Catherine Cruzan

A New Realm of Fantasy

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Audiobooks: A New Frontier in Entertainment

Today’s media landscape is more cluttered than ever, with thousands of titles available at any given time—software, games, music, television, movies, books, graphic novels, magazines, podcasts, art—downloaded, streaming live, on demand, on a wish list, in your cart.

Yet in the face of this entertainment frenzy, stands one of the bright, shining truths: Anyone can be reading anything, at anytime, anywhere.

You can put dozens of books in your pocket. You can summon them with a touch, and with a tap of screens, you can even share. That’s quite a place to find ourselves mere handfuls of years after experts projected the demise of the publishing industry.

Publishing has certainly suffered its setbacks, with major houses merging and folding every year. But like the music industry of the new millennium, it appears publishing is merely suffering its growing pains as it reinvents itself to suit a new generation of consumers.

This reimagined vista is arguably rife with self-published swill, while the archetypes continue to push a crass selection of celebrity biographies and real-house-wife guides to life. Gone are the days of great literature. The era of marketing platforms has prevailed. Or so it would seem.

We cannot discount the tenacity of writers and artists, and editors who love good books. Thanks to this new strain of self-made publishing houses, we find ourselves embracing the age of Small Press, where great stories are plentiful.

In the advent of this new frontier of books, a beautiful media marriage has emerged. Reminiscent of the radio dramas of old, audiobooks provide a perfect blend of audio entertainment and the written word. And they are gaining traction at impressive rates according to the Audio Publishers Association.

People who used to lament their lack of time to read are banging out a book or two a week—while commuting or running errands, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, walking the dog, playing with the kids, even exercising.

Well-known actors, entertainers, and authors are stepping up to the mic to transform their books from pages to recorded bytes. And listeners are quickly discovering a whole new means by which to connect to their favorites, both old and new.

One such up-and-coming narrator is Andrea Emmes. Known as The Girl with a Thousand Voices, she delves deep into every character she brings to life, creating a fun, unique experience for listeners and readers alike. Get to know her here, and then visit her on her website or on Facebook for an opportunity to hear more. If you drop her a note, she will happily share her work with you.

Who is Andrea Emmes in a nutshell?

I’m a simple woman, who loves to entertain and be entertained. I love people, life and God. I’m 5’ 1” and sassy. I hail from Northern California where I live with my husband.

What compels you to be a performer?

Growing up as an only child, my need for attention is fierce, but that is only part of what drives me. I thrive as a performer, feeding off an audience’s reactions. I love to take people to an imaginary place, and allow them to escape their real-life heartaches and stresses, and find some joy.

I enjoy being someone else, experiencing things I would not have encountered in my regular life.

What and/or who inspires you?

Performing is WHO I am. I love it. Entertainment brings people joy. It allows them to escape, to be moved emotionally, or partake of a powerful message.

When I was first diagnosed with a neurological pain disorder, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), I found myself diving into depression. I had lost hope, until I felt the Lord call me, and remind me there is always a reason to live.

I wrote my first Christian Album, pouring out all of my pain and heartache. And I discovered I wasn’t alone. We all need uplifting reminders of hope. Providing such a gift to others, inspires me in return, and keeps me going.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I love hearing how my work has affected others, whether it’s as simple as “You made me laugh,” or as touching as “Your performance reminded me I can be happy again.” I also love reaching people through my music.

You have been a stage actor, and you’ve been behind the camera. How does that experience affect your narrating style?

Narrating isn’t just reading the words an author wrote. You have to inject excitement and passion into the story, and really bring the characters to life. I want listeners to be sucked in. I use my years of experience as a stage and film actor to create my performance as a narrator.

AndreainboothWhen I start a project, the first thing I do is simply read the book. Then I read it again, taking notes, learning the characters and their relationships. I look for what the author is trying to convey, and discuss it with them, so I can be as true to their work as possible.

A narrator will add artistic elements to the story the author didn’t anticipate, and it may sound different than the writer envisioned. But that’s the beauty of what I do. It’s important to have that freedom as a professional to deliver the best interpretation and performance possible. It takes a great deal of trust.

In my experience, the authors that embrace the process are pleasantly surprised and pleased with the end result.

You have a background as a game designer. Does that impact the kinds of projects you pursue, or how you approach your work in general?

Yes! It truly does. I took a break from performing and went back to college for a degree in Game Design. I was able to work for a couple of years designing mobile games, which was super fun.

The key to being a good game designer is to find the FUN in the game, so players immerse themselves and find their own enjoyment. I think it’s the same for a narrator. We want to enthrall listeners, so they are drawn in and really enjoy the experience.

Do you have any advice for aspiring narrators?

Absolutely. Start by taking the TEST created by my mentor/coach, Sean Pratt.

Read a story out loud for 2 hours straight starting over again where you’ve made a mistake. Add emotion and character expression as you read. If you find you are still interested after 2 hours, Audiobook narration might be for you.

Find a coach to help you with what comes next. There is additional information on Youtube and the ACX website.

booth3Even if you’ve had prior acting experience, narration is a different animal. You cannot approach it the same way you would a play or a TV script. You need to learn new skills if you want to be successful. I have worked with Sean Pratt for over 5 months now, and you can hear the growth from my earlier works.

Spend the money on a good recording system, and sound proof your booth to avoid echo and reverberation. A high quality microphone and Audio Interface is essential to getting good, level sound.

Learn your vocal style and stick to it. My voice lends itself well to Young Adult, New Adult and some Adult books, because I sound younger. I would never audition for a book which requires a mature voice.

Make sure your demos and your website are up to par. Learn the business standards and follow them. My website is a good place to start your research.

Marketing is important. You need to put yourself out there and make sure the right people are hearing you. Create the perfect resume, quarterly newsletter, review sheet, and/or demo cd, and then figure out who you should be to sending them to.

Lastly, develop a thick skin. Not every book is meant for you, so be okay with rejection. Provide a good audition, and then let it go. Move on to the next project. The right book is out there if you persevere.

What can you tell us about some of your favorite projects?

I recently recorded ELFKIND by Catherine Cruzan, an epic Fantasy novel set in a vivid, compelling new world. I loved the characters and the story so much. It was a joy to record each time I stepped up to the mic. Working with Catherine was really special, because she was so on top of things, and so engaging and easy to talk to. It was nice to have a creative discussion about our views for her book, and to work together to agree on the best possible approach.

I also really love WITCH HEARTS by Liz Long and ALWAYS YOU by Kirsty Moseley, which I am recording now. It’s a Young Adult/New Adult Romance about two best friends, Riley and Clay, as they navigate the normal high school trenches with some twists. The emotional story speaks to me, and the characters are so much fun to play.

I enjoyed working on EVERNIGHT by Maia Rodriguez, a full cast musical available on iTunes and Amazon. My character is a silly pirate cook who loves fish. Her voice is a lot of fun and the songs are hysterical!

The authors I’ve worked with are a joy, with amazing stories and beautifully rich characters. That’s what I look for when I’m chosing my next book to narrate. I want interesting characters and a strong story that I can latch onto and believe in. It is obvious when a narrator doesn’t like what they are reading.



Visit ANDREA EMMES on her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook