Posted: 01 Jun 2014 04:37 AM PDT
Today I'm pleased to interview professional actor and audiobook voice artist Mark Torres, who narrated my romantic thriller, The Drive-By Wife. Mark is now halfway through the narration of The Wrong Side of the Tracks. As feedback from my audiobook listeners has been fantastic, I thought listeners might want to know more about Mark, his background, and his narration process. In the interview he also shares some interesting thoughts for authors who are considering putting their books in audio format.
I trained as a stage actor at Temple University's Professional Actor Training Program where I received an MFA in acting. I also hold a BA from Indiana University, where I majored in Theatre and Drama. When I got out of school, I moved to New York City and was cast in the original cast of Amadeus which ran for three years. I worked with Ian Mckellen, Tim Curry and Jane Seymour in the original cast. I soon became interested in directing and began working as a director. I founded a small theatre called Moving Target Theatre Company and produced a number of plays in Brooklyn before moving the company to Dallas. From there I went to Bangor, Maine to head Penobscot Theatre which I ran for 13 years. I have now moved back to the New York City area and am once again working as a free lance actor and director.
What led you to start narrating audiobooks?
I have always had an affinity for spoken word communication. Radio programs and old fashioned radio dramas have held a fascination for me. When I began researching it as a career option, I was very excited to think I might be able to do it as part of my acting career.
What aspects of audiobook narration do you find the most challenging?
I had heard that recording audiobooks takes lots of personal stamina and I agree. It takes mental, physical and vocal staying power. I am often surprised at how much energy I seem to expend after a session of recording and editing.
What parts do you enjoy the most?
I love the to and fro of character to character dialogue, especially if it is witty as in lots of the fun exchanges in The Wrong Side of the Tracks or dramatic, as was the case in working on The Drive By Wife.
Do you have a studio in your home?
Yes. I have a recording booth with a standing desk in the guest room of our house (and I can disassemble it pretty quickly when we have guests.)
Do you do your own editing?
I do my own editing and find that it is during editing that things like the pace of a scene can be addressed if, for instance, I didn't get it quite right when I recorded it.
What's your recording schedule like for given audiobook and how do you pace yourself?
It depends on my schedule. For instance, with The Drive By Wife, I recorded all the sections and then took them with me to edit when I went out of town to act in a regional theatre production. When I was not in rehearsal or performance for the play I was in my hotel suite with my headphones on editing the audiobook.
What talents/skills are required to be a good audiobook narrator?
In the case of both of Mike's books that I have worked on, I would say it is character differentiation. With The Drive By Wife, getting the right tone for the character Billy. He had to be menacing and yet have a kind of broad regional Appalachian dialect that could have been construed as comic or cartoonish. With The Wrong Side of the Tracks, voicing the young people with their high school micro-cosmic social hierarchies and concerns also calls on the actor to play them earnestly without a hint of commentary.
Which character was your favorite to narrate in my books?
By far for me was Billy in The Drive By Wife. Mike created a character whose inner psychological demons drove him to demand from his victims a lengthy and varied cat and mouse game played out over weeks and numerous colorful locales.
What type of novels do you like to listen to/read yourself?
I enjoy contemporary fiction in both written and audiobook form.
Do you have any advice for people who want to become audiobook narrators?
Remember that you are bringing the author's work to the listener's ear. Try to do that while staying out of the way.
Do you have any advice for authors in hiring and working with audiobook narrators?
I would urge authors to consider that they are seeking storytellers, as opposed to someone with a "good" voice.
Anyone interested in contacting Mark can do so here on his ACX page.
Now in Audio!
(Note: you can download any of the below FREE by becoming an Audible member on a no-risk 30 day trial basis)
Lust, Money & Murder (International Thriller)