Audiobook Narrator Interview – Emma Thorpe

*Name: Emma Thorpe

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Witchlet Audiobook Cover.jpg

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

The Pineapple Loving Dragon Audiobook Cover.jpg

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

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrator Interview – Andrew J Pond

Name: Andrew J Pond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @thadhel1

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

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

Jinx And The Faerie Dragons Audiobook Cover

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

*Name: JD Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can we learn more about you?

www.JDKelly.info

Social Media links:

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

https://twitter.com/jd_kelly

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

Cubby and the Beanstalk is available at the following retailers.

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

Cover art atatched.

Cubby and the Beanstalk Audiobook Cover

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

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Six – Lynelle Bennett

Name:
Lynelle Daliah Bennett

*Tell us a bit about yourself:
I consider myself a very creative person.  My family kind of pursued the military route and I ended being more of the artist out of all of us.  I draw a lot, write stories, poems, play video games and dance for fun but my passion became singing.  I grew up training myself as a singer and hoped to one day become a star like most little girls.  I was self taught for a long time and went to college for Audio & Media Technology where I wanted to learn how to record and mix my own music and eventually sell it.  I then kind of went on a hiatus from singing in the studio and started to sing in community choirs. 

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production?
Well, eventually I kind of hit a snag in my career and really thought about what I really wanted to do.  I knew that I really wanted to use my voice in some way but I didn’t find the music industry as appealing anymore.  I then met a very awesome woman named Diana L. Wicker who shared her stories with me.  I then noticed there was a side to my voice that I had always ignored but when I thought about voice acting, I realized how much I really enjoy reading and how I tend to create different voices for the characters.  I write a lot too and I usually voice my own characters in my head so I thought that perhaps this route would be promising.  I reached out to Diana who was interested in making her stories into audio books but found that she wasn’t really able to do them herself so when I introduced the idea of me starting to pursue the voice over path, she was excited because now she had a way of getting her audio books.    

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this?
I really enjoyed doing “The Dreamweaver’s Journey” because of all the different types of characters that I had to create.  It was fun figuring out what a Unicorn or Owl or Dragon would sound like.  It was especially intriguing trying to voice a goddess-like character like Lady Kali.  Fantasy was really fun in that regard.  However, I am open to anything really.  I would love to do a murder mystery or romance as well.  I really love the tones in those types of stories and feel that it would challenge me in a good way. 

What are you working on at present/Just finished?
I just finished “The Dreamweaver’s Journey” and I am probably going to start recording the next book in Diana’s series called “The Guardian Child’s Return.”  I’ve already read it and figured out the voices of the characters in that book so I’m hoping to record that soon.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?
Inventing voices for all of the characters was both challenging and fun.  I really had to test my range and even play with changing the tone of my voice that I never really thought of before.  Characters like Lord Hyatt for example.  The male characters in particular were most challenging but I actually grew most fond of them over the female characters such as Lord Grypos and Nolan. 

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?
Absolutely!  There are many individuals who prefer to listen to a book while driving or even walking perhaps a pet or just getting some exercise or whatever.   I personally know that even visually impaired people most likely utilize audio books.  Why not?  

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular?
As I previously stated, people can listen to books the way that they listen to music and the fact that they can pretty much take it anywhere makes it very convenient.  I think that may be the main reason why they are growing in popularity. 

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book?
So far, my production process can still use some work.  I thought that I would finish Book 1 in one month but here we are, three to four months later and it’s finally been released.  I hope that it gets faster for the next time around. 

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.
I think that I am a major geek.  I get so nerdy into games that a lot of people just can’t help but smack their heads.  I got so into a video game that I made a music tribute video based on my main characters and even drew, and painted a portrait of my main characters in the game as well.  It was an RPG so I was able to make up what the main hero looked like.  I don’t know if this is considered silly or obsessive.    

Where can we learn more about you?

So far the best place is Facebook.  I hope to get a website soon!  Also, the Dreamweaver’s Official Site is a good place to get more info on the books by Diana.    

