From Alexandra Haag--
Do you feel as if you become the characters as you narrate?
I do. As an actor I draw on my own experiences and emotions to realize the characters. While many characters are quite different from myself, we all experience joy, fear, anger, love, uncertainty, etc., and that's where I try to find common ground.
Do you read the book before you start or narrate scene by scene?
Oh, yes, I read the entire book before I narrate, and I outline which characters speak in each chapter. It's vital to know how the book progresses and where the characters end up. Sometimes characters seem to be one sort of person at the beginning, but when you learn their backstory through the book, they may end up being entirely different. To know the details of the story is vital to believably portraying the characters.
What is the toughest part of narrating?
Listening to myself for so long! And making sure the continuity is right--the tone and quality of the voice is consistent throughout in both the narrative portions and in the character voices.
How do you protect your voice?
Lots of water and resting when the voice starts sounding strained.
What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale? How long does it take?
Well, most narrators who record from home start off in a closet surrounded by blankets. It's quite an expense to put a proper studio together where the sound is completely dampened and the outside noise isn't too disturbing (but nothing can really block the sound of engines on land or in the air). Then there's the need for a quality microphone, lighting, boom, copy stand, A/D interface, headphones, computer, monitors, recording and editing software. I took the plunge to create a purpose-built studio and editing bay rather early in my career. At that time, I sat as I narrated (as do most narrators), but now I stand. In that way I'm reminded on multiple levels to take breaks often. I also wear headphones (some narrators don't) because I feel I can better hear various extraneous noises that can intrude on the narration. Regarding the time to create the audiobook, it actually takes about 7-8 times the finished length of the audiobook to prepare, narrate, edit, produce and master the book.
What do you look for in an author's history to sway you toward narrating their book?
When an author has a website and blog, and has developed a fan base as evidenced in reviews and online interaction with the author, I am most happy to be part of their projects. If the author is enthusiastic about the narration, she or he will promote it on their site. Then, the fans who love the books will likely be excited about hearing the book come to life through audio. This, of course, is a two-edged sword. Fans may be disappointed if the voice in their ear doesn't match the "voice in their head" that they heard when reading the book. But I've found that, generally speaking, if the author likes the narration, the fans will as well.
What do you like to do most when you're not narrating?
I enjoy travelling with my husband, playing golf, snow skiing in season, walking in the neighborhood or on the beach, watching films, visiting with my now-grown children, doing community and church volunteer work with friends and, of course, reading!
What are you planning next?
Thankfully, mu dance card is pretty full for a few months. After HEARTFIRE, I'm working on a couple of thrillers, several romances, and a couple of historical fiction mysteries. It's just so much fun to immerse myself in these stories, much as I do when I read a book. But as an actor/narrator, I get to live the stories, and by doing so I find myself, more times than not, falling in love with the characters and stories. And, for that, I'm very grateful to my authors who entrust their stories to me.
©2014 Karen Rose Smith