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 Interview with Narrator:
Chris Fabry

Lance Eaton: Tell us about yourself--what you do for a living (do you narrate Audiobooks full time or have other means of income)?

Chris Fabry: I'm a full-time freelance writer and also do voiceover/radio. I've just completed a collaboration with Jerry B. Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye writing the Left Behind: The Kids series. Writing is about 75% of my work, but I've kept my voice active through things like Love Worth Finding, an interview program called First Edition, and narrating audiobooks.

Eaton: What else have you been involved in with the radio? DJ, radio show, producer, etc? How did this lead you into narrating audiobooks?

Fabry: My longest running job was 12 years as host of OPEN LINE for Moody Broadcasting. It was a nationally syndicated talk show and I was able to choose topics, guest, books, etc. Most guests were authors and I read and read and read to prepare for each interview. That's probably the most fun I've had on the radio, with the possible exception of the 6 years I spent doing a morning show in Chicago.

Eaton: Did you do any of the voices for the Left Behind Kids audio dramas or even the Left Behind audio dramas?

Fabry: I'm still waiting for my big cameo on the Left Behind Dramatic Audio series. I've co-written the scripts for the adult Left Behind Series since the first book and The Glorious Appearing is in pre-production now. Who knows, maybe I'll be an angel or something on the last one.

Eaton: How did you get involved in narrating audiobooks?

Fabry: My mother read to me. That's first. Reading has been a passion all my life, so this is an outgrowth of enjoying the written word and working in radio the last 25 years or so. I hadn't done much audiobook reading until last year.

Eaton: How many audiobooks have you narrated?

Fabry: I think I'm working on book 10 right now.

Eaton: What are some of the more enjoyable books that you have narrated?

Fabry: I love the lighthearted writing of Kevin Leman. He's funny but also helpful. Ted Dekker's fiction is challenging and dramatic. Ken Gire moved me to tears. Actually, whatever I'm working on at the moment is my favorite.

Eaton: Do you find yourself getting lost or enveloped in the book as you narrate it?

Fabry: To a certain extent. I'm doing the Ted Dekker trilogy, BLACK, RED, WHITE, and it's impossible not to put yourself in the main character's place and try to anticipate what he's going to do next and the anguish he feels at times. At the same time, when I turn the recording off and close the door, I don't see red-eyed bats (like in the novel).

Eaton: What books have given you trouble while trying to narrate and how did they give you trouble?

Fabry: Fiction is always the most difficult for voice characterization. Sometimes nonfiction will include text that is easy for the eye but tough to make understandable.

Eaton: If you could narrate any book, what are some of the ones you might choose?

Fabry: I love fiction and see that as some of the most fulfilling work I've done. So I'd like to continue that as well as the nonfiction.

Eaton: What are some of the challenges you faced being a narrator or doing narrations?

Fabry: Voice fatigue. If I start too early I sound like James Earl Jones's little brother, and by the end of the day I'm Daffy Duck's Dad.

Eaton: Do you use any special techniques or methods to preserve your voice throughout the day or just in general?

Fabry: Tepid water, sometimes tea. I try not to yell at our dogs. After you speak for a few hours the voice will become tired, unless you're Rush Limbaugh.

Eaton: Which do you prefer-abridged or unabridged? And why?

Fabry: I prefer listening to unabridged, AlWAYS. Reading an abridged title is easier, but I guess I prefer to narrate unabridged so you get the whole thing rather than an overview.

Eaton: Do you find reading abridged is harder because you don't get the entire story?

Fabry: No, if the person abridging the book does a good job, (and they always have) it should hold together for the reader.

Eaton: What are some of the "behind the scenes" parts of the production that you liked? Disliked?

Fabry: Most of my work so far has been recorded in the studio I designed and built, so I get to work here rather than travel. It's the ideal setup for me.

Eaton: Have you had much experience or trouble with accents? Any tips or tricks you used when doing character voices?

Fabry: If it sounds fake it will sound fake to the audience. When Muller did accents, he always did them close to the vest, not over the top, so I try to do them with subtlety.

Eaton: Have you worked with a director and how has that affected your performance?

Fabry: Yes, there's less pressure on you with a director. Someone else is listening to the performance and making sure everything is correct.

Eaton: Do you have any memorable moments in the studio?

Fabry: Oh yes, there are times when I'll narrate a character and make a fluff, and then it's off on my own storyline for a minute or two. You have to have trust in your editor to do that, but it keeps things loose and gets the endorphins going.

Eaton: How long does a narration take you to complete in the studio?

Fabry: Depends on the book, of course. Something 40-50 thousand words could take a couple of days. I try to record in concentrated time segments to keep the flow, just like the writing process.

Eaton: Do you find it hard to get back the same tone day after day when a recording takes a few days?

Fabry: Fiction is harder for this than nonfiction, but if you stop at the right place and the writing is good, it's not difficult to jump back in.

Eaton: How far in advance do you receive the text and what do you do with it? (Do you read it, mark it, leave it until the day off, etc)?

Fabry: I try to become familiar with the style of the writing before I start, but not all the content. I look for hard-read-words and look those up, but at some point you have to dive in and just do it.

Eaton: What do you think of audiobooks as a medium?

Fabry: I love audiobooks and think it's an untapped resource. My children also enjoy them as well and I try to encourage them to read as much as they can, whether they're looking at the words or listening. A good narrator can really take you into the world of a story in a different way than reading it yourself.

Eaton: When reading for leisure, do you find yourself using your "narrating" voice? How has narrating audiobooks affected how you read them in your leisure time?

Fabry: Not when I'm reading, but when I'm writing I'll hear Frank Muller's voice--really. I'll write a sentence, hear his voice reading it, then edit it quickly.

Eaton: Do you listen to audiobooks or audio products?

Fabry: Not as much now as when I lived in Chicago. I had about a 45 minute commute and could listen to a tape a day going back and forth. Two with traffic. It was the only way I was able to read Les Miserables.

Eaton: Do you have a preference for the kind of audio products you listen to?

Fabry: Fiction. I want to hear a good story.

Eaton: How do you feel when you hear yourself on a finished product?

Fabry: It's hard to listen because I'm very critical. If I didn't have to listen for edits I probably wouldn't.

Eaton: Have you met the authors of any of your books or received any feedback from an author?

Fabry: Ted Dekker gives great feedback and even had suggestions on voices for characters. That helps tremendously because, in a sense, you are the author, conveying the author's words and thoughts.

Eaton: Have your received any awards for your work in audiobooks?

Fabry: No. But I have been paid.

Eaton: What new projects are you working on?

Fabry: Currently I'm reading BREAKING THE DAVINCI CODE by Dr. Darrell Bock. Fascinating.

Some more of Chris Fabry's great narrations:
Heaven      - Audiobook on CD
Heaven - Audiobook on CD