Narrator: Anna Castiglioni

Posted April 4, 2016 by Paul (Audiobook Reviewer) in Interview / 1 Comment

Anna-Castiglioni
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Voice Range: baritone to high soprano
Accents: Irish, Scottish, British RP, British Cockney, Italian, Spanish, French, Australian
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action, Romance, YA, medical
Fluent Languages: English, Spanish, Italian
Awards: none yet

Bio:
I’ve been involved in theater productions for most of my young life: plays, musicals, choir. I love the art of “becoming someone else” for a few minutes, for an hour, whatever. Telling stories has also been a longtime passion, whether through music, writing, or voice.

How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?
I’ve always enjoyed reading books out loud, usually by myself, but occasionally I actually had “book reading” parties with friends. Fast forward several years, when I was getting back into playing video games, and I started making a lot of free game content, where I wrote and voiced a lot of characters. In exploring different ways to publish my own stories, I discovered ACX, and knew instantly it was a great fit for me.

What do you do when you are not narrating?:
I still create free game content, written and voiced characters. I voice for educational how-to’s when I get the chance, and I work on writing my own books.

Many audiobook narrators do other voice over work, where else could we hear your work? Do you find there to any big hurdles to jump when going from audiobooks to something else or vise versa?:
I’m still new to the profession of voiceover, but if you happen to play video games on the PC, I voice a lot of mods for Skyrim, and a little bit for Fallout 3. I suppose the biggest challenge of going from that to audiobooks is the time duration of recording, and the frequent changing of tone and emotion. Game characters require short conversations, and usually a pretty steady feeling.

Do you have the luxury of picking and choosing the projects that you work on or do you take as many as you have time for?:
Usually, I only choose projects that interest me or that I’m passionate about, but if I get a request and I have the time, I’ll probably do it too. I still have a full-time job, so I have to choose carefully, and only pick projects with generous or flexible deadlines.

For those of us that are unfamiliar with your work. How would you describe your narration style and voice? What would the one audiobook you would suggest for people to listen to your best work?:
I tend to read fairly animatedly by default, and mostly that’s good, but not always. Sometimes a piece might call for a drier read, with a touch of sarcasm. I believe I do sassy humor pretty well, and I certainly have fun with it. Bedding An Assassin is such an example, with two best gal pals, several Irish characters, and a Scottish romantic interest, so my voice had to change significantly throughout the book.

As a narrator, do you get compensated in a set amount or do you also receive royalties from the individual sales? Do you like one more than the other? Has there ever been an per finished hour book that you wish was a royalty deal, what book? Or vise versa?:
For longer books I prefer per finished hour pay, that way I wouldn’t have to worry about selling and marketing them. However I don’t mind royalty share for shorter books. The Hacking book is selling really well and has more than paid for the amount of time spent on it.

What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook narrator? What has been your most difficult moment?:
My best is probably the many people I’ve had the privilege to meet: other narrators, authors, publishers, and more. It’s a wonderful network of folks, and I’m constantly picking up tips and learning. The worst is reading bad reviews, or when reviewers are extremely picky, and I have to realize and tell myself, you just can’t please everyone, so let it go and concentrate on the next.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?:
It would be a Dragon, that I ride.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?:
“Please disregard the sound of bloodcurdling screams and death threats.”

Care to share an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment, either one where someone was gushing over your narration/acting…..or one where you were gushing over another narrator/actor’s work?:
Two of my authors actually used the same words, that they got goosebumps listening to my first 15 minutes. That was pretty cool. Another two authors both raved about my Scottish accent in their books.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?:
I remember an uncanny amount of trivia on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. No one will have a contest or a game with me anymore. Undefeated.

If you were to create a narrating playlist, what artists and songs would be on it?
I assume this means music I would add to my audiobook? Heather Alexander; traditional Irish or Scottish tunes; and me (sometimes I add my own music).

Do you ever get specific notes or ideas from the writer about how something should be read? What is a helpful note, and what is, shall we say, less helpful?:
It’s helpful to know if the character has an accent, roughly what pitch it has to be (deep, high, medium), and any other specific things, like has a lisp, is snooty, speaks in an ethereal, breathy way, etc. It’s also helpful to mention those things early, when the character first appears, not near the end.
There was one book I was thinking of auditioning for, but when I saw the audition script, and the author had written all these notes, such as underlining which words should be read with more emphasis, I immediately passed it by. When someone is that specific, it usually means they are hard to please, and will likely want revisions. This is why you hire a narrator, to make an knowledgeable interpretation of how something should be read.

Do you have an initial process or routine by which you get to know the book you’re going to be reading? Do you mark them up, for example?:
I read it through carefully and mark it up on computer, for breath, tone, emotions, and speed. I do all my preparation and reading paper-free! (you’re welcome, trees).

