Narrator Author: Eric A. Shelman

Posted September 17, 2015 by Paul (Audiobook Reviewer) in Interview / 1 Comment

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Tell us a little about yourself (Your bio).

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas back in the dawning of the 1960s, moved to southern California, and finally to Southwest Florida, where I live with my wife of almost 29 years, Linda. I like to sing like a sonofabitch, and I love … LOVE writing.

How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks? Did it start with narrating your own books? What made you want to do this?

I didn’t really think about doing it, but I was over a barrel. My narrator, John, for Dead Hunger, was pretty good. Not perfect, because there were some voices that were never right, like Doc Jim Scofield’s and Tony Mallette. Those guys are actual friends of mine and they have very distinct voices. When John raised his price per finished hour beyond what my budget would handle, I thought I’d just grin and bear it, and I bought myself an awesome USB microphone for high-end recording. At first I was using an external 4-track recorder and VERY expensive microphones, but as it turns out, WavePad and a nice USB microphone were all I needed. So I got underway, found out it was way easier to record directly into the computer, and I was getting better with each subsequent book.

I see that you narrate books other than ones you wrote. 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?

I’d love to take more, but I don’t really like to narrate and write projects at the same time. I’m a “job completer.” I like to start – then finish a project. Then I’ll move on to something else. That’s how I write a book in 3 to 4 months working only 2 hours a night, 5 days a week. I was approached to write “The Necro Files: Two Decades of Extreme Horror,” and I was stoked. George R.R. Martin, Edward Lee, Ray Garton, Elizabeth Massey, Joe R. Lansdale, Bentley Little, and many other great authors’ stories are in there, and I accepted it. It’s really, really raunchy and very raw, and they warned me up front that the first narrator quit because the stories made him ill. I took that as a challenge. I’ll give you a free code if you’d like to listen and review. I warn you, though – it’s … really, really filthy. 19 stories with several standouts.

Anyway, other books I just auditioned for and got the job, such as for Dolly, Dolly 2 and The Road To Darkness. My buddy James Dean hired me to read This Dying World: The End Begins, which is his first zombie novel.

What do you see as the advantage of being an author and narrator? Are there any disadvantages?

As I said, I prefer to either write or narrate. There is a HUGE advantage writing and narrating, though. I know my characters like nobody’s business. I kind of suck at female voices, but I manage ok. It’s really a blast, and hearing myself getting better – and more importantly – faster – is a nice feeling.

Do you think that it helps you perform better and bring more to the story as a narrator when you are also the author?

Oh, yes. Absolutely. You really understand what’s happening in the story, and you know “what you meant” when you wrote a part. Sometimes I still stumble across stuff I wrote, and I say, “Huh?” I delete it and read it the right way. Then I re-upload the replacement text to Amazon and Createspace when I’m done.

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’d say to listen to Scabs: The Gemini Exception or The Camera: Bloodthirst. OR … The Necro Files – but only if you’re a sick fu*ker.

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?

Thus far, I have not yet been paid per finished hour, or PFH. That’s mainly because I haven’t auditioned for very many – plus, they’re kind of few and far between. I’m good enough now that I could likely get some jobs, but clearly I’ll make more money just getting all of my work in audiobook format. Still need to record The Witches of Laguna Beach.

What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook author?  What has been your most difficult moment?

Knowing that Scabs is going to be a series, I had to come up with acceptable voices for my new characters – that, so far, is my greatest achievement. In fact, I just finished recording and uploading it to ACX for review before I answered these questions!

What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook narrator?  What has been your most difficult moment?

Getting through all the stories in The Necro Files, and keeping it fresh. Imagine all the different characters in a 19-story anthology! Different voices, etc. I feel very good about it.

Do you have a list of your own favorite narrators, who inspires you?  Do you have a list of favorite audiobook that you have listened to?

I really do love Scott Brick, who narrated Clive Cussler’s, “The Silent Sea” and others in The Oregon Series. I HIGHLY recommend that series!!! Also the narrator for Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon.

What is your favorite thing to do? Pastime, hobby, obsession, etc.

I’m a singer! I also like to paint. I love horror movies, too! I also like to hang in the pool and write, and I love RVing, and camping. Get me outside or in the water, or stick me behind a keyboard – sometimes, do both!

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?

No – in the narration process, just like a reader, you learn the story as you go. I believe that helps you “unfold” the story. I could never take the time to read the entire book before narrating – that would simply take too long, because I’d essentially be reading the book twice. I can tell you though, reading my own books makes me catch EVERY error in there, because unlike when I’m writing it, I’m reading it much faster, and I don’t forget what I read earlier – like I sometimes do when I’m writing … (blush)

How do you flesh out how a specific character will sound?

