I chose these 2 questions/answers because the first speaks to advice for people wanting to get into narrating or voice-over work, something I get asked frequently. The second question is about a part in MIDNIGHT VALENTINE I found challenging and how I worked it out.
What qualities make a great narrator? Share some tips for aspiring voice actors.
I wish I could answer that first one. When I began, there was no one teaching audiobook narration as there is now. (My friend/talent/teacher is Pat Fraley in LA, his name is his website, and he has loads of courses on voice-over and audiobook narration and I highly recommend him.) Cassettes were still being used and CD’s were just taking over. There was no Audible App (or App in general) or Audiobook Exchange through Amazon for Audible where you can self-produce (like we used for MIDNIGHT VALENTINE.) There certainly were no home studios, remote contract narrators and engineers being hired out by big publishers all across the world to narrate books. Now, there are masses of people narrating audiobooks, some without any kind of performance or speaking training or skills, who get a USB microphone and a laptop, throw quilts on their walls and call themselves an audiobook narrator. I suggest, if someone is really serious about becoming a voice actor, or narrating audiobooks, you invest money and time in training and practice. I used to coach and teach beginning voice over and host training events when I lived in the Detroit area and bring teachers like Pat Fraley in from LA to teach their craft. If you wanted to become a veterinarian, you wouldn’t just look at a couple You Tube videos and start operating on small animals in your walk-in closet for money but rather go to school and earn a degree. It’s no different for voice acting and narrating. When I first auditioned for Brilliance Audio they required random selections from a few books of different genres, including dialogue between 2 to 3 characters for my audition. You can practice narrating and spend no money at this. You can listen for free to 5:00 samples on Audible to hear all kinds of narrators on various titles and get an idea for tone, breath, performance for fiction and non-fiction. You really should find a teacher, though, and before diving into audiobook, work with someone on basic microphone technique and skills. There are many out there and these days, you can learn remotely through the Internet.
Is there a scene in Midnight Valentine you particularly enjoyed narrating? Is there a scene that was especially difficult to narrate?
I love this question! I really enjoyed narrating the first phone conversation between Megan and Theo where he’s using the phone’s key tones to communicate, and I found it challenging. I didn’t like the way I was hearing myself say, “Beep,” as Theo’s responses were written. I had fun taking creative license with that! And, I think this is a good place to share about the scene you asked me to rerecord (Megan’s fire), where my stakes weren’t high enough and there should have been more urgency underneath it all. Working alone, I don’t get that kind of collaboration most of the time, so I really appreciated being able to go back and redo my performance for a scene and make it better. I wish I could do that with some of my earlier audiobooks.