Keep your eye on thebonefire.com for the first ones to appear in the near future!

If you are interested in having your project narrated and produced by James Watkins, you can find my profile on acx.com or email jameswatkinisvo@outlook.com

 

Narrator Interview – Joseph Batzel

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Joseph Batzel. I live in a small community in Utah by the name of Brigham City and have lived here since 1980 when I moved from Florida. I have been married for 44 years to my wife Alice who happens to be a writer.

We have two sons Marco ages 43- and Matthew 42, and five lovely grandchildren.

I have a Master’s degree in Film and Theater from Brigham Young University. My emphasis was acting and directing.

I have been an educator for the last 40 years of my life and have taught middle school, high school, and presently teach at Utah State University as a part time faculty.

In working at my vocation as an educator, I began my avocation as a professional actor and director for stage, film, and TV. I have 250 credits in the performing industry. I have travelled throughout the US presenting workshops in acting and voice over. I love helping people nurture their talent in these fields of interest.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I became involved with audiobook production early on in my career as a professional voice over artist. I have at least 150 credits in the voice over industry including radio, TV, animation, and audiobooks.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. I narrated an educational CD Titled “Great American Speeches” and did the voice of Abraham Lincoln, and also a family audiobook CD titled “Tales From Davy Jones Locker “Quetzalcoatl” where I was the Grandfather (narrator)

Do you have a favourite amongst these? I must say it was an honor to play Lincoln and read one of the most famous speeches in American History “The Gettysburg Address.”

Do you have a preferred genre? I love to narrate uplifting material. There is too much anger and hatred in the world. I enjoy material that inspires and motivates people to do positive things in life.

Do you have a genre you do not produce? As I previously mentioned, genres that are filled with gratuitous profanity, sex, violence, etc. I have no desire to be involved in those types of projects. Why is this? I have certain personal and religious standards, values, and principles that I don’t want to compromise.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m working on a motivational religious book. I just finished a five book children series, with an excellent author from England, Victoria Zigler, titled “Toby’s Tales.”

*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) I have studied professional voice over training with some of the best professional voice over artists in the business. I also had an agent by the name of Linda Bearman that taught me the technique of voice over. I am very detailed in my approach. 1. I read over the script numerous times for content, meaning, characters, etc. 2. I take the script or text and break it down into paragraphs for narrating purposes. 3. I read through the script this time highlighting the character or character voices I’ll be recreating. 4. I mark where each voice changes and label each voice in my text. I use simple codes such as N for the Narrator T for Toby etc. 5. I read through the text practicing the voices aloud.

I go through the text numerous times until I am satisfied with my voice choices.

I do practice recordings until I feel comfortable with my choices. 8. Begin my recording sessions until it is close to perfect.

Edit the final draft.

Submit the work to the author, client, etc.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Working and recording the character or character voices.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? Much of it depends on the popularity of the author or if their books are doing well in the various markets available.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I love audiobooks but you can imagine what a critic I am to narrators of the books.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? The market for audiobooks is booming for several reasons: 1. Technology 2. Availability of technology ex. I-Phones, laptops, I-Pads. Etc. 3. People are transit and travel more than ever on mass transit, cars, etc. 4. People would rather listen than read in this fast-paced world.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Answered above!

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? My first and most favorite audiobook was the Harry Potter series narrated by James Dale. Mr. Dale did every character with such precision and professionalism, I listened to the whole series in less than two weeks.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) ACX provides unique opportunities for voice over artists to enter a simple profile, submit a demo, and bid for author’s titles by a submitting a short sample audition. Very smooth and professional.

 

The options of profit share and per hour rate are left up to the talent. That works for the talent and provides time for the narrator to research and find out about each author, and what their sales are on various marketing outlets.

The production end has been efficient and professional with adequate feedback from the author and the ACX production staff. The momentary rewards are yet to be determined.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? NO!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I do a great impression of Elvis Presley “Thank you thank you very much.”

 

Where can we learn more about you? Facebook

Social Media links: Facebook, twitter.

Book 1 – Toby’s New World
Audible: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-New-World-Audiobook/B074P7FV1M/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519989
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-new-world-victoria-zigler/1113041202
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-new-world
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-new-world/9781476234342-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-new-world/id562790799
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-new-world-tobys-tales-volume-1-unabridged/id1270858515
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-New-World-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358902

Book 2 – Toby’s Monsters
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Monsters-Audiobook/B074SZ9BJX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247103
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519996
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-monsters-victoria-zigler/1113744687
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-monsters
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-monsters/9781301157921-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-monsters/id574780594
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-monsters-tobys-tales-volume-2-unabridged/id1272267691
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Monsters-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358971

Book 3 – Toby’s Outing
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Outing-Audiobook/B074W95DRX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251587
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520007
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-outing-victoria-zigler/1113846045
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-outing
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-outing/9781301643264-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-outing/id577001695
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-outing-tobys-tales-volume-3-unabridged/id1273856055
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Outing-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359046

