How to Contact
Jeffrey on Twitter
Voice Range: Baritone to soft female, and even elderly male/female as needed.
Accents: A wee bit of Irish, and a good deal of broken German along with some British brogue. I like to use my Louisiana Cajun drawl in a pinch as well.
Genres: Horror (my all-time fave), Suspense, Murder/Mystery, Comedy, Non-fiction documentary, and Sci-Fi
Fluent Languages: Primarily English…it’s tough enough
Awards: None that are noteworthy, but through continued hard work and determination, I hope that will change soon
Tell us a little about yourself (Your bio).
After over a decade in radio broadcasting I matriculated to voice-over-artist as a career, while still maintaining a full-time job as a certified personal fitness trainer. I must say my quest to find a new challenge when I set out in voice acting did not disappoint me in the least. Over the past 9 months I have had the privilege to work with some amazing authors, while producing 8 books (including 1 full length novel). It has been quite a ride to say the least. I currently live in rural southeast Kansas with my youngest son and other two boyz (Ollie and Floyd) whom some people may refer to as dogs.
I workout throughout the week while maintaining the best physical state of mind I’ve had since my early twenties. I’m now 55, and feel that being physically solid only enhances my mental and auditory skills.
How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?
Actually my girlfriend Tiffany encouraged me to pursue it. She originally bought me a membership to Audible.com to try it out, and I researched just how some of these voice over artists got these gigs and eventually I learned about ACX.com providing the marketplace for writers and voice talents to meet and develop a business relationship.
What do you do when you are not narrating?
I’m a personal fitness trainer, so I enjoy bodybuilding. I don’t consider myself a “meat head” by any means, but I would consider myself to be in above average shape for my age. Otherwise I like to go fishing, and spending time with my girlfriend, family, and just hanging out with my “inner circle”.
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?
My work is primarily showcased through Audible.com and Amazon, plus with iTunes as well. As far as big hurdles? I think the greatest learning curve for me was learning to read again. It may sound rather odd to say that, but I have a slight learning difficulty that dates back to early childhood. So the aspect of re-learning to read has been a big hurdle for me. But I’m not going to allow it to hold me back or limit me in any way.
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’ve been very fortunate up to this point, in the fact that I have been able to pick and choose for the most part. Naturally I have to audition for the voice of the book, but I would never have dreamed that I would be able to get the offer from the authors that I’ve worked with so far. Now, I would love to go after as many titles as possible, but working full-time as a fitness trainer kind of limits me in that respect.
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?
My voice is pretty unique, so I’ve been told. I would say it’s smooth and soothing for the most part. I guess being involved in radio broadcasting gives me a slight edge so to speak. As far as my best work? I really think they should listen to “MEAT: A Vampire Novella” by Michael Bray, who is a fabulous author of scary stories. In the UK he is pretty much known as the Scream King.
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?
Generally my book deals are for a royalty split with the author. I usually prefer them that way for this reason: If I believe a royalty split is the most beneficial choice for me, then I know I’ve made the right decision in choosing to pursue that book as a producer for the long-term residual earnings, instead of a one-time up-front payment deal. But conversely speaking, it’s nice if you can land a “stip-end” deal too. Then you get paid a certain amount of money per finished hour of audio work, in addition to also earning royalty split compensation as well. Kinda like having your cake and eating it too. I haven’t really had a book that I wished I would have been paid up front instead of the royalty split option, but eventually it might happen.
What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook narrator? What has been your most difficult moment?
I think so far it’s been completing my full length novel of “The Punished” by well-known horror author Peter Meredith. That was really cool to be a part of that production. The most difficult moment? Without a doubt it was when my beloved mother passed away just shortly after my first book was published and available for sale. She was not only my #1 fan, but also my idol. But due to her failing health, she never got to hear my work. I had to take a couple of months off from doing any kind of voice acting, or really much of anything for that matter. Now I dedicate any and all of my future successes in her memory.
