Narrator: Pamela Almand
Voice Range: From a low almost-bass to more moderate….to a high falsetto…but my normal speaking voice is low-pitched, and deeper and richer than the usual woman’s voice.
Accents: My forte is the so-called neutral American English…but with a Mom from south Georgia, a Dad from Colorado ranchland, and travels all over the world, I can do fairly wide variety of character accents…. but would not feel comfortable doing an entire book in, say, a Dutch accent!
Genres: Pretty much everything, but I don’t feel my voice is much suited for a pre-teen protagonist so I don’t do much YA. And I don’t do hard-core erotica…(“soft”-core yes, but under a pen name…er…”mic”-name??? Which I will not reveal here in case my Mom’s reading!)
Fluent Languages: English…and southern
A smattering of Spanish and Japanese (used to do the announcements from the cockpit on Tokyo flights in Japanese and boy, would it throw the Japanese businessmen to hear a female voice saying…”this is your captain speaking”…in Japanese!)
Awards: I have not submitted my work to the awards groups (kinda rubs me the wrong way to have to pay to submit to them!) though I was the voice of the Florida ADDY Awards..(and they paid ME!)…but I have been featured in a number of media affairs, most of which mean very little!
Featured Silver Inner Circle Talent
Featured on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room
Profiled on Jacksonville Magazine, Beaches Leader, Beach Life, Tokyo Aviation publications, Kappa Kappa Gamma magazine, and various radio and television talk shows across the US.
Tell us a little about yourself (Your bio).
Here’s a great interview by one of my authors! http://adbl.co/1WA224p
I’m a former international 747 pilot for Northwest Airlines-turned-narrator!
The daughter of a cattle rancher in Colorado, I graduated Colorado State University with a degree in …art! After I took my first flying lesson, I was hooked, and the graphic design degree gathered dust. There were no female airline pilots then and it took a few years after college to see that hurdle overcome but I never looked back, and flew internationally my entire career.
A chance invitation to do a national Tylenol commercial for TV in 1995 led to a few more, then some narration of aviation videos and training programs and when I quit flying, I built a professional recording studio and now record for clients all over the world…without the jet lag!
How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?
I have always loved reading (in fact, got a B instead of an A in second grade because my teacher said I read TOO much) so it was logical for me after I built my recording studio and started working fulltime as a voiceover talent.
I love discovering the story along with my listeners and since I don’t have an acting background, I’ve enjoyed the storytelling aspect. But I’ve also been coached by the absolute best: Johnny Heller, Carol Monda, Patrick Fraley, Paul Ruben, Marc Cashman, and many other talents who share their skills.
What do you do when you are not narrating?
I have a full-time voiceover business doing TV and radio commercials, phone messaging systems, e-learning narration, medical, industrial, and technical narration, and even videogame voices!
That sort of thing is far more lucrative than audiobooks…but audiobooks are a lot more fun!
In my out-of-the-studio time, I love to travel, play piano, snow ski, play golf…and read, of course!
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?
If you’re in Monaco, I am the English-speaking voice for The Hotels and Casinos of Monte Carlo; if you’re in insurance, you’ll talk with me at Zurich and at US Assure…if you’re an insomniac and want to smooth some love handles, watch the cable networks around 2am or so and hear my long-running infomercial on the CamiShaper!
My clients include Sony, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations, Canadian Realtors, American Red Cross, US Veteran’s Admin, Dell, Amazon, Publix, and others across the globe.
IMHO, audiobooks- at least fiction- are more difficult since I have to go from character to character, female to male, and remember the nuances of each one’s voice over 8-12 hours of audio!
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 don’t do as many as I’d like, simply because of the economics of it. I can do a 50,000-word video narration for $5000… or I can do a 90,000 word audiobook for $2000-$3000. Hmmmmmm….
But there are always slow times and as I said, I really do love doing audiobooks so during slack times I’ll do a book, and I’ll make time for a book or character I really truly love.
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 been told my voice is smooth and easy to listen to…I like to give personality and character to each voice without going over the top; more suggesting the person rather than trying to “be” that person.
Usually I like my latest work best, as I would hope that I’ve always learned from each! Peak Season is my most recent book, by Jeff Widmer, and I love his gal CW McCoy!
One of the most challenging books is also a fairly new release, Com To Me Alive, a contemporary Christian romance by Leah Atwood. In it, I have to sing, both as a male country-western star, as his girlfriend…and then in a duet featuring both of them!! And although I play the piano…I can’t sing worth a flip!
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?
Audiobooks usually are paid on a “per finished hour” basis, ranging from $150-$400 (so I’ve heard..I’ve never gotten over $250!) and some are royalty-only (I don’t do those). I really prefer a combination of a smaller per finished hour rate ($100-200) plus a share of the royalties.
