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

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

2014 – A Year Filled With Words

I can’t believe it will be 2015 in a few hours, where has the year gone?! So what has 2014 brought? Words! Knowledge! Friendship!

It’s too many years for me to confess to since I left university but my thirst for knowledge hasn’t abated. As some of my followers know I love history, especially ancient history. The course https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall Hadrian’s Wall – Life on the Roman Frontier was fascinating. Well presented and interesting this was a good look at life in Roman Britain, and the challenges facing both occupiers and occupied.  There may well be a story from this era…. watch this space.

Next year – January I am hoping to complete another course about Roman Architecture and archeology, and later on the Coursera course about Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I’d planned for Book III of the Chronicles to be out by year end, but for one reason or another this hasn’t occurred. It is, however, done in draft so should appear in the springtime. I’ve not been idle, this year has been a year of short stories, planning and promotion.

My books this year:

Nine Heroes: Tales of Heroic Fantasy. This includes a Tale of Erana not featured anywhere else. Coel is the reluctant hero of this tale of slavery and revenge. Look out for Coel again in 2015

Kiss and Tales – the Romantic Collection (with the Indie Collaboration).

Summer Shorts (with the Indie Collaboration) – this includes some poetry about the British Summer Time, and a short story about the Kitchen Imps.

Spectacular Tales (with the Indie Collaboration) – (free) featuring some poetry and a fairy tale retelling.

Tales from Darker Places (with the Indie Collaboration) (free) – featuring some poetry, a dark and twisted story about Jack the Ripper, and a dark tale about a lonely vampire.

Bellator – I have to say I haven’t had that much fun for ages. It was such a joy to be co-writing with Diana Wicker again.  Perhaps these characters might appear again. This charity anthology is raising money for wounded service personnel, a cause close to my heart. Books for heroes and stories about heroes – what a marvellous combination.

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends – a collection of tales set in Erana featuring errant gods, magic, myth and mayhem – Also in Audio. On the subject of Audio I started running Audio Book Narrator interviews, which were fascinating. For me a whole new world was revealed – a book read aloud is a treasure indeed, it brings forth emotions of joy from memories of parental and grandparental story telling, sitting down at school and being read to, and reading aloud to friends. Story telling is as old as the hills, and is central to our culture.

Wyrd Worlds II – this free anthology features another tale of the Kitchen Imps, plus a short fantasy tale of the god-keeper of a small bluish-green world.

Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse – new release. A short story of myth and magic set in the world of Erana.

Blog-wise there have been:

18 character interviews with everyone from William Shakespeare, a horse, a dog, several aliens, a few witches and wizards, a couple of demi gods, a vampire and even Satan himself.

42 author interviews covering fantasy, science fiction, suspense, paranormal, children’s fiction, crime and historical.

3 narrator interviews, including Chris Morris.

6 editor interviews.

5 cover designer interviews.

5 reader interviews.

2 reviewer interviews.

Several blog tours stopped by, plus there’s been advice about audio books, Thunderclap, book reviews, course reviews, giveaways, new releases and much more. It has been a busy year!

So what will 2015 bring?

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III will appear in the spring.

Plus there will be more short stories, including more from the Kitchen Imps, Coel and the Thiefmaster, and more Tales of Erana. Book IV of the Chronicles is in planning, and I dare say more short stories will spring from that. A murder mystery, plus perhaps some more grimdark.

There may also be an erotica collection, co-written with a friend.

Wow I am busy already and the year hasn’t even started!

There will be several guest posts discussing the influence of fantasy on our culture, plus, of course many more interviews. The first of these is scheduled Jan 2nd 2015 from Joe Bonadonna. If you are interested in participating in an interview, a guest post or blog tour stop-off please contact using the form below or on the Contact Details page.