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 have several, but since this box can only hold so many…here are a handful of my very favorites: Scott Brick (he’s incredible), Craig Wassom (another super talented guy), R.C. Bray (amazing ability), Ray Porter (everything he does is golden), George Newbern (his efforts in A Man Called Ove was phenomenal). Again these guys are just a handful, there are many others that have made a huge impact on me as well.
What is your favorite thing to do? Pastime, hobby, obsession, etc.
I love to workout/bodybuilding. It’s been a huge part of my entire life, and even more so now in this past decade, since I’ve been doing the personal fitness trainer gig during the days. Otherwise hobbies? I’d have to say going fishing is pretty awesome too. How can you not hear the Andy Griffith theme song when you’re walking down towards the waters edge? Right? My family and inner circle will always be my obsession.
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?
Yeah, occasionally they will send specific requests about a characters voice or the particular mood or setting of a certain scene. It just depends on the author from my experiences. I think a helpful note might be something like “hey this guy has been carrying around this grudge over this girl for a long time, and he’s burdened with remorse”. A not so helpful note may sound like “That doesn’t sound right back in Chapter 1 when he said this”…the problem with that is you’re now working on say Chapter 15 at that point…not a really helpful thing then.
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 do have a ritual of sorts. I like to read the book lying down in bed. I’m more relaxed and my mind is more receptive then. Prolly has something to do with blood flow…I dunno. Anyway, I definitely do mark-up my pages. I use several different colors of ink pens and underline the characters lines to differentiate one from the other. Also, I make little notations about the characters based on what they say and how I envision them to look like even if the author hasn’t given a physical description up to that point.
How do you flesh out how a specific character will sound?
Again, it goes back to conversations they have with other characters during the book. I perceive how I think they should sound initially, but its not always the voice that I give them when I start recording. I usually like to sleep on it before I establish a voice right off the bat.
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?
Yes my studio is in my home, my bedroom to be exact. I think the advantage is that I can go to work anytime I feel creative when its in my home. the only main disadvantage for me is the distractions from the neighbors (I live in an apartment complex) so it can get rather noisy sometimes. The uniqueness of my setup is simply that I can lounge in my underwear while sipping coffee and still be creative.
What is the atmosphere like in your studio when you record. What’s it like, and are things very serious or not very serious?
Overall its very laid back. I turn out all the lights except for the clip-on lamp inside my work station (which is constructed of PVC pipe and egg shell foam mattress covers draped on top of the frame, along with a couple of heavy blankets for sound proofing) its pretty high-tech. The dark ambiance allows me to concentrate more I think. That, and it allows Floyd (my beagle) to snore unabated on the bed. I would have to say overall its not very serious, unless the story line calls for it to be.
How long do you record at a time, on average? What is it about a book that will shorten or lengthen this?
Generally, I try to limit myself to no more than 30-35 minutes at a time. Even though that’s not etched in stone, I feel i’m more productive staying with that formula. If it’s a lengthy book with longer chapters then I will make a concession. I have a rule to always finish any chapter I start in the same recording session.
What is your favorite genre to narrate? Why?
I love horror stories, always have since I was a little kid. I’ve been a gigantic fan of Stephen King for years, he’s truly the master. I think that horror stories evoke so many different emotions within us as we listen to them. There is really only one other activity that would even come close to that, and we can’t talk about that right now 🙂
What has been your favorite character? What character has given you the most grief?
I suppose if I had to pick one it would be Curt in “The Punished”. He is such an curious, likable kid in the story, and he’s been through hell in his personal life that you can’t help but root for him deep down. The one that’s given me the most grief would probably be Lee the Biker in “MEAT: A Vampire Novella”. I say that only because Lee is the prototypical tough guy biker type, but deep down he’s a devoted loving father, and a pretty good guy for the most part. I had mixed emotions bringing him to life in the book. You’ll have to listen and decide for yourself. It’s available on Audible.com right now.
How do you stop yourself from laughing or crying at some of the things authors write?
At times its virtually impossible. You do all you can do to stay in character, and when that fails…that’s why they make great editing software. LOL
I have heard that many in the industry dislike the term narrator. What do you prefer and why?
