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Dorothy What inspired you get into narration?

Darla During my last 2 to 3 years of working as an itinerant Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in the schools, I spent a lot of time traveling to rural communities. I listened to audiobooks while doing so. “I could do that” I said to myself.

So, when I retired in 2009 (after 30 years as an SLP) I took the plunge (and several classes).

Dorothy How long have you been an audiobook narrator?
Darla For two years.

Audiobook Narrator Darla Middlebrook

Audiobook Narrator Darla Middlebrook

Dorothy What books or projects have you narrated?
Darla The following is a list of books I have narrated so far:

1. Sojourner Truth – Antislavery Activist by Peter Krauss (solo narration)
2. Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Leader by Mary Hull (solo narration)
3. The Autobiography of Jenny X by Lisa Dierbeck a publication of Mischief + Mayhem in association with OR Books, New York (solo narration)
4. The Jook by Gary Phillips (solo narration)
5. Psychology – Core Concepts by Philip G. Zimbardo, Robert L. Johnson, Vivian McCann Hamilton (co-narrator)
6. Psychology – An Exploration by Saundra Ciccarelli & Noland White (co-narrator)
7. Las Vegas Noir by various authors (co-narrator)
8. Cecil Poole – A Life in the Law by James Haskins (solo narration)

Dorothy What projects are you currently working on?
Darla Currently, I am working on narration of a collection of short stories in the horror genre through Iambik Audio Books. I am, also, proof-listen for Iambik. I produce monthly podcasts of CAT FANCY magazine and (one article from) the Canadian version of READER’S DIGEST for AIRS-LA (Audio Internet Reading Service of Los Angeles).

Dorothy How do you approach a new project? Do you read the book first and make stylistic choices?
Darla I do an initial read (more of a skim) of the book. As I do this the characters begin to come to me. Their voices seem to speak. Weird, huh? I do a 2nd (and if I have time a 3rd) read to try out the characters and mark the copy. By the time I come to the end of prep reading, some characters change, but some remain the same.

Dorothy Does your approach change depending upon the genre?
Darla Yes. With the text book format, I do not go for “characters” because the publishers usually do not want them. In addition the text books that I have done have had very tight deadlines which made it difficult to do a great deal of prepping.

For novels, however, I think that I will continue to prep as I have indicated. It would not do to be half way through a narration just to find out that I should have been speaking with some sort of accent or something.

Dorothy Does the author have any say in how you narrate their work?
Darla Definitely! The characters in the book(s) are the author’s “babies”. The author knows where s/he is sending the characters on their journey. I need to be on the same track so that the author’s vision is realized.

Dorothy What is your favorite book?
Darla I still go back to read “In the Company of Ogres” by A. Lee Martinez. That book cracks me up. I would love to narrate it.
Dorothy What is/are your favorite(s) of those you have narrated?
Darla Sojourner Truth – Antislavery Activist and Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Leader. Those two books were my first forays into narration and I learned a lot about my craft while working on them. I have since grown in my skills, but Sojourner & Rosa helped me get started.

Dorothy What is the most challenging thing about being a narrator?
Darla For me, it is maintain consistency through the reading. It is not possible to complete the narration of a book in one session. The listener deserves to hear consistent sound from the “characters” from the beginning of the book until the end.

Dorothy Do you have any advice for people considering becoming an audiobook narrator?
Darla Practice – practice – practice. Rest up and practice some more.
Observe people and take note of how they speak to each other. Incorporate what you have observed into your narrating (where appropriate). Audio book narration is another form of acting. So, if you haven’t already done so…take some acting classes. Try to act on stage.

Dorothy A website or blog?
Darla My website is: http://darlasvoice.net/
I also have a profile at: http://www.voices.com
You can also catch me reading as one of the narrators for AIRS-LA. I am most proud of the work I do for them.

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