How do you flesh out how a specific character will sound?:
It’s usually a combination of the character’s background (if it’s provided), their personality, interaction with other characters, and what intuition tells me he/she would sound.

Is your studio in your home? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this? Do you have something that you would consider unique in your setup? What is it?:
It’s at home, yes, which is good because there’s no overhead cost, no travel, and I can do it whenever I have time. Nothing really unique or special, just sensible use of space, foam, good mics, computer and software.

What is your favorite genre to narrate? Why?:
Fantasy, action, adventure, romance, and poetry. They are my favorite genres to read, and I like to narrate the same things. I also like the narrate pieces about arts and entertainment, because I can read pretty much as myself, with my own personality, rather than conform to the tone of a story.

What has been your favorite character? What character has given you the most grief?:
My favorite is perhaps the one I’m doing now, Nicola in “Secrets in Blood.” He’s an Italian vampire, he’s seen a lot of grief in his long life, and he’s troubled about the girl. He’s quite complex, with a big heart, so it’s a challenge, but it’s also very enjoyable.

How do you stop yourself from laughing or crying at some of the things authors write?:
I don’t! I usually write them a quick note of my reaction, and they love that. If I do laugh in the real recording, I can just edit it out, that’s not hard.

I have heard that many in the industry dislike the term narrator. What do you prefer and why?:
I haven’t thought much about it, but I suppose “narrator” is a bit limiting to encompass all of what we actually do. We tell the story as the narrator observes it, but also literally “become” each of the characters in turn. Perhaps a better word would be “Storyteller” or “Performer.”

How do you view audiobook narration/production: Art or Science?:
A bit of both. Narration is more art and a little science, and production is mostly science with a bit of art, such as the EQ. Every forum or person you ask about EQ has a different answer. In the end, it’s art, and has to be tailored to each person’s unique voice.

Do you have a philosophy of how to create the perfect audiobook experience?:
Personally, I love the addition of music and sound FX to an audiobook, but I know not everyone does, and they definitely have to be used carefully, if at all, with the right timing and volume balance, to not distract from the narration itself. I’m also a big fan of full cast audiobooks, such as the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, where you have an amazing collaboration of narrator, character voice actors, composers, musicians, and of course, audio engineers.

Do you have a preference for reading fiction or nonfiction for pleasure? And is what you read for pleasure what you’d prefer to read for audiobooks?:
Fantasy is my favorite for pleasure reading, hands down. However, for narration, I try to select from a variety of genres, keeping selling potential in mind. Narrating has also exposed me to genres I wouldn’t normally read for pleasure, such as romance, and I find I enjoy that too if it’s well-written.

Do you believe that listening to an audiobook should be considered reading? Why or why not?:
Not really. They are different experiences. When you read for yourself, you have your own experience from the book. When you listen to a story, you have the performer’s experience. Sometimes they are the same or similar, but sometimes, how you hear a voice or how you feel something could be completely different.

Are you working on any special projects?:
Aside from audiobooks by other authors, I’m working on a few of my own, which I’ll narrate once they’ve been released. One is a practical guide to landscaping your home, and the others are passion projects, mostly fantasy.

How do you feel about authors that choose to narrate their own audiobooks? Any advice to them?:
I think that’s great if they want to. It’s their story, so they can tell it best. However, I would say the same thing as to someone preparing for a speech: practice in front of others first, and get feedback on your speaking. Narrating isn’t just reading words, and it’s not just creating voices. You have to be engaging so the listener wants to keep listening.

This is for the question you wish I would have asked but didn’t.:
I love voicing characters with accents. I have a natural ear for accents. When I travel, or even hear someone with an accent, it rubs off on me and I just start mimicking it without meaning to.

About Anna Castiglioni

I was involved in theater for most of my young life: plays, musicals, monologues, all sorts of things. I’ve always loved getting into character and becoming “someone else.” I got into voice acting through video games, which lead to creating and voicing free game content, and then audiobooks. Narrating audiobooks in turn lead to re-kindling my love of writing, so I’ll be narrating my own books soon as well.

About Paul (Audiobook Reviewer)

Paul is a quiet man who shares his passion of books through reviews assisting others select books through honest and professional reviews. Having built a team of professional reviewers, Audiobookreviewer (ABR) is the result of his passion of reading/listening of books. His family consists of a wife, 2 cats, and 2 African Grey parrots (https://www.facebook.com/tuckertheafricangrey). More frequently than not, you will see Paul plugged into the audio of his technology listening to books while riding his bike 100+ miles, tending to a huge fruit and vegetable garden, growing bonsai trees and operating his own largest online bonsai magazine (http://ofbonsai.org).

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