I experiment on the fly. I ask authors to tell me a bit about their characters if they can, and I try to inflect some of that personality in the voice.

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?

I sit right at my desk and narrate with the office door closed. At home. I find it works okay. I’d like a nice sound booth, but for now, I do not have the room and in Florida, it would get too damned hot in there!

What is the atmosphere like in your studio when you record. What’s it like, and are things very serious or not very serious?

Since it’s just me, it’s NEVER really serious. I laugh at myself a lot. Sometimes I’m narrating, and I’ll record it like, “Stop doing that!” she whispered. So meanwhile, I’ve yelled it and have to go back and re-record it as the tag line demands … in a whisper. 🙂

How long do you record at a time, on average? What is it about a book that will shorten or lengthen this?

Mostly about two hours at a pop, unless I want to plow through and finish a project. I did that with Scabs. Recorded for four hours to complete the last six chapters. I believe I read faster than most narrators – or at least it seems that way. That’s mainly because my projects always come in shorter than ACX – the interface I upload and submit through – predicts it will be. If they predict 11 hours, it will ultimately be 10 or even 9.something.

What is your favorite genre to narrate? Why?

I feel most comfortable with horror, but I would narrate any good writing. I could not tolerate narrating crap. If I would not want to read it, I would likely not want to narrate it.

What has been your favorite character? What character has given you the most grief?

Women. Women of all kinds give me trouble. I would say that Charlie and Lola and Serena and ALL of the damned women in my books give me fits! I’m a man, damnit! A MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lol … it’s just hard to create different inflections and voices for women – which is something I hope to get better at!

How do you stop yourself from laughing or crying at some of the things authors write?

I kind of separate myself from that, so it’s not a problem. When I cry, I know it’s a well-written scene. Hope it’s mine!

I have heard that many in the industry dislike the term narrator. What do you prefer and why?

I don’t mind narrator. That’s what I’m doing, right?

How do you view audiobook narration/production: Art or Science?

I believe it’s voice-acting. No different. I listened to the first version of Stephen King’s Desperation, with King reading it. That’s essentially all he did … he read it. No effort to make voices, nothing. Everyone just sounded strange … like Stephen King. The narration was later redone by Kathy Bates, I believe.

Do you have a philosophy of how to create the perfect audiobook experience?

I’m not so full of myself (yet) that I believe I know, except to really try to figure out how to do many different accents and really bring the characters to life. That’s the biggest challenge. Plus, consistency of voice. THAT is crucial, too.

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?

I don’t differentiate between audiobooks and regular books with regard to what I like. I’m a supernatural fiction reader and listener. I love all things King and Koontz, but I also LOVE Cussler and Follett. One of the best books I’ve ever read is Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett. One of my favorites of Koontz is The Good Guy.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring narrators?

Yes, get good equipment and use WavePad or another program to clean it up well. Listen to other good narrators and learn from them. If you struggle with a certain type of voice, seek them out and listen to how experienced narrators handle them.

What has been your favorite project and why?

I’d say The Necro Files was my favorite, but it was likely because it was a situation where I was contacted out of the blue by the editor, who asked me to read it for them. This Dying World: The End Begins, was also an exciting project, because it’s a popular book, and is quickly becoming my best seller of the books I’ve narrated for others.

Do you believe that listening to an audiobook should be considered reading? Why or why not?

Hell yes! You can’t read and drive, and long after I’ve listened to a book, sometimes I forget whether I’ve read it or listened! A good narrator can force you to create the images in your mind, just as it happens when you read a great novel.

Are you working on any special projects?

As I said earlier, I just completed Scabs: The Gemini Exception. For now, I’m going to complete writing Dead Hunger IX: The Cleansing, which will finish that long-running series.

Have you ever gotten a poor review on your narration? What do you do with such reviews?

Oh yes. Particularly after another narrator read my first five Dead Hunger books. There will always be certain people who want that “other guy.” Lol … I hope as I learn and improve that it becomes less frequent. I believe I did DH 7 better than DH6, and I expect that 8 and 9 will be even better!

How do you feel about authors that choose to narrate their own audiobooks? Any advice to them?

Give it all you’ve got, and remember, strangers are going to listen to YOUR take on YOUR novel! Make it count, and make it FANTASTIC. Don’t rush it.

