Dorothy: What inspired you get into narration?
Michael: My folks used to love to have me read out loud from the newspaper from about the time I was 3.
Of course, I had no IDEA of what I was saying, but I knew the words. Narrating is taking the place of actually writing the “great American Novel” for me!
Also, I was a radio DJ for 25 years and have done a TON of amateur theatre, musicals and comedies, mostly. As much as I love to read, this is a natural extension of what I’ve done for a lifetime (just more credible!)
Dorothy: How long have you been an audiobook narrator?
Michael:I started in April of this year. I’ve done 12 kids’ books, completed one novel, working on my 2nd and contracted for 4 more after that one. I’m actually about to start on my 3rd book, so I’m going to see what it’s like doing more than one at a time!
Dorothy: What books or projects have you narrated?
“Day 9” by Robert T. Jeschonek,(Pie Press) and many kids’ books, including “The Color Blue”, “Creepy Crawly Bugs”, “Dogs” and “Mr. Marvelous Needs a Friend” to name a few!
Dorothy: What projects are you currently working on?Michael: “Of Thieves and Elves”, by A. P. Stephens (Fanda Publishing) and “Tamed” by Douglas R. Brown. (synopses follow)
Somewhere in the world, a genius builds a machine to bring mankind closer to God. Somewhere in time, another genius builds a cathedral with a mind of its own. Somewhere on the road, three searchers race a serial killer to find the man with the key to salvation.
It takes the sound and fury of Day 9 to bring them all together. If God took six days to make the world and rested on Day 7, humanity has spent Day 8 tearing it all apart. Everything changes on Day 9, when we get it right at any cost…or lose everything.
On Day 9, a God’s-eye view of the world collides with the visions of a living, breathing cathedral in a war between the delusions of yesterday and the dreams of tomorrow. A war between beauty and mediocrity…love and hate…madness and sanity…life and death. If the unlikely heroes in the heart of the storm can’t face down their own demons, the deepest secrets of maniacs and murderers could bring the hope of the future crashing down forever.
Of Thieves and Elves
A monumental tragedy has befallen the Clan of Ionor, an ancient brotherhood of elven warriors. Concerned when their Master does not reach his secretive business in a distant kingdom, the Elders learn that Tryn, their beloved leader, has been captured by a cutthroat gang of bandits known as the Steel Claw. Yet this is not the darkest of their tidings. The relic under the clan’s safekeeping, a weapon of terrible power that was forged by the gods themselves, is also missing.
The Ionor dispatch Eonen, a headstrong Elder, and a young and talented apprentice, Tride, to rescue the Master and the relic by infiltrating the bandits’ stronghold-the formidable Fortress of Toppledom. As the two determined elves hasten into the unknown beyond their borders to restore balance and honor to their clan, they encounter the true darkness behind the matter-the very origin of the world’s evil.
Allegiances will be twisted. The fates of many will be set into motion. And the destiny of one will be realized
Werewolves are real, and they make excellent pets.
Owning one of the legendary creatures is the latest fad. The WereHouse insists their werepets are loyal, docile, and 100% safe, but what happens when these gentle giants turn on their masters?
While on a routine EMS call, paramedic Christine Alt is attacked by a rogue werepet. She escapes with her life, but the encounter leaves her with more than just scars. As her body begins to change, she discovers the WereHouse is hiding a terrible secret, and they will stop at nothing to keep her from exposing them.
Tamed is a werewolf tale with a twist from the author of the The Light of Epertase trilogy.
Dorothy: How do you approach a new project? Do you read the book first and make stylistic choices?
Michael: Two full reads. One for the fun of it, then the 2nd to capture subtexts, now that I know what happens to everybody! For example, if a character trait is revealed very deeply into the book, I need to bring the idea of that to my delivery from the character’s first appearance.
Dorothy: Does your approach change depending upon the genre?
Michael: It might would change for non-fiction, but I’m such an avid reader, I’d end up reading it twice anyway. I assume that I’d most likely engage in some side research to understand the author’s perspective about the topic at hand.
Dorothy: Does the author have any say in how you narrate their work?
Michael: As much as they’d like. My first project, the author was very encouraging, but didn’t offer a lot of direction. My current project, the author has been rather hands-on and we had a delightful conversation about the characterizations before I started.
The one I’m about to start; I’m working with the publisher quite a bit, but I’ve gotten a recorded pronunciation guide from the author. I suppose I’m open to accepting any involvement they’d like up to a point. After all, these characters have had voices in their heads for much longer, and I think it’s my challenge to try to bring some of that to the surface.
Dorothy: What is your favorite book?
Michael: Tough choice! Top 4 would be “Atlas Shrugged” (Ayn Rand), “Catcher in the Rye” (J.D. Salinger), “1984” (George Orwell) and “The Stand” (Stephen King). Looking at that list, I must be seriously messed up – LOL!
Dorothy: What is your favorite of those you have narrated?
Michael: From a READER’S perspective, I can answer that, BUT…from a NARRATOR’S perspective, I’m finding that each one has its joys. The plot and pacing of “Day 9” had me thoroughly captivated and there were two or 3 characters that were fun. In “Of Thieves and Elves”, I have a wide palette, since the world of Londor is fictitious. So the accent patterns can be whatever I want them to be. Also, the construction of the “good guys” and “bad guys” allow a big stage to play on. My bad guys are real narcissists and LOVE to hear themselves talk!
Dorothy: What is the most challenging thing about being a narrator?
Michael: THE BUSES that run all day outside my studio…and EDITING! Just ’cause it looks good in print doesn’t mean you can say it out loud – LOL! I read down a whole chapter at once and any given sentence may have 4 or 5 false starts before I get the one I want. So a 32 minute chapter may run 50 minutes raw, then everything has to be pieced together with the right amounts of silence and the breathing has to be blended or eliminated to fit.
Dorothy: Do you have any advice for people considering becoming an audiobook narrator?
Michael: Hydrate! Get software you are REALLY comfortable with (I like Adobe Audition), and find a place where you can work without interruptions. If you’re learning an editing style, I’d suggest that you NOT try to go for long passages without a mistake. That can lead to a lot of frustration. All hail you if you can do it, but I just go for the VERY BEST READ I can get on a given sentence, then I move on. If I happen to string 8 or 10 sentences together without a screwup, then great! But I an VERY critical of each syllable; a little mouth click, or a swallowed consonant or something sets up a reakte.
Dorothy: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? A website or blog?
Michael: ACX.com is a GREAT place to get started! The first demo I put was from my son’s 21st birthday present. I made an audiobook out of “Goodnight, Moon”, as that was a favorite childhood book of his. It worked!