I’m excited to share my interview with Narrator Gary Bennett. When talking to my husband, I’ve referred to Gary as “My Cousin Gary”. (My maiden name is Bennett.) Gary’s not really my cousin, but I felt a kinship with his creative mind. He’s a man of many talents. AND, I liked saying, “My Cousin Gary is narrating my novel” and “My Cousin Gary just sent me his awesome excerpt.” So thanks, “Cousin Gary”, for joining me today.
CHRISTINA: I love the results of your hard work on Chemical Attraction. Tell us a little about you and your professional background.
GARY: I spent the first half of my professional life as an Electrical Engineer and running my engineering firm. I’ve always had a creative side, though, from art (mostly pencil and pen drawing) to music (guitar, piano) and I always wanted to invest more time on those creative endeavors.
CHRISTINA: Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?
GARY: In my engineering life I spent a lot of time traveling, and during those travels I fell in love with audiobooks. I eventually reached a point in my life where I wanted to explore my creative side more (and do engineering less) and I just happened to stumble upon an interview of one of my favorite audiobook narrators in which he described how he got started in the industry. And something in my soul clicked. I researched and invested in some studio equipment. I sought out training and coaching from industry professionals. And once I got behind the mic, I found myself transported into a whole new world. A gap in my life I didn’t even know existed was suddenly filled, and I finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up!
CHRISTINA: What do you look for in a book when choosing to audition for a project?
GARY: It has to be well written. That’s something that one can tell fairly quickly. If it isn’t written well, I’m not going to enjoy reading it, and then the narration becomes a job. Good story arcs and interesting characters also factor in to that decision.
CHRISTINA: What kind of preparation do you do before starting to record?
GARY: First, I always read the book. As I read it I take notes on the characters and build them up from what’s in the text and also what may only be implied. I research pronunciations. I highlight difficult or important passages. I prep the manuscript so that it’s more readable in the booth, changing the fonts, spacing, chapter divisions. And then I’m ready to get behind the mic and record.
CHRISTINA: How do you get a feel for the characters and the tone of the story?
GARY: The tone of the story comes from not only the action described in each scene but also the language of that narrative. The words that are actually used to describe the scenes determines the energy and the tone of the delivery.
Much of my character building comes from the text itself. How each character is described, how they behave, how they speak, how they interact with other characters. But there’s always subtext the drives each character as well. You have to open your imagination to find what motivates each character to do what they do, so that you can take the text and build a 3-D character, a real person that you can visualize, from what’s written.
CHRISTINA: How do you come up with different voices and keep them all straight?
GARY: The development of each voice often just comes naturally as I’m prepping the book, and I’ll often visualize a specific person I know in my life upon which I’ll base a character, maybe tweaking a trait here or there to bring shine uniqueness. Each time a new character voice is introduced, I copy the audio track of that voice to a separate file I maintain for every book and series, so that when that same character comes along later in the book (or in the next book of a series) I can refer to that original recording to ensure that their voice is consistent.
CHRISTINA: What is the greatest challenge in recording an audiobook?
GARY: Maintaining focus and staying engaged, in the moment. Each recording session lasts anywhere from two to eight hours depending on my schedule, and it’s my job to be–to really *live*–every character and be completely engaged in every scene. When the book is well written it’s very easy to slip into that mode but it still requires focus to stay there and not get distracted by fatigue, dry mouth, external noises, etc.
CHRISTINA: What made you choose Chemical Attraction? Do you have a favorite recorded scene?
GARY: I’ve always been drawn to thrillers and mysteries, and the added romantic element as well as the occasional humor really appealed to me. I think one of my favorite scenes was when Madeline impersonated the Homeland Security Agent at the rural sheriff’s office. Witnessing her stepping out of her norm and the growth she had throughout the course of the story was really fun. And of course the final standoff at the farm/lab was a lot of fun to record!
To learn more about Gary Bennett, visit these sites:
Narrator Gary Bennett’s Website