Audiobook Narrators… what happens when a scene affects them emotionally?

by Maryse on February 25, 2015 · 10 comments

in Editorial, Fun Author Tidbits

So… with all of this newfound interest in audiobooks (and realizing that so many here specifically choose audiobooks for so many reasons and how so many of our favs are bargain priced – check out this awesome post: Audiobook Addiction: Our fellow readers weigh in on their favorites…), I started wondering about the audiobook narrators.

Because, they are in fact reading the book TO us, and therefore must experience emotion as a reader would, right? I have a fun interview with a much-loved male narrator right here: Q&A with Emma Chase and her TIED audiobook narrator Sebastian York… but I still had questions.

So I asked our Facebook crew:

Maryse: Okay I have a question… and I don’t know if anyone here has personal experience or has spoken with an audiobook narrator, but… when they read the book and hit a sad spot… do they cry? How do they continue reading without breaking down like we do?

And not only did we get some anecdotes… we had an actual audiobook narrator join in and give us her own experience! Now I’m just DYING to know which books she narrated…

Aimee: I’m sure it happens, but the ones I’ve spoken to say they’ve read so much, practiced and prepared, they’re in “work mode”. They let the emotion through only as much as it serves the narration.

Krissy: I don’t have an answer for that, but I can tell you there is no way in hell I could get through a reading without breaking down. I’m a huge crybaby, which is why I always have to bring tissues to bed with me, and also why I could never be an actress, lol.

Elmarie:  Maybe my friend Lauren Rowe can help you with this question!!!

MicKayla: I’ve thought about that myself, but I just figure they’re used to it and have practice. Or they just don’t get emotional while reading books, or at least don’t show it. I myself show way too much emotion while reading books…..

Maryse’s Book Blog: I cry like a baby. There’s no way I could keep it from happening, unless they do take after take after take until they get a good one and seamlessly edit it in… I’d definitely LOVE to hear from some narrators…

Lauren Rowe: Hi Maryse I love your blog.  I have done audio book narrations under another name and also of my own books as Lauren Rowe and I can tell you that I have cried like a baby when I’m reading books in the studio. Like really really lose it, though I try not to do it. And I have to just push through and read, or sometimes, we have to stop and redo a scene so I can make it through without crying like a fool the second time around. I’ve talked to many other narrators who say that rarely happens to them, or when it does they are able to keep it together enough to push through. But for me, I sometimes cannot control the boohoo. When you force yourself to keep reading through a boohoo, sometimes it really serves the narration and it’s lightning in a bottle.. But usually, I have to redo because it’s just plain gross or ridiculous to listen to and I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy. (Well, okay to my worst enemy, but no one else). :D

Maryse’s Book Blog: Aimee and MicKayla, that sounds about right… maybe we can get some “emotional blooper” stories from their early days.

Elmarie: It’s a pleasure girl I thought about you when I read this cause I know you’ve done this!!!

Tessa: The woman who narrated my first one sent me a message halfway through the process to tell me she cried and had to stop. It was a great compliment!

Maryse’s Book Blog: WOW I LOVE that Lauren!!! Thank you so much for sharing that. I had a feeling, you know? That even though you guys are pros, you’re still taking in a story that might just have that emotional impact. If it does on us, it must on you. After all, you’re reading the book, so you have to be feeling it on some level… YAY!! Thank you. Feel free to share any particular memories that stand out. *hint hint*

Maryse’s Book Blog: Awwww Tessa. So cool! Thank goodness for editing. LOL!
 Although like Lauren mentioned, I bet *some* emotion (if you can hear the words properly) might make for even more impact in the listeners experience. Crying together, and all that.

Diane: Hi Lauren Rowe. How does one become a book narrator?

Jo: Lauren Rowe, loving The Club series right now. Jonas……….

