Last year, I did the second craziest thing I’ve done as a writer – I wrote a contemporary novel. And a young adult one to boot! Throw in a story written exclusively from an 18-year-old skateboarder’s point of view and I had officially lost my mind. 😉 But for those of you who’ve read this book, you know how much fun we had and today, the fun continues as I get to introduce you to my friend Nick Powers who is the voice behind the audio version of To Get to You.
He’s the talent who has brought Riley Kane’s story to life and when it comes to both vocal style and enthusiasm, there couldn’t have been anyone more perfect. As a California native (and a surfer!) he captured that perfect sound for this story. Some of his scenes are laugh-out-loud hilarious and other times, I find myself frozen in whatever I’d been doing, just listening to the depth of emotion he brings. I couldn’t be more thankful for Nick’s energy and talent on this project and today, he’s joining us for an inside look at his recording process. Plus, at the end, we’ve got a little surprise in store.
J: What made you first want to try your hand at recording audio books?
N: I was listening to some online webinars taught by a few very seasoned voice actors, and one coach in particular recommended students try narrating audio books. It’s a great way to do a LOT of VO in a short period of time, while working on acting skills. Also, I figured if I can read through and produce a full book, it would make my day-to-day, shorter VO work seem like cake!
J: As a voice actor, do you have any funny habits or quirks? Any special observations you do that us normal folk might not think about? You mentioned that when you started working on the book, you began to narrate your life. Can you give us a demo of that? 🙂
N: I listen a lot more carefully to radio and TV ads and sometimes think to myself “wow, that’s a great voice” or, “hmm I would’ve read that differently”. No major quirks, though. In the vocal booth I tend to use my hands a bit for reading emphasis. I ball up my fist almost like a politician as I read through lines and punch the air on certain beats. And YES, I started thinking like the character and narrating my life in my head! Like, “Nick rolled out of bed and threw on his favorite sweater, then went downstairs to see if the coffee machine was still broken. ‘Darn it. Starbucks, here we come.’ he said.”
N: The hardest part probably was figuring out how each character was going to sound. It took some reading ahead and looking at the context of the dialogue to pull out HOW each person would say certain things. I also researched surfer voices and Hawaiian voices to get the main characters as accurate as possible. Accents are tough for me. Then the tricky part was staying consistent with each voice. I sometimes had to think “wait, how does this guy sound again? And how would he say this?” The easiest part was editing the audio together, removing some breaths, background noises, reading errors, etc. It just took FOREVER.
J: If I remember correctly, you record from home, using your closet as a sound-proof booth. Can you share with us a bit about what a recording session for you might look like?
N: Yes, it’s quite a glamorous setup (lol kidding)! The term “sound-proof” is a pretty loose one too but I did my best to isolate certain frequencies that were reverberating in there and put some padding to soak up the sound waves. No home studio is totally perfect! I run cables out under the door to the computer and the rest of my equipment. I try and wait until a quiet time of day, evening usually there is less traffic outside- yes you can even hear cars outside etc with a sensitive mic! Then I make sure I’m wearing something light and cool (because a closet gets warm after awhile), hit record, then get in there with the script on my ipad and shut the door! I emerge about 30-1hr later with each chapter recorded, including multiple takes of certain tricky lines. I’m usually hungry afterwards. 🙂
J: Well, I owe you an order of Inn & Out fries – animal style! For those of you reading this, Nick would then send me the chapter he recorded and I had the treat of listening!
Nick, you do some AMAZING voices and I found myself laughing over the banter of Riley, Saul, and Jake when they were in the VW bus together. It truly felt as if there were three different guys in the car. Does that sort of acting and recording require any special technique?
N: Well thank you! Some of those voices are a little taxing to do, so having some water helps to switch between them and not get dry too soon. Although some voices NEEDED more dry, raspy-ness (Saul) so I would have to warm up a bit with some weird low grumbling sounds. Also for deeper voices, there’s this thing with mics called the “proximity effect” which says as you get closer to the mic, it picks up more low tones. So, for Saul, I’m really close to the mic and it captures the bass tones better. The other thing is switching back and forth, sometimes if I had trouble I would record a rough dialogue to get the timing and pauses right, then go back and re-record one character saying all his/her lines in a row. That way I could edit those in and they sound more consistent.
J: Wow, that’s fascinating! The consistency and diversity really shows. Of all the characters, who did you most enjoy performing? Who posed the biggest challenge?
