Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Interview With #Narrator Leslie Ellis--The Search For Emma by Karen Rose Smith

I've developed 16 books into audiobooks through  Each time I post a project for auditions, I consider the point of view of my main character as the foremost aspect of choosing a narrator.  I was sure I wanted a woman narrator for ALWAYS DEVOTED, though many of my romances are narrated by male narrators.  ALWAYS DEVOTED--a romance/mystery--is definitely Emma's story.  So I went on a search for the perfect voice for Emma.  I sent messages to narrators, asking them to audition.  I received several auditions for the novel after I uploaded the audition script.  Leslie's audition easily stood out from all the others.  As soon as I heard her voice, I knew she was perfect to tell this emotional story.

My readers often ask me about my narrators and the process of reading an audiobook.  That's why I do interviews with my narrators.

So...let me introduce my actor/narrator for ALWAYS DEVOTED, Leslie Ellis.

Leslie, can you tell me where you were raised?

I was raised outside of Boston, MA.

Did you read a lot as a kid?  As an adult?

It's funny, but I didn't read a lot as a kid.  I came from a very academic family and I was the black sheep, so to speak.  I just wanted to act and sing.  I really enjoy reading now, when I have the time and I love supporting my friends who have become indie writers!

Where did you attend college?

I attended Carnegie-Mellon University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting and Music.

What did you expect to do after college and, in reality, what did you do? 

After school, we all shipped out to New York City to take the world by storm.  While I was there, I played some lead roles on Broadway (Griz in CATS; LA CAGE AUX FOLLES; CITY OF ANGELS) and Off-Broadway in a revival of THE ROTHSCHILDS.

Since those early days, what else has furthered your career?

Since my days in New York City, I've acted in movies, industrial films and commercials and become a hard-working voice over artist.  I narrated before for films and then got into book narrating, which I absolutely love.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?

I have listened to audiobooks forever and always thought I could be good at it.  I love the variety of characters that I have to embrace and analyzing the different ways, pitches and speeds of their voices.  Teenagers speak VERY differently from their dads!  I would love to get into doing more accents in future books as I studied dialects in school and absolutely love acting with dialects.

Can you explain to our readers what is involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale.  How long does it take?

In my case, I had some help setting up my home studio.  I got advice from a fellow narrator in LA and a friend in Nashville who is a professional studio engineer.  I use an AT2020 USB mic and either Audacity or Protools.  Both of these programs make it very easy (albeit time consuming) to edit the files once I have them read down.  I think people would be really surprised to find out how much time goes into one hour of narrating.  As I'm approaching it from the standpoint of an actor instead of a reader/narrator, I'm sure it takes me a lot longer because I really need to get the characters and their emotions right.  I will work anywhere from three to six hours to produce a finished hour of audiobook.  I work through so they handle all of the sales elements of the finished book.

I want to mention here that Leslie is a perfectionist in the best way, redoing an audition piece until it's right, going over editing to improve sound in question.  When I hired Leslie, I knew she was the voice of my heroine and she never wavered from that.

What is the toughest part of narrating?

Keeping my voice in shape.  In addition to books, I do professional voice overs, sing demos and do live music shows.  I have to keep disciplined about warming up, talking, singing and resting!

Why narrate a romance?  

I have narrated young adult books, mysteries and what they call "Chick Lit."  I've also narrated tech stuff.  ALWAYS DEVOTED was my first romance novel and it intrigued me.  I wanted to make the sensual scenes sound really real--not corny or overly dramatic.  I took the challenge because I've been told my voice would lend itself well to a romantic story.

Leslie's take on the love scenes was perfect.  Not overly dramatic, not underplayed, but just right.  Perfect for the tone of the book.

Can anything in an author's history sway you toward narrating thier book?

If I'm doing a book for royalty share, I have to feel that author has a sense of sales and promotion because that's the only way I get paid.  When I'm not sure of what to expect, I often opt for the union per hour wage to ensure I use my time wisely.

What do you like to do most when you're not narrating?

I would say singing, acting and songwriting.  I love flipping around among all of it.  It keeps things interesting!

Find out more about Leslie at

Hear a sample of ALWAYS DEVOTED or buy at:

ALWAYS DEVOTED Audiobook on Amazon

ALWAYS DEVOTED Audiobook on Audible

ALWAYS DEVOTED now avaiable in audiobook

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

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