Giving Characters Voices: An Interview with Professional Narrator, Susan Fouche

Today I am so excited to host the narrator of the second two books in the Golden Beach series. Audiobooks are my go to when it comes to getting reading done while still keeping my house together. But the narrator makes all the difference. I know I’m not the right person to narrate my books-I can’t even listen to my words read aloud in front of others without getting embarrassed.

When it came time to put the Golden Beach books into audio format, I turned to professionals. Susan Fouche was one of the first narrators I bookmarked when I was searching for a voice to read Restoration, but we mutually agreed that those characters needed a different feel. I knew I wanted her for my other books though, and hired her for Renovation before it was even published.

Even though all four of my Golden Beach books are now available in audio format, I really don’t know what goes into giving a book a voice. So, I figured the best way to learn was to ask someone who does it on a daily basis. Susan, I’ll hand it over to you now. Thanks for agreeing to share.

Head_Shot_DWhat made you decide to become an audiobook narrator?

I was a high school English teacher before I had kids and then a preschool teacher after they were born. But, I was always in search of “the perfect job for a mom.” A job where I could contribute financially, one that allowed me some flexibility with all the random yet real demands of being a mom (doctor’s appointments, illnesses, award ceremonies, field trips), one where I could step outside the pay scale matrix, and one that would fit into a school day. The big problem was that I always felt that my skill-set was pretty limited. I could either be a teacher…or be some other kind of teacher.

Well, I was listening to Daniel Lapin’s audiobook Thou Shall Prosper during my commute, and as I was listening, I was suddenly struck with his wisdom pertaining to work. He said (and I don’t have the quote, so bear with me) that when you work for someone else, you’re never going to acquire wealth because you’re never really going to get paid your value. Well, that’s a no brainer—especially as a teacher! So of course, here I was again with the frustration that my skillset wasn’t exactly one that would allow me to work for myself, so what the heck was I to do? Then, Rabbi Lapin went on to say that if you don’t have the degree or work experience that could translate into starting your own business, figure out what you’re good at—what you’re just naturally gifted at and turn that gift (or those gifts) into a profitable business. In other words, if you have a degree as a teacher, you have the following choices. Choice A: utilize that degree as a teacher in a public school system. Choice B: utilize that degree as a teacher somewhere else. Or Choice Q: start a business doing something that you’ve never considered before doing what you’re naturally good at.

OK, so right now, I realize this sounds pretty flaky. I mean seriously, at age 39, it’s a little late to even be having this thought process. But, flaky or not, I did think about it.

What am I good at? Choice Q…what are my natural gifts? That’s a pretty crazy question. But it’s the kind of question that has no right answer. And, it’s the kind of question that can be answered in a way that falls inside or outside of the box. So, inside the box kind of answer would be: I was a good math student so I can go back to school, get a degree in accounting, and open up an accounting firm (ok that wasn’t me, I was a terrible math student). Outside the box answer: I’m really good at screwing around and imitating other people’s voices so I can attend some voice acting workshops, turn my closet into a studio, and do a whole lot of auditioning. But wait! I was 39 years old! I’d never done any kind of voice acting, and I knew nothing about recording. So, it was kind of weird when I did quit my “real” job. I mean people really thought I was crazy.

But, my husband was totally supportive. And, I gave myself a time frame to earn the equivalent of what I made at the preschool. Hey, that was like $11.55 an hour so, it wasn’t that hard to make up. And, two years after quitting my “real” job, I can’t imagine doing anything other than basically screwing around and imitating people.

Obviously how I spend my work day isn’t really screwing around and imitating people. It’s actually better. It’s channeling one human being’s creative spark into the heart of another human being. It’s turning a fantasy world—that never existed anywhere before except in an author’s mind—real. It’s making a whole bunch of different imaginary people come alive. It’s telling really cool stories about wonderful people. It’s limitless. It’s magic. (Go ahead, call me flaky.) But Choice Q, outside the box? It was a good one.

What is the biggest challenge for you in the process? The most fun part?

The biggest challenge in narrating an audiobook is that it is time consuming and physically exhausting. I record in my home studio and the recording time is about 3 times longer than the actual production. (That’s a lot of talking.) I never shoot for perfection, but I am careful in my delivery. Also, I strive for a near production-ready product when I’m done recording. So, if I make a mistake, I go back and re-record within the track. This way, the recording process is tedious, but editing goes by quickly.

The most fun part of narrating is becoming someone else. I’ve narrated all different kinds of characters from priests to porn stars, police officers to murderers, hopeless romantics to devious sociopaths, and everyone in between. And, I have to admit, playing the bad guys is often more fun than playing the good ones.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Who is your favorite narrator? 

 I listen to audiobooks all the time. Some of my favorite narrators are Julia Whelan, Lauren Fortgang, Richard Poe, and Simon Vance. But, I will say that despite conventional wisdom, I think some authors do an excellent job narrating their own books. Examples here are Jim Collins and Robert Maurer.

Out of the characters you’ve voiced in the Golden Beach universe, who is your favorite? Why?

You know, I love all the major players. But, I think Donovan would have to be my favorite. Hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Big tough firefighter, but he plays beautiful acoustic guitar and knows how to sail. He’s one gorgeous contradiction. Yeah, my favorite would have to be Donovan.

 If you could narrate any book you wanted, which would it be?

I would love to narrate anything by Willa Cather. Her writing is just beautiful.

Thanks so much, Susan! 

Don’t forget to pick up your copies of the Golden Beach series in audiobook. Each one is only $1.99 from Audible if you’ve already got the Kindle version! Just click the picture below.

4 golden beach books

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