Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chris Patton on FATAL SHADOWS

I can't pretend I'm not excited about today's blog. It's the first in a series of interviews with the narrators of my audio books. So many of you seem to be loving the audio that I thought you might enjoy a little insight into the process -- hopefully we aren't taking away the magic!

 Today we have Chris Patton discussing Fatal Shadows. The first book in the Adrien English series. Chris was the very first narrator/producer I hired. I had been scoping out various narrators and I had run across Chris, but he sounded so busy with so many projects that I actually did not approach him.

Meanwhile, I was getting some pretty so-so auditions for the book (at that time on ACX gay fiction was definitely an Also Ran). So I was kind of discouraged. Maybe this audio thing was not going to pan out after all. I even approached a couple of narrators and -- though I was offering to pay up front and the going rate -- I met a stony silence.

Then Chris suddenly popped up in my inbox and I was delighted. He was exactly the voice I had been thinking for Adrien English (and I hadn't even heard his Jake yet)!

So here's the first in a series of what I hope will be entertaining and informative interviews.


1 - Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in narrating/producing audio books? How many audio books have you narrated?

I started out as a stage actor at age nine. I basically did that until I was about twenty-eight, which is when I landed my first Voice Over job. I started out voicing Anime, which I still do, but that’s a whooole other story. I then branched off into commercial, elearning, corporate narration, all of that. It was one day in 2010 when I just sort of sat down and said, “I’ve always really, really wanted to narrate Audiobooks… I’m just going to freakin’ make that happen.” And I did. Becoming my own engineer/ producer is something that is still very much in its, oh, let’s say adolescent years for me. I’m getting better and better, though. J

 

2 - How much acting is involved in narrating a story?

It’s all acting, really. Even if you’re “just narrating” long non-dialogue passages. You’re still selling the listener and image, you’re drawing them in, you’re exciting their senses with your voice. That’s acting. That’s storytelling. I believe that Audiobook Narration may be the purest, most real, bare-bones form of acting that exists.

 

3 - What was the most difficult or challenging aspect of narrating FATAL SHADOWS?

 Figuring out Adrien, in general, and what his whole “deal” was. I guess I mean his arc, his progression from where he had just been in life, and where he was going, and making all of that make aural sense to the reader in my characterization.

 

4 - What character was the most fun to narrate? Why?

 Claude, for sure. I have a definite love for the Queens of RuPaul’s drag race, and Claude just sort of felt like one of them to me. He also, in my mind, had elements of Lafayette from True Blood, so I tried to encapsulate all of that in him, vocally.

 

5 - What character was the most difficult to narrate? Why?

Jake, probably. I didn’t like Jake much, still not sure I do. But I’m trying to wrap my brain around him. Anyway, it’s hard to give voice to a character that you don’t at first fully grasp or like. But I found my voice for him, went with it, and I think it’s worked really well. Hopefully as the series progresses, Jake and I will get along better. ;-)

 

6 - Was there a particular scene you think you read especially well? Or that you particularly enjoyed reading?
 
For some reason, the scene between Adrien and Lisa, having brunch together on that windy balcony(?) really sticks with me, as a sort of nice “slice-of-life and realism” type scene. And then, of course, the climactic scene with Bruce toward the end, which I think sort of dovetails with the next question…

 

7 - How awkward is it to read erotic scenes aloud?
 
For me, it’s not awkward at all, unless my partner’s home. Then I feel silly and sort of “judged”, even though he’s not the one doing the judging. It’s all in my head, like so much of all our personal bs, yeah? Anyway, it’s just another form of colorful narration for me, unless it’s written really poorly or awkwardly, which I just don’t find happens much in the work I get to voice.

 

8 - What’s the most satisfying or rewarding part of narrating/producing an audio book?
 
The finished product, honestly. That’s number one. Great author/customer reviews and the check come in a close second, duh. But really, it is just the finished product, that entity that exists out there now in the ether, or on CD format, as a wonderful story that will entertain such a wide range of people for, well, as long as technology exists.

 

9 - Do you ever find yourself wishing the author (naturally not me!!!) hadn’t taken the story in a particular direction? Or is narrating a much more detached process?
 
 I’ll go wherever the author goes, that’s my job. THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, there have been times when, while I’m narrating, my eyes are bugging out, or my head is gently shaking back and forth, because I’m thinking, “oh hell NO he/ she did NOT just write that down! Really? We’re going here? Alright, well damn.”

 

10 - Where can readers/listeners find out more about you and your work?
 
Generally, www.voiceofchrispatton.com is not a bad start. But, if you’re interested only in my Audiobook Narration, it’s best to go to Audible.com, and type in Chris Patton as a search term, and you’ll pull up almost every title I’ve narrated! Also, if you’re a Tweeter, my Twitter is #lechrispatton.

48 comments:

  1. Fascinating! As a lover of audiobooks I've often wondered about those who narrate them, so it's great to hear (!) from one of them. Now I'm going to see them with their eyes bugging out, and their heads gently shaking back and forth in unison with mine, although NOT of course when I'm listening to one of your books!