Book 4 – Toby’s Games
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Games-Audiobook/B074WCT1W4/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/271594
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520032
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-games-victoria-zigler/1114302957
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-games
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-games/9781301441082-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-games/id595641562
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-games-tobys-tales-volume-4-unabridged/id1274236264
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Games-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359268

Book 5 – Toby’s Special School
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Special-School-Tobys-Tales-Volume-5-Audiobook/B0756Q5KB1/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281507
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520068
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-special-school-victoria-zigler/1114473423
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-special-school
Chapters-Indigo
:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-special-school/9781301489220-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-special-school/id600171798
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-special-school-tobys-tales-volume-5-unabridged/id1277169221
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Special-School-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359336

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15992610-toby-s-new-world
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16098832-toby-s-monsters
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16127032-toby-s-outing
Book 4: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17209761-toby-s-games
Book 5: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17314257-toby-s-special-school

New Features! New Interviews! New Friends

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Over the coming weeks, I will be changing and expanding the interview and promotional opportunities available here. There will still be great features and some of them will be available at no charge but for the enhanced/expanded features then there may be a small charge. Of course, for that, you get more. More tweets, more choice of features, promoted on my new author interviews promotion page. Of course, if you simply wish to participate in one of the free features – that’s great as well.

There will be a range of the following:

Swift Six – short author or character questions

Book spotlights

Dirty Dozen – author or character interviews

Reader interviews

Editor, cover artist or narrator interviews

Top Tens

Guest posts

‘Weeks With’ a particular author

Days in the life of characters or authors

Zweihanders – double interviews with character lovers or siblings

Good cop/bad cop – heroes and villains going head to head.

Here’s the new Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Erana-Interviews-and-Features-215319805541102/

And there will soon be ‘Friends of Erana’ page listing useful services, contacts and allies of The Library of Erana.

If you’re a blogger and willing to co-host, feature or help or your an author, cover designer, audio book narrator, or of course a reader then do get in touch.

You can either use the ‘contact us’ link in the page menus or drop me an email at libraryoferana@gmail.com

 

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number 10 – Charissa Clark Howe

 

*Name: Charissa Clark Howe

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a Presbyterian Minister, wife, mom of three, and marathoner, as well as being an audiobook narrator.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I have been involved in theater for most of my life, both acting and singing. Since I’ve had children, that hasn’t been logistically feasible, but I have dearly missed acting. One day, I was listening to the NPR radio show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and the host mentioned to a caller that she had a “very distinctive voice.” She thanked him and said that she’s an audiobook narrator. Something lit up inside my head and I thought, “Wait a minute. . . you can do that as a job? That sounds amazing!” So I went online and did a quick Google search for “how to become an audiobook narrator.” I stumbled across the Audiobook Creation Exchange website and the rest is history!

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I recently narrated two novels that I absolutely love. One is “Paper Doll” by Joe Cosentino and the other is “Angela’s Coven” by Bruce Jenvey. They are very different books, but both have great messages, fun characters, and a great deal of heart. I am hoping to start narrating more books in both of those series in the future.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I started off with little non-fiction books on things like Microsoft Excel and internet marketing, just to get my feet wet. But I quickly got bored with those. My favorites are light-hearted novels. I will not produce romance novels. I won’t even read romance novels on my own time. I don’t see any value in them.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m currently working on a four part philosophy tome, and a few shorter novels.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I like to start by skimming the books to get a feel for the characters. After that, I just start recording. That means I often have several takes of different pieces, but I find that keeps the story fresher for me as I read.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  I love studying and learning how to act with new accents.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I do consider royalty share when narrating, but I’m very picky about the quality of books I’ll pick up for royalty share. I’m still a bit of a newbie at this audiobook narration gig, but I also don’t want to spend hours reading something that’s not really very good.

Do you listen to audiobooks? All the time!

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I don’t think it’ll take the place of reading books for one’s self, but I do think that it’s really a great medium that I’m happy to see taking off. My family and I listen to many audiobooks together in the car and we have elderly and blind family members who all appreciate being able to listen to books. It makes them accessible in new places and to people who might not have had a chance to read many books before.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? I think I just answered that above. 🙂

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I don’t remember exactly, but it was probably The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That’s my favorite book ever.

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 hoping to have a novel published in the next year. I have thought a great deal about if I’ll narrate it myself or see what life someone else might be able to breathe into the story. I haven’t landed on a decision one way or the other yet.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) And then some! I didn’t expect things to take off so fast for me.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? I actually had an author decide after I’d produced half a book that she’d rather just read it herself. She refused to pay for the time that I’d already spent on the project. I was livid. Every other experience has been great, though. All the authors and producers have been friendly, professional, and understanding.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have two pet rats named after my husband’s favorite mystery novel heroes: Lord Peter Whimsy and Hercule Poirot.