This is for the question you wish I would have asked but didn’t.
Dude, is there a question you HAVEN’T asked? Lol

About Eric A. Shelman

When Eric started his writing career, an outsider would never have guessed he would eventually write about witches, serial killers and zombies. His first actual book release was Out of the Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson, co-authored by Dr. Stephen Lazoritz. It is about the first successful rescue of an abused child in America. Little Mary Ellen was a 9-year-old who was rescued in 1874 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA.

His writing career began in the late 1980s in a very low-key way; writing short horror story after short horror story with really no idea how to go about it. He had poor character development, minimal plot lines and probably every other bad habit of inexperienced authors.

After deciding he should write a book, he discovered a little blurb on Mary Ellen Wilson in a book of “Amazing But True!” stories. He knew he had to write Mary Ellen’s story. Result? He was a guest at the Museum of the City of New York. He was on CSPAN-2’s Book TV. Alliance Atlantis approached him about optioning the story for film. (That did not pan out.)

So … how did he get back to what he loved? Facebook, plain and simple. After Mary Ellen came out in 1999, he wrote a book called A Reason To Kill. Serial killer stuff. After completing it, he shelved it and began a book about witches and reincarnation. That confused the hell out of him, so he eventually stopped after 53,000 words. No idea where to go or how to finish it. He did not write again for 12 years.

Enter 2011 and Facebook. Tons of zombie people began to emerge, and he kept hearing about all these zombie books and how much people loved them. Mark Tufo, Rhiannon Frater, etc. etc. He thought, “I could write a zombie novel.”

And so he did. Dead Hunger was born and released in 2011. From there, you know where it went if you’re a reader of the series. And while there were some hints, nobody could have guessed where the series would go. Talk about evolution! Whoa.

The Dead Hunger series will likely go anywhere from eight to ten books, including prequels Eric intends to write. In his “other” spare time, he sings and sometimes paints. He owns several cool microphones, so if you’ve considered a gift for him (c’mon, you know you have!) that would be a good item to put on your list. 😉

Check him out on YouTube. Just punch in “Eric Shelman Brown Eyed Girl.” That video is approaching 4,000,000 hits.

So check out his writing. Download a sample for Kindle if you like. He thinks you’ll like his style, because he writes very conversationally – he’s not interested in creating prose that dances around your head before dropping into your ears. He gets to the point, but does it with some skill.

About Eric A. Shelman

When Eric started his writing career, an outsider would never have guessed he would eventually write about witches, serial killers and zombies. His first actual book release was Out of the Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson, co-authored by Dr. Stephen Lazoritz. It is about the first successful rescue of an abused child in America. Little Mary Ellen was a 9-year-old who was rescued in 1874 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA.

His writing career began in the late 1980s in a very low-key way; writing short horror story after short horror story with really no idea how to go about it. He had poor character development, minimal plot lines and probably every other bad habit of inexperienced authors.

After deciding he should write a book, he discovered a little blurb on Mary Ellen Wilson in a book of “Amazing But True!” stories. He knew he had to write Mary Ellen’s story. Result? He was a guest at the Museum of the City of New York. He was on CSPAN-2’s Book TV. Alliance Atlantis approached him about optioning the story for film. (That did not pan out.)

So … how did he get back to what he loved? Facebook, plain and simple. After Mary Ellen came out in 1999, he wrote a book called A Reason To Kill. Serial killer stuff. After completing it, he shelved it and began a book about witches and reincarnation. That confused the hell out of him, so he eventually stopped after 53,000 words. No idea where to go or how to finish it. He did not write again for 12 years.

Enter 2011 and Facebook. Tons of zombie people began to emerge, and he kept hearing about all these zombie books and how much people loved them. Mark Tufo, Rhiannon Frater, etc. etc. He thought, “I could write a zombie novel.”

And so he did. Dead Hunger was born and released in 2011. From there, you know where it went if you’re a reader of the series. And while there were some hints, nobody could have guessed where the series would go. Talk about evolution! Whoa.

The Dead Hunger series will likely go anywhere from eight to ten books, including prequels Eric intends to write. In his “other” spare time, he sings and sometimes paints. He owns several cool microphones, so if you’ve considered a gift for him (c’mon, you know you have!) that would be a good item to put on your list. 😉

Check him out on YouTube. Just punch in “Eric Shelman Brown Eyed Girl.” That video is approaching 4,000,000 hits.

So check out his writing. Download a sample for Kindle if you like. He thinks you’ll like his style, because he writes very conversationally – he’s not interested in creating prose that dances around your head before dropping into your ears. He gets to the point, but does it with some skill.

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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