Saturday 6 May 2017

Audiobook Narrator: James Foster Interview and Giveaway! #MayhemFeature

Hi guys, it's my pleasure to welcome James Foster to my blog!! I was secretly squealing when he agreed to an interview because he is one of my favourite narrators ever! He is one of the best in the business and if you have ever listened to one of his books, you'll know why. He was a finalist in the Voice Arts Awards in 2015 for Best Voiceover/Audiobook Narration: Mystery, Science Fiction, & Fantasy categories and 2016 for Best Audiobook Narration: Faith-Based Fiction, Non-Fiction, & Business categories plus other award nominations and has 5500 5-STAR AUDIBLE REVIEWS!!!! Need I say more?? Here's a bit about him and where you can connect with him.

James Foster was one of those kids that actually lettered in drama way back in High School (and if you ask nicely, he might even tell you just how far back that was). Since that time, he’s done most of his acting behind a microphone, and has narrated audiobooks for a variety of publishers, across nearly all genres – both fiction and non. He  was born and raised on the west coast, and even though he’s lived in the Midwest for over a decade now, still considers Oregon “home.”
In 2015, James was a finalist in three categories for the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences Voice Arts Awards (Audiobook Mystery, Audiobook Science Fiction, and Audiobook Fantasy), and again in 2016 (Audiobook Non-Fiction, Audiobook Inspirational/Faith-Based Fiction, and Audiobook Business or Education). In 2016, James narrated one of the top 20 highest rated audiobooks on all of audible.
James has been praised for his conversational delivery and ability to sound exactly like the voice you were imagining in your head.
Find James:

Now listen to a snippet of one of my favourite series that have been narrated by him!!! 

Narrator Interview: 

1) How many books have you narrated?
Well, I have 106 currently available on audible (one under a pseudonym!), but I’ve finished recording maybe ten more than that, so it depends on what number you want to count!

2) Out of them, have you a specific genre you like best?
Oh yeah, ever since I first listened to James Marsters narrating the Dresden Files books, I’ve been a sucker for 1st-person urban supernatural mysteries!

3) How do you choose the books you want to narrate?
I recognize them by the way the casting director holds it in front of me and says, "we’d like you to read this.” Seriously, though - I’m extremely lucky to be working in this industry, AND to work with some fantastic casting directors who have a knack for knowing both what I’d like AND what I’d be a good fit for.

4) Take us through a typical audition that you do? How do you prepare?
Wow, I almost feel like there isn’t really a “typical” audition (though I suspect that’s just me trying to cop out of answering the question!). Generally, when a casting director says they have a title they’d like me to read for, I’ll get the full book from them and they’ll either ask for 5 minutes off the top, or maybe bits here and there. I’ll read through the publisher synopsis to get a sense of the book and its genre, then read through the sections they want to hear, to get a sense of what’s going on, who the characters are, etc. Then I’ll dive in, and give my best interpretation/understanding of that section of the material.

Honestly, I try not to stress too much over it - if the casting director is asking me to audition, I know it’s because they know my sound/style and in their heads, they’re thinking that could be a good fit for the book. I also know they’re sending it to *other* narrators, that they think could also be a good fit. Whoever sounds closest to what they want’ll get the gig - but none of that’s anything I can really worry about. I just say “thank you” and send them the audition, and hope they keep calling me, regardless of who the title ends up going to!

5) How do you keep track of the different character tones/voices?
Often, I’ll just keep it in my head while I’m recording a book, but save snippets of their dialogue as separate sound files. If there’s a long stretch where a particular character hasn’t appeared and I’ve forgotten what they sound like, I’ll load up their file and give it a listen.

Honestly, there aren’t a *lot* of different “voices” that I do - so I have to differentiate between characters primarily through other acting means - attitude, speech rhythm, style. Often, remembering what a particular character “sounds like” is more a process of remembering who that character “is” - if that makes any sense.

