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|Listening Library's audio pub's w/the book on 10/25|
Through this audio book process I've come to know JB as upbeat, professional and willing to work hard to give his very best. I hope you'll welcome him to our community. Everybody, meet JB!
The Psychology of a Voice Artist
I’m always so nervous when faced with the opportunity to bring a new character to life! Who is this character? Who’s the author? What do they mean? Am I good enough? These are the questions parading through my mind the night before stepping into the booth to breathe life into a brand new character for the very first time.
It’s almost like trying to imitate someone that you’ve only spent one day with. What are their proclivities and habits? What makes them tick? This happens to be one of my favorite parts. Exploring the “tick.” Ticks are what make each and every one of us unique, and when it comes to the characters in The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, they’re no different.
When discovering personalities in new characters, the best method to stumble on these ticks is to ask questions. Bold questions. In the case of Lincoln Jones, there were many intricate questions just due to the fact that Lincoln himself had so many layers. Why did he love writing? What made him so imaginative? Oftentimes, when dealing with real people, they’ll portray the best version of themselves until they feel comfortable enough not to anymore. In particular, once they’ve reached a point where they’re either satisfied with the value you’ve given them as a friend and colleague, or are simply uninterested in trying to impress you any longer, you’ll begin to notice the layers of humanity shrouded underneath their “best foot forward” persona. With characters, the psychology of why they do what they do and the way in which they interact with the people in their environment really shapes the way that the voice will come across in the final product. As a voice-over artist, it is pivotal to allocate a precious amount of your time probing the character(s) by figuring out their psychological makeup, while studying their uniqueness through the pages of the novel.
One of the other challenges of nailing the voice, especially in a YA fiction novel, is understanding the author’s reasoning and intent behind the creativity and words that they wrote. I personally have never really had the opportunity to connect with the author before delving into a character, and I think that’s largely a positive thing, simply due to the fact that being over informed about the character and intent may lend to a more mundane voice, with safer choices being made along the journey. Speaking of “safe,” boldness is one of the most integral aspects of bringing out the absolute best in a character. One must not be afraid to try new things, experiment with different voices, and “go there” in terms of pushing the boundaries of voice and style. The amazing thing about an audiobook is that it’s just you and the director. No camera crew, lights, grips, and gaffers to distract you by leaving you intrinsically nervous for fear of being judged by the multitudes. Just you, the character, and the director.
When reading Lincoln Jones, I was extremely privileged to have the honor of collaborating with award-winning director Linda Korn, who provided the most constructive feedback that I’ve ever received from a director. I believe this was due to Mrs. Korn’s innate understanding of the characters in the novel, along with her own deep connection to the events throughout. Linda is one of those directors who encourages “going there” for the sake of, not only the artist, but most importantly, the listeners. I think that being bold in ones choices for the sake of the listener is both a heartfelt and selfless choice that, in this case, only serves to enhance the lives of everyone who has the chance to be touched by Wendelin’s magnificent creativity and style.
Overall, in order to make the most of any opportunity to bring a new character to life, your environment, preparation, creativity, and confidence are some of the most important tools to have in your arsenal. You absolutely must read and reread the book in order to really understand the characters and know which questions to ask. You also must be self-aware, as this affects your level of confidence going into each session. How am I feeling today? Did I get enough rest? Do I have any more questions for the characters? Myself? Any insecurities or past experiences that are left unchecked will affect the way that you deal with the characters when reading. In this case, Lincoln Jones hit extremely close to home, with him being the product of a broken marriage, the subject of abuse, and having to move and interact in an environment where he lacked family or familiarity. This could have struck a serious nerve with me, having been the product of similar circumstances, and subconsciously had an adverse affect on the way that I went about attempting to bring the characters to life, and interact with those in the book that touched on things that rendered me uncomfortable.
Without going too deep into the psychology, I think that being a creative, bold, yet effective voice-over artist really boils down to just that. Psychology. Understanding your own makeup and proclivities by remaining self-aware will not only aid you in gaining deeper understandings of the characters that you’re attempting to breathe life into, but will ultimately help you bridge the gap by making meaningful connections to the listening audience. I’m extremely grateful to Wendelin for the opportunity to share this amazing experience, and hope to have the privilege to team up with her again on one of her phenomenal works in the near future!
Click link to listen to JB performing Chapter 1 of The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones
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