Who knows…if the books becomes a blockbuster, the checks get bigger! And that also gives me incentive to promote the books and my authors, which I really enjoy doing!
What do you see as your greatest achievement as an audiobook narrator? What has been your most difficult moment?
Probably getting thru the singing parts on Come To Me Alive! To answer both questions! As a side note to that, the name of the book is a song and the author wrote lyrics, but when I asked her if she had a tune in mind, she responded, “I’m just the author, I’m not a musician!”… so I got a friend of mine to write beautiful melody for it and all he got was mention in the credits! So thanks to Hank Isaacs for his music!
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?
My coach, Carol Monda, is one of my favs, also, of course, Scott Brick, who also gets to narrate some of my favorite authors! Grover Gardner has such a wonderfully distinctive voice that I love, and Johnny Heller, another of my coaches, has a great voice with a special sense of humor he conveys so well.
What is your favorite thing to do? Pastime, hobby, obsession, etc.
The list of places I still want to travel to gets longer the more places I go!
And I can absolutely lose myself in playing the piano for hours.
Love to ski, love Telluride, Colorado, love to golf, and bike, and hike!
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?
James Bond… actually although I love Sean Connery, Daniel Craig would be my choice now! (Being younger, he’s probably better able to rescue me…and comfort me afterward with a great martini!)
If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?
WARNING: High Risk, subject to fits of insecurity between dreams of jumping off a craggy peak in a flying suit
Care to share an awkward fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your narration/acting…..or one where you were gushing over another narrator/actor’s work?
Hmmmm…all I can think of is years ago in a crowded airport tram when a woman looked at me and screeched, “You’re the underwear girl! You really ARE a pilot!” All conversation stopped and every eye turned to me and my burning red face.
I had done an on-camera national Tylenol spot as a real female pilot…about the same time an ad came out for Jockey underwear with a woman in a pilot uniform, NOT ME!
What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?
There are just so many….
What is the first book you remember reading on your own? What do you remember most about the experience?
My folks used to read to us from the Big Red Children’s Book of Stories (although I’m sure that wasn’t the real name of it!) and I loved finally being able to read those. I read early as a child, and credit Mom and Dad with that. I think I was reading Nancy Drew in first grade.
You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?
Definitely Mitch Rapp… Vince Flynn’s amazing creation of a hunk. Libation? Of course!! Margarita on the rocks, no salt…or Prosecco with a drop of cranberry. And, depending on the obstacles…a shot of tequila for courage!
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?
I really appreciate writers giving me their take on what they imagine their characters sound like. And I do enjoy getting to know my authors a little. Sometims I hav no contact at all with them and I miss that!
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?
Yes, I do read and annotate, with highlights of different color, added notes, etc. and I’ll occasionally record a few sentences by each major character in a separate audio clip if they don’t appear regularly in the book, so I can refer to it if needed.
How do you flesh out how a specific character will sound?
Just as you may have an image of a character in your mind (sometimes different than the movie version and what a letdown!) I get an image of the character speaking. I then “flesh it out” or even completely change it!- as I go thru the book and note any descriptive phrases…or find out in the last chapter that the guy was a closet Russian spy! 🙂
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 is on the second floor of my home (had to have an engineer do calculations to make sure it wouldn’t come crashng down thru my living room ceiling since the 5 walls are 8″” thick, as is the floor and ceiling and it weighs thousands of pounds!)
Advantages: I can jump out of bed, brush my teeth and record in my jammies at any hour of the ay or night (great for my European and Asian clients who need it “”right now!””) Disadvantages: I can record in my jammies…if I’m really getting into something I’ll realize at 5pm that I still have not showered or eaten! Gross, I know!
What is the atmosphere like in your studio when you record. What’s it like, and are things very serious or not very serious?
I love it! And since I’m my own sound engineer and production “”guy”” it can be serious or not, my choice!
I do miss going into a studio with a director and engineer, though. I like the back and forth and I really love working with a good director. And I used to fly all over the world to do so, and still do sometimes, but the vast majority is in my own studio.
How long do you record at a time, on average? What is it about a book that will shorten or lengthen this?
It varies with how “into” the story I am. But I do try to take water breaks every hour and stand and stretch, sipping water often in between. Books with a lot of difficult pronunciations or accents are more tiring for me. And I like to break up non-fiction more often to keep it fresh.
What is your favorite genre to narrate? Why?
Same as my favorite reads…mystery/thrillers! I’d love to do some of Patricia Cornwell’s books, or Lisa Scottolini (many male authors don’t use female narrators since they don’t usually write female protagonists…Jeff Widmer’s a great exception and I love him for giving me CW McCoy!)
