You’re an audio book narrator. How’d you get into that?
This is a question which I am asked on a regular basis. The best answer is that this has been a process. I began acting on the stage as a young man appearing in high school and college theater. Later, I would be active in church theater – not only acting, but writing, directing, and producing.
When I retired from the work world, I purposed to go into narration work, which is really acting. Initially, I thought I would work the over-all world of “voice over” – books, commercials, documentaries, etc. I set up a studio in my master bedroom closet (thanks to my wife!) and began auditioning for jobs. However, I quickly found out that I really enjoyed narrating books more than anything. I was fortunate in that I knew three authors in the Chattanooga area and they trusted me with their books. So, in my first year, I recorded four books for these three authors. Those titles are currently available for download on the web.
Why is narrating books your preferred form of “voice over”?
Narrating books is an acting job unlike any other. Usually an actor is just one piece of the puzzle for a larger narrative. As the narrator, I get to put my own stamp on the book I’m reading. I not only play all the characters in the book, but I get to shape the overall narrative within the author’s vision.
This is a huge challenge, particularly for a book with a lot of characters in it. For each character, I must decide on a sound, an accent, a cadence for their speech and deliver it consistently from one page to the next.
How do you make those decisions?
I start by reading the entire book. As I read, I take notes on the characters. What do they look like? How does the author describe their vocal characteristics? Are their characteristics portrayed in the dialogue? Do the characters grow? How? How do the characters interact with each other? I also review the overall narrative for special passages which make require additional work. For instance, an action sequence may need a faster paced delivery than the description of a setting.
How much rehearsal do you do before going into the studio?
Very little, usually. I will re-read a section or chapter before I go into the studio just to refresh my memory of the events, characters, situations, and phrasing in that chapter. If I have a character with a thick, foreign accent, or a difficult to execute passage, I will rehearse that speech in front of the microphone to hear how it will sound before I start recording. But, I have found that my initial read is usually spot on. However, in reviewing the recording, I don’t hesitate to change something I don’t like.
What is the difference between recording a novel and a devotional book as you did for Patti J. Smith?
In some ways, not much. In both, you are telling the author’s story. For a novel, there are characters and situations which demand re-enacting. For a devotional book, there is still a story to be told; a personal journey from point A to point B in someone’s life. However, since the story is personal, it is important to tell it with a compassionate and caring tone - much like a counselor talking with a client.
Tell us about the books you’ve recorded to date. Do you have a favorite?
Well, I have 21 titles in my repertoire at this point, with more coming. I have recorded eight full-length novels – from romance to action/adventure to mystery. I have recorded five collections of amazing poetry by a Tennessee poet, Regina Puckett. I’ve recorded six short novels for Helping Hands Press as well your devotional book.
Can I claim a favorite? Not really. Each is special in its own way.
Tell us a little about these full-length novels.
The full-length novels represent the work of six different authors.
Regina Puckett penned a pair of sweet romance novels centered around the characters which were in her home town of Murfreesboro, TN. In both, her protagonist falls in love – unwillingly – with an unlikely partner. This is the Warren family series: Concealed in My Heart and Songs That I Whisper.
Jerry Minchew penned a pair of action/adventure novels with a bit of science fiction and romance in them. A twin boy is abducted as a baby from home in Minnesota and raised by “parents” in southern Alabama. He joins the Air Force in hopes of finding his real family. Jerry’s story is of searching for self and identity and belonging. The series is called Knighthawke.
Michael Miller wrote a pair of action/adventure novels about a boy with a brain of a different stripe. Danny is able to read people’s subconscious thoughts. As a boy, he has to learn to deal with this phenomenon. As an adult, he has to learn how to make this difference count for the people around him. The Sixth Lobe and Born to Matter are filled with interesting characters and all varieties of action.
Seasons of Change, by Michael Gardner, is a dystopian novel of a collapsed society which takes place in my stomping grounds – Chattanooga and the mid-South area. It’s a story of survival and explores the meaning of freedom.
Finally, Non-Prophet Murders by Becky Wooley, is a murder mystery set amidst church politics and other goings-on. Ministers are being killed and one of the intended victims must help determine who the culprit might be.
All of these novels and the poetry I mentioned earlier are available at audible.com. Just go to my web-site: narrationbygeorge.com to find more on any of these titles.
But you have one other full-length novel you haven’t mentioned yet.
Yes. I have also recorded a new version of A Christmas Carol. This is the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his redemption from his miserly ways. This was a lot of fun to do. His characters are so much fun. For the first time, I used fellow actor, Trish Horner, to record the female parts of this book.
In the production, you’ll find music, sound-effects, and lots of fun. That book’s available for download at CD Baby. Again, just go to my web-site to find out more.
What have you worked on for Helping Hands Press?
Helping Hands Press has given me the chance to work on a variety of short novels as well as your devotional book.
I have recorded two of Murray Pura’s western shorts, Wells Fargo Express: The Desperate Road and The Painted Sky: Rio Oro. Both of these feature great tales of colorful personalities of the old West.
I also recorded the first of Tracy Krauss’ Neighbors series, New in the Neighborhood. You can’t resist the story of a country rancher moving to the big city to look after his little sister. Tracy tells of some interesting characters and introduced me a whole new dialect which I never knew existed!
Just released is Michele Huey’s Fifth Wheel: Gracie’s Gift. Imagine selling the homestead and taking off travelling. That’s her premise.
And I recorded two Christmas books this year. Anne Baxter Campbell’s story, Once Upon a Christmas Eve, is a story of a teen who learns a little about herself and the season.
Amber Schamel wrote The Swaddling Clothes surmising the origin of Jesus’ first garments.
Of course, I have also recorded your devotional on forgiveness, A Mended Heart: Rosary Meditations on Forgiveness. What a powerful little book! (Note from Patti: Aw shucks!)
Again, information on all of these titles is available at my web-site: narrationbygeorge.com
Is there anything else you have done or would like to do in your “voice over” career?
At some point, I would love to do animation voices. I have lent my voice for a now defunct channel, The Christ Clubhouse Channel, and would love the opportunity to expand into that genre more.
You’ve been busy! Any last words you wish to share with us.
When I started working in this field, I made the determination that I would only work on projects which I could point to and say that God was, in some way, glorified. That remains my goal. I wish help to strengthen and glorify the community of Christ.
Are you on social media? How would someone contact you?