Voice Range: Child to Elderly
Accents: Range of UK & US accents
Genres: Crime, Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Factual
Fluent Languages: English
I’m a British actor and audiobook narrator, and also co-founder of Just Some Theatre. Since graduating from an Acting degree course in 2012 I’ve toured with Just Some Theatre as an actor and producer, worked on a number of commercial and non-commercial voice over projects and most recently started producing Audiobooks.
How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?
Unusually, by being offered the 3.5-million-words job of narrating 4 different versions of the Bible, after having my voice reel heard online. I had wanted to narrate since becoming an actor, and I also tend to throw myself in at the deep end, so I took the job.
What do you do when you are not narrating?:
I co-run Just Some Theatre which produces new writing in the UK. We develop new scripts alongside writers and tour shows, which is usually very rewarding and fun. Otherwise I listen to a lot of audiobooks (not my own) and have a keen interest in outdoor exploration and travel, which I wish I had more time for!
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’ve only been in the audiobook business for a few months but so far I’ve been lucky enough to get a range of really great books by some excellent authors. They have been in the Crime/Thriller/Mystery genre mostly and I try to capture the atmosphere of the writing in my voice. I enjoy building up to tense, crucial moments, as well as dialogue by villains/antagonists.
I would say that my latest release White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl showcases this ‘atmospheric’ nature most, with the truly evil antagonist Dr. David Galbraith giving an opportunity to create some really scary scenes. It was a challenge to switch between the doctor’s disturbed, warped perspective in the narrative to that of the family he chooses to prey upon and the struggles they face, but I’m pleased with the overall outcome.
What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook narrator? What has been your most difficult moment?:
Again, White is the Coldest Colour would be the answer to both of these questions. I found myself having to leave the vocal booth for some time out at certain parts, as John Nicholl has done such an excellent job at getting the grim reality and true horror of the subject of child abuse onto paper. Reading it aloud and trying to keep a steady performance of the text was difficult at times, but there was a great sense of achievement reading the final chapter, which is an emotional and unexpected climax.
Also most of the characters in it are Welsh. That was tricky.
If you were to create a narrating playlist, what artists and songs would be on it?
I often listen to music to get me in the mood for narrating and while warming up. With White is the Coldest Colour I had a lot of Procol Harum and David Bowie spinning on the record player, and I wish copyright restrictions would have allowed us to end the audiobook with Bowie’s Life On Mars fading in after the dramatic ending!
Otherwise listening to Bob Dylan singing Hurricane, Joey, Black Diamond Bay, Idiot Wind, etc. always get’s me warmed up for telling stories. Elton John’s early albums are full of great stories too. Or from this century, Damien Rice.
You are hosting a dinner party and must invite 3 famous people (real or fictional). Who would you choose and why?
Elton John, as I imagine he’d bring quite a magnificent gift with him.
Shakespeare, because I just want to know if he genuinely wrote the plays or if it was the Earl of Oxford. I don’t know whether to believe Ian McKellen or Derek Jacobi on that one, but my heart wants to think it was the humble glove maker’s son from Stratford.
And ‘Saint John the Divine’, author of The Book of Revelation, because I want to know what he was smoking when he wrote all that stuff.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another narrator?
Eat apples in breaks between narrating. I think Jim Dale said that in an interview. I don’t know why, but do it, it works.
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?:
Usually I just ask for accents. The most helpful thing is a full list of characters and their accents, or to be given free reign.
Notes don’t come less helpful than ‘I’m getting a lot of “blues and greens” from your performance, try giving me more “reds and oranges”.’ I imagine this was an abstract way of saying ‘use a warmer sounding voice’ but who knows.
How do you flesh out how a specific character will sound?:
I just get a picture in my head of the character and read the line as them. With accents I might work on it for a while but usually it just comes out as I imagine the character, and I refine it before the final recording.
How long do you record at a time, on average? What is it about a book that will shorten or lengthen this?:
I generally do between 1 hour and 3 hours in a sitting, and vary the number of sittings with how I feel, which often depends on how much I’ve eaten. Too much, and I know I’ll sound sluggish, so I’ll leave it a while and get on with some other work. I generally do the last sections of books in day-long stints, sometimes until 2am, until it’s done and I’m happy with it, as I know I won’t be able to get the same atmosphere in my voice the following morning.
What is your favorite genre to narrate? Why?:
Horror. It’s just fun, I can really embrace my creepiest voices and just run with it. I’m looking forward to getting started on the sequel to The Sick House very soon.
What has been your favorite character? What character has given you the most grief?:
James, an archetypal butler from The Cryptic Lines was a joy to narrate. As a character actor I have most fun with distinctive ‘big’ characters.
More down to earth characters can be hard, especially if they have similar accents and you have to somehow distinguish between them. The police characters from White is the Coldest Colour probably gave me most grief with this.
How do you stop yourself from laughing or crying at some of the things authors write?:
I don’t, I just get it all out and delete the recording. Usually I’m laughing at my own mistakes, as accidentally replacing words with ridiculous alternatives happens a fair bit.
I have heard that many in the industry dislike the term narrator. What do you prefer and why?:
Narrator is perfectly fine, and describes what we do, so I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with it!
How do you view audiobook narration/production: Art or Science?:
Narration is mostly art, production is mostly science. But performing in a recording environment has a lot of technical issues involved, and editing something inartistically can have dreadful results.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring narrators?:
Listen to audiobooks. I wouldn’t start narrating until you’ve listened to 100 books, ranging from terrible to award winning. I guess it’s like the best writers are the ones that read the most.
Do you believe that listening to an audiobook should be considered reading? Why or why not?:
Absolutely, 100%. You’re getting the same information, but in a different way. I find it more personal and engaging to listen to books. Other people prefer reading with their eyes, which is fine, but it REALLY grinds my gears when people dismiss audiobooks when they haven’t given them a chance. I read books too, but usually only if they’re informational or not available as an audiobook.
Are you working on any special projects?:
The script for Medicine For The Dead, sequel of The Sick House is currently staring at me, waiting to be highlighted and have notes scribbled all over it. Can’t wait to get started narrating it!
- Horror, SciFi, Thriller and More Audiobook Release Day September 19, 2017 - September 19, 2017
- Horror, SciFi, Thriller and More Audiobook Release Day September 12, 2017 - September 12, 2017
- Featured: Summer of 68 by Kevin Millikin - September 8, 2017
- Featured: Buried Secrets (Cavanaugh House Book 2) by Elizabeth Meyette - September 7, 2017
- Horror, SciFi, Thriller and More Audiobook Release Day September 5, 2017 - September 5, 2017