What has been your favorite character? What character has given you the most grief?
My most recent, CW (Candace) McCoy! Although I’ve also loved Sophie Thatcher in Come To Me Alive- she’s the 2nd most difficult so far since she had to sing!! (Most difficult was singing as her boyfriend Bryce Landry)
Kelli Carpenter of What’s In A Name was difficult because she was intentionally changing her personality as a disguise in her flight from the bad guys.
Tempest (Tess) Crawford of Heather Justesen’s Sweet Bites Mysteries series was fun because she has some of my same fears and loves and wry humor. But golly, dead bodies just follow the gal everywhere!!!
How do you stop yourself from laughing or crying at some of the things authors write?
I don’t! I usually have to edit them out! 🙂 Unless, of course, the sobs and chuckles are because of the story and not because of the horrid writing! That’s the good thing about being able to choose my books…..I’ve seen some that are truly awful…but I haven’t narrated them!
I have heard that many in the industry dislike the term narrator. What do you prefer and why?
Voiceover talent, voice actor… more people at least know what a narrator is and does.
How do you view audiobook narration/production: Art or Science?
At its best, a unique combination of both!
Do you have a philosophy of how to create the perfect audiobook experience?
If I can get personally involved in narrating a story so that I lose track of time (“”in th zone””, as it were) as much as I do when I’m reading the book, I think and hope that the listener will be happy, too.
I hope to someday achieve for my listeners the fascination I feel when I’m listening to MY favorite narrators…and find myself sitting in the garage listening until the car runs out of gas!
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?
Definitely! I love mystery/thrillers a la Baldacci, Flynn, Grisham, Scottolini, etc. etc. but I also really enjoy non-fiction because I always learn a ton!
Non-fiction, to me, is easier to narrate because I don’t have to develop the different voices. Also easier when I can feel the sam passion the author feels for his subject matter.
But those thrillers…so much fun!
Do you have any advice for other aspiring narrators?
First LOVE books and reading! Learn from good coaches, especially if like me, you don’t have an acting background. Definitely a plus if you do, although I’ve heard some narrators with tons of acting experience over-dramatize their reads.
What has been your favorite project and why?
Each is different…as far as audiobooks, Peak Season’s my favorite, but Come To Me Alive made me feel really good since I’m a Christian and really enjoy doing books that express that!
Do you believe that listening to an audiobook should be considered reading? Why or why not?
Nope. (oops, just probably lost a few royalties) I love the look of the written word and so value my parents’ teaching us to love reading. For kids, it is a tremendous help to them in learning to write and to speak well and widen their vocabularies. There’s no substitute for reading.
For me as an adult, I love audiobooks, of course! But I also read very rapidly and sometimes I get impatient listening to an audiobook if I’m short on time. Fortunately, there’s beauty in both formats for very different reasons!
Are you working on any special projects?
One fun, unusual, on-going project is coming up! There’s a neighborhood that has an enormous Christmas light display with synchronized music and a radio frequency to which you can tune your car radio to listen…and I narrate snippets between songs, sometimes “The Night Before Christmas”, etc. They always add new songs and make changes. Weird, I know, but I love it, and do it free!
Have you ever gotten a poor review on your narration? What do you do with such reviews?
My very first reviewer said that my voice was so bad she couldn’t finish listening and that it just grated on her ears! That really hurt…until I found out that most narrators have gotten nasties every once in awhile.
BUT..I’ve learned from reviewers, too, and always try to take their sincere comments to heart!
How do you feel about authors that choose to narrate their own audiobooks? Any advice to them?
It’s a lot harder than you think!! That said, many do a great job, since they are obviously passionate about their work.
How long does it take??
This is from my own studio and doing everything myself:
After I’ve read the book initially and marked it up, (an extra few hours minimum over the nornal reading time), researched any words, accents, or pronunciations I’m not familiar with (varies); recorded the opening/closing credits and narration (generally 1.5 to 2 hours for every hour of punch-recorded audio); saved everything in raw .wav format; edited breaths, plosives, mouth noises, clicks, timings, and, of course, mistakes (usually 2-4 hours per finished hour); saved again in rough edit; normalized, finished and mastered each chapter and credits after adding a music bed if desired; and finally saving everything as master .wav files then converting them to .mp3 files…doing a final listen-thru and uploading them…..
…then doing any corrections the author may have found and re-uploading (varies)……. !!
I do love recording at the publisher’s studio since the engineer does the editing, finishing and mastering, and a great director makes you read wonderfully… and catches your mistakes when you don’t!! But it still is about 2 hours of recording time for every finished hour, not counting reading the book, but usually the directors do the research and have the resources for it.