Social Media links: https://www.facebook.com/lynelle.bennett
Official Site for Tales from Feyron:   www.talesfromfeyron.com

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dreamweavers-Journey-The-Age-of-Awakenings-Book-1-Audiobook/B013J9VUAW/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dreamweavers-Journey-The-Age-of-Awakenings-Book-1-Audiobook/B013J9WNOY/

Audio Book Narrator Interview Number Three – Neil Hellegers

Name: Neil Hellegers

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am an actor, educator, and narrator who lives in Brooklyn, NYC. I’ve been acting professionally for  about 16 years, in basically every way an actor plies his or her trade: Shakespeare, on-camera commercials, film, tv, experimental theatre, commercial VO, video game VO, etc..  I’ve also taught acting for the University of Pennsylvania and The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. In addition, I’m an inveterate reader, which is what brought me to audiobook narration.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Like many folks these days, I came to audiobook narration via the growing trend of home studio recording and production. I’ve worked in-studio as well, but my start came relatively recently, as I was looking for a way to productively fill the time between auditions and the like. I had always listened to audiobooks, during many years on the road for acting gigs, so the challenge was setting up a viable recording arrangement, learning how to use the darn thing, and finding work. This was, of course, on top of commuting my existing skill set actual act of narrating itself. Setting a consistent tone and pace is one thing, making a professional-quality recording of it is another thing entirely. Thank goodness we live in an age where almost every production issue imaginable has been hashed out on the internet! So, after about a year, I’ve reached a place where I’m confident in my home studio, freeing me to elaborate on my story telling skills. The veterans I’ve met tell me they usually settle in to that aspect after about 20 books or so, so at least I’m about halfway there!

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? It’s been fairly varied. My first was a really unique contribution to the very-popular zombie genre, called Dead Drunk: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse One Beer at a Time, by Richard Johnson, a great book that has the grace to be exactly what it sounds like.  After that I did an instructional book about Zen meditation by Howard Fast (author and screenwriter of Spartacus, among many others). These two books had a surprising lot in common, if also totally different. More recently I’ve been working on a cycle of the works of H. P. Lovecraft, which has been very rewarding. There’s been a significant revival of attention to Lovecraft, both in spoken and written word, and I’ve always been a fan. My approach was not to read these tales as “horror” but as testimonies of awe and wonder…which then turn horrible. I’ve completed The Shunned House, which takes place, as much of HPL does, in Providence, RI, where I completed my MFA some time ago. I also just released an original collection called Precipitous Tales: Origins of Mythos, which contains four, early works. Putting together and naming a new presentation of Lovecraft has probably been my favourite endeavour.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? In my personal reading, I’ve been mostly working through a lot of science fiction, like Iain Banks’ Culture novels, which are amazing, but I also read quite a bit of fantasy and other genre fiction. That being said, I go through phases where I back away entirely from both of these, in favour of non-fiction, or new popular fiction. The bottom line for me is the writing and the story telling, and I would say the same goes for narration. Again, I’m far too new to the game to declare an area of focus, but if the book has a compelling, unique story to tell, that’s what I prefer. At this point, nothing is ruled out.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I just finished Veil of the Dragon: Book One of the Prophecy of the Evarun, by Tom Barczak, which certainly fits the aforementioned criteria. There’s obviously a great deal of Epic Fantasy out there, but it takes a strong hand to craft one that offers something new, that resonates with the humanity of its audience, but doesn’t simply re-tread new ground.  Veil of the Dragon did that for me. Tom has a gift for world-building, generating an array of cultures with distinct mythologies, but also has a very lyrical sense of environment, both of which made for a gratifying narration experience.  The audiobook just became available, and I know Tom’s busy with the sequel.

I just started prep for a great non-fiction book, Whatever Happened to the Metric System?, by John Bemelmans Marciano,  that I’m recording at Audible next month (which I’m very, very excited about). Lots of fascinating political, military, and geometric research to sort through.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) There are some consistencies for every title, such as being sure to not only read the whole thing beforehand to get a sense of structure, pace, and theme.  I usually move through the text slowly, taking notes, and planning out how I want each section to fit the next, develop, and conclude. Beyond that, the process varies depending on the demands of the book. If applicable, character lists and voices have to be generated, to have a distinct sound for each, but also how each character grows and/or changes as the book goes on. In the case of Veil of the Dragon, Tom and I had long conversations about the varied cultural origins of the characters, and how one grouping might sound in contrast to another, but also how exactly to pronounce the original language of names and places, while creating consistency for said cultural groupings.

