Tell us about yourself--what you do for a living (do you narrate audiobooks full time or have other means of income)? Family? Upbringing and education?
I am a retired teacher of history. For the past 10 years I have been an actor in Chicago. From a demo tape I was cast as Walter Moon in the Left Behind Radio series. That producer recommended me to Tim Hollinger at Oasis Audio who cast me as the multi voice narrator for The Sacrifice and The Trial by Robert Whitlow. My wife is a teacher of English As A Second Language to children from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds in our neighborhood elementary school.
How did you become a narrator? And how many have you narrated?
I became a narrator via the process I described above and due to the training and experience I have acquired as an actor. I have narrated two books. I was also narrator for Opera Profiles, a Chicago company that produced condensed versions of grand opera for children.
What are some of the challenges you faced being a narrator or doing narrations?
Some of the challenges in recording include the preparation, keeping in the correct voice for each character, and the mechanics of the studio.
Are there different challenges for each style and genre of book? (ie. Fiction/Non-fiction, Christian/non-Christian, third-person/first person)?
Each book is unique. However the text is the guide. The challenge is to identify and develop each voice. Finding that the layers with the life of each character is a challenge. But, that is the work and I enjoy it.
Do you have a preference for the type of audiobooks you narrate?
I am open to read any book that does not contradict my beliefs. I would have to make that judgment on a book by book basis. I have recorded an anthology of Louis L'amour short stories for the blind. I find two ideas of his that are fine with me, are his extensive description of landscape and his use of the lone individual who over comes great odds to do good.
What are some of the "behind the scenes" parts of the production that you liked? Disliked?
I like all aspects of the work. The only disappointing part maybe when my voice gets tired and I would love to keep going. But wisdom says stop and come back tomorrow. When rested I can give full strength to the work.
How long did the narration take you to complete in the studio?
The in studio time in the work I have done is about 10 percent longer than the finished product. A five hour audio book might take 6-7 hours in studio.
What was it like working on the Left Behind series?
It was and is great fun. I believe that each of us have some kind of gift for creativity. My wife in addition to being a excellent and very effective teacher has a sensitive eye for light, color, texture, shape, line and is an excellent photographer. I grew up listening to radio and in my neighborhood in Chicago I heard many different accents.
While in the army I was in Germany and my ear took in the music and tones of German. I have visited and been trained in the sounds of Ireland, Scotland, England, the American South from Texas to the Carolinas. I have lived in Arkansas, South Carolina, Massachusetts and I am always listening to the sounds of the voices I hear.
Back to the Left Behind series. It is a joy to be able to use my gift of voice acting for Todd Busteed at Gap Digital, the Producer of the Series. We come to a recording session, are handed scripts, given the story, we study and then enter the studio to act the parts we have been given. We work very quickly-usually one or two takes and then on to the next scene. Then later the music, sound effects and incidental crowd sounds are added. Just yesterday eight of us were in a Walla session.
That is where the sounds of crowds, of minor and lessor characters are laid down and mixed in later. For example when a city is being attacked by the bad guys someone in the crowd yells "Soldiers, on the wall" and others make other statements. That was my big line yesterday. All this is recorded and them mixed in, by the genius of Todd, to make the finished show.
|How different was radio drama from narrating an audiobook and from onstage acting?Radio drama calls on your improv skills as an actor, a lot. Stage acting requires the preparation of a production as scripted as ballet really, every beat, move, costume, light cue, sound cue, voice projection is repeated until it is a seamless web of presentation. Audio books require enormous mental preparation and the discipline to shift characters accurately and maintain the magic of storytelling.
Do you listen to audiobooks or audio products?
I listen to audio books but not my own. I don't like to listen to myself.
Did you meet the author or receive any feedback from the author?
I had no contact with the author. My relationship is with the producer, the engineer(who has a very good sense of the story) and the text.
How did you feel once you have heard the finished product?
Again, I do not listen to the finished product.
Any new projects on the horizon?
Maybe. I wait for the call or the script to be sent to me and then I begin the work.
Check out some of Robert Lamont's great Narrations!