Dorothy What inspired you get into narration?
Peter I was a radio broadcaster for over 20 years and got disillusioned with where the industry had gone.
Between voice tracking and consolidation I started to not have fun going to work anymore.
I decided to start my own voiceover biz in 2006 and immediately began narrating EBooks and corporate videos. I thought I would be producing radio and TV commercials but found that there were more opportunities for me in narrations.
Dorothy How long have you been an audiobook narrator?
Peter Since I was trying to make a living in voiceovers I took any voice/editing jobs I could get. One early job was editing someone else’s raw Audiobook narrations.
I decided that I could also be an audiobook narrator. In October of 2008 I answered an ad for an Audiobook narration and did my 1st one: The Door through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I was coached by the publisher and ended doing two other books with him. I found that I really enjoyed the acting side of the medium and auditioned for other titles.
Dorothy What books or projects have you narrated?
Peter They include:
The Door through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
Escape From Paradise by Walter F. Wild
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Rising by Brian Keene
City of the Dead by Brian Keene
Flatland by Edwin A Abbott
Tribulation of Raptured by Dr. Thomas R. Snyder
Harvesting for Eternity by Jerry Crane
I was trained to be a Spy by Helias Doundoulakis
Bounce by Barry Moltz
Dorothy What projects are you currently working on?
Peter I am currently redesigning my studio and researching different microphones. I have no Audiobooks in the pipeline but am currently working on several narrations for corporate videos and eLearning courses.
Dorothy How do you approach a new project? Do you read the book first and make stylistic choices?
Peter I skim the book and to get a feel for where to story is going and what voices I’m going to use. I don’t get too deeply into the story.
When I finally start to record the books I like to read and react with some spontaneity. I also skim to identify the various characters in the story. I then create different voices for them and record and retain them so I can remember them later.
When I start to finally record myself reading the book I refer back to the voices I previously created when they appear in the script. I also try to find any words or names I don’t know how to pronounce and either look them up with available internet resources to ask the author for a pronunciation guide.
Dorothy Does your approach change depending upon the genre?
Peter The approach I described in the previous question is the same regardless of the book I’m reading. I have had to read everything from Zombie apocalypse books to sermons from a Methodist Deacon and find that my prep is the same.
Dorothy Does the author have any say in how you narrate their work?
Peter Some of the books I have read are from authors who are dead. Not much feedback from them. Some authors gave feedback from the demos I submitted. Other authors just let me create the characters and voices as I imagined them. More often than not I have felt that the authors trusted my judgment and accepted it. I have never had an author or publisher ask me to redo a character.
Dorothy What is your favorite book?
Peter When my kids were small I would read to them. After a steady stream of Goodnight Moon and Dr Seuss I decided to try something a little meatier. I started to read To Kill a Mockingbird to them by Harper Lee. They were fascinated and I really enjoyed reading it out loud and creating different voices for the characters. It really was the first book I ever read this way…sort of my 1st Audiobook. (I wish I had a recording of it)
Dorothy What is your favorite of those you have narrated?
Peter I actually did four books from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars series about John Carter. I really enjoyed those. I am a Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan and reading these books allowed me to peer into an early innovator of the genre. Burroughs 1st book in the series, A Princess of Mars, was written in 1912 and featured some pretty wild characters and concepts. Unfortunately the recent movie released this year, John Carter, was supposedly based on it. What a disaster. If you get a chance to read the book and watch the movie you’ll see what I mean.
Dorothy What is the most challenging thing about being a narrator?
Peter Since I work from my own studio I have to motivate and edit myself constantly. It would be easier with a separate producer. An extra set of ears could pick out speed /intensity changes and keep me from straying too far from the script. I can also only effectively read about 30-40 pages a sitting. I find that my voice starts to “thin” out a bit after that, especially if there are difficult characters to act out.
I also lose concentration and make more mistakes at that point. I can usually do a session in the morning and one in the afternoon. I like to record the entire story and then start editing it. It generally takes me about 3-4 hours of recording and editing to produce 1 hour of finished audio. But like when I’m recording the book I can’t sit and edit for over an hour without needing a break.
Because I also have other projects going I plan on completing an average audiobook in 3-4 weeks. I have gotten better and been able to slice some time and mistakes off but I like to give myself time to try different “takes” for important parts of the story.
Dorothy Do you have any advice for people considering becoming an audiobook narrator?
Peter Try this, spend 2-3 hours recording and editing a book that you randomly get out of the library and see if you still want to do it again the next day. Actually for the next 5 days! I really believe Audiobooks are not for everyone. Reread my answer to the previous question and try to imagine yourself doing one. I will say though that I do feel a great sense of satisfaction when I have completed one. Good luck!
Dorothy Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? A website or blog?