Lauren Rowe: I was doing a narration of a best selling book (not my own) and the main character got raped. I swear I lost it while reading that scene, just lost it, but I somehow made it through. When we listened, we decided to keep it because it was so genuine, so real, and even though there was a TON of emotion, it worked. That was one of the rare times where I sniffled and cried through a scene and everyone felt it should be kept. Another time I did a book where it was YA but there were flashbacks to the MC at 9 or 10 and she got beaten by her father. Again, I cried my eyes out and the producer kept it. Especially since the “voice” was little girl the crying worked. I also cried doing my own book but had to redo because it was just too over the top and I felt would be distracting for the listener. The second time around I got emotional again but it only seeped into the narration.  Diane, if you PM me I will tell you how I became a narrator and what you could do to try down that road. It’s wonderful. I don’t do it as much anymore because my writing has recently really taken off and I need to spend my time writing, but it’s such a joy and a thrill. I think doing audio book narration is AWESOMMMMMMMMMEEEEEE. xo

Maryse’s Book Blog: Thank you again for the insight Lauren. I swear my throat is all tight (lump in it) reading what you just wrote… must have been so difficult to read stuff like that, but I bet it has huge impact because the emotion is real. *hug*

Rochelle: What an interesting question! Thanks for the insight Lauren. Now I feel like I need to find an audiobook to try.

Princess: Some have to break and do retakes. Funny story…A friend was reading my book outloud for a group and had to stop three times in one chapter!! She said they were all passing around the box of Kleenex! Made me feel great lol.

Jessica: I’m 99% sure Madeline Sheehan said in a post that her narrator got very emotional/cried during one of her MC books.

Allison: Many say they read through once before narrating. So you can still get an emotional impact but aren’t sure posed by what’s happening.

Maryse’s Book Blog: Ahhh that makes sense!!

So… does anyone know any narrators that can give us more insight. Like ummm…. for the *blush* steeeeeeaaaammmmyy scenes? ;)

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Fabi February 25, 2015 at 7:48 PM

I love these questions and answers. Thank you to those of you who shared personal experience! I love audiobooks.

Maryse February 25, 2015 at 8:04 PM

I loved the inside scoop, too! I wish I could listen to the audiobooks that Lauren did… with all of that emotion.

Krystal February 25, 2015 at 9:08 PM

Loved this !!! I just finished listening to Rock Chick Renegade. Loved it all over again :)

Maryse February 25, 2015 at 9:32 PM

Krystal and Fabi… do you ever notice narrator reactions that you know are true “reader-reactions” and not just part of the “acting”?

Fabi February 25, 2015 at 9:46 PM

You know I have hundreds of audio books and listen to them every day, but I have never heard a reaction like the ones described above. I always assumed the narrations were rehearsed. But, I bet it’s because of the type of book I listen to. They have been mostly sci fi and pnr or uf. Now, I HAVE to try a CR in audio book to see if I catch the emotion!

Janet Jones February 26, 2015 at 8:32 AM

Maryse, I am loving your posts on audio books!!!! I want to share this link to an interview with Jim Frangione. He represents BDB as much as JR Ward to me. I have listened to every one of them. Besides being the best series ever, they are the best audios ever too.

Fabi February 26, 2015 at 8:48 AM

Oh yes yes yes Janet. I’m on my third listen of Jim’s narrations. I can’t even imagine the BDB without Jim Frangione.

I’ve made this comment on Audible several times, but here goes again. A narrator makes (or breaks) a book.

I wonder if the BDB would mean the same to me without Jim.

Janet Jones February 26, 2015 at 9:36 AM

Totally Fabi—you can really tell when a narrator is living the book and they pull you in. I know a lot of people blow off audio because they can’t imagine sitting and just listening–well I agree, just sitting is for reading. But after years of listening I’m an expert at shopping, cooking, cleaning, driving, working, walking, even carrying on a conversation–when anyone is home I listen with one ear plug in so I can still be connected with what’s going on.
I’m just starting Tell Me, Tease Me by Olivia Cunning it’s playing on my phone beside me while I type this. The hoopla app is awesome.

Livia February 26, 2015 at 1:16 PM

Great question, thanks for asking it. I love audiobooks especially for audiobook rereads. =)

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