 

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

Social Media links:

twitter: @pastorcharissah

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pastorcharissah/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio Book Narrator Interview 9 – Lauren Ezzo

*Name: Lauren Ezzo

*Tell us a bit about yourself:  I was born and raised in East Lansing, MI. I’ve loved literature since I was little, and in 2014 received my BA in English/Theatre from Hope College in Holland, MI. Currently I’m a freelance narrator and actor based in the Midwest!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? My first year out of college, a friend working a Brilliance Publishing sent me an audition notice. I went into their studio, read some Twilight and some Neil Gaimain, and was taken on! I thought if nothing else it’d be a fun new section on my resume. Two years later, and here we are!

 

What are you working on at present/Just finished?  Just finished a book of poetry inspired by/chronicling The Donner Party! It’s called To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of The Donner Party. It’s a super interesting and emotional read — not to mention unorthodox! And it’s based on a real member of the party.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  The recording process itself depends on where/with whom I’m recording, but my prep is generally always the same: When I receive the manuscript I do a quick read/skim to see what I’m getting into. As recording approaches, I re-read several more times and jot down “specials” — words I’m unfamiliar with, specific author notes, place names, anything out of the ordinary. I consider each character leading up to the reading — where they fit in the story, and what sort of voice the author’s given them on paper. I love to communicate with authors in this regard — often their inspiration will ring a bell in my brain. Beyond that, lots of tea, coffee, and snacks.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Everything!!! I get paid to read!!!! I’m an actor first and foremost, so it’s a great challenge to see how much nuance and meaning I can imbue a story with using just my voice. I’ve learned so much about writing, storytelling, dialect, character, pacing….Also it’s a great conversation starter at parties.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Oh yes! If the book is intriguing, royalty share is totally acceptable. I won’t turn down a book I really enjoy and have faith simply because the payment is royalty share. I’m not an author, but I can imagine that self-publishing takes just as much work as narration (and probably a bit more money). That being said, if an author can afford a PFH rate, I would recommend going this route. Narrators (myself included) are more likely to seek these titles out first, since they’re often paying second and third parties to record, edit, master, etc. Additionally, a seasoned narrator will typically only record with a PFH — but this is WELL worth the investment. You get what you pay for, and armchair narrators can definitely impact your audiobook’s sales.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I didn’t before I began recording, but I do now! I just finished Squirrel Meets Chipmunk by David Sedaris, which features Elaine Stritch. Hilarious.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?Absolutely. Actually, just last month WSJ published an article confirming that audiobooks are the fastest growing publishing format in publishing! (I’m including the link below). Audiobooks, ebooks, smartphones, and the like will never replace flesh and blood books, but there is something to be said about audiobooks and the future of storytelling. Audiobooks create relationships; the performative aspect engages and it’s impossible to not respond to another human voice (even if it’s a negative response). Audiobooks are also becoming necessities — for those with learning disabilities like dyslexia or ADD, or corporate learning.

(http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fastest-growing-format-in-publishing-audiobooks-1469139910 )

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular?Convenience, and the human element. You don’t need to be stationary to listen to an audiobook…and having Sissy Spacek read To Kill a Mockingbird to you personally is pretty cool.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? My own! The CEO Buys In, by Nancy Herkness.

 

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. How about two truths and a lie? I’m a Gemini, I bought a couch this week, I keep up with the Kardashians (I know, I know…) Get in touch with a correct guess and I will send you a prize!

Social Media links:

By all means, please follow, contact, and share! I love hearing from people 🙂

Website: www.laurenezzo.com

ACX: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A2BGEGYCIIX0EQ

Audible: http://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=Lauren+Ezzo

Twitter: @singlewithfries

Audio Book Narrator Interview 8 – Michael Hanko

*Name: Michael (Mike) Hanko

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I was a Communication major back in college, studying Radio and desktop publishing. I love music and so I spent 2 years on air as a DJ while in school. Loved it! But could not find any work in radio after school, given how competitive it is.

A little later on, I started a career as a Training Specialist. So again, being able to get in front of people and be in the public speaking arena was not a bad move. It helped me to work on and polish my delivery/style. This whole time, though I was always interested in voice and just a year ago I started my professional voice career.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? So far, I have produced 31 audiobooks (in just my first year professionally). They have mostly been self-help and inspiration/Christian projects. Some of my biggest sellers have been Listening (Christian Olsen) and the Happy Puppy Box Set (Charles Nelson and Jennifer Smith). I have enjoyed producing all types of works, including (recently) game guides and now even biographies.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I don’t have a preferred genre. I truly just enjoy the different types of books that are published and trying to adapt my voice to some of them. The only style I don’t honestly do is adult/explicit material. And that’s because of my Christian faith. Just not a genre that I’m completely comfortable with.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I have two biographies that I’m producing, both of NBA superstars. I had produced a similar title recently and the author and publisher have been super to work with, so I was happy to take on additional work from them. Also, I secured another scripturally based book that I will start shortly as well.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I look first for titles that I feel comfortable with. When I say that, I look for titles that fit me – adult, middle aged, midwestern accent (mine is not as pronounced though). But at the same time, I try to stretch myself by looking for titles that cause me to be more engaging or at least to strike a balance between more serious and more fun.

