Nancy Peterson has narrated over ninety audiobooks and is an Audie Award winning Narrator. The Way to a Man’s Heart is available in audio for the first time and was narrated by Nancy. She gives some insight on what it takes to narrate a book and her journey to becoming a narrator!
1. What has been your journey to becoming an audiobook narrator?
I have loved audiobooks for as long as I can remember. My father was temporarily blinded when I was about three years old. His recovery took months, and he lay bedridden with sandbags around his head to keep him still. My mother would pull out the record player, place a filmy, square, plastic record (about the size of a 45) on the spindle, and Dad would listen to The Reader’s Digest and other periodicals. I would carefully climb up next to him and listen along. Also, I would listen to Disney records as I went to sleep. I can still remember the crooning of Burl Ives singing Lavender Blue, and the story of the Three Little Pigs. At the age of 11, my best friend and I snuck my father’s brand-new, fancy cassette tape recorder and read aloud Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day with Ferrante & Teisher playing in the background. I’ve continued to act on stage, screen and in recording studios ever since. A natural progression to audiobook is the result, which in a way is returning to my first love.
2. How many books have you narrated, do they have a common theme or genre? How do you select which books to narrate?
I have narrated almost 100 audiobooks, and the genres I’m most well-known for are Historical Fiction and Sweet Romance although I do have titles in almost every genre. The selection process varies depending on if it is an independent author or a publisher. For Indy authors, I look at the cover art first. I know, it seems superficial perhaps to judge a book by it’s cover, but a good cover speaks volumes about the value the author places on their work. You want something that draws listeners to click the “Sample” and a good cover draws them in. I’ll read the description in the audition, the summary and reviews on Amazon if available, any Goodreads reviews as well. The final question is “am I the right voice for this audiobook?” If the answer is yes, then I audition or accept the project. With publishers, I usually get an excerpt or summary with an offer. Publishers are pretty savvy about which books I’m right for, so I typically say yes to them if my schedule permits.
3. What is special about narrating a Debbie Macomber book?
When I received the invitation to narrate a book by Debbie Macomber, I was thrilled! I am inspired by her personal journey of writing, and that she largely did it by her own hard work and study. Inspirational, curious, driven, hopeful, determined…these are the words that come to mind to describe Debbie. Her body of work definitely speaks for itself, and it’s an honor to be a voice for her.
4. Do you prefer to read or listen to books?
I prefer to listen to audiobooks because I understand much better than when I read. In fact, even if I narrate a book, then listen back, I sometimes have “ah-ha” moments that I didn’t catch as I read it.
5. Where is your favorite place to listen to audiobooks, or your favorite activity to do while listening?
I listen while cleaning my house, gardening, walking the dog, folding laundry. One of my most cherished moments is when my daughter and I listened to The Secret Garden in the car on our way to rehearsals for the stage play, Annie. That was two years ago, and still we sometimes just sit and listen to it again while in the car, just for old times sake. It’s lovely!
6. What is your routine for recording a book? How many times do you read it before? How do you decide on the voices you do for different characters?
When preparing a book, I’ll read it through once, highlighting words I don’t know, as well as words that inform character traits, or specific direction for the scene. Often when I read a book, it almost feels like I’m watching a movie. This is how I choose characters. I cast people in a movie. I will adopt a physical posture or trait of some kind as I perform each character, and the voice follows.
7. What do you love most about being an audiobook narrator?
I love that I can get lost in stories everyday, and I get to play all the parts! It’s a dream job for an actor.
8. What is something that people may not know about being a narrator?
Many narrators work from a home studio. As a result our pet peeves are leaf blowers, airplanes, and lawn mowers!