Are you interested in being an audiobook narrator?
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to attend The Audies?
VOX Daily spoke with Adriana Sananes voice-over actress and narrator about her work on The Audie nominated book “We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart,” by Walter Dean Myers.
The children’s book is a collection of beautiful illustrations and passionate writings from some of the most influential people who helped shape the political and cultural landscape of America. A historical look at the Country’s development, the audiobook is read by an ensemble cast of narrators from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
Join us as Adriana recalls what it was like being a part of this project, how thrilled she was to learn about the Audie Award nominations and offers some sage advice for would-be narrators thinking about entering the field.
What interested you about this project?
I loved working on this project! The amazing Dion Graham directed the project and it was produced by Arnie Cardillo of Live Oak Media. We were 9 narrators, with a couple of additional voices. It is a children’s book and the voices are interlaced with one another, with jazz music in the background. This is really what audiobooks should be all about, especially books for children.
Which part of We are America did you narrate?
All the narrators recorded various paragraphs and poems, then Dion proceeded to pick and chose and edit, until he had the diversity he wanted for each verse or paragraph. Since the book is about the American experience, its history, growth and immigration, you hear many different voices and accents throughout any given poem. It was quite beautiful the way Dion Graham put it together and he chose some very cool music.
How did you feel when you heard about The Audie Awards nomination?
I was so thrilled when I heard the book had gotten not one, but TWO nominations from the APA. One in the children 4-8 category, and the other one as Distinguished Achievement in Production.
What was it like being at The Audies?
Being at the Audies is always a treat, this was my third time. The first two times were for audiobooks I narrated at Recorded Books with the great producer Manuel Herrera, who was head of the Spanish department there for 10 years. In 2009, “How the García Girls Lost their Accent” by Julia Alvarez, was nominated in the Spanish category. I was one of the four women narrators. In 2010, “Enrique’s Journey” by Pulitzer Prize Winner Sonia Nazario was nominated in the Spanish category also. I won that one. 🙂 The lovely award is very special to me. I’m very proud of it.
The Audies are very nicely put together; it is always a very charming and relaxed event. And of course the venues, whether it’s the NY Historical Society, or the Museum of the City of NY, are spectacular and elegant places. I get to chat with old friends and cheer for them. I get to meet new friends, actors, producers, and cheer for them as well. And the food is pretty good too. The Audiobook community of actors/narrators is one of the nicest communities in the business. My peers are very generous and supportive. I’m in awe of quite a number of them. Incredible talent!
What advice do you have for aspiring audiobook narrators?
Advice? Well, you really, really have to love recording audiobooks. Otherwise don’t do it. It is not easy. It is, however, rewarding and thrilling.
The preparation that goes into it has to be thorough. Not only you have to read the entire book beforehand and not be surprised as you are narrating it, but you have to do the research on any foreign words or pronunciations you may not be clear on. If there are many characters, you have to make choices on the voices and intonations you may want for each one.
I made the mistake many years ago when I recorded my second book. I was so sure I could just wing it, that I just perused a few pages of the book without reading it beforehand.
One of the main characters in the book was named Peter, who appeared in the book from the get go. The second day of recording was going just fine, when all of a sudden, on page one hundred and whatever, Peter speaks, and then the author writes “…said Peter in his thick Hungarian accent”… arghhhhh! I never knew that Peter had a Hungarian accent! I never knew that he has from Hungary…it was the first I read about it!
Oh my, well, we had to go back and fix that “little” detail in every instance that Peter spoke. Yikes! That was a bunch of retakes. But it taught me this lesson:
Be prepared. Do your homework. AND read the entire book first!!!
About Adriana Sananes
Adriana Sananes is in high demand Spanish/English bilingual voice actress and narrator. Her voice has been heard on PBS, UNICEF, Lifetime, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, the United Nations, American Foundation for the Blind, Showtime, HBO Real Sports, ABC News Interactive, Berlitz, Living Language, radio and TV commercials, documentaries, industrials and voice messaging systems.
She narrated the documentary Children of Fate, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the SUNDANCE Film Festival and nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD. She has recorded over 80 bestsellers for Recorded Books, BrillianceAudio, Scholastic, MacMillan, Bantam, Highbridge Audio, Audible and Live Oak Media.
Thank you, Adriana, for sharing your experience and insights!
Have you recently narrated an audiobook? What advice do you have for those just starting out? Share your experiences in the comments below.
All the best,