I’ll also admit that I’ll occasionally “cast” certain well known actors for various parts, if that’s who a particular character makes me think of. That doesn’t mean I’ll actually *sound* like that actor, but I’ll have them in mind when acting that part, and (hopefully) something of their sound, or attitude, or whatever made me think of them will come through in my performance.

6) Do you read the book before starting the narration or fly by the seat of your pants?

Always, always, always, always read the book first.


I remember a workshop once where Scott Brick (oops, excuse me while I pick up that name I just dropped!) explained it like this: You can’t properly tell a joke if you don’t know what the punch-line is!

Pre-reading the book gives you the lay of the land - introduces you to all the characters, their story arcs - you need to know where the author is taking the reader, so you can make sure you’re facilitating that as best you can.

PLUS - all the horror stories narrators tell about how they “got three fourths of the way into a book before the author mentioned the main character was Scottish with a thick accent!"

7) Best and worst thing about being a narrator?
The solitude. That answer works for both parts of that question!

8) Who's your favourite narrator/s?
Oh man… that’s a LONG list! I like so many, and each one for different reasons… I mean, there’s - WAIT. Sorry, I just stopped myself after typing a 20-name long list! Tell you what, I’ll give you my current top 4 and stop there: Scott Brick, James Marsters, Luke Daniels, and MacLeod Andrews. I’ll listen to pretty much anything any of them narrate.

9) Is there any narrator you'd love to work with?
See answer to #8, and include the missing 16 names?

10) What are you working on now?

Well, I just wrapped up a “secret project” to be announced soonish, with the largest cast I’ve ever been on for a book… I think something like 13 narrators? That was a blast! I also recently finished a cool sci-fi mystery (think Matrix meets Inception!) called “The Memory Agent” which I got to co-narrate with James Patrick Cronin, which was a blast! At the moment I’m recording a “true crime” book for Tantor.

11) Any tips for aspiring narrators?
Plenty! Take acting lessons (that’s an ongoing recommendation); get audiobook narration coaching (this is a unique industry with unique requirements); get out and network (they won’t cast you if they don’t *know* you - in a lot of ways, audiobook publishing is still pretty “old school” business); and finally - find out what the “industry standards and best practices are” (see ‘coaching’ tip) - and then DO THAT… they’re “standards" for a reason, and the industry isn’t sitting around casually waiting for *you* to come “disrupt” it, I promise.

12) What’s one thing you wish listeners knew?
Your reviews and star ratings on audible *do* matter! Some casting directors look at them, some don’t - some look at the star rating, some don’t… but enough do to make those reviews a potentially powerful/influential force in a narrators career, especially when they’re just starting out.

Oh, and I read them *ALL* - each and every word!

Some get to know you questions:

What do you like to do when you're not narrating?
I’ve heard sleep is a thing… I may look into it!

What’s your favorite rainy day movie?
"Love, Actually” - and it doesn’t even have to be raining!

If you could be any age again for a week, which would you choose and why?
Only for a week? Nah, I’ll pass - I’m okay with my current lot in life!

What's you favorite place to read?
For pleasure? Toss up between curled up on the couch, or in a coffee shop… either way, coffee’s involved.

If you had a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would buy?
I’m old enough that the first thing I’d do would be pay off my mortgage. Then student loans. With what’s left… I’d buy a book and a cup of coffee!

What are some things about you that would surprise people if they knew?
I’ve worked in the corporate world as a consultant, I’ve worked as a therapist, I spent a few years as a monk, and I love grapefruit!

Thank you James, for stopping by my blog! I can't believe you were a monk!!! Lol. Have a look at some of my reviews from books narrated by him:

Year One: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Collection (Another of my favourite series!!):
A House by the Sea: Winthrop House, Book 1:
Dark Recollections: Adrian's Undead Diary, Volume 1 (Another favourite series!!!)

I have plenty more but will leave it at that!! Don't forget to leave a comment to win a prize and enter the rafflecopter as well!! You could win a 3 month Audible subscription, A Kindle Fire (kindly donated by Scott Bennett, and plenty more!!! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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