    I'm glad that you signed Chris P up for your longest series, as I enjoy listening to him. I think he did a superb job with Fatal Shadows. (Always helps when you're working with excellent material, of course.)

    PS Love the tulips!!

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    1. Helena, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

      The tulips are my vote of confidence that spring is just around the corner. :-)

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  2. "Jake, probably. I didn’t like Jake much, still not sure I do."

    A man after my own heart! :-) Thank you Josh and Chris for putting this little treat together for us. I look forward to hearing more AE.

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  3. An excellent interview. It's always fascinating to get to know someone new a little better. Fatal Shadows was my first audio book and since then I have become quite taken with the format. So glad Chris turned out to be your choice for the AE series. His voice is marvelous throughout!

    If I may ask a question, before Chris did the FS narration, did he read the entire AE series to know the full arc of the story ahead of time? Thank you Josh and Chris for your time.

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    1. Susan, I believe I can answer that. No. Because originally I only hired Chris to do the first book. I was pretty uncertain about whether the first book would earn out -- meaning whether my audience would turn out to love audio books as much as I do. And I wasn't sure how readers would feel about Chris. I loved his voice and thought it was perfect for Adrien, but I know everyone has their own idea of how Adrien looks and sounds.

      And since I'd never commissioned an audio book, I had no idea how it would work or if it would work at all! :-D

      But everything turned out quite well. The main thing is readers are happy, and that makes me happy. So I went ahead and commissioned Chris for the rest of the series and sent him all the books.

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    2. Thank you for the response, Josh. Very much looking forward to A Dangerous Thing coming out next, and the other three to follow.

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  4. Thank you Josh and Chris for the behind he scenes insight. I find it all very fascinating, and really bow down to Chris and his remarkable talent for taking Josh's beloved book and characters to the next level. Highly anticipating the audio for A Dangerous Thing.

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    1. Thank you, Dianne. I find the process fascinating! And every narrator is quite different, which makes it all the more interesting.

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  5. Loved the interview. I was wondering almost the same as Susan: Does Chris read the complete book before he starts laying down the tracks, or even the whole chapter? Or does he read it for the first time right to audio?
    I always think about the scene in Jane Austen's: Sense and Sensibility that discusses the issue of reading a book aloud and understood what Chris meant by acting the narration.
    Thank you for the interview Josh!

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    1. I know the narrators read the book before they begin work. What's interesting is they audition for the book by simply reading a short audition script provided by the author (an excerpt from the book).

      So the challenge is double. They have to somehow figure out how to read a scene with almost nothing to guide them. But it's also tricky for the author because I make my decision to hire or not based on that skimpy little reading.

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  6. Great interview!
    As a die hard Jake lover from the start, I wonder if Chris' opinion of Jake has changed after reading book 2?
    -Andy

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    1. I don't know but...well, THYS is not exactly an argument for loving Jake. :-D

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    2. Sorry, I don't see that. I loved Jake in that too. One of the few times an ending I did not agree with still had me loving the book. Sorry, Guy will forever be Captain Crunch to me. And what makes Jake so evil in THYS? Leaving Adrien or pushing Adrien? Angus drives me crazy in that one.
      -Andy

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    3. Angus?! :-D

      I agree. Jake is in pain -- genuine pain -- through that series. In fact, no one in those books suffers more.

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    4. Yes, Angus. Don't get me started ;o)

      Yes! Jake is in pain. Jake is suffering the most in the series. And Adrien never thinks about that, about why Jake is the way he is. For me the series is about Jake and Jake's growth. My favorite books in the series are #2, #4 and #5 - because of Jake.

      And I have to say, the audiobooks have helped me through this flu. I wish there were a couple more new ones though.

      -Andy

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    5. So sorry to hear about the flu!

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  7. The audiobooks and the interviews mean a lot and I really appreciate all you've done so we can experience the books to the fullest and understand what's behind them, too. Thank you both.

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    1. Thank you very much for saying so, Nora. They are still kind of a gamble for me. They are expensive to do -- I have to pay people up front, I don't feel comfortable asking them to gamble on a royalty share unless I am very sure -- so there's always a sense of uncertainty.

      But I have to say, I've been delighted with the response to the audio books so far. It confirms my own love of audio books -- which is always a nice thing.

      And all my narrators have been so great. Each one uniquely talented. Each one bringing something unanticipated to the story.

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  8. Thanks, Josh and Chris for the interesting insight. I often think the behind the scenes production of a product is just as intriguing as the end result.

    To Chris regarding Jake, I've always loved Jake (even when I didn't like him at various times)...he'll grow on you! *wink*

    Love the tulips, Josh!

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    1. I think most readers forgive Jake in The Dark Tide. Not all, of course. :-)

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    2. Yep...favorite quote from The Dark Tide:

      "Why can't you say it?" I hardened my voice. "Because I'm telling you, you never have. I'd have remembered."
      He stared at me with disbelief. [...]
      "Love you? Of course I love you. Baby, I fucking worship you.”
      ― Josh Lanyon, The Dark Tide

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    3. There are lines in those upcoming books I would not want to read aloud. It's hard to write them and not sound cheesy. Let alone read them aloud!

