Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Shorts 14; Classic Horror and Interview with Narrator Mike Chamberlain!

As part of June’s Audio Book Month (JIAM) Summer Shorts ’14 blog series; it’s a day of Classic Horror; and MikeChamberlain is performing “The Statement of Randolf Carter” By H.P Lovecraft. (awesome! One of my favorite genres.)
It’s part of the audio community effort to give back. Spoken Freely is a group of more than 40 professional narrator’s who have teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media presenting an audio collections of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Through out June 2014 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day (like this classic horror), via GoingPublic and on another author and book blog. The pieces will be available to listen online the day of their release. A bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media; over 20 additional tracks are added.  Full schedule is found on Going Public Blog.

Here is Mike’s selections (and because I can’t *not* let him be here with out chatting, I do have an interview below.)

Here are the other classic Horror offerings:

Here is the link to yesterday's (June 25th, 2014) wonderful offering: Paul Michael Garcia, Yard Waste, by Steven LaFond (with the author) @ My Bookish Ways

Tomorrow's link (June 27th, 2014) fabulous narration: Dawn Harvey, Something as Big as a Mountain, by Jane Cawthorne (with the author) @ My Books My Life

So many wonderful examples of audio awesomeness!

BIO: Mike Chamberlain is an actor and voice-over performer, as well as an AudioFile Earphones Award--winning audiobook narrator. Along with animation and video game characters, Mike performs narration and voices promos for television. 

 Mike it is a pleasure to have you on my blog, the first thing I noticed is the piece you chose to read, and I wanted to know why you chose
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolf Carter?

MC: I was a huge fan of Lovecraft when I was in high school. I actually wrote a paper on his works my senior year. I remember my teacher giving me a good grade but noting that he had no idea what I
Mike Chamberlain, Voice Actor
was talking about. When I was
trying to break into the audiobook narrating business, a friend referred me to an independent producer of audiobooks who dealt mainly in horror/sci-fi.
Much of what he produced were Lovecraft stories. Alas, I didn’t get any gigs from him. So when I was invited to do this project, it seemed like the perfect place to go for Lovecraft, given my history.
MVF: I remember reading Lovecraft in high school—he’s what I call old-school horror; I am really looking forward to listening to this piece.

You narrate a variety of genre’s; Non-fiction, fiction to include Mystery, Young Adult, YA Sci-Fi; what is your personal favorite to voice?

MC: Mystery is probably my favorite. Anything with twists and turns and interesting characters. Those are kinds of books I read for pleasure, so anytime I get a chance to narrate one, it makes things extra special for me.
MVF: That’s fabulous! I’ve asked this question before, but I find everyone has a different take, but do you find there are differences in narrating the variety of genres? Especially between Fiction and non-fiction?
MC: There are differences for sure. With nonfiction, there can be more extensive prepping of the book. A lot of fact checking. So I'll have to email and call lots of people to be sure of how to pronounce their names. Or sometimes along with checking how to pronounce regular English words, you'll get a bunch of foreign words that have to be pronounced properly. The actual narration of nonfiction, once all the prep is done, can be a little less taxing because I keep my tone on the same line throughout. I don't have to change things up for different characters, and do accents and such. So the narration for fiction can be more challenging for sure, because of a bit more wear and tear on your voice with different character deliveries (such as various child characters, adults, and sometimes zombies and other random lifeforms). Also, with fiction, different accents come up all the time. I did a young adult book recently where the main character was a 11 year old boy, and for about 40 pages of the book, he was conversing with his grandmother who was French and in her 80's. So it's a challenge!
MVF:  This is fascinating—and I can see the differences.  (You did make me laugh when you mentioned zombies and random lifeforms you have to voice!) It’s one of the things I appreciate when I listen to a story --this ability to change the accents, inflections and so on. I am deeply impressed—(Then add different languages—wow! It's another thing I adore in audio)
How did you become a Narrator?
MC: Well, initially I came across an audition for a book on a voice over auditioning web site, and sent in my audition. The producer, Bob Deyan, said he really liked what I did, but I didn’t wind up getting the job. Shortly after, he convinced the company he was producing for to give me a book, a self-help title. Frankly, the company wasn’t too thrilled with how I sounded, but Bob said he was happy with it, so just keep at it. Then, a narrator I was listening to pretty much nonstop at the time, Scott Brick, was speaking on a panel with producer Dan Musselman from Random House Audio at a comic book convention in San Diego. I drove down there (from LA), saw the panel, got a chance to briefly meet them both and pass a demo off to Dan. Through a little persistence, and another sending of a demo, I got a call from Dan’s studio to come in for a general audition. With that audition, I was given the chance to narrate Laurie Halse Anderson’s YA book Twisted. So from there, I officially nudged the door open a bit more for myself.
MVF: Oh I can’t help myself; I have to ask more questions here!

