Tuesday Takeover: Book Inspired Careers by Elizabeth Klett

I have two jobs that I love: literature professor and audiobook narrator. Both, of course, are centrally connected to my abiding love of books. And both grew out of my undergraduate experience as a double major in English and Theatre Arts. At the same time that I was learning to read, write about, and love literature of all kinds, I was learning how to become an actor. I never thought back then that I would be able to incorporate all of that training into my everyday life through this dual career.

On the surface, my two jobs probably seem pretty different from each other. And in some ways that’s true. My “day” job means that I teach a pretty wide variety of undergraduate and graduate classes, from surveys of British literature and introductions to literary studies, to courses on Shakespeare (my particular interest), Jane Austen, fairy tales, and African-American women writers. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to teach both in and out of my field of expertise. I also have to do a fair amount of my own writing; I’ve published an academic book and am currently working on a second one, and am constantly writing shorter essays as well. (This takes forever, incidentally; academic writing and publishing moves verrrrryyyyy sloooowwwwly. I’m sure Sarah will have written and published a dozen books by the time my next one is finished!) Audiobook narration, on the other hand, is purely creative, engaging my voice and mind in the service of someone else’s writing. As a narrator, I want to make the listening experience as enjoyable as possible, while also realizing the author’s vision.

Despite these differences, I think both of my jobs draw on many similar skills. At root, both teaching and narrating mean that I read books, think about what they mean, and try to communicate that meaning to others. Yes, teaching means discussing those meanings with a room full of students, and narrating means sending the book out into the world for listeners to engage with. But at root I think they’re actually pretty similar. In both my jobs I get to share my love of literature with other people and celebrate the endless creative possibilities of various literary genres (I’ve narrated and taught romance, dystopian, SFF, YA, horror, action, military, historical, and literary fictions, among others, as well as drama and poetry).

The one edge that narration has over teaching is that I actually interact with the authors whose work I’m voicing. They’re not only alive (usually) but I get to ask them questions about their intentions and vision for their books. This is a hugely enjoyable aspect of the process, and one I just don’t get with my teaching. (I wish I did!)

  In addition to my two careers, my most enjoyable occupation is being a mom to my seven-year-old daughter, and fortunately my narration skills come in handy here too. We’re currently working our way through the Harry Potter series, and we’re planning to start some of my childhood favorites soon, including Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (which I narrated as a volunteer audiobook project for LibriVox.org – https://librivox.org/the-secret-garden-dramatic-reading-by-burnett-frances-hodgson/). My daughter has recently discovered a passion for performing by taking on some small roles in projects for The Online Stage, a new group recording plays and novels, some of which will be published for free at the Internet Archive, and some which have already appeared on Audible. These overlapping careers mean that I can share my love of books and acting with students, listeners, and my family, and I’m grateful for every minute!

Claire McAdams Photography

Claire McAdams Photography

Elizabeth is an English literature professor by day, and an audiobook narrator by night. She trained as an actor and director at Drew University, and holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois, with expertise in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. She loves reading (and teaching) fiction, drama, and poetry of all kinds, and particularly delights in creating distinctive voices for literary characters. She is an absolute Anglophile, and has narrated dozens of books in a British accent, despite the fact that she’s originally from New Jersey. Her biggest fan is her seven-year-old daughter, who loves hearing her read aloud, with a reminder to “do the voices, Mommy.” Learn more about Elizabeth here.

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Apr 19, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Book Inspired Careers by Elizabeth Klett

Tuesday Takeover: Why Audiobooks Matter by Chris Barnes

Legend tells of a boy born in 1977 who just wouldn’t sleep. The boys’ mother, try as she might, just couldn’t get a full nights rest. One day, when the boy was six, a family friend suggested to his mother that she should give the boy a cassette player, some tapes and instructions that he could listen to as much as he wanted, but that he was not to leave the room until she came to get him for breakfast. Thus began a love affair with audiobooks that would last for all eternity. The boy, of course, was me.
I’ve loved audiobooks and audio drama for nearly 35 years, I listen at night and drift off to sleep in a different world every night. World created from the minds of authors and brought to life by the voices of their narrators.

This matters.

It matters because not everyone can avail themselves of traditional methods of reading. Whether it be because of physical reasons, or because, simply, they never learned to read. I know that this might be a shocking thought, that we live in the 21st century and there are still people out there who for whatever reason still don’t have this most basic of human rights. Audio matters because we can still give people the opportunity to visit these authors worlds and lift the words from the page and make them real.

My own jump from listener to producer came in 2009. I was casting about looking for online audio dramas, when I came across Brokensea.com whose extensive catalogue was impressive to say the least. I devoured their catalogue and loved it so much that I got in touch with them about I could get involved and have a go. They gave me an audition to do, using a really crappy mic that I had lying around and picked up a role, and then another, and another and I was soon being cast in things without even having to audition any more. After a little while it became apparent that I had a little talent for both the acting side of things and the post production of shows and in 2011 I took over mixing duties for Doctor Despicables Chamber of Cinema, a short podcast that compares horror movies of similar flavours, decides which one was the worst, then offing a member of the production team. I once had to create a sound effect that created one of the rottweilers from The Omen, firing lasers from it’s eyes and spinning saw blades from it’s mouth! Good times!

Somewhere along the way though, audiobooks found me again and I was given the opportunity to start producing actual audiobooks for a small press. I did post production on three books and I decided that I was going to take the chance and start narrating myself.

It’s now 2016, I have 25 audiobook credits to my name with at least 16 titles due so far this year. I’m audible approved and have earned the moniker of ‘The Voice Of Your Nightmares’ due to my specialising in the horror genre. That’s not to say that horror is all that I am, I do have books out in other genres, but horror is where my black heart gravitates to.

The 39 year old me says “Audiobooks made me”

The 5 year old me says “Pass Another CD”

Chris Barnes is an Audio Book narrator and producer from Scotland. He has narrated several horror genre novels and is the voice of the High Moor series. You can usually find him in a small soundproofed cupboard finding new ways to terrify audiences. You can find me on:
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog ~ ACX ~ Audible

Chris Barnes

Mar 8, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Why Audiobooks Matter by Chris Barnes