      At the same time, I can't wait to hear them brought to life.

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  9. Fascinating look into the narrating process. I've been listening to audiobooks for over 20 years and I never tire of hearing favorite characters brought to life by an excellent narrator. I agree that you are a perfect Adrien, Chris, and listening to Fatal Shadows was very enjoyable. I can't wait to listen to A Dangerous Thing.
    Love, love, love the gorgeous tulips, Josh! Just the thing to lift my spirits as we look forward to another foot of snow tonight.

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    1. Those tulips were in defiance of our own cold weather. Cold weather or not, we're starting to see a lot of blooms.

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  10. I loved this interview. I loved knowing more about the process and more about 'the voice.' I have to admit, I've been resistant to audio books so far. Just like you, Josh, I have a distinct voice in my head for each character when I read. I've been a bit afraid to have those voices change. But, it dawned on me while reading this interview that this is the same as two different actors taking on the same role in a play. There can be more than one brilliant performance. Thanks Chris and Josh!

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    1. Karan, that's exactly the thought process that led me to considering audio books. At first it seemed like it would interfere with my own vision. And then I thought...actually, it's just another art form -- like having a book illustrated or filmed.

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  11. Thanks for writing this Josh.

    It's a marriage made in heaven isn't it - Adrien English and Chris Patton - vocally I mean. I'm glad I came to this series via the audiobook (soon to be books) first rather than print. Chris brought Fatal Shadows alive for me in a way that wouldn't have happened if I'd just been reading it to myself.

    - Caroline

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    1. Caroline, I think the audio books have introduced the stories to a whole new audience. It's really an intriguing process.

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  12. I loved this! It's fun to get the narrator's perspective. I *love* this audiobook and his performance is spot on. I agree that Chris really brought the story alive, and made me rethink characters and plot lines that I didn't fully grasp when reading it (sorry, Josh).

    Books 3 and 4 in this series are my favorites, and I can't wait to hear Chris tackle Guy and Paul Kane. Thanks for the interview!

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    1. Interesting. Well, we're supposed to be the TV generation, so I guess that makes sense really. :-)

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  13. Thanks for this very informative interview guys. I've always wondered about the process of audiobooks. These were great questions and I really enjoyed reading Chris's answers. I've listened to audiobooks for many years, first at a job where I could listen as I worked and now while I'm at the gym. I have to say the quality has improved greatly through the years. The benefit to those that are blind or are unable to read is a godsend. Thank you both for what you give us with your wonderful talents

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    1. Diana, what's been sort of fun and very interesting is how different each of the narrators has been to interview.

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  14. One thing that Chris appears to get that really bothered me about audiobooks in the past is the tendency of the narrator to just read the book, not perform it. In fact, I'm listening to an audiobook like that now (not a Lanyon or Patton) and it's painful in comparison.

    Chris' performance of Fatal Shadows as extremely good. Spot on.

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    1. That's a tricky one, JB. A couple of the narrators I've chosen do mostly read rather than act the lines. It's a different approach, different art almost.

      I wonder which approach readers will end up enjoying more? I'm guessing the acting. Although the other is probably truer to the experience of being aloud to.

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    2. I see that -- I guess my mind is just clouded by my affection for radio plays (old school stuff, like the Shadow, etc.). I understand that this feeling may well be unique to me.

      The part of it that I can't get away from, though, is my difficulty sometimes in the read-aloud style of being able to tell which character is speaking. That really bugs me. It's easy when reading, since you can see the by play and backup if you have to, but backing up an audiobook is tougher.

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    3. You can tell that's one of the toughest things for a narrator. Keeping voices straight in a complicated or fast paced scene.

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  15. Great interview! I loved Chris' narration of the first in the AE mysteries. And he's right, the best narrators must be good actors. The MM genre has its share of awful narrators. He did a great job, and I'm waiting (not very patiently) for the rest of the series. :)

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen.

      That was one thing I was determined about. With each book I wait until I find the exact narrator I'm looking for.

      Well, except with Armed and Dangerous which I'm going to allow readers to vote on. There were just too many great candidates that time.

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  16. This almost makes me want my commute back! (ALMOST!) But I'll have to leave that to others! I'll still stock up! (*I see many road trips in my future!* Cue the creepy voice!)

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    1. LOL. Yeah, I wouldn't get too misty over the long and painful commute! ;-D

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  17. Fun interview!

    And Patton's Claude was definitely my favorite character. LOVED how he brought Claude to life. :)

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  18. I think I got through all 5 of the Adrien English mysteries in 5 days, kick started by Patton's brilliant narration of Fatal Shadows. I have to agree that I love the way he brought Claude to life. Will definitely be acquiring the rest of the books on audio as they're released.

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    1. That's great to hear. Thank you, Keri!

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  19. When will we hear Chris doing Dark Tide; I'm so hooked on the audiobook versions, that I downloaded the Kindle version of Dark Tide, but the male narrator sounds like a robot reading the book ... and I still loved it, so I need to hear Chris's voice to round of this wonderful series!!!! Please! Tell me when to expect it!

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