Once all that preparation is done, I lock myself in my studio, and get to work. I’m constantly refining my recording process, always looking for better sound, and a more efficient procedure. Though as immersive as the technical aspects are, they are all in the service of the story telling. Time allowing, I listen back to make sure I’m meeting the developmental goals I set for myself, or altering set goals as I go. I try to do as much proofing as possible along the way, so I can later focus on just the storytelling. I’m rapidly approaching that place where I can outsource my editing, but for now, I’m applying a “sweep the stage floor” approach from my early days of acting: The more I know about every aspect of audiobook production, the more effective a narrator I will be, even if my only task is to show up and read.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Storytelling. Dialects! The intimacy you create with the book, which is so much more than simply reading for pleasure. The collaboration with an author (which I try not to take for granted, as many of my authors are long dead). Listening to it when it’s all done, trying not to cringe too much at the quirks that I’m pretty sure only I can hear, and taking in the complete project I’ve done.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? At this point I still do, as I’m working to build a list of books in genres I’d like to work more often. That might not still be true in the near future, but for now I’m lined up to do sequels of previous Royalty Share books. That being said, I wouldn’t take on a RS if it the Rights Holder or author hasn’t created a considerable fan base, has a definite marketing plan, and, most of all, is telling a story I want to read.

Do you listen to audiobooks? These days more so, though admittedly often in a clinical manner, to get comparisons for style, pacing, and technique. I listen to hundreds of samples, though, which is mostly born out of the press of time and finances.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I certainly think it’s a fixed manner of story telling, and the technology has certainly made it easier to record and listen to audiobooks (remember those tomes of cassettes?). I don’t think audiobooks will  trump other performance mediums, no, but will continue to serve their particular niche.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audiobooks have a place no other medium can fill. On one level, you can’t read while operating heavy machinery or doing chores around the house. Moreover, audiobooks are an extension of the literary tradition that also stretches back to the earliest form of storytelling. And aside from giving fans a second way to take in their favourite books, its something people can actually do together.  Having an app certainly makes this all easier, but I think people (like myself) who have always loved to read are coming to see audiobooks not as a substitute for reading, but as yet another way to absorb a story, with one that makes the most of the collaboration between author and narrator, and in that way, offers more than a solitary read.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Yes! The Vampire Lestat, by Anne Rice, narrated by Frank Muller. Great stuff.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) They have been an excellent platform for getting started, and I’ve met a great community of narrators and authors from my work there. It takes a bit of close reading and follow-up on their policies, but such is life.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Again, I’m new. But I really haven’t had a bad experience; I’ve been lucky to work with great authors and great publishers, dead and alive.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I own a real broadsword.

Where can we learn more about you? You can read about what I’ve been up to, watch samples from my on-camera work, and listen to my voice work at the aptly named neilhellegers.com.

Social Media links:

@neilhellegers on Twitter

neilhell47 on Instagram

Neil Hellegers on FB

 

 

Audio Book Narrator Interview Number Two – Mike Legate

Name: Michael J Legate, by night known as Mike.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I was raised by theatre wolves.  I grew up behind the stage, basically.  My dad teaches theatre, as do I.  I went to school to learn theatrical sound design and someone decided that was reason enough to give me a job teaching all aspects of theatre design!  Sound design isn’t a huge part of my job anymore, so I look for opportunities elsewhere to scratch my audio itch.  Besides that, I’m 33, recently moved to Colorado and enjoy dark beer, Rueben sandwiches, and watching my two boys Jameson and Salem chase my German shepherd Oskar around the house.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? When I was younger I acted in a few plays.  I was never any good, but my favorite part was the cold reading that we’d all do at the very start of the production period.  I was excited just to read aloud my parts along with other people.  When I started going to college, I would work on a few shows and I would use my voice and I was always surprised whenever someone didn’t recognize my voice.  I’ve always enjoyed reading to other people, and now that I’ve got kids to read to, I’ll never be out of practice.

Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Fantasy and science fiction are my preferred genres as they provide the widest variety of voice work.  Trying out new voices on characters is immensely entertaining.  I try to stay away from financial self-help books.

