Interview with Narrator, Jack Nolan Wadsworth
Narrator of The Treasure, Book 2 in Time Walker Series by Sloan McBride
Jack has a commanding, crisp voice which fit Orion very well. I am a visual person so when I sent the information for the book I sent pictures and character outlines. When Jack and I spoke he wanted to know what the characters sounded like. I hadn't thought about it in that way and it took me a couple of days to come up with those answers. It was interesting learning the way he approached the job.
1) What did you do before you became a narrator?
I graduated college through an ROTC program and became an officer in the US Army reserves, MP branch. My career took a very unusual turn when I became a PSYOP officer. I published a book about all the dirty tricks I learned called Firewall: The Propagandist's Guide to Self-Defense.
Simultaneously, I built a career for myself in Hollywood as an actor. I've had my share of bit parts, took the lead in a few YouTube videos, but 90% of a working actors' work is in the background, "extras." I have all sorts of fun stories from years behind the scenes. My Facebook page holds all sorts of entertaining photos, and I'm planning on writing a book about that called Confessions of a Professional Non-Entity.
2) How long have you been narrating audiobooks?
Four years now, and I have over a hundred books up on Amazon!
3) Do you work for more than just one audiobook company?
4) Do you work at home or a studio?
A home studio. It's surprising the kind of quality one can achieve with a very modest investment.
5) If at home, what kind of set up do you have?
I use a Yeti Blue, in a closet, wired to my PC. It's a little more involved that that, but that's the basics.
6) What helped you decide to be a narrator?
Well, I have a lot of experience sitting alone in a padded room, screaming. Heh! Truth: I love storytelling in all its forms. This sort of oral storytelling, imagining myself sitting around a campfire with the young'uns sharing tales... that's my jam! That's my joy! I adore it, almost as much as I adored hearing stories when I was a child.
7) What do you enjoy the most about being a narrator?
As an actor, I get to read ALL the parts! Hah! And the stories are usually very good.
8) What genres do you narrate?
Anything, except pornography. Y'know, I could have made like a bandit if I were willing to record all those Dreamspinner gay romances.
9) Do you have a favorite genre?
I seem to have a lot of luck with ancient Greco-Roman histories and mythology. My first-ever audiobook was The Trochean Tragedy, though I can't even listen to it now, as at the time I had no idea what I was doing on the sound-engineering side. I recorded an Unabridged Iliad, and most recently a historical fiction about the Spartans called The Isle of Stone. But really, anything educational.
10) What is your process when you are hired to do a new project?
Nonfiction is easy, just plow ahead and try to sound like I know what I'm talking about (even when I don't.)
For fiction, read the first few chapters to get a feel for the material, record the first few and get feedback from the commissioning artist or editor that they're happy with the "voices," then dive right in. I like to let the words "speak through me," and I try to stay out of their way, if that makes any sense.
11) Do you do one project at a time or do you mix?
I prefer to have about three projects going at once.
12) Do you have contact with the author prior to starting the project?
Oh ye gods, yes please! The author is the absolute authority on the work. They know how the characters should or should not sound. I love working and collaborating directly with my clients. Every time I've been deprived of solid contact with the author or editor has led to some calamity.
13) What type of information from an author helps you get into character for the stories?
Surprisingly, the quality and timbre of a character's voice is seldom mentioned in the text. I feel like I'm swimming in a vast ocean of fantastic voices, and no one notices how rich and diverse and wonderful they are but me. Authors, please notice voices, and consider what quality or timbre or accent will differentiate that character's voice from all those around him or her. And make sure to mention that early.
I remember I worked for a new author, but he had somehow done this, and had an international "cast." That was so fun!
14) What do you draw on for the emotions you bring to each character?
Okay, there are two "schools" of acting. The first is the Russian Stanislovsky/Meisner/Hagen school of "channeling your subconscious." You remember when you felt this way or that way, and invoke those feelings.
The English school is all about technique. What does a sad person sound like? What does he look like? Mimic that. It's outside-in rather than inside-out.
Every actor does a combination of both for their performances, though I tend far more toward the English school, myself.
15) Do you do different voices?
In all modesty, ye gods...!
16) How do you approach female voices?
Ho... my weakness! I'm a bass. The best I can do is go high and breathy, and then try to add some vocal quality so you, the audience, can imagine how this person would really sound if a deep-voiced man weren't voicing her.
