Today we’re interviewing author/narrator Charlie David. Welcome to The Book Vixen Charlie!
The Book Vixen: Hi Charlie David! Welcome to The Book Vixen. Let’s start off easy - How did you start narrating books?
Charlie David: It’s such a fun job! I love it! I’ve done voice work for TV narration and radio commercials since I was a teenager. One of my first gigs was singing jingles and that progressed into infomercials (can I interest you in an amazing, life-changing set of Tupperware!?), recording songs back when I had a band and then narrating shows like my world travel show Bump!
When Dreamspinner Press began publishing my books we discussed the option of me narrating them. I think it was actually a good experiment to read my own work first and then begin to work on other author’s work. Audiobook recording is an interesting challenge so I got to work out some kinks on my own work first!
TBV: Can you briefly describe the process of narrating a book?
CD: Absolutely I read the book first. Books are often layered with discovery so it’s important to get as many details as possible. Sometimes I have a discussion with the author prior to recording if they’d like that to gain any insight into how they imagined the characters. Sometimes the character ‘cues’ are easy or maybe it’s more apt to say – they are easy to jump into like the guys in author Damon Suede’s Hot Head. I felt like I knew those guys fairly quickly – I recognized the big Italian family from my neighborhood here in Montréal so I could already ‘hear’ who these people were from the first page.
Other books are much more challenging if they don’t have obvious characters with accents or a well constructed ‘voice’ for each character. It’s kind of writing 101 but if the writer has written every character to speak the same on the page – it’s very difficult to voice a book like that. It’s equally boring to read a book like that. It hasn’t really been developed and at best the characters are thin. When characters are written with variation in cadence, vocabulary, and idiosyncrasies – it’s a much more enjoyable experience.
I don’t always ‘put on’ voices for all the characters in a book. It really depends on the style and what feels right. The most important thing is being able to relay to the listener who is speaking now. Generally a writer doesn’t write thinking ‘this is going to be an audio book’, so you may find pages of back and forth dialogue between as many as 5 or 6 characters (in my nightmares and it does happen!) with very little narrative break. Those are certainly challenging books to narrate.
I generally get out my collection of highlighters and give each voice a different coded color – that certainly helps the process!
TBV: How long does it take to record an audiobook?
CD: Generally from start to finish on my end it takes about a month. I usually record about a chapter a day in the morning. After I’ve completed the narration I send the files to the publisher where they polish, layer in some music and create the final files to deliver to various platforms like Audible.com, Audiobooks.com, etc.
TBV: Do you have genres you prefer to narrate?
CD: I really enjoyed reading Damon Suede’s Hot Head. I guess maybe I’m a sucker for men in uniform! I was a bit reluctant to try ‘shifter’ stories but have recently narrated two of Cardeno C’s books – Until Forever Comes and Wake Me Up Inside and really loved both. So I guess maybe I’m a sucker for men in uniform and werewolves – at least right now!
TBV: How much do you work with an author whose book you’re narrating?
CD: That really depends. I generally offer to have a phone meeting prior to recording and some authors want that and want to give guidance and information – others really are happy to leave it to me.
TBV: Do you find some authors’ voices more difficult to narrate than others?
CD: For sure. There are some author’s whose writing feels like it could be my own – so the rhythm of reading comes naturally. There are others where it can be a real struggle. It’s not necessarily about ‘good’ writing or ‘bad’ writing. Sometimes it’s just about how we’re wired, how we communicate and so if I jive effortlessly with the work or not. Having said that – even the challenges are good. It makes me grow and have to come up with solutions as to how to approach it.
TBV: Do you do accents or different character voices? J9 has a New York accent and Brianna is a Californian with that speech pattern; did you have an accent you had to train yourself to lose in order to narrate books?
CD: I do and it really comes down to the book and style as to when I use ‘voices’ or simply read. Generally in fantasy or comedy I get to play more with voices. If a character is from Dimebox, Texas like in Brad Boney’s new book The Return which I’m recording now – he’s going to have some definite small town Southern flavor. Some of the NYC cops or the Russian pornographer in Hot Head also logically have accents. If it makes sense I’ll do it – I won’t add a voice to a character unless the writer has specified it exists in the text.
I grew up in Canada and so I took dialect classes to read in a very ‘non-descript’ North American way. Americans speak a little broader and generally slower than Canadians so I try emulate that feel without it feeling forced.
TBV: One thing we’re both curious about is what it’s like to narrate steamy parts of a book. Is this ever awkward?
CD: I’m addicted to having one hand flip pages and the other adjusting my… microphone.
When the writing is good – it’s great and a really fun ride for me to read these scenes as well. Sometimes I have ‘OMG’ moments as in, I really have to say this!?
Most of the work I do – whether with my films, documentaries, TV shows or books circle around sexuality. Sex is fun, exploration is great and I think there’s definitely nothing wrong or shameful in enjoying some entertainment in this way.
There have certainly been a few authors who have managed to turn my crank the right way in their work. I usually record in just my underwear as well, those are the benefits of a home studio!
TBV: How many people are around when you record?
CD: I’ve recorded a few books while on the road so have used recording studios in whatever studio I’m in. In those cases it’s usually me in the booth and an engineer at the board.
Generally I record from my home studio so it’s just me. My boyfriend would likely laugh if he was home so I record while he’s at work during the day.
TBV: You’re an author and have narrated some of your own books. Is it easier or harder to narrate your own book?
CD: I narrated my own books first which was good because I got to ‘learn’ the process of audiobooks on my own. I think I’ve gotten better over time so the other authors have the benefit of that. On my books I never did ‘voices’ - I simply read. As I became more confident and started reading other authors’ books, I began playing more, really feeling the story and letting it come out – which I think is a more enjoyable listening experience.
TBV: You are a jack of all trades in the entertainment industry. You've done everything from modeling, to television, to narrating audiobooks, and you’re even an author. How do you balance all your projects? Do you ever have multiple projects going on at the same time?
CD: What my mother was to craft projects I am to film/TV projects – a busy bee!!
I own a production company called Border2Border Entertainment and I think readers of your blog will enjoy my latest documentaries I’m a Stripper (we’re currently filming the sequel imaginatively titled I’m a Stripper Too!), I’m a Porn Star, and our web series Coming Out, which is based in Montreal. It’s in French but with English subtitles and is a cool insight into the gay village in this unique North American city.
We always post new trailers for our shows on my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter so if you like the look of what we create – those are good ways to stay in touch.
TBV: If readers want to learn more about you or your work, where can they find you online?
CD: By all means – please come and play on my social sites!
You can listen to the audiobook of Charlie David’s short story Harvest, from his Shadowlands anthology:
Thanks to Dreamspinner Press, two lucky winners will each receive an audiobook of their choice (see selection here). Note: Winners will need to have (or open) a free Dreamspinner account for delivery of prize. Good luck to all who enter!
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- Giveaway ends 9:01 pm (Pacific Time) on 9/19/2013.