When I receive the manuscript, I will read it to try and get a feel for the tone, pacing, etc. I believe that any book’s translation/narration is that much more successful when I can make that connection. And just as important, when I’m editing the final tracks, I listen as a reader – is the volume good? Is the pacing and flow of the read good (not too fast or slow)? Are the pauses natural and help to convey the right tone? I love the process and hearing the project come together!

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  I love the read. I have loved reading since I was in elementary school. I was always one of the first kids to volunteer to read out loud. And I enjoy editing. I’m getting better all the time when it comes to that end and I love to challenge myself to make my edits better, to make the book sound more alive.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I’ll consider any offer. All of my produced works have been royalty offers.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?  I do. We have amazing technology and I know many people that are audiobook readers. Technology is allowing us to reach people in many new and exciting ways.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? You can take that book anywhere, just like traditional books. But, with the added advantage of listening in your car, as many people have suggested to me. You take the portability of a traditional book and add another flexible layer.

 

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I’m still new to the industry (one year plus) but I enjoy seeing the numbers each month of sales, reviews, etc. ACX/Audible provides great tools and information for me as a narrator, making it easy for me to follow my own activity and to share in the overall success of the project. And their interface (receiving manuscripts, uploading, etc) is very user-friendly.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Just once. I felt very strongly that the author was being aggressive in their wording (within the book). And I did mention it to them. Although it did not ultimately affect the final product, I will speak up if I am not comfortable, that it will not benefit either them or me.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a very dry sense of humor. So, I enjoy funny movies for example and especially those that are similarly dry and/or sarcastic.

Where can we learn more about you? I can be found on Facebook (artist page for my work), LinkedIn, Twitter and my own website, MikeHanko.com

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Seven – Melanie Fraser

Name: Melanie Fraser

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa to where my father had moved during WWII. I made the decision at the age of 3 to become a ballet dancer! Following my training there and after the family moved to England – post-Sharpeville  – I continued full time theatre training. As an actress, singer and dancer I later appeared  in theatre, film and television. After a long break away from performing, during which time I qualified and taught professional classical ballet in the UK and abroad, I returned to acting and now perform on screen and as a voice over artist.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production?

Gary Terzza told me about BeeAudio’s new Studio Certification Course and that they were establishing a UK network. Helen Lloyd, with whom I had worked in a few theatre productions, runs the UK side. The course introduced me to audiobook narration as well as production.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these?

These are on audible (UK and USA sites)

‘A Gentleman’s Daughter: Her Love’ (Reina M Williams)

‘The Promise’ (Elizabeth Chappelle)

‘The Final Dawn’ (Alice Catherine Carter)

 ‘Princess in Peril’ (Janet Whitehead)

 ‘A Murderer’s Heart’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

 ‘Lady Concealed’ (Jane Bridges)

‘Dirty Business’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

 One of my favourites is The Final Dawn, a compelling story of treachery and murder set in Stalin’s era/

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this?

At the top of my list is espionage, then historical and crime/thrillers non-fiction and fiction as these stimulate my interest and I always buy these books.

I’m not drawn to narrate erotica, science fiction and fantasy (involving elves and pixies) and wouldn’t usually buy books in those genres.

What are you working on at present/Just finished?

Currently I am nearing completion of an historical fiction set during the Anglo-Boer War called, ‘Crossing the Vaal’ by Archie Vincent.  It is beautifully descriptive and my top favourite to date.

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

I start by reading the whole book before auditioning. Production begins by marking up the whole script with any pronunciation, unusual words etc listed or researched. I liaise closely with the author if there are any queries.

The characters are all colour coded on the script and a spreadsheet sets out the ages, types of voice and other information for reference. Accents are sourced via the IDEA, You Tube, film and other archives. I engage a tutor – always a native speaker – in whatever foreign accent is needed.

After recording and proofing, the editing takes considerable time. My studio is in a quiet area. Nevertheless, noises such as cars, planes, lawnmowers, barking dogs occur, picked up by my extremely sensitive microphone and are all removed. Each chapter is paced and proofed again with a final QC done before mastering, saving to the required format and specifications of the publisher after which the whole production is uploaded. An ongoing backup procedure is followed throughout the production so that nothing is lost……

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? 

I love the actual narration and really enjoy getting totally immersed in the story.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this?

Yes, so far I have done mostly these but now give preference to projects with a PFH rate.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Yes. I’m currently listening to David Rattray’s ‘The Day of the Dead Moon’ a thrilling history of the Zulu Wars in the 19thC.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?

Whilst many people like listening to books whilst doing other things such as travelling, there are also people like me who prefer to read a book. For me it is partly because after many hours of working with sound, I like peace and quiet. I think they both have their value.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I have a dimple on each shoulder!

