Q: How did you get involved with narrating novels for authors?
A: I kind-of stumbled upon it while practice-reading some audiobook auditions as a way to diminish my New Jersey accent. I mainly do commercials, animation, videogames, and such, so this was a whole new arena. I actually avoided doing audiobooks for quite some time, because it’s a very difficult and extremely time consuming type of voiceover to produce. I found that I really really enjoyed bringing the characters and storyline to life like they do in my head when I read.
Q: I’ve gotten the impression that you do your narration at home? Is there any special equipment you use?
A: I have my own studio that is made to produce high quality recordings like those you hear on TV or radio. The most important tool for a narrator is their microphone. I have a Neumann TLM 103, which is an industry standard, along with a preamp, processor, editing software, and treated recording booth.
Q: How do you go about choosing which books to narrate?
A: I usually will find a book that lends well to my natural voice range. Something that doesn’t make the characters sound cartoonish or silly, unless that’s what would fit with the storyline.
Q: What have been some of your favorite books that you’ve narrated?
A: I really enjoy narrating Teen and Young Adult books. My favorites are always ones having a bit intrigue and fantasy with a hint of angsty relationships. It refreshes that feeling of firsts and uncertainty we all have when we are young. Emotions are always more powerful for the young, and bringing that explosive and pure emotion to life is really energizing.
Q: If you could narrate any book you’ve ever read, what would it be?
A: I’ve always been in love with classic literature. I would want to narrate Little Women. It’s been my favorite story for as long as I can remember.
Q: On Vision of Shadows, you did such a tremendous job capturing the different characters, the personalities and their individual quirks. How do you keep character’s straight?
A: I read through the book first to get the full picture of the characters, their history, relationships, and end motives. I try to relate them to a living person to have them feel more real. I sometimes just keep a picture of someone who looks like how I picture that character to look like in front of me, and work on an appropriate voice for them. I research pronunciations, dialects, and quirks. And keep notes on all of it to reference when I need it.
Q: Since it was my own book, I’ve got to ask. What character was your favorite from Vision of Shadows and did you have a favorite scene?
A: I really like the complexity and also simplicity of Uncle Mark. I think he has a strength to him that is more than most people could have with the pain he’s suffered in his past, and all he is emotionally handling as the book proceeds. He is level-headed, and supportive while keeping not only his family, but the whole town in check.
Q: What advice would you give authors who are looking to work with a producer for their book?
A: Look up and listen to other work the narrator has produced to hear the absolute final sound of your book. If there’s something that distracts you like background noise or mouth noise throughout the sample, chances are it would be produced the same way for you, and your reviews may reflect that. It’s okay to be picky, and it’s okay to turn down a narrator. If they are a seasoned voice artist, they are very used to rejection and never take it personally.
Q: What can we look forward to next from you?
A: I have a few new Teen and Young Adult audiobooks coming out in the next couple of months. You can follow me on twitter @amyhilburnvo or Facebook to keep up to date on my projects as they are released or go to my website www.amyhilburn.com to take a look at some past projects I’ve worked on.
Check out Vision of Shadows now!