(It's easier for women to perform high-voiced males than for deep-voiced men to do low-voiced women.)
17) Do you do accents?
18) How many different accents can you do?
So I do this little demo, where I start off in Texas, take a trip to New York, fly over to Heathrow, chunnel to France, drive through Germany, then Russia, where I catch a plane down under to Oz, and another "flight" takes us back to California, dude!
But that doesn't even cover Jewish or the many, many lovely accents of the UK. My Spanish is scary-good 'cause I actually learned that language. I've also learned a bit of Japanese, though sadly mimicking that accent can be a bit frowned-upon.
19) How much contact with the author do you need during a project?
First, let me know what voices you hear when the characters speak.
Next, verify you're happy with those voices before I've gone and recorded a lot of the book. This has happened, and you can imagine how frustrating it can feel.
Finally, keep up and listen to the files as they come in. The author is the person who cares most about the final product. They know what they want, or they at least know when it's wrong. So they're the best at quality-control and letting me know whatever needs fixing. That, in my experience, is the way to produce a quality audio-book with "legs."
20) Have you ever read a scene that made you uncomfortable?
Yes, it happens. I have read scenes with strong sexual content, and scenes with extreme violence, particularly against women.
21) How did you handle it?
For violence, I rely on technique and proceed with my emotions safely sequestered. I have a gift for that cultivated by my military career. In each of these cases, the "villain" was clearly identified as such, and got their commupance, so my sense of morality was not offended. Sex scenes are more complicated, because they demand an emotional presentation. I infinitely prefer "love" scenes to "sex" scenes, and I'll admit I'm really, really bad at the latter.
22) Are there scenes that you absolutely won’t do?
If something in my opinion qualifies as out-and-out porn, I'll bail. And gay intimacy scenes... I'm just not wired to read them convincingly. Sorry.
23) Have you ever done a book where you worked with another narrator?
Not yet, though I'm eager to do a male-female collaboration.
24) How did that work? Did you work in the same studio or separate?
I have done some YouTube projects where I was interacting with others, but everything I read was in my home studio.
25) Do you ever get asked to do more books in a series?
I love it when authors ask me to do sequels! Absolutely, yes, several times.
26) How long does it take to complete a project?
Depends upon the book. Word count is the primary measure. The Unabridged Iliad took three months. But a big part of that was dealing with names like Tlepolemos, Sarpedon, and Sthenelos. Some authors, particularly those who are also university professors, will use more complex, elevated language -- and I adore it! But there's no doubt denser prose means slower going.
27) I know what I am like to work with, and you survived it. Has there been times when you have had to stop working with an author?
Only once, and it was very early on. This guy was micro-managing the first fifteen minutes, asked for three different readings, then shouted at me for being late.
28) What happens when you stop a project?
Well, in this case I baited him. Asked him if the real problem was the money. As you'd expect from a genuinely toxic person, he gave a haughty, surly response. And that rude answer was all I needed to go to the powers-that-be and say, "hey, see this? This guy's horrid and impossible to work with." Their legal team nullified the contact and off I went to another project with no problems at all. Macchaivellian? Yup! But I have ninety-nine other authors now who'll shout him down and say they enjoyed working with me, so there -- nyah! Life's too short to put up with abusive people.
29) Do you help with promotion for the finished projects?
That's always been a weakness of mine. I'll do what they ask, but I'm so busy recording my next audio-book I just don't spend a lot of time promoting... even my own books, really.
And I do have my own in the pipeline. I am recording a dream-project now, as Stephen Vincent Benet's John Brown's Body recently entered Public Domain. This is a personal favorite and such a joy to hear such magical poetry coming from my own lips. I'll probably follow that up with Fitzgerald's The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and perhaps Basho's Back Roads Through Far Towns.
On my own writing, besides my Confessions memoir, I have a thriller coming out called Tryptich -- Colette's Crusade, a sci-fi novella called La Voyage Dans La Lune, and a children's poem called "The Squirrel Who Tried Peanut Butter."
30) If so, what kind of promotions do you do?
I have a lot to learn in that area.
If you are interested in Jack Nolan Wadsworth, be sure to check out The Treasure.
See other books narrated by Jack at audible.com.