Where can we learn more about you?

http://www.melaniefraser-voice.com

http://www.spotlight.com/5892-8977-4349

https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A25CGL7F987D8R

http://www.beeaudio.com/narrator/melaniefraser

http://www.audible.co.uk/search?searchNarrator=Melanie+Fraser

uk.linkedin.com/in/melaniefraservoiceuk

Social Media links:

I am not on Facebook or Twitter

MELANIE HAS ALSO BEEN RECRUITED TO NARRATE OUTSIDE THE WALLS – my latest short story with Diana L Wicker.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/outside-the-walls-fantasy-short-story-new-release/

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Five – Fred Wolinsky

*Name: Fred Wolinsky

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I have been involved in performing practically all my life.  As a child, I put on puppet shows in my backyard (creating different characters, accents, and voices), and started making extra money performing magic and ventriloquism shows for parties and organizations.  I also got involved as an actor in school plays and community theatre.  From a young age, I was inspired by ventriloquist Paul Winchell and his many characters, as well as Mel Blanc and all of the different voices he created.

I graduated college with a degree in Theatre Arts, trained in New York City in voice, acting and dance, acted in Summer Stock, Off-Off-Broadway plays, regional theatre, and touring shows, and eventually joined  the actors unions.  I later started working full-time as a puppeteer, which led to the founding of my own puppet theatre company, Pegasus Productions, presenting shows with life-sized puppets and magic, which grew into a nationally touring company with 2 full-time troupes, which I continued to run through 1988.  The success of Pegasus lead me to found Encore Performing Arts, a not-for-profit agency which offered touring shows for children and family audiences of all kinds.  The fast growing company became a leader in the field of professional performances for children’s audiences.

All the while, I still continued acting, directing, and choreographing in local theatre productions.  In 1994, I was named “Best Actor of the Hudson Valley” by the Times Herald Record for my performance as Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code.” Since leaving my position at Encore in 2006, I have also been teaching Speech and Theatre on the college level, became a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter, and of course became a voice over artist and audiobook narrator/producer in the fall of 2013. I love bringing books to life and portraying all the different characters.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Since I was a child, inspired by Mel Blanc and Paul Winchell, I dreamed of becoming a voice-over artist, but I took the long route to get here.  However, everything that I have done up until this time all contributed to my skills and abilities as a narrator/producer.  As a puppeteer and ventriloquist, I learned to create many different voices in conversation with each other.  As an actor, I learned to bring characters to life with an emotional  sincerity. As a director, I learned how to analyze scripts, interpret the work of the author, find the emotional core of the production, and develop a sense of pacing.  My ear for languages, helped me create characters with different accents — regional as well as international. While operating my puppet company, I made voice tracks for all the shows, so I learned how to edit and produce sound tracks. Running two businesses taught me how to manage my time, have integrity in my work, and live up to my commitments.

After retiring from Encore, my other work has been part-time, and I was looking for something to fill the slow spots.  A talented actress friend of mine began doing a lot of professional voice over work, so I used the opportunity to pick her brain.  She introduced me to ACX and taught me a lot about the business.  I purchased some equipment and started submitting audition files.  Then I started getting hired to narrate and produce books, and continued learning and growing on the job.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I currently have 34 books listed on Audible.com, and more in the works.  It is so hard to pick a favorite.  That is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Some that I most enjoyed narrating the include “The Doorways Trilogy” books by Tim O’Rourke, “Island of Fog” series by Keith Robinson, “Fables and Fantasies” by Dale T. Phillips, “To Light the Dragon’s Fire” by Margaret Taylor, among others.  Here is a full list of my current titles on Audible:

– “The Feylands (The Hidden Lands Book 1)” by Peter Meredith
– “Island of Fog (Book 1)” by Keith Robinson
– “Labyrinth of Fire (Island of Fog Book 2)” by Keith Robinson
– “Doorways (book 1 of The Doorways Saga)” by best-selling author Tim O’Rourke
– “The League of Doorways (book 2 of The Doorways Saga)” by best-selling author Tim O’Rourke
– “To Light the Dragon’s Fire: Dragons, Griffons, and Centaurs, Oh My!” by Margaret Taylor
– “A Candle Star” by Michelle Isenhoff
– “A Demon’s Quest: The Beginning of the End” by Charles Carfagno
– “London Warriors” by Paul Rudd
– “Link” by D. A. Karr
– “The Veneer Clause” by Winfield H. Strock III
– “Hand Puppet Horror” by Benny Alano
– “A Song After Dark” by Grant Palmquist
– “Insanity Tales” by David Daniel, Stacey Longo, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad V., and Ursula Wong, with an introduction by Jonathan Maberry
– “Freedom Club” by Saul Garnell
– “Points of Origin” by Darden North
– “Diner Tales: A Contemporary Canterbury Anthology” by Andy Bunch
– “His Undoing: A Gay For You Erotic Short Story” by Aria Grace
– “Figures in Blue”; by Ted Morrissey
– “Fables and Fantasies”; by Dale T. Phillips
– “Apocalypse Tango” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Kevin Chandler and The Case of the Missing Dogs” by A. L. Jambor
– “Separate Lives” by Dale Roberts
– “The Dark Djin (Denny’s Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “Promises Unfulfilled (Diner Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “Monsters and Legends (Diner Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “‘Twas the Night” by Robin Reed
– “Crooked Paths” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Halls of Horror: A 10 Story Collection” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Jumble Sale” by Dale T. Phillips
– “The Big Book of Genre Stories” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Tales of the Gray Ghost” by Bill Craig
– “The Package” by Cleve Sylcox
– “Wacky Waddles” by Miranda Hardy

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Just like no actor is the right match for every role, no narrator is the right match for every book.  Each book requires different skills, different vocal qualities, and different styles.  There is really no genre that I would flat out not produce, but there are certain genres that I seem to be best suited for.

