*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 – Audible UK
Zeena and the Dryad – Universal Link
Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, I books, Monadori, Indigo
Zeena and the Dryad – Goodreads
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
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
Book 4 – Zeena And The Phoenix
Zeena and the Phoenix Audible UK
Universal Link Zeena and the Phoenix Universal Link