 What are you working on at present? I’ve just up the short story collection “Tales of Erana” by AL Butcher.  It’s been a fascinating book to work on, since each story has a different feel than the one before it – one story will be a tragic love story involving the thunderous wrath of a goddess and the next would be a lighthearted lesson in why you don’t mix your magical potions up.  It’s been a lot of fun.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-Audiobook/B00LB8WH0G/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-Audiobook/B00LB8Q4JG/

*Tell us about your process for narrating? Whenever I design a show, I’ll read the script all the way through for fun, and I’ll try not to think about designing, although inevitably my designer light seeps through the cracks a little.  I try to look at the script from the perspective of an audience member first, and then I can go back and begin to read it from a designer’s point of view.  Audiobook manuscripts are sort of the same way.  I have to read it as unbiased as I can so I can be affected as a reader first, and then I’ll have a better idea of what the author wants.  I’ll try a few different voices to use for the narrator, based on how the mood of the script feels.  A dark thriller sort of novel would lead to a more serious sounding voice, that sort of thing.

I have a pretty cheap rig with a homemade pop filter in front of the microphone, so my first job is setting everything up and doing a few voice exercises.  I’ll read for a few minutes first to let my voice warm up and then start recording.  If I mess a word up, I’ll pause for a moment and redo the whole sentence again.  I use Sony Vegas for all my mixing.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? I really enjoy doing a mix of different voices.  I grew up plastered to the television on Saturday mornings, and I continue to watch cartoons to this day and have a deep respect for animation voice artists.  I’m also delighted any time I can add atmospheric sounds or music for added effect.

Do you listen to audiobooks? My day job and family doesn’t give me a lot of time to sit down and listen to audiobooks, but I honestly also have difficulty listening to audiobooks at length, since my mind sort of drifts away.  I’ve always been a daydreamer, so unless it’s a very compelling story (or a short one) I generally tend not to listen to them.  I love podcasts, however, so figure that one out.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of reading? The paperback will never die, and I think that’s a good thing.  Every new bastion of technology brings about a new way to tell a story.  Just look at how engrossing the storylines are in video games nowadays!  There will always be something new and shiny to come out that can tell a story in a different way, but the key isn’t going to be in the tech itself, but how to really use that tech to help tell a great story.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? A whole lot of people travel to work by themselves, and everything we own is becoming more incorporated into our iPods and smartphones.  Everyone is potentially carrying around a little book reader with them at all times.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I remember as a kid, I had a huge Disney collection of read-along books on cassettes.  They were the kind that made a ‘ding’ sound when you were supposed to turn the page.  I remember that I found the audio more much more engrossing than the book illustrations I was supposed to be looking at, so I’d just sit there and listen instead…

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have bent pinky fingers and can repeatedly crack all my finger joints.  I am truly an endless font of talent.

Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris

As part of the interviews discussing all parts of reading, writing and enjoying great books today something new. Audio books.  Audio books have been around for ages – I have copies on cassette tape (yes remember those?) and one on CD but now most are MP3 and far easier to listen to than having to change the tape every 30 minutes!

As the first of these interviews I am very pleased to welcome Chris Morris, author, musician and audio book narrator.

Welcome to Christopher Crosby Morris

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am all about sound. Most of us can hear farther than we can see and have deep sound vocabularies we seldom consciously bring to bear in appreciating more of all that goes on in our lives. My mission is to wake people to the enhanced quality of life available through fully developed hearing.

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production? We read aloud as part of our writing process, often repeatedly, until our prose is properly voiced. Telling stories, whether in prose or song, is a listening sport. To be able to produce our written works in audio versions completes our audience’s spectrum of storytelling accessibility and for many provides a more profound experience than reading. Plus, I know the sorts of nuance each character brings and can impart something of what they’re like at the nonverbal level.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? At some time or other I’ve read our entire catalogue aloud, rehearsing you might say. My favourite is I, the Sun, which is next up in our production queue.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I prefer heroic fiction. I do not/will not read dystopian material because it stifles growth of character, which is our destiny.