I have a unique voice, not your classic announcer voice, which is very well suited for certain books, and not as well suited for others. My strength is my versatility and my acting. What I excel at, and enjoy the most, is doing books that have a wide range of character voices, as well as a theatrical narrative. I love bringing each character to life vocally, making them jump off the page and come to life for the listener.  I also treat the narrator as a character, even when it is third person narration, reading it with a passion and emotion, as if really telling the story, not just reading it.

I have done many different genres successfully, but the genres that seem to most often fit my skills are fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, horror, and young adult.

What are you working on at present/just finished? As of this writing, I am finishing up “The Queen of Doorways (the Doorways saga, book 3)” by Tim O’Rourke. I am also working on “Mountain of Whispers (Island of Fog book 3)” by Keith Robinson, and am lined up to do “To Save the Broken Heart: Dragons, Griffons, and Centaurs, Oh My! book 2” by Margaret Taylor, and “The Sun King (The Hidden Lands Book 2)” by Peter Meredith.  These are all sequels of books that I have previously recorded, so obviously the writers have been pleased.

Tim O’Rourke, author of “The Doorways Saga” books had said to me after listening to the first book in the series, “The voices were perfect and the chapters seemed to burst with life…. The book really comes to life and even though I wrote it I got caught up in the story as if coming across it for the first time.”  Many authors have expressed similar sentiments.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I always start by reading the entire book, studying the characters and the style, and marking the script with color codes for different voices, as well as other performance notes.  I also communicate with the author to discuss his or her visions of the characters and clarify any questions.  I then record the book, doing a “punch editing” process, where I stop and start as often as necessary to perfect each phrase and get each voice just right, piecing the parts together as I go.  I tend to stop frequently to make adjustments to the phrasing until I am satisfied. While there are actually many different takes strung together, I need to make it sound as if the entire book is being read once-through without errors.  I aim to make it word perfect and be true to the author’s work.

When the book has many voices (as most of my books do), I make a separate sound file with samples of each character’s voice.  That way, if there is time between appearances of that character (or in the event of a series where it may be several months before I produce next book), I can refresh myself as to how each character sounds, and keep each voice consistent.

Then I do the final editing and mastering, carefully listening to and touching up each moment to cut out any extraneous noises, subdue any loud breaths, and perfect the timing and pauses, as well as master the sound levels to a consistent range.

The final step is to convert all the files to the proper format for uploading.

With preparation, recording, editing, mastering, and file conversion, it takes me approximately 10 hours of work to complete one hour of finished audio.  I may take a bit more time than some other narrators, but it pays off with the results. Just like putting together a theatre production, there is quite a bit of unseen work to make it sound natural, easy, and spontaneous.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?

I love creating the different character voices. I try to picture what each character would look like, act like, and sound like. I don’t just think about accent or voice quality, but personality as well. How would that character speak? It is especially fun creating the voices for fantasy characters. Those will often be inspired by animals and animal sounds, and sometimes I will enhance them electronically in the editing phase.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? When I first started narrating, I took anything that was offered.  Now, I am more selective. I prefer to be paid a flat fee (per finished hour) for my work. I will take some royalty share deals, but only if I think the book has a chance of a decent sales volume, so that I can be compensated for my work. I look at the quantity of reviews for that book, the past sales of the book, popularity of the other books from that author, as well as the amount and kind of promo that the author does and plans to do.

I have produced a few books for which ACX has offered a stipend. This provides the best of both worlds. ACX will pay the narrator/producer a fee per finished hour, plus the narrator/producer will also get a split of the royalties. Unfortunately, ACX only selects very few books for which they will grant this stipend. I have been fortunate to have been contracted for a few of these.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? As more people have access to audiobooks, and with the ever-increasing tendency in our culture to multitask, I do think that audiobooks will continue to rise in popularity.  However, I do not think it will ever replace print books (whether on paper or in electronic format). Audiobooks is a different media for storytelling, and each media has its pros and cons, and supporters and detractors. In reading, the reader creates the pictures and voices in their head rather than hearing the narrator’s interpretation. The reader has an easier option to jump back and forward, or skim through some sections than they do with audio. On the other hand, audiobooks can be listened to while driving or doing other things with your eyes and hands that you cannot do while reading a book. Also, if done well, audiobooks can really bring the story to life, creating a full movie in the listener’s mind.

Just like live theatre, movies, radio, TV, DVD, and other formats have only added to the options people have for entertainment, but have not replaced each other, I think audiobooks will become another popular form of storytelling.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I can wiggle my ears.

