Dorothy What inspired you get into narration?
Brian I love theater and performing. I was in radio for a number of years, so the two gave me a love of telling a story.
And always, always, always – the story is the thing! In fiction, non-fiction, a painted work of art, sculpture…there is a story in everything and it is paramount. And for me it’s hard to beat the “theater of the mind”.
Dorothy How long have you been an audiobook narrator?
Brian A bit under a decade for audiobooks, per se. As indicated above, I’ve enjoyed telling stories and talking to people for a lot longer than that.
Dorothy What books or projects have you narrated?
Narrated Audiobook Record
Another Love by Erzsebet Galgoczi
Armies of Heaven by Jay Rubenstein
Art of Procrastination by John Perry
Border War by Stanley Harrold
Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake
Debacle by Grover Norquist & John Lott, Jr.
How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
Master of the Mountain: Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wincek
Out of the Abyss by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo
Red Blade from the East by T. C. Rypel
Seaworthy: Adrift With William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting by T. R. Pearson
The Busy Body by Donald E. Westlake
The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain by John E. Sarno, MD
The People That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Third Victim by Sydney Bauer
Short Story Collections
The Empty House
A Case of Eavesdropping
A Haunted Island
A Suspicious Gift
Keeping His Promise
Skeleton Lake Smith
The Empty House
The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York
The Wood of the Dead
With Intent to Steal
Shadow Kingdoms Vol. 1 (selections) Robert E. Howard
The Shadow Kingdom
Science Fiction: The Best of the Year 2006 (selections)
Triceratops Summer by Michael Swanwick
A Coffee Cup: Alien Invasion Story by Douglas Lane
The Garden of Fear by Robert E. Howard
The Inn at Mount Either by James Van Pelt
The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune by Robert E. Howard
The Valley of the Worm by Robert E. Howard
Dorothy What projects are you currently working on?
Blood Retribution by David & Aimee Thurlo
Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke
Cast a Yellow Shadow by Ross Thomas
Dorothy How do you approach a new project? Do you read the book first and make stylistic choices?
Brian Especially with fiction I definitely read, or as I say “pre-read”, the work, taking notes on pronunciations and character descriptions. A lot in the physical/psychological descriptions of the characters tell me a lot about the “voice” to use for them. Voice, of course, can be an accent, way of speaking, and certain timbre of vocal quality or any combination thereof.
And following my belief that there’s a story in anything, non-fiction material gets pre-read too. I need to know where I’m going to get a sense of where I am. I may not be quite as “religious” in this with non-fiction, not dealing with characters, etc., but as a narrator, forewarned is forearmed.
Dorothy Does your approach change depending upon the genre?
Brian Yes. As mentioned, characters (for me) require more thought ahead of time. In non-fiction, terminology (particularly in technical material) is crucial. Not just the dictionary pronunciations, but the parlance of the specific industry, business or concern listening determines proper pronunciation.
For example “bitumen” is rendered as “by-TOO-mihn; by-TYOO-mihn in the dictionary. I was asked to pronounce it as “BIT-chew-mihn”. The explanation given me was that workers/engineers in the field did not use the standard dictionary pronunciation and would learn (read: understand the story better) using their term of familiarity. Subjectivity is key!
Dorothy Does the author have any say in how you narrate their work?
Brian More indirectly through the editors and publishers. Rarely do I have contact with the author.
Dorothy What is your favorite book?
Brian Waaaayyy too crowded a field to say! I enjoy historical fiction and humor.
Dorothy What is your favorite of those you have narrated?
Brian I really enjoy narrating Donald Westlake material (The Busy Body; Dancing Aztecs) because I identify with his humor. And I’m a humor kinda’ guy.
Dorothy What is the most challenging thing about being a narrator?
Brian Artistically: not repeating characters (character voices) from one story to another. Looking for ways other than timbre to vary voices.
Practically: gauging voice usage; not wearing out the voice. Remembering I’m not on stage and that I don’t have to over project. Treat the mic as someone’s ear…would I actually shout into it? Nooooo!
Dorothy Do you have any advice for people considering becoming an audiobook narrator?
Brian Patience. Be your own critic but don’t be too hard on yourself. Record your voice, listen back to it and get over the “eeeuuuu I sound awful” syndrome. Other people are going to love it.
Become a part of the story you’re involved in narrating. Ask around for other people’s opinions of your work.
Dorothy Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? A website or blog?
Brian Enjoy where you are! An example of what I mean: There are times while narrating that I get frustrated, irritated or downright angry with the way things are going. Usually that indicates break time. But often, I just sit back in the quiet of my little Whisper Room, close my eyes and don’t move.
Then I think (or say to myself in a whisper), “Brian…you are where you have always wanted to be (i.e. working for myself in my own studio), doing what you love to do (i.e. tell stories, act). So what are you complaining about!!! Chill out and enjoy!
You’ve got to enjoy what you do. I don’t mean just party-time joy. I mean the deep-down, right to the soles of your feet pleasure of what you do.