Do you ever wonder what it would be like to produce and narrate audiobooks? I know I have. Recently, I had the chance to interview Amy Verdon, the producer/narrator for my first audiobook, Jess Sayin'. Jess Sayin' the audiobook is available on Amazon and Audible.
How did you get started as an Audiobook Narrator? My journey to becoming an audiobook narrator was a natural progression of my education and interests. I have been acting nearly all my life—I was in my first musical at age 8, and did my first voiceover gig at age 10. I was active in community and high school theatre, and from there pursued a degree in Theatre with a minor in Vocal Performance from Kansas State University. I was fortunate to be cast in numerous plays and musicals.
After a few acting gigs around the country, I moved to Chicago where I continued my singing and acting career. I was hired as a performer at Navy Pier. Around that time, I began taking voice-over classes and Improv classes at iO, one of the famed improv institutions in Chicago. Though I began improv as a hobby, it soon took over my life. I would perform or rehearse nearly every night, while auditioning and doing voice-over gigs, all while maintaining my day job at a fancy hotel. Primarily, I was commercial voice-over talent, with clients such as McDonald's, TCBY, and Club LibbyLu. I was delighted to be inducted into SAG-AFTRA (an actors' union)in the mid-2000s.
As an avid audiobook listener, I had always had an interest in this niche and had taken a few classes in this area. Audiobooks are a labor of love, requiring hours of commitment to the performance as well as the technical side of producing. I am delighted to say that I am now a full-time audiobook narrator.
What do you love about producing audiobooks?
I love so many things! For one thing I absolutely love books and to work in this industry makes my heart sing every day. My father is a writer and my mother is a retired teacher so I learned to love reading very early, and still spend a majority of my free time reading or listening to a book. Just reading and preparing the manuscript for recording is a joy.
On a personal actor level, I really enjoy narrating scenes with dialogue. I like playing the different characters and playing off of myself—that is an exciting acting challenge. You can feel like you have multiple personalities at times.
On a narrator level, I love taking the reader by the hand and taking them on the journey of the author's story. The best is when you're recording and you sort of lose touch with reality because you are so engrossed in the world of the book - that's when you know you're really doing justice to the author's vision. Because we really are going on this journey together. The story is the star.
Do you have any advice for people interested in getting into the business?
Invest in coaching. Even one session with a narration coach will elevate your performance to the next level. And then listen to a lot of audiobooks! Not only is it fun, it's necessary training! Lastly, believe in and cultivate your authentic and unique self, because that is what listeners want to hear. And you should probably love books!
Who are your favorite characters in Jess Sayin'?
I love Jess. She's just such an everywoman. Jess makes mistakes, gets in trouble, has heartbreak, says silly things, just like all of us, but she always confronts her challenges head on. I also love Chace. I loved her from the moment I read the character. She's just so feminine and southern and over the top, but also totally herself, and really, really funny and she doesn't even know it. I love narrating her. I also really like Aunt Patsy's crew at the Heritage Home, because they remind me of going to play Bingo with my grandma at the Senior Center in Kansas as a child, and Officer Frick, because she's just so ridiculous and takes herself so, so seriously.
What's your next project?
I am most delighted to announce that I am nearly finished narrating the next in the Grace Texas Mystery Series! It's called Chace Scene and centers around my fave girl Chace and her wedding. I've got a particular affinity for this one as I used to work in high-end weddings and let me tell you, these bridesmaids sure brought back some memories for me! Chace Scene is really funny and has a whole new cast of characters, so I've been really enjoying giving them life. I'm also soon to start working on a paranormal romance series, the first of which should be out in the spring.