J: Surprisingly, when I wrote the book, I imagined Jake’s voice in my head a particular way and then when I heard your recording of him, that became how I envisioned him and now I can’t imagine his voice any other way.
One last question for you Nick and thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today! What lessons or themes do you hope readers will walk away with after hearing the story performed?
N: I think the story shows that deep down, people are good and WANT to be good. You’ve got to be patient and tolerant with people, especially family, and give them a chance. As I was voicing the characters, I was trying to put myself in their positions to make sure I accurately said what they felt. As listeners, I hope people hear those character voices and feel more immersed in the story and find it easier to relate to the characters, maybe not literally what they are going through, but HOW they are feeling as they deliver lines.
J: Beautifully said, Nick. Thank you!
Giveaway update ~ Congratulations to Carrie Barley and Preston Leigh on winning the two audio downloads!
I’ve never tried audiobooks for myself, just children’s books for my kids. After reading this interview though I’d love to give it a try! What a fascinating process I would normally take for granted!
Heidi – Aren’t audiobooks great for the kids? They are so handy on rainy days or trips in the car. Mine are hooked. 😉 So glad you will give it a try! I hope you enjoy listening as much as your kiddos do. 🙂
I have this wonderful audio of To Get to You so I want someone else to win BUT loved reading this interview. Great job, on the voices, Nick. I adore Saul and his voice was so well done and especially was my favorite.
Yay! So glad you are enjoying it! Agreed…Nick did such a fun job with Saul’s voice. 🙂
Very cool interview. Thanks for doing that.
Thanks for visiting, Preston!
Nick & Joanne, thanks for sharing this interview. I’ve only recently (a few months ago) started listening to audiobooks, and have always wonder how voice actors get into the part, especially when they work on several different voices.
To Get to You sounds wonderful, and I can’t wait to read/listen to it! Thanks for the giveaway, Joanne!
Annie, I love hearing that you’ve gotten into audio books. Isn’t it fun how the voices are done for different characters? So glad you visited and that you’re entered into the drawing.
I love listening to audio books and would love to listen to “To Get to You”. Book sounds amazing. Thanks for the chance.
Thanks so much Dianne. 🙂 Happy to have you visit!!
Thank you for sharing this interview. I love audiobooks and usually have one in play for my trips around town and sometimes my housework. Would love to have a copy of this one…it sounds like a good one.
Thank you for the opportunity.
It’s always fun to get to meet another audio book fan, Anne. 🙂 Sounds like you’ve got some you probably love. I’ll have to get some recommendations from you and I hope you enjoy To Get to You!
It was great to hear more about the audio book recording process. Nick sounds like a talented guy! There is more to it than I thought, that’s for sure. I’m going to put this on my wish list!
So glad you enjoyed this post. As an author with audio books herself, you probably have such an appreciation for the work that goes into it. Thrilled to have this one on your wish list. 🙂 And congrats about your latest release! Moonlight Over Manhattan sounds fantastic.
I love audio books and enjoy them whenever I am in my car.
So fun to hear, Debra! 🙂
Wow! I had no idea that the actual voice actor did his/her own recording of it. Such talent!
Isn’t that neat, Susan!? I imagine that larger productions have the recording done in the studio but it’s neat to know that there are so many done on a small scale like this. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!
Love it! Thanks for sharing this interview
It’s so fun getting the scoop.
Dana, thanks for visiting! 🙂
I listen to audio books when I am working in my quilt room. Two favorite activities at once!
Karen, that sounds like a wonderful time! I can just picture you at work with your story playing and as someone who’s gotten to see your beautiful quilts, it makes it extra special.
I enjoyed the interview. Audio books are fantastic on long road trips. Love them!
A joy to hear, Karen. Thanks for visiting!
Some of my favorite stories are audiobooks because of the great narrators. I loved This Quiet Sky.
Tamm – Sending you a thanks for listening to This Quiet Sky! That means a lot to me (and Gail!)
I loved reading this interview. I have not listened to an audiobook before so this has peaked my interest! I actually just started reading this book last night and was trying to imagine a Hawaiian accent. I would love to hear this audio book and see how Nick brings these characters to life. Thanks for the book and the chance!
Kim – so glad you enjoyed it!! And what a treat to know you’re reading the book as we speak. I really hope it’s a blessing to you. Nick’s Hawaiian accent turned out great. So perfectly Jake. 🙂 I wish I could send you a tidbit and am glad you’re entered for the giveaway!