Where can we learn more about you?

My website is http://fredwolinsky.weebly.com/  Check it out, and fill out the “Contact” form if you would like to get on my email list for occasional announcements about new releases or special promotions.

My Goodreads page is https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8282586.Fred_Wolinsky  Follow me or friend me to keep up with my latest news.

Miraculously, I have somehow so far avoided getting involved with FaceBook and other social media sites.

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Four – Dean Robertson

*Name: Dean Robertson

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a 69-year-old retired English teacher, first-time author, and first-time grandmother (as of Shakespeare’s birthday 2015).  I grew up on 200 acres of woods in North Georgia, have lived and taught in California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Virginia, and live currently in a 1928 co-op building in an urban neighbourhood in Norfolk, Virginia.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? When I lived in Michigan, I read out loud to several friends, one of whom saw an article in the local paper about recording audiobooks.  She called me and said, “You should do this.”  I had another friend with a recording studio, so I made a demo tape which I sent off to The Brilliance Corporation.  I didn’t hear anything for a long time and had forgotten about it when they called to ask if they could submit my tape to Barbara Kingsolver for her novel, The Poisonwood Bible.  She approved, and I did the job.  I narrated several other books for them that year.

I haven’t narrated audiobooks for many years; my life and passion became increasingly involved with teaching.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’m going to describe my process for narrating The Poisonwood Bible, because that was the longest book I narrated and also the first, the finest, and a model for the others.  It would still be the model if I did this work again.  The work came up fast.  They sent me a manuscript, which was dauntingly thick and, unlike my usual meticulous preparation for anything I do, I decided I just didn’t want to read it.  So, the narration was my first reading.  It was exactly the right thing.  I went to the studio’s headquarters on Lake Michigan and checked into a motel.  Every morning at 8:00 I drove to “work,” entered the small room, lined with egg carton foam, pulled on the huge earphones, opened the manuscript, and started reading.  We broke for lunch, then worked until around 4:00.  After that, I went back to my motel, walked on the beach, then went to bed.  It took five days.  I guess my process, looking back on it, just happened and involved somehow being in what people later came to call “the zone.”  I sat perfectly still, spoke into the large microphone, and could hear nothing but the sound of my own voice and Kingsolver’s words, echoing through my brain from one ear to the other.  I find, with years enough behind me to consider it, that it’s the way I have done everything-teaching, narrating, writing.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  The absolute immersion in a piece of literature—the music of the words bringing you into the book more intensely than I could have imagined.

Do you listen to audiobooks?  Nope—not mine nor anyone else’s.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I certainly hope not.  I continue to sit down, rock my grandson, and read aloud to him from whatever I happen to be reading.  I did that from his first day.  I did the same with my son—nursing, rocking, reading.  Complete intimacy.  MP3 players, and all their ilk, are cold and distancing and offer very little in the way of human connection.  There’s still the voice, but I don’t believe much in the power of disembodied voices.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? People are rushed and incapable of the kind of stillness required to sit down to read a book.  And we have created a culture in which reading isn’t valued at all.  I hope the human need for stories will keep them alive in at least some form, but I am not hopeful.  We have already moved into the world of graphic novels, i.e., comic books.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I am old.  I have never owned an audio book except the free ones I got for narrating.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? No; I loved every minute of it.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. Having famously said of owning llamas, “Once you’ve kissed something with three lips, there’s no going back.”

Where can we learn more about you?  My website and my author page on Koehler Books.

http://pdrobertson.com

http://www.koehlerbooks.com/books-2/books/looking-for-lydia-looking-for-god/

Author and Narrator Interview – C.S MacCath

Name: C.S. MacCath

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m an American expat living on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, one of the most beautiful islands on Earth and a Gàidhealtachd of the Scottish Gaelic language. My husband Sean and I own a hundred-year-old minister’s manse here and run an enterprise web development company and small press from home. We’re both vegan, and we’re both volunteer wildlife rescuers for a facility in Seaforth, Nova Scotia called Hope for Wildlife.

Tell us about your process for narrating.  (Be as elaborate as you like.): Before I begin recording, I read the piece aloud with attention to vocal inflection and voicing of characters. Key passages and phrases are highlighted during this reading, and each major character’s dialogue is also highlighted with its own, separate color. Then I read through the piece again, focusing on those highlighted passages while I work to establish an overall cadence for the narration.

During recording, I break often, perhaps every page or two. This gives me the opportunity to rest and clear my throat with water so my reading voice remains constant throughout the piece. It’s easy to become fatigued after a few hours of recording, and that affects vocal constancy as well, so I try not to work longer than three or four hours during a session.

Once I’ve recorded the piece, I listen to it carefully for sound artifacts. These are nearly impossible to scrub from a recording, so passages containing them need to be revisited. I also listen for places where my reading was inconsistent or simply didn’t convey the meaning I intended and revisit these as well.