My preference is Voice-Over Artist. The main reason is that I feel those in our chosen profession should be considered an artist for their skills and the performance they provide. The term narrator sounds too stuffy and limited to me…but that’s just my opinion.
How do you view audiobook narration/production: Art or Science?
I believe it is a combination of both. It is certainly an art, as it takes artistic ability to unleash it. And without a doubt there is a scientific formula involved in each production, when the producer must decide how to paint the picture for the eyes and ears of our listeners.
Do you have a philosophy of how to create the perfect audiobook experience?
I feel we as artists are obligated to paint that mental image for the listener. I feel as long as we can reach that goal, the listeners experience will be greatly enhanced. It would be in their judgement if they truly felt it was perfect.
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 prefer to read fiction for the most part. And yes, I think I would have to say it would be my preference to listen to in an audiobook, mainly because fiction books have the ability to teeter-totter on the fence post of fact or fiction without you really knowing for sure.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring narrators?
Try not to listen to anyone who try to dissuade you from achieving your goals or worse yet, stealing your dreams. Practice a lot. Even if you’re in the car. Listen to your delivery and compare it to the cadence of others that you hear on audio books, but find your own style and niche in your pursuit of voicing audio books. It’s an amazing gift to have, and even more amazing to share it with everyone else. You will succeed no matter what hurdles you’re faced with if you want it bad enough.
What has been your favorite project and why?
I have really enjoyed my last audio book “Meat: A Vampire Novella”.
First off, I love the story. I think the author Michael Bray is a genius when it comes to horror. He knows how to push you just enough, and then he eases up a bit to give you false hope that maybe its over after all. And then without warning, he rips you’re freaking heart out! I love it. If you like scary stories with a good plot then this book has all that…and more.
The characters in the story were challenging, but fun to bring to life at the same time. I found myself on a white knuckle ride when I narrated and produced it…I hope the listeners will enjoy it as well.
Do you believe that listening to an audiobook should be considered reading? Why or why not?
I think it should. As I mentioned early on in this interview, I have struggled my entire life with that learning difficulty, especially when it came to reading. I know without a doubt that listening to audio books before I started voice acting these books has improved my reading skills and memory retention as well. Everyone has their own opinion, and that’s the way it should be, but I’m a firm believer in that way of thinking.
Are you working on any special projects?
My latest project is a horror story…surprised aren’t you?!
It’s entitled “Dollhouse” and it’s written by Tim Miller, who is another renown author in the horror genre as well. So I’m super excited about bringing it to life for all our listeners. It’s a really cool, creepy story that I think will be a great book when it’s finished (hopefully before Christmas) if all goes right.
Have you ever gotten a poor review on your narration? What do you do with such reviews?
Oh yeah. In fact I had one lady that ripped me up one side and down the other relentlessly. I was beginning to wonder if she was an ex-girlfriend or something. Honestly, I use any negative review as a positive thing moving forward. As much as you don’t want to agree with them, you still have to realize it is their opinion, and it’s valid to them. Which means that you as a voice over artist have to improve in whatever fashion. So, even though i don’t like them, I use them as a sounding board for future improvements.
How do you feel about authors that choose to narrate their own audiobooks? Any advice to them?
I don’t have a problem with that. If an author is also blessed with the ability to be a vocal artist as well, more power to them. But at the same time…I would rather they stay busy and focused on writing more great books so guys like me could have a shot at them LOL
What would I consider to be the greatest award I could receive?
I think Newcomer of the Year would be really cool. To me that’s basically like the Rookie of the Year in the NFL. Pretty impressive to be mentioned with some of the greatest vocal talents on the planet.
- Featured: The Survivors (A Glen Haven Tale Book 1) by Michael Breakfield - February 12, 2019
- Featured: Master of Hounds (Pickmen Files Book 1) by C. Steven Manley - January 29, 2019
- Black Soul Rising: From the Taldano Files by S. A. Ison - January 24, 2019
- Featured: The Freedman (Tales From a Revolution Series – North Carolina Book 9) by Lars D. H. Hedbor - January 23, 2019
- Featured: Why She Left Us by David Dennis - January 15, 2019