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Now, first can you tell us how you started out as a narrator?

That’s a relatively easy one! I’d been using my voice as an entertainer for almost a decade when my husband and I sat down to write our first book together. With his encouragement, I decided to do a free narrated version to help drum up interest. The compliments started pouring in, asking were there any other titles I’d done, etc. So it got me to thinking about how I’ve always been a fan of “read” stories, reading out loud at every opportunity, and sent me on a google search, which took me to Audible, and the rest is history, really. I fell in love with all aspects of audiobook production and haven’t stopped since.

Will you tell us what you are working on now?

Oh goodness. I currently have 75 projects in various stages of production, with more added every week. I’ve actually slowed down quite a bit from the breakneck pace of my first year. My vocal cords are much happier now.
What is your favorite part of the job as a narrator?

My favorite part is the narrating itself. Getting to “tell” the story, just me and my mic (and the manuscript) in the studio, immersing myself into the characters and really working to make the words come to life. Storytelling makes me unutterably happy. Outside of the narration? Knowing that I’m making a story available to people who, for whatever external reason (sight issues, time issues, etc.) cannot otherwise read the work? That’s why I do what I do. Every great story deserves to be told and everyone deserves to be immersed in a great story.

 

What is your least favorite part?

I don’t think I really have one, to be honest. The only thing that comes close: knowing that I can’t keep reading out loud indefinitely. I have to take breaks and it’s been a learning curve to teach my voice to keep up with the demand. I get a lot of people saying they wish they could just “sit around and read books out loud all day” and let me tell you, it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

 

What are the challenges?

Most of my challenges fall in the realm of what my voice can keep up with. Foreign languages that I’m not familiar with can be a bear to get right, thankfully I have a ton of resources to help me out there. I’m a perfectionist, so there’s the baggage that comes along with wanting to make sure everything is juuuust right. And let’s not even get started on the tongue twisters.

 

Are there certain books you won’t narrate or dread?

I can’t say I “dread” any in particular, as I generally like to keep my options open, so I do a wide range of genres. I’m an eclectic reader, personally, and I like to keep that in my choices. And I’ve reached a point, professionally, where I can be a bit choosier of the projects I take on. All of that said: I love fantasy/sci-fi, but nine times out of ten, there’s going to be a whole new vocabulary and pronunciation key that I have to pay attention to, so that slows down the reading. It’s one thing to “hear” a word in your head, and then realize the author’s pronunciation of it isn’t even remotely like you were thinking.

 

Do you ever laugh or blush while reading “certain” scenes?

All the time. *laughs* I’ve worked adult entertainment for a long time, so there’s very little that shocks me, scene-wise. And a well written naughty scene will often make my cheeks a little pinker than usual. My husband loves those narration nights. As for the laughing, well, I’ve become rather adept at pausing to take time to have a giggle, because no matter how many times you read something beforehand, there are just some scenes/turns of phrase that kick you right in the tickle bone and you just have to work through it.

 

What do you feel makes a good audio book?

A well written story, honestly. Characters you can get into, a plot that keeps you engaged, and a narrator who is truly enjoying what they’re reading. It might sound cliché, but you can tell when your narrator isn’t into the work. There’s a spark missing from the telling.

 

Any tips on how to promote audio books from your experience?

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out! *laughs* In all honesty, a good book does sell itself, a great audiobook enhances that prospect. Word of mouth, pardon the pun, is everything. I do what I can on social media and my own website, but I’m often so busy in the studio, I don’t have as much time to really pimp out the works as much as I’d like.

 

You must be an avid reader anyway, so what books have most influenced your life most? 

That’s quite an understatement! I’ve been reading since I was around 3 years old, so, books and music have been the biggest influences on my life. My parents/grandparents used to read to me, so I suppose that carried over. But to answer… oh so many. I grew up reading fantasy novels (Dragonlance Chronicles, Incarnations of Immortality), gothic horror (Dracula, Phantom of the Opera), and urban fantasy (Dresden Files, Charley Davidson). I even cut my teeth on a little trilogy called the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy as my first “naughty” title. But I seriously read just about anything I could get my hands on.

 

Do you use a pseudonym? If so how did you choose it?

You know, I struggled with the idea of using a pseudonym for the longest time. Especially when I started looking at the wealth of more adult titles I had under my belt. But then I realized, they’re part of my body of work, and I don’t necessarily worry about negative repercussions when it comes to more vanilla listeners finding out I do naughtier titles. Hell, I’ve actually gained some fans from both sides when they hear I do the other. I’m proud of what I do. People will vote with their wallets. If they don’t like my naughtier stuff, they don’t have to listen. No shame here.

 

What has been the toughest criticism given to you? (from an author?)

Ooh. I think the toughest criticism I’ve ever gotten had to do with my handling of male narration. I can dip my register pretty low, but voice mod notwithstanding, I *am* a female. So there’s only so much manliness I can inject into my voice. *laughs* I have tricks and such to make it better, but that’s been the biggest criticism so far. I get more compliments than complaints, honestly.

 

And, what has been the best compliment?

My favorite one will always be, “I was listening, and loving the story when it hit me that it was something I wrote. I didn’t even recognize it, it was that good.” When an author tells me that I made them fall in love with their OWN words again, or, even better, that I made them cry with happy tears? Best. Compliment. Ever.

 

For Fun: what item, that you don’t have already, would you most like to own?

I could go so many directions with this, but I’ll make it simple: my very own, separate recording studio. Fully decked out with audio foam and completely sound proof, with state of the art equipment. I mean, I’m doing really well with what I’ve got, but that would just make me giddy beyond belief!

 

HR Jackson

~Bringing stories to life, one word at a time.~
Find us on the web:
@hrjacksontnc (Twitter)
/authorhrjackson (Facebook)

Blushing Books available in Audio to date:

In the Palace of Lazar – Alta Hensley
Mail Order Switch – Patty Devlin
The Chicagoan Switch – Patty Devlin
Courted by Discipline – Bree Cariad
Courted by Fall – Bree Cariad
Courted by Trouble – Bree Cariad.
More to come…