What are you working on at present/just finished? At the moment I’m reading Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder. I’m narrating it as I read it for the first time, so it had better be heroic or I won’t read the next one.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  I read a chapter at a time on my Kindle Fire HD. I review the day’s material and highlight the names of the speakers to avoid mixing them up on the fly. I record in Adobe Audition and, when I misspeak, pause a moment, press the ‘M’ key to leave a marker, then immediately read the passage again and continue; I find it easier to go back later and edit at the marker points than to stop the bus, excise the offending bit, and then punch in to begin again; it’s about flow and rapport and technical interruptions can quickly degrade one’s performance.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  A point comes when I disappear and the story takes over, although I’m emotionally immersive and a section fraught with feeling can throw me off centre enough to leak into the voice and one has to stop and regroup at such a point; I’m steeling myself to deal with some of the death scenes in I, the Sun. So what’s enjoyable is being the voice of moments that transcend considerations of normalcy and possess the scope to portray extraordinary circumstances to the audience.

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

Do you listen to audio books? I listen to anything narrated by Derek Jacobi or Jeremy Irons; I also admire Alex Hyde-White’s narrations.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes. But see below..

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audio storytelling, rather than being something new, is returning to us something very old in our DNA, the wonderment of gathering to hear a voice fill the darkness and elicit our participation in a tale as we imagine what we hear. All the world’s cultures need this very much now. The spoken word is primal in its power to involve us and, properly uttered, humbly magnificent, the grandparent of our better selves.

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) narrating the Adventures of Pinocchio.

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? Before committing to produce our own audio books we signed up on the ACX site and began sampling the narrator talent there, which is considerable. We engaged Alex Hyde-White and David Kudler, both of whom gave us singular performances of shorter works and were supportive when I mentioned I’d like to give narration a go.

What I bring to narration is musicality. Good singers proceed from a natural speaking voice to the edges of register, tone, and volume their rendition of a piece requires; narration is similar but with the added consideration that one’s ‘piece’ is a lot longer than the average song and that ‘guest voices’ have to be incorporated into the narrator’s own. Listening to others sing my book pushed me right over the cliff.

By the time I finished my first run through of The Sacred Band, I had learned to produce an anchor voice – a centre sound – to carry all the exposition and yet have enough scope to inflect humour or suspense and other tensions when called for. We all have this ability and developing it is my lifelong fascination.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far so good. What I like most about ACX is the amount of homework they’ve done to address the needs of all the parties to a production. Since the audio book form is newly resurgent there isn’t the lore or fading dominance of crumbling “big houses” of audio book publishing – they’ve simply never existed – and ACX has a band of brothers feel to it at the moment that I like. Hope it lasts.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not really. You do learn very quickly what your articulation preferences are. Glottal stops are unacceptable. Regional dialectics wear thin rapidly. Vocal caricaturization, if I may coin a term, or cutesy voices drive me straight into the arms of my nearest dog.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I always wanted to be lanky.

Where can we hear your audiobook? You can hear a free sample of my new audiobook, The Sacred Band, written by Janet morris and Chris Morris and narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris, on Audible.com at:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/

What will you be narrating next? After I finish Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder, I am scheduled to narrate I, the Sun by Janet Morris, Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, and then Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris.

You are also an accomplished author and prose editor. Where can find books you’ve edited, and some of your books and stories? I have many published stories. Some of my most recent short fictions appear in the following anthologies, some of which I edited. [These links are for Amazon Kindle, but most titles are also available in trade paper on Amazon, and in electronic editions on Nook as well as Kindle.)

Lawyers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Lawyers-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B0057Q0OIK/

Rogues in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Rogues-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B008JZCFMO/

Dreamers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Dreamers-Hell-Heroes-Nancy-Asire-ebook/dp/B00DEB1IJE/

Poets in Hell   http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Hell-Heroes-Book-17-ebook/dp/B00KWKNTTW/

My novels co-written with Janet Morris are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in Kindle, Nook, and trade paper editions.  They include but are not limited to:

Where can we learn more about you?

My music is very important to me. Because you asked how to learn more about me, I recommend you sample my most recent album, available as MP3 Music and on CD at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Knows-Christopher-Morris-Band/dp/B004GNEF3A/

You can hear more of my music on: https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris

You may read about my history and see my bibliography at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

Social Media links for Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris):

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

http://www.sacredbander.com

http://www.theperseidpress.com/#

http://www.facebook.com/christopher.c.morris.7?fref=ts

For other interviews with Chris and Janet and their characters please look here:

Sacred Band

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/character-interview-number-three-nikodemos-fantasymythic/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/character-interview-tempus-fantasy/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

Hell Week

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/a-week-in-hell-day-5-marlowe/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/a-week-in-hell-day-1-devil/