June is Audiobook Month. We will have several narrator interviews, along with other audiobook posts and of course audiobook reviews. Lastly, don’t forget to check out our giveaway.
Meet Tillie Hooper
An Interview with Tillie Hooper
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for my readers. I’ve been a big fan for a while now, I get very excited when I see your name on a series I was interested in trying.
1. Do you have a hard time with the many different voices? What was the hardest voice you’ve ever had to do?
It really does depend on the book. While numerous voices can feel like a challenge, when you’re in the hands of a skilled author, the dialogue is balanced well and characters are well-defined. This makes the transition to audio much easier and the voices feel connected to the characters, whether it’s a big, broad choice or a more nuanced attitude. If the opposite is true, and the character isn’t as clearly defined, it can be difficult to give them a ‘voice’. As far the hardest, I admit to backing myself into a corner a few times with a tricky, vocally demanding side-character choice, who later becomes a main character in subsequent books. Oops!
2. Is there a specific time of day that you prefer to do your recordings?
Oooh, good question! I record both in the mornings and the evenings. Both have pros and cons. More folks are around the studios in the daytime so it’s a more bustling environment (which we can appreciate after hours alone in a booth!) and the evenings can be peaceful and free up the day for other commitments, but can also feel tiring after a long day. I like to do a mix to break up the week!
3. Do you have to prepare differently if it is a new series and/or author that you haven’t worked with, compared to a new book in a series you’ve been reading?
Yes, a bit. With a new author I usually reach out and introduce myself and explain my prep process. I’ll always invite them to provide feedback or input on characters. And I’ll send them a list of pronunciations when I have one. After a long time with a series I usually have a developed relationship with both the author and the characters so I still might have questions during prep, but we usually have a good rhythm by then. I always try to get feedback about upcoming storylines if possible. It helps me develop side characters more carefully if I know they’ll become main characters at some point. Having an author’s perspective is a boon! Some pubs restrict your access to the author which feels limiting to me, as I like to have a direct line to their brains!
4. I love the Fantasyland series by Kristen Ashley. In the second book, she created an entire language that you had to speak. When I was listening, it sounded as if you spoke this made up language fluently for years. How difficult was that? How much did you have to work with the author to get all the pronunciations correct (not that I would have any idea if they were correct or not, but it sounded really good 🙂 )?
Shahsha! (Thank you!) Yeesssss….alternate languages! So, Kristen Ashley was totally great about getting me pronunciations. We started with a (very extensive) list, and she provided me with my favorite assist: an audio file of pronunciations. Not all authors feel up to the task of recording audio (although the simplest of methods is all that’s required). But when they do, it’s a glorious help! If there are only a few audio markers, I add those to my script before recording so they are there when I arrive at them. If it’s more involved than that, we keep the files loaded up and reference them throughout the recording as needed. That ‘smooth grasp’ on a made up language is the result of a lot of stop and start, very patient engineers letting me sound out one word at a time, and a fully annotated 7-page glossary. I’m glad the end result has you convinced of my expert Korwahkian abilites.
5. Consistency in character voices throughout a series is very important to me and many listeners. How do you remember how each character’s voice/tone/style when you go to read the following books, especially when you consider there is usually a year or more between each release?
I do work hard to keep continuity a main focus when narrating, both with regard to voices and pronunciations. The answer to this draws a bit on your question about ‘difficult’ voices. When the characters are really well-defined, I remember them like I’d remember a person, and their attitudes and vocalizations remain more familiar to me than they would if they weren’t fleshed out as fully. But I also utilize a ton of tips and tricks to keep consistent. Whispersync is incredibly useful because I can search in the text for characters and then pull up previous audio from past installments. I can make bookmarks and notes right in my Kindle app. And I also try to add a small recording sample to my script when I’m actually narrating a voice for the first time in the studio. That audio note stays on the script, so I can open it and listen a year later when I’m on the next project. Sometimes what makes a character sound different than another character is useful for me to note, too, as opposed to just tracking each character individually. For instance I’m might remember Character B as sounding sultrier than Character A. Or this one speaks with more reservation than that one.
6. Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Oh, these questions make me feel so much pressure to pick the most supremely accomplished, inspirational person! I know I’m supposed to pick someone really incredible like Harriet Tubman or Einstein or, you know, Jesus (and I’d not pass on the opportunity to meet any of them), but since I’m in the middle of a serious VEEP marathon, I have to say I wouldn’t be opposed to dinner and a few gallons of wine Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Things feel somewhat politically bleak at the moment and I think some debauchery wouldn’t be the worst thing. I suspect she’d deliver.
Enter our Audiobook Month Giveway!
Open to all over 13 years-old. Winner will be announced July 1, 2017