When learning to narrate; did you have to take any classes? Or was this mostly self-taught?
MC: You know, I did take pretty extensive voice over classes, and I was able to take some of that knowledge, and use it in some of my little delivery things. It also helped with understanding how to use the mic, and forcing me to become familiar with recording my own material from home (using various programs and such). I've taking various acting classes, and those will help more with performing characters for sure. But the voice over stuff helps more with the nuts and bolts of delivering into a mic. Really though, most of what I've learned has come from years of practice, just reading books aloud to myself. For as long as I can remember, from my teen years on, I would read books aloud and perform the characters while doing it. I would think to myself, "you know, I think I'm halfway decent at this. And it's incredibly fun!" It's just something I've always greatly enjoyed, and it ultimately was the reason I felt I could do this.
MVF: The call of something you love to do—and you put in the work to do it; says a lot about your tenacity and your skill.

You mentioned at the time you were listening to Scott Brick; are there others who have influenced you?
MC: Really Scott's the one I listened to. I would seek out what he narrated because he is just so good, and he made the book so entertaining. Sometimes the book itself was great, and other times the quality of what he did would keep me into it, even if the book itself wasn't incredible for me.
MVF:  That is a gift—there are some narrators who are like that for me, and since this one inspired you—what an awesome thing!

While getting started in the business, what kind of Survival Jobs (those that paid the bills) did you have? (Rachel Fulginiti coined this term and I had to share it!)
MC: Survival jobs are essential. I still bartend and have been doing it for quite some time. It plays havoc with my voice, so I have to take steps there. But without that kind of job, I wouldn't have the ability to pursue anything else.
MVF: You’re right—we all have to pay the bills—and hopefully with enough hard work eventually it will be the primary job for you.

What are five of your favorite books and authors which have stayed with you? (I’m always looking for new reads)
MC: I think what I’ll do is just tell you some of my favorite authors. A few of them I’ve
exhausted their entire catalogs, so I’m always looking for new options as well. Harlan Coben, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child,Nelson Demille, and recently Lee Child have been my favorites. In my early reading days, I went through tons of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J.R.R Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, and of course Lovecraft. So lots of mainstream stuff, but they’re all incredible authors.
MVF: You have named some of my favorite authors, especially the classics— Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien! There are a few I haven’t tried. Is it harder to find time to read these days; between what you do for narration and family? Do you still listen to audio? (I know that is a silly question…but I can’t help asking!)
MC: I still read, pretty much every day. Although it's usually just a short amount of time before I go to bed. I recently took a cross country flight and pushed my way through almost two books. A little pent up reading energy. As far as listening to audio, I don’t do as much right now. I tend to listen to a lot of clips online to get a sense of how other narrators do their thing.
MVF: Ah! At least you read! I’m with you, read when you have the chance. It’s hard trying to balance what you need creatively and keep up with all you need to do.

What are you working on now?
MC: The next book I have is a personal development title called the The Small Big, by Noah Goldstein, Robert Cialdini, and Steve J. Martin. It has to do with how small changes in the way you approach influencing and persuading people can result in big changes in the results of your attempts.
MVF: That sounds extremely interesting!

What are some of your hobbies?
MC: When I have the time for it, I enjoy working in my yard and tinkering with the plants, trees and landscaping. I used to enjoy golfing, but those days are long gone, maybe to return someday. I have a daughter who requires most of my non-working time, attention and money.
MVF: Time—something we all search for. Do you read to your daughter? (if she is at that age, or did you read to her?) In due time, I think you’ll find golfing again!
MC: I do read to my daughter, before she goes to bed. I try to give it as much energy as I can, so it’s exciting for her. She likes to pick a character to read, so I feed her the lines and she delivers them. Fun stuff! As for golfing, I think it’ll have to wait. I shudder to think how I’d hit the ball after so much time off.
MVF:  A father/daughter reading moment—excellent! Just wait, she may follow in your foot steps! (and Golf—ah, the things we used to sometimes we never get to!)

Where is your favorite place or city?
MC: I’m originally from New Jersey and my wife and I went to college in Boston (she’s from there), so I have the biggest soft spot for both of those places.
MVF: Do you get to visit often? Do you ever visit in the winter? (I moved from the north to the south and do not miss the winter months at all!)
MC: I visit maybe once or twice a year. Most of our relatives are on the east coast, so it’s tough not being within driving distance. When we do go, it’s usually in the warm months. I will say that living in Los Angeles has given me a great appreciation for changes in weather and how weather stimulates you. I miss those changes greatly. Here, we have virtually none at all.
MVF: That’s true, where you live there isn’t much change. Still, visiting in the warmer months is safer, after seeing all of the layovers, and cancelled flights this year….yikes.

What is the one thing that have to have daily?
MC: A little time with my wife and daughter, which is not as easy to come by on a daily basis as I’d like.
MVF: You know, I really am glad you said this—because I don’t hear it often enough how a Father and a husband wants to and does spend time with his family. This is fabulous!

What is one of your pet peeves (this is for fun)
MC: I’ll keep this one self-directed. When I grab a pair of socks out of my drawer when I’m getting ready for the day, start walking around and set them down somewhere, can’t find them, and then get frustrated and head back to my drawer for another pair. And believe you me, my house is not that big.
MVF: You cracked me up describing this---! I bet you find socks everywhere!

Thank you Mike for stopping by and letting me chat--! I am so very glad to have you on this blog and sharing your contribution to the Summer Shorts ’14!  I hope you stop by again!

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