Growing up as a Colorado cattle rancher’s daughter, Pamela Almand graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in graphic design. After taking a flying lesson for fun, she shocked her family by announcing she was going to be an airline pilot- well before women were welcome in airline cockpits!
After accomplishing that goal and rising to the position of international 747 captain for Northwest Airlines, flying throughout Asia and Europe, a series of joint replacement surgeries brought Pam’s flying to an end, but catapulted her into developing another passion into a successful career.
As a female pilot, she was asked to do a national TV commercial for Tylenol on-camera, and after doing several spots for Northwest, and narrating training videos, corporate videos, and other voice work while she was flying, she became a full-time voice actor when she had to stop flying.
She has a professional recording studio at her home in Atlantic Beach, Florida and is an award-winning SAG/AFTRA narrator and voice actor. Her company, The Captain’s Voice, has clients all over the world, including Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Audible, Oasis Audio, Microsoft, La Costa Resort, Walmart, Publix, Canadian Realtors, Tyndale Audiobooks, Dell, American Red Cross, Zurich, The United Nations … all the way to being the English voice for The Hotels and Casinos of Monte Carlo!
Look for her audiobooks on Audible, Amazon, or in your public library!
How did you get started doing audiobook narration?
I’d done professional voiceover work for commercials, video narration, e-learning for many years (getting into THAT is another story for another article!) but really shied away from audiobooks because I was so awed and intimidated by the talent of people like Scott Brick, January LaVoy, P.J. Ochlan, Xe Sands and others! Without a theater/acting background I didn’t think I had the acting chops. But I’ve always been passionate about reading and could lose myself in books, so I took a little time off to give it a try- and found I loved narrating audiobooks and did okay with performing all the different roles! I started coaching sessions yearly with top teaching narrators to build my skills, and still get coaching at least yearly. Hope I never get to the point that I stop learning!
The most illuminating thing I found is that listeners have what I call “intelligent imagination.” They don’t demand or expect a female narrator to “be” a man or to “be” a Scottish teenager, but they need a believable suggestion of it, not an over-the-top character voice.
You used to fly a 747 for Northwest Airlines. That seems a far cry from reading audiobooks, yet your voice came in handy in that job too. How so?
After people got over the shock of a female voice saying, “This is your captain speaking!” (I did it in Japanese on my Tokyo flights!) my lower-pitched voice helped to reassure with authority- even without doing the stereotypical “Chuck Yeager drawl!” I love flying and miss it a lot, but having a second career about which I’m passionate is truly a blessing!
I understand you’ve been helping author Terry Odell. What have you been doing?
I started with Terry on What’s In A Name, an excellent suspense/romance/thriller with a protagonist fleeing her past with different disguises and personae. Then we started the Triple-D Ranch series, which was a great partnership since my Dad had a Colorado cattle ranch when I was growing up! Our cowboys weren’t as sexy or gorgeous as Terry’s, though. . . darn! Terry is really researching this in depth. She’s on a working cattle ranch right now, herding cattle, pulling calves, mending fence!
You won a Voice Arts Award and were a finalist for an Audie Award. What did you perform for those, and what did you bring to that performances?
The 2016 Voice Arts Award was for the non-fiction title “In Movement There Is Peace” by Elaine Orabona Foster and Joseph Wilbred Foster III, about their trek over the 500-mile Camino de Santiago. I booked a male narrator friend, Scott Thomas, to do the male POV. I truly felt Elaine’s struggles and her search for purpose on her journey, and really became emotional at the end. The Camino is now on my bucket list and I WILL do it!
The Audie Award nomination was for a contemporary Christian romance called Come To Me Alive, by Leah Atwood. That was probably the biggest challenge I’ve confronted. I had to sing (which I only do in my car with the windows up!) the title song, which was, in itself, daunting! But first I had to get a musician friend of mine to write a melody for it, then sing it first as a male country western rock star, singing along with his hit song on the radio, then as his girlfriend singing it, THEN as a duet between the two of them!!! Challenged not only my narration skills, but my editing skills as well! I guess I faked it well enough for a nomination as an Audie Award finalist, though.
You read a variety of genres. Is it difficult to switch from one to another?
Yes and no. Once I get into a book I try to let the author’s words guide my narration. Non-fiction, to me, is harder than fiction because some titles are, let’s face it- dry! My e-learning background has helped on that, though, since I have spent hours making (or trying to make!) insurance regulations fun and interesting, or HIPAA training riveting, or economic theories exciting!
What is your favorite genre to narrate?
Actually, the same as my favorite genre to read! Suspense, thrillers, international espionage!
How do you prepare to perform a book?
I read the book (some top narrators pay to have someone read the book for them and then relate the “Cliff Notes” to them as they go) and I make character notes and research any pronunciations I’m unsure of. I give each main character an “alter ego”; someone I can visualize and “hear” their voice. Then I jump into the story and go to work!
I see you narrate video games. Is that any different than narrating audiobooks?
You usually are asked to perform your own gender is a videogame and you rarely need to do opposing dialogue, which makes it a little easier! But videogames are not the over-the-top characters they used to be and are very real, so they demand real, challenging acting skills!
What is your favorite part about narrating audiobooks?
Getting lost in the story and getting to know the characters so much more deeply than when I only read the books! I used to read purely for enjoyment on layovers and commuting to base and truly flew over the words. I’d measure my international trips as a pilot by the number of books I could read. (Asia trips were usually “3-book” or “5-book” trips.) Now I slow down and savor them in a completely different way.