Loved reading about Nick’s process in getting the different character voices “down pat”. I loved ‘To Get to You’ and can’t wait to hear the audio version!! Also, after seeing a pic of Nick, I’m thinking next time you shoot a book cover and need a male model, Nick would work perfectly – depending on the character!! Just sayin’, LOL!! Thanks for the awesome giveaway opportunity, Joanne!!
Blessings and hugs!!
Bonnie – It makes me so happy to know that even though this story is categorized as YA, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages! Your fondness for this story means the world to me! And haha! Nick would make an excellent book cover hero. 🙂
Wow Nick! I’m so impressed you do all the recording and editing on your own. I have recently gotten back into audio books and love them. Thank you, Joanne and Nick, for sharing this process. Thanks for the giveaway!
Greetings Andrea! So glad you enjoyed hearing about Nick’s process!
That was interesting! Now Nick has gotten me interested in his voice so I not only want to read the book but hear him “act” the book by hearing his many voices.
Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
So glad you are looking forward to listening to the book!
Wow! What an interesting interview. That sounds like quite the process. I’d love a chance to win this audiobook. I haven’t listened to audiobooks before.
Thanks for stopping by Winnie! Glad you are entered 😀
I love your books and would love to win!
I haven’t listened to any audiobooks yet but To Get To You sounds like it would be a great one to start with. I didn’t realize all of the work that goes into making the recording. It sounds like Nick did a great job. Thanks for the giveaway.
Donna – the are a lot of fun and I bet you’d enjoy them! LOVE the idea of you starting with To Get to You!
I’very always hated being read to since I can read it faster on my own vs being read to. Recently my husband has started listening to audio books in the car and I keep finding myself listening to them too. I’d love to win a copy of To Get to You to listen to on our next car trip 🙂
Hi Abigail! Just love that you and your husband listen to audio books together. What a special thing to share, your love of story. I’m glad you BOTH stopped by. It made this extra fun!!
Hi JoAnne, I am so excited this is now an audio book. I can’t wait to get it for my phone. And i am not so patiently waiting for the next installment of this series. Love your books and love you too. 🙂
Thanks for reading this one AND for looking forward to book 2! That means a lot. I got a little derailed on the finishing of that story this past year but am hoping (HOPING!) to get that one out sooner rather than later. 😉
Really fun interview! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Amy!
Wow, this is such a cool interview. I never thought of the process of recording a book, but it was so interesting. I also had voices in my head when reading this book. So it would be interesting to hear! I totally love all your cool ideas for us book lovers! Thanks for offering a chance to receive an audio. Blessings to you Joanne ❤
Renee – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Isn’t it amazing how the process comes about? Thanks for visiting and for sharing! 🙂
Fascinating!!! Thank you so much for sharing, Nick and Joanne! I’ve only listened to a few audiobooks and so far only female narrators so thanks so much for the chance to win this one!
Beth Erin – It makes me so happy that you all have enjoyed this interview! Great point about Male / female narrators. I hope that if you get to listen to this one that it will be a fun sample of the other side. 😉
Sounds like such a good story. As a mother of three I always enjoy good stories that are safe reading for my children….
Thank you Brandi! Yes, I wrote this one so that it could be fun for the whole family. 🙂 Hope you and yours might enjoy it one day!
What a fun interview! I loved when Nick said he started narrating his life in his head 🙂
I’m just now starting to get into audiobooks. I’ve learned I can’t listen to them while driving though because I get so wrapped up in the story that I don’t pay attention to what’s going on around me! haha.
Hi Amanda! So glad you stopped it! Your comment gave me such a smile! 😀
I love audidobooks! This book is now on my “have to read it” list! Thank you for introducing it to me!
Janice – Hooray! Thank you so much. 😀
Oh me, oh my!! I love your books so much!! Thank you for sharing your stories with us 😀
Victoria – what a smile-maker you are. 🙂 THANK YOU!
I love to listen to audiobooks with my 7 year old son, but haven’t listened to any myself. This sounds like a great book to give audiobooks a try. Thanks for sharing!
I like audio books so I can listen in the car or while I do housework!
I need to go grab the audio
Gahhhh and re read this one
I love audio books! I listen while I run it makes the miles go by much faster 🙂 I would love your book on audiobook.. it’s hard to find Christian audiobooks!
I love audio books!!! And this one sounds wonderful!!
I have not listened to an audio book. Thanks for the giveaway.