Last week I blogged about my maiden voyage into the audiobook world. This week I’m interviewing Laura Bretz, narrator and producer extraordinaire, and the voice of Rescuing Lacey.
Welcome Laura, Why don’t you start by telling us a little something about yourself.
Hi! I’m Laura Bretz – a 24 year old living in south central Pennsylvania. I love reading, singing, being on stage when I can and playing games with my friends. I’m also an author of a handful of books that is continually growing so I’m usually pretty busy!
Sounds like you’re a Jackie-of-all-trades! What do you look for when choosing a book to audition for?
First of all, the book has to be something that is well written. There’s no sense in reading a book with terrible sentences, poor editing or full of horrendous cliches. The conversation between characters also needs to be logical. Awkward phrases absolutely destroy a good story. It also has to be a genre that my voice fits into. You can generally tell all of these things just by reading the brief audition script. For every 10 books I would look at, I will typically only “save” one of them to try to audition for later.
Do you prefer fiction over non-fiction? Do you have a favorite genre?
I absolutely prefer fiction stories. There haven’t been many non-fiction books that I’ve read strictly for entertainment purposes that have really struck my interest enough to record them. I’m always open for the opportunity, though! For now, I don’t have a favorite genre to read as I’m still relatively new in the audiobook producing (i.e. narrating) business but my voice really lends itself to romance novels.
I’ll say! You have a lovely, silky voice. Just one of the many reasons I loved your audition so much! How long does it take to narrate a book?
It really depends on the length of the book. The last book I recorded, Rescuing Lacey, was approximately 260 pages and it took me roughly two months to record and edit it. I spend about 4-8 hours on the project for 5-6 days a week. It takes some serious time and dedication.
Wow! That’s a lot of hours. What’s your process and preparation? Do you read the entire book first, make notes? Do you do any independent research?
I read the chapter over two or more times, check out any of the words I’m unsure about, make notes and then go from there. If I need to see what the place is that’s being mentioned or a specific “voice” I need to hear, I’ll absolutely research it as much as I can. I like to know what I’m talking about because if you know it, then it absolutely translates through in your voice. The listener can hear if something is genuine. That believability is my job.
Rescuing Lacey has several emotionally-charged scenes. How do you deal with highly emotional scenes?
You have to “feel” it otherwise it’s fake. I make myself become the people I’m reading, so that feeling is even stronger when the scene is emotional. During a particularly moving scene in Rescuing Lacey, I was definitely tearing up as I was reading it. It makes the entire process easier, believe it or not. The aftermath is a bit harder to deal with, but it’s nothing some hot tea and a piece of chocolate can’t fix. : )
Chocolate. A girl after my own heart. Do you have your own equipment or do you use a studio?
I currently just use my own equipment. It’s nothing fancy, but it works!
How did you get into audiobook narration and production?
I’ve been part of the theatrical world since I was in 6th grade. My voice has always been very distinct. I worked in various call centers and regularly got complimented on my voice. My boyfriend is an author and suggested I check out ACX.com and maybe audition for a few books just to see what happened. When another friend of mine suggested the same thing, I decided to give it a shot.
Well, I for one, am very glad you did. What background does a narrator need?
I don’t think you really “need” a background at all. If you can read well, speak well, have a pleasant voice to listen to, know how to create different voices, and have tremendous patience, you can accomplish a lot. My background came from an active imagination, the theater, and years of voice lessons. If you don’t have a solid foundation of a good speaking voice, there’s not much else you can do.
What advice would you give aspiring narrators?
Be patient, don’t be too hard on yourself and pay attention to the details. If you have to re-record half of a book because you hated what it sounded like, then you re-record the book. I had to do that for Rescuing Lacey once I was getting around to the final edits. The audio quality was completely wrong and I didn’t like the tone of my voice for the chapters. It was so frustrating to see that work get thrown away, but the final product was so much better because I was patient and diligent with the work.
Not much different from writing a book and having to re-write, or completely discard, scenes and chapters because they don’t work. What do you like to read?
If I’m reading just for fun, I love horror/psychological thrillers, fantasy, sci fi and action. My favorite series of books right now are by Preston and Child; the stories about Pendergast are so addicting. I also love Stephen King – both his old stories and his new ones. Doctor Sleep (one of his newest) was just terrific even if it was a slight departure from his usual stories.
Thanks so much for joining me today, Laura. I’ve enjoyed working with you on Rescuing Lacey and look forward to working with you on future audio productions.
Rescuing Lacey is now available at these fine retailers: