Viviana, from Enchantress of Books and I am so excited to have Angela Dawe our Audio Book Lovin’ Series today.
Angela Dawe is an audiobook narrator and actress living and working in Chicago, Illinois. Winner of several Earphones Awards from Audiofile Magazine and narrator of two Audie-nominated audiobooks, Angela is also an accomplished improviser/sketch comedian, and has worked with such theaters as Second City, iO (formerly improvOlympic), and The Annoyance. You can reach Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about Angela and her body of work here: Website | Goodreads | Tantor | Audible
Kelly: Now that we know a little about Angela let get to the good stuff. Angela, Welcome to our Audio Book Lovin’ series. I have to tell you that I am totally in love with you being the narrator of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. So I hope you don’t mind if we talk about how amazing you are
Wow, thank you! I love doing that series.
For those of you who have not listened to or know about this series, this is one of my top 5 all time favorite series. Here is a little sample from Slave to Sensation narrator by Angela.
In my years of narrating, there have only been a couple of times when I actually communicated directly with an author. Usually that only happens when there’s a pronunciation question, generally when the word has been made up by the author. If we do have to bother the author, we try to do it unobtrusively and politely, of course.
Kelly: Angela, what sort of information does Nalini provide to you prior to starting the narrating process of her book(s)?
Prior to starting the narration, I read the book in its entirety, but beyond that, I’m on my own.
Kelly: How do you go about selecting how each of the character are going to sound like?
Characters tend to jump off the page and into my imagination with a voice unto themselves. I hear it in my head and then do my best to bring it to the microphone. And of course things like gender, age, background, etc. come into play, too. But with authors like Nalini, the characters are so well developed that the vocal choice seems obvious to me after I’ve read the book. I’m not creating Hawke’s voice, for example, becuse Nalini’s wonderful writing did it for me – I’m just doing my best impression of the Hawke I see and hear in my imagination.
Kelly: Along the lines of the previous question, how do you manage or what is your process of remember what the character from a previous book sounds like when they reappear in a new book?
Some characters are so memorable to me that it’s easy remember how to voice them from book to book. I’ve already mentioned Hawke, whose voice is very distinct in my mind (and one of my favorites to do). But I am only human, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of, so I keep files of previous recordings on my computer and will occasionally go and listen back to how I voiced a particular character to make sure I’m staying consistent.
Let’s take a moment to bask in all things Hawke for a moment. Here is a clip from Kiss of Snow.
Different narrators have very different processes, so I can only speak for myself here. I do read the books ahead of narrating them. For me, that helps me get a handle on the tone the author is going for in the narrative sections, and of course it helps me decide how to voice different characters. Does one character have an accent? Is a character the shy, quiet type, or more brash and bold? How will the characters relate to each other based on their history?
My daily routine depends on whether I’m in a publisher’s studio, such as the Brilliance Audio studio in Michigan, where I’ve recorded some great series (a favorite: the Kathleen Turner series by Tiffany Snow). When I go into a studio like Brilliance, I work with an engineer and director, and we work from about 8:30 to 5 like most folks do. Most books on that schedule take an average of three days to record, roughly. However, for some publishers I record from my home studio, and my schedule is more flexible on those projects because I’m not messing with anyone else’s schedule – I’m flying solo. So I might record for a few hours in the morning, then do some recording in the evening, rather than putting in eight hours straight.
When I’m recording, I make a LOT of mistakes! What I do in those cases is I go back a few lines in the recording and press play, and at a pause before where I messed up the first take, I “punch in” and re record it, going on from there. So if the line is, “She reached out to him, only to discover he’d already left,” and I mess up that second clause, I will go back, play my original take of the first clause, and then begin recording again with, “only to discover he’d already left.” And on from there (until I make another mistake).
Kelly: Authors have writer’s cave, do narrators have something similar?
Yes, they’re called booths! Booths are very cave-like, usually. Dark and quiet and sort of removed from the rest of the world because of the soundproofing. At home I have a prefabricated booth that’s three feet by three feet by seven feet, with a narrow door on one side. It’s where my equipment is and where I do the bulk of my work.
But I do my prepping everywhere I can bring my tablet. That’s one of the best things about my job – I can work on a book virtually anywhere as far as everything I need to do before getting into the booth. I love working at little coffee shops, or on my back porch in the summertime.
Kelly: Here’s a fun question for you Angela that both Viviana and I have been wondering… as a narrator, do you get “oh say it in ‘the voice’” question often? Me personally I would want you to talk to me as Judd. Judd is my favorite.
Hahaha, what a great question! You know, I have never been asked to do a specific character, but a lot of people ask me to talk in accents when they learn what I do for a living. “Say something with a Scottish accent!” “Do Australian!” Come on, guys – I’m not your dancing monkey! (Just kidding, I’m always flattered and happy to oblige. I will talk like Judd to you whenever you please.)
Kelly: Speaking of favorite do you have a favorite Character that you have narrated from this series?
Here’s what just happened in my brain:
Hawke. Oh, but what about Sienna… Oh Krychek, Krychek, Krychek! Oh but Ming LeBon is so fun… Who’s cooler than Mercy, though? Nikita Duncan, maybe…
So I guess my answer is: I have too many favorites!
Kelly: I totally understand. So many amazing characters… But I defer back to what I said before Judd is my favorite.
Kelly: Sorry, was distracted for a minute… Angela, of all of Nalini’s books, which one has been your favorite to narrate and why?
I thought about this question for a long time, and I have to say Kiss of Snow. The love story is sizzling, the action is incredible, it’s by turns sweet and terrifying. And I just love Hawke and Sienna!
Kelly: Angela, it was so great to have you on the blog. And if I meet you person please just talk like Judd the whole time. So one last questions before I let you go. If someone has not listened to any audio book before what would you tell them?
You’re missing out! Believe me, if they’re half as fun to listen to as they are to record, you’re missing out big-time. And I’d be happy to make recommendations.