Interview with Elizabeth Basalto: Audiobook Narrator!

For me, the strangest part about making an audiobook was that 99.99999% of the work belonged to someone else this time. I’ve never done voice acting or narration before, and my background in sound design all happened in professional-ish studios at college or in very serious local bands garages. So I had a lot of questions for Elizabeth about her process! Read on to find out more about the narrator for The Poppet and the Lune, and how the audiobook was created!

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What made you decide to take up voice acting/narration?

E.B: I’ve always loved doing imitations and quoting my favorite tv shows and movies–I think I get that from my mom. It was just a natural thing from the time I was little to say something or make a joke and then quote one of my favorite characters to go along with it, imitating their voice. When I got to college, I did imitations for my friends all the time: of characters, of people we’d met, of my friends themselves. It got to the point where pretty much everyone knew, “if you’re friends with Elizabeth, you’d better get used to her making weird noises/voices and saying strange things all the time.” And my true friends accepted it, and even liked it. (Or so they tell me, haha!)

I’d been interested in pursuing voice acting as a career for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to get into it. Audiobook narration wasn’t a means I’d considered until one day when my sister had a migraine and asked me to read a book aloud to her, since she couldn’t read it herself. That was sort of what put the idea of audiobooks in my mind–I enjoyed reading the book aloud, and she enjoyed listening to it.

TPaL was your first audiobook project – how steep was the learning curve?

E.B.: It wasn’t too bad, fortunately! I already had some experience with audio and video editing programs, which was a big help. This was my first time using the specific editing program I use now–an open source program called Audacity–so that took a bit of getting used to. Mastering the audio to all of ACX’s required specifications was also a confusing learning process, but the Audacity forums were a lot of help. There are a number of other ACX narrators on there who were able to share their experiences and give tips to help first time editors get everything exactly right. There was a lot of trial and error, but I enjoyed it, and luckily it wasn’t too overwhelming!

What was your favorite scene to narrate? (No spoilers!)

E.B.: That’s a tough one–I really enjoyed the whole book because each new part, each new chapter introduced new emotions, new settings or new characters. I think one of my favorites was when the patchwork girl meets the Banshi, and then Aubrey, Scarlet, and Aurelia. It was so much fun to do all those different voices. Since they and the patchwork girl all talk to each other for quite a while, it was important to me to ensure that the listener could easily distinguish between all five characters. Their interactions were so endearing, and I love those girls and seeing how their storylines developed. I honestly adore the entire section that took place in Prince Baylis’ castle. Those chapters are my favorite parts of the book, both as a narrator and a reader.

What was the hardest scene to narrate?

E.B.: I’d have to say the scenes with Gabriel, because his voice was described as being so deep. I tried to talk as deeply as possible, but I had to do a LOT of takes because it was hard to keep my tone low enough. The scene where Gabriel is negotiating with the patchwork girl in his cave was particularly challenging. That whole section of the book is very emotional and raw and dramatic, so I did my best to convey that–not just through the characters’ voices, but through the narration as well.

Favorite character to voice?

E.B.: Definitely the Banshi. I struggled with her at first because I was having trouble settling on what she should sound like. I did a lot of different practice versions that just weren’t right. Finally, after I thought about it more carefully, I realized: a banshee doesn’t talk, she wails! I tried to focus on the description of her voice in the book, and make it sound like my voice was wavering up and down a few octaves, very breathy. It was so much fun and I was really proud of how it came out.
What does you recording set up look like (what kind of mic, audio software, etc.) and where is it located?

E.B.: I have a room over the garage that I converted into a sound studio. I did a lot of research on the best way to build a home studio without breaking the bank, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Voice actor James Arnold Taylor has a great series of videos on YouTube that demonstrate how you can use materials you have on hand and achieve professional results. Everyday items like egg crates, towels, pillows and blankets all make fantastic noise-dampening materials, which is hugely important if you want to produce an audioboook–ACX has very strict guidelines to ensure professional quality in every production, so it’s important to have a well-constructed studio that’s as sound-proof as possible.

For equipment, I use a CAD USB microphone, with a CAD pop filter. This microphone is great. It captures very crisp, high-quality sound, but it was much more affordable than many others on the market right now. And since it is USB, it has the convenience of plugging it directly into my computer. When I edit, I use Sennheiser HD 201 headphones. They are perfect because they pick up all the little pops and background noise I might otherwise miss. They are also very comfortable. The editing software, like I mentioned earlier, is an open-source program called Audacity. It is a wonderful little program, easy to use, and best of all, it’s free! It’s a popular choice among narrators at ACX, and I highly recommend it.

What book is your DREAM narration project?

E.B.: I would love to do some sort of children’s book or series. I love coming up with voices for magical creatures! I am a big fan of Emily Rodda’s “Fairy Realm” and “Deltora Quest” series, so any projects similar to those would be an enormous thrill.

Any other projects you’re working on now?

E.B.: I am currently narrating “Southern Greed” by Peggy Holloway, an adult mystery/thriller set in the South in the 1960s. It is a really gripping book, and a lot of fun to be working on!

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If you’d like to know more about Elizabeth and her work, feel free to check her out on Twitter (@elizabethvoices) or her website, VoicesByElizabeth.com! Or better yet, check out her debut audiobook, The Poppet and the Luneon Amazon, Audible, or iTunes!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Elizabeth!

If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of The Poppet and the Lune audiobook, click here to enter our drawing!

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