Today for Audiobook month we’re shining the spotlight on the talented Kevin Scollin, narrator of Warren Adler’s cozy mystery Flanagan’s Dolls.
What do you look for in a project? Is there a particular genre you gravitate towards? What initially drew you to Flanagan’s Dolls?
I look for something that interests me. If I’m not interested in the project, I’m afraid it would come across in my narration. Two things drew me to Flanagan’s Dolls: 1) I live in Michigan and have spent time on the western part of the state, so it was fun trying to place myself in the neighborhoods he was writing about. 2) Really? Come on, he wrote The War of the Roses—loved that movie!
Tell us a bit about your background. What inspired you to become an audiobook narrator?
My background is media, thirty years as a disc jockey, mostly in the Detroit market, and I also spent ten years as director of career services for a Broadcast School, teaching and coaching the next generation of broadcasters. I was also “downsized” in 2011 after ten years and found myself at a crossroad. I’ve been doing freelance commercial voice work almost my entire career and I have a home studio. My wife said…”Do that full time” …I thought…”Cool,” audiobook production takes a lot of time and now I had time to do it, so I jumper right in.
How did you prepare for Flanagan’s Dolls specifically?
I read-through the book first, then I spend time going through chapter by chapter and working on characters.
What kind of book would you consider Flanagan’s Dolls to be?
I looked at it as a mystery. It had a lot of Nick and Nora feel to it for me. (Thin Man)
What was the most unexpected thing about narrating audiobooks that you didn’t foresee going in?
The trickiest thing for me was characterizations and keeping them consistent. I find that I usually picture the person speaking, then I assume their mannerisms, which can get very tiring!
Is there anything you learned about yourself or life in general after completing production of Flanagan’s Dolls?
Mmm…Don’t judge a book by its cover? Seriously, I think the biggest thing you can take away from this one is, just because someone has wealth, doesn’t mean they have “Happiness.”
What are the top three pieces of advice you would give to an aspiring voice-over artist?
Practice. Practice. Practice. The fourth piece of advice…have a really good demo.
You breathe such life into the characters of this audiobook. It must be hard to articulate, but can you tell us about your process? How do you become these characters?
Well, like I said earlier, I think for me, getting a mental image of the character helps me the most. Usually it’s an actor, or a family member, then I picture them delivering the lines and I try to mimic them doing it.
What inspires you?
My family, my wife and kids are amazingly supportive, and they let me practice voices on them.
What do you think makes audiobooks so appealing? What does an audiobook offer that a book cannot?
People are very busy. They have to cram a lot of things into a short period of time. More and more people are spending a lot of time in the car, and radio is not the best anymore, which pains me to say…but it’s true, so audio books offer an alternative. My son was in in 6th grade and I had gotten Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as an audiobook, and I would listen to it. We just had a short ride to school, but many times he would ask to sit in the car so he could listen to the end of the chapter! 6th grade…wow! That’s the power of good story telling.
How would you compare narrating an audiobook to acting?
You have to get into character…it’s an on-going process…
Do you have any rituals you practice while you’re recording an audiobook? Certain foods you’ll eat or stay away from? How do you take care of your voice?
I try not to raise my voice and I usually try not to eat anything at least an hour before. I’ll record until my belly rumbles become too loud and frequent, then I take a break for lunch and edit all afternoon.
Do you think audiobooks will one day replace reading?
No, I think there’s an innate comfort to holding a book and reading. It relaxes you. Audiobooks are great and they serve a very important function in today’s hectic lifestyle, but I don’t think you can beat a good book.
What’s next for you? Do you have a project you’re itching to work on?
I’m working on a young teen fantasy novel that I think my eleven-year-old Godson will love. It’s got dragons, elves, trolls, ogres and more…what’ not to like?
Listen to Kevin narrate Flanagan’s Dolls here.