Jennifer: Welcome, Lauren! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lauren: Hi! And thank you. I’m very excited to be guest blogging on your site! Your fans have been incredibly supportive of the narration I’ve done on your books, and to get to “meet” them is such a treat.
I’m based in New York City, where I work as an actor and narrator. I do a little bit of everything, both on-camera and off, and love the variety of finding all the nooks and niches in the industry.
Jennifer: How did you get into narrating audiobooks?
Lauren: Audiobook narration definitely isn’t for every actor. Some actors are much more adaptable to physical performance over narration and vice versa.
My introduction came by way Gabra Zackman, a talented fellow-actor friend and narrator, who had found her way into the audiobook world, was working for Audible at the time, and graciously extended an audition opportunity my way. I’m a graduate of Fordham University’s theater program, so I already had a drama background, which is pretty consistent with most professional narrators. I met with a fantastic producer at Audible who auditioned me and put me to work right away. They have a large Harlequin division and my voice is suited to that particular genre, so I really lucked out in finding a place for myself in a relatively small niche of the entertainment industry as it was beginning to grow significantly.
Jennifer: What’s the process of narrating an audiobook like? How long does it take?
Lauren: These are absolutely the questions most often asked of narrators! The process can be slightly varied, but the general steps are for the narrator to “prep” the book, and then record with an engineer/director in the studio. Following that, the audio is edited by a fresh set of eyes and ears, then sent back to the narrator for pick-ups (corrections). After the new audio is inserted, the book undergoes a final mastering stage and another once-over, before it hits the digital marketplace!
The narrator’s time commitment varies by book length, but I generally spend a few days reading and prepping a title (noting characters, accents, pronunciations, etc.). Skipping this step can be disastrous. A big “oops” would getting to the end of an un-prepped book and realizing the main character is described as having an accent you didn’t apply or that your mystery serial killer is a woman and you’ve been giving her a man’s voice. Surprises are for the reader/listener, not for the professional narrator! If I’m lucky, as is the case with your books, the author is available to provide feedback and answer questions. This can be invaluable and helps me tell the story better!
Time in the studio is roughly 6 hours a day for 2+ days. The Elemental Assassin books take me 5-6 studio days.
The biggest misconception is that it’s passive – sitting and “reading aloud”. In fact, it’s a fairly concentrated energy output for the narrator and can be extremely draining. It’s more “lengthy theatrical performance” and less “reading to yourself” even though it’s done in a stationary setting. Sometimes I’ll finish in the studio at four in the afternoon and want to hit the hay immediately!
Jennifer: What are some of the audiobooks that you’ve narrated? How many books have you narrated?
Lauren: My total title count is nearing 270 (!), with 200 of those being for an original podcast-type monthly series, and the remainder being unabridged books.
I tend to do mostly Harlequin romance titles as it’s good fit for my voice, but I’ve also done some non-fiction, fantasy, crime, and YA (young adult).
Recently, I worked on a crime drama/police procedural – The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders – which was recorded as a multi-cast. I’m not sure how well it was received in audiobook format, but it was fun to record with other actors. This is uncommon, as each book typically has only one narrator performing all the parts as well as the narrative, so it’s especially interesting to work with others, as audiobook narration can feel a bit solitary at times.
Jennifer: Is there a favorite book genre that you enjoy narrating? Who are some of your favorite authors/books?
Lauren: As I said, I tend to get paired with romance titles or “chick-lit”, and I do appreciate the consistency, but I always look forward to stepping out of the genre. I’ve really enjoyed the few YA titles that I’ve done and hope to do more of that. It’s a really interesting market and I love that there’s a crossover from YA writing into adult readership. I’ve been known to get completely engulfed in some younger series – The Hunger Games and Harry Potter among them!
And, of course, I’ve been thrilled to do the Elemental Assassin series! The characters are really vivid and larger than life and the specifics of their world make my job incredibly fun. Plus, I get to be Gin, which is pretty kick-ass!
Mostly, I appreciate variety to keep things fresh and interesting.
I do listen to other narrators in an effort to grow and tweak my own skills, but I’m definitely more of a book reader than an audiobook listener and love to get buried in all types of good books.
To Kill a Mockingbird is an all-time favorite and Scout one of the dearest, spunkiest characters ever written. Other favorites of mine include The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (with its dancing words and phrases) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. (Huh, I don’t know that I’ve ever realized how drawn I am to books with clever, curious, introspective children as central characters.)
Additionally, I’m always happy when I stumble upon something laugh-out-loud funny. I read Bossypants by Tina Fey while waiting for jury duty selection, and was worried I might be asked to exit the courthouse for inappropriate bursts of giggles and guffaws.
Jennifer: What’s next for you?
Lauren: I recently wrapped up a play I did at LaMama this summer, as part of their 50th anniversary season, and am set to start shooting on a short film with some long time cohorts this month. I have a few audiobooks lined up to record in October, but my big news is that I’m building a small (very small) home studio. It’s an overwhelming project, but it should expand my recording opportunities and, I’m not going to lie, pajama recording is a pretty alluring prospect!
Before I go, I really do want to give big heartfelt thanks to the Elemental Assassin audiobook audience. They have been unbelievably supportive and encouraging of my work on these books. I do read nearly all of my feedback at Audible, and your fans are incredible! It genuinely makes me want to do the best I can with each book in the series. So, thanks!
Jennifer: Thank you, Lauren, for being here today and for all your work on the Elemental Assassin audiobooks. I appreciate it.
WIDOW’S WEB PRINT BOOK GIVEAWAY
In honor of Lauren’s visit to the blog, I’m giving away a print copy of Widow’s Web, the latest book in my Elemental Assassin series. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog about your favorite audio book or a book that you’d like to hear as an audio book.
The contest is open worldwide to folks 18 and older and will run through midnight, EST, Wednesday, Oct. 10. The winner will be announced here on my blog on Friday, Oct. 12.
In the meantime, happy reading and listening!