Audiobook Narrator Interview – Stephanie Montalvo

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*Name: Stephanie Montalvo

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

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

Is this your day job? Yes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Social Media links:

Twitter: @StephanieVoice

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Judith Bareham

*Name:   Judith Bareham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love it when I can really get into a part

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I love the lilt and pace of it.

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

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

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

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

Social Media links:

Instagram

Facebook – Judith Bareham

Twitter

Linkedin

Pinterest

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

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

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Narrator Interview – Ella Lynch

*Name: Ella Lynch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can we learn more about you?

I am on Instagram as @voice_and_narration_with_ella

Twitter as @narrator_ella

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

You can find Ella and Tori’s books here:

Book 1 – Zeena And The Dryad

Zeena And The Dryad Audiobook Cover

Zeena and the Dryad – Audible UK

Zeena and the Dryad – Universal Link

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

I-tunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Zeena and the Dryad – Goodreads

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

Zeena and the Gryphon – Audible UK

Universal Link books2read.com/ZeenaGryphonVZigler

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

Zeena and the Gryphon – Itunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Goodreads

Zeena And The Mermaid Audiobook Cover.jpg

Book 3 – Zeena And The Mermaid

Zeena and the Mermaid – Audible

Universal Link books2read.com/ZeenaMermaidVZigler

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

I tunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Goodreads

Zeena And The Phoenix Audiobook Cover

Book 4 – Zeena And The Phoenix

Zeena and the Phoenix Audible UK

Universal Link Zeena and the Phoenix Universal Link

I tunes

Amazon Canada

Book Depository

Goodreads

Narrator Interview – James Watkins

*Name: Hello, my name is James Watkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Where can we learn more about you?

Social Media links:

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

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

 

Narrator Interview – Joseph Batzel

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit the final draft.

Submit the work to the author, client, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Where can we learn more about you? Facebook

Social Media links: Facebook, twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

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

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 Seven – Melanie Fraser

Name: Melanie Fraser

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

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

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production?

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

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

These are on audible (UK and USA sites)

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

‘The Promise’ (Elizabeth Chappelle)

‘The Final Dawn’ (Alice Catherine Carter)

 ‘Princess in Peril’ (Janet Whitehead)

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

 ‘Lady Concealed’ (Jane Bridges)

‘Dirty Business’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

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

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

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

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

What are you working on at present/Just finished?

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

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

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

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

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

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? 

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

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

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

Do you listen to audiobooks?

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

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

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

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I have a dimple on each shoulder!

Where can we learn more about you?

http://www.melaniefraser-voice.com

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

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

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

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

uk.linkedin.com/in/melaniefraservoiceuk

Social Media links:

I am not on Facebook or Twitter

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

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

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Five – Fred Wolinsky

*Name: Fred Wolinsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can we learn more about you?

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

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

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