Finally, I splice the recording and listen to it a final time to make certain I haven’t missed anything. For more information on that part of the process, you might read my blog entry: .Recording for Audible ACX – Technical Post

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I most certainly think it’s one important future of storytelling, since audio books are a dynamic and convenient way to enjoy the written word. My husband is an audio book fan, and his listening habit takes the place of the reading habit he had as a boy. My own listeners have mentioned they prefer audio books as well. I love them too and always have one on the go.

That said, I believe audio books occupy a place alongside paper books and e-books. Not every reader has the same needs, and I think the publishing industry should continue to meet those needs equitably.

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 produce my own audio books; from cover art to narration to digital mastering. In fact, I’m just finishing the remodeling of a small room in my house so that I’ll have a properly sound-attenuated space to record in going forward. It took me roughly a year to build these separate skills, and there was a lot of trial and error, but I prefer to be self-sufficient where I can when it comes to my career. I also enjoy the work quite a bit. It’s a nice creative break from the writing itself.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc?) I have mixed feelings about ACX. The technical requirements for self-published audio books are precise, but not onerous, and they need to be what they are in order for listeners to have a quality, distraction-free listening experience. So I have no quarrel with the technical rigor of the process. The web site is easy to use, and I’ve found the ACX support crew consistently helpful when I’ve called them with questions. ACX also provides a number of audio book codes to authors for promotional purposes, which is nice. As for earnings, I’m not excited about the royalties offered to authors who don’t distribute their audio books exclusively through ACX, but I’m not willing to sign a seven-year exclusivity contract for pieces I distribute as an independent author.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write speculative fiction and poetry, which includes science fiction, fantasy and the occasional bit of Pagan-influenced slipstream. My first collection is entitled The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales and is comprised of work published between 2004 and 2010(ish). I’ve also sold a number of stories and poems since then, which you can find by visiting the “Things to Read” sidebar at csmaccath.com. I’m presently working on a series of science fiction novels entitled Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom, for which I’ve written a novel I’m shopping around to agents and publishers right now. I’ve just begun another novel in that series, and I’m planning to pitch a second collection of short fiction to a good small press later on this summer.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? I have! But I found as I was writing the character that she diverged from the person quite a bit for the sake of the story. So when I finally did shoot her in the head, she wasn’t much like the woman I derived her from, which is probably for the best. Fictionalizing real people can lead to legal trouble if the fiction resembles the person too plainly.

That said, I’ve extracted character types, motivations and even remembered conversations with difficult people and given them to my fictional villains. I find this humanizes them, which is necessary if you want your bad guys to be more than foils in a story.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I world-build for everything I write, even short stories. In fact, I often begin my research with a vague idea or perhaps just a strong character and allow the world-building to lead me into the story. As for favorite resources, I research so widely that I don’t really have any specific favorites. However, I have taught world-building at science fiction conventions and can offer a few of my own resources to your readers.

The first is a series of blog entries I wrote about constructed languages, or conlangs. You can find the introduction to that series here: ConLangs 101: Introduction. The convention workshop resource sheet on conlang construction can be found here: ConLangs 101 Resource Sheet.

The second and third are resource sheets for two convention workshops: Physical Worldbuilding and Cultural Worldbuilding. These were intended for attendees, so there are a few things in them that might not be relevant to your readers, but there’s some good stuff too.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? There’s always a message underlying my work. My recent story “N is for Nanomachine” was a look at the ways people choose to approach death. My forthcoming story “C is for Change” is about the way people are broken and what happens when they transcend that brokenness. I write about life, so meaning is important to me.

As for its overall importance, who can say? There are a number of popular speculative fiction writers who specialize in artful prose and poetry that have no underlying message, and their work sells. It reads like cotton candy tastes to me, and I don’t care for that sort of thing, but that’s only because I do care so much about message and meaning. Your mileage may vary.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I have never, ever commented publicly on a review of my work, and I hope I’m never so far off my game that I do. Very occasionally, I’ve sent a brief ‘thank you’ e-mail to a kind reviewer or mentioned my appreciation for a good review in a blog entry, but that’s it.

Reviews are conversations readers have about writing, and writers should never insert themselves into that conversation when it’s about their own work. This is especially true of negative reviews. Writers don’t live in the heads of their readers, and while some negative reviews are hurtful on purpose, most are just honest expressions of what didn’t work for a reader. That kind of critique can be helpful.

As for importance, I think reviews are important tools for reader discussion, but I think they’re somewhat less important for writers, except as a means for finding out how their work is received and where some skill-building might be in order. That said, I still love it when a reader has something nice to say about my writing. ☺

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just finished The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, and I have to say that on the whole, it didn’t work for me. However, my favorite novel of the last year was Lexicon, by Max Barry, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all people with a pulse. I’malso following the Saga comic series by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples and love it.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a collection of action figures from the Pacific Rim movie, and I play with them.

Where can we learn more about you?

Social Media links:

Blog: csmaccath.com/blog

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceallaighsmaccath

Twitter: twitter.com/#!/csmaccath

Google+: plus.google.com/+CSMacCath