Kris Keppeler is a narrator, writer, voice actor, actor, and funny story junkie. Visit her on IMDB for stage and screen credits, and ponder the anomalies of modern life with her on the “Does This Happen to You?” series on Channillo, the podcast, and Youtube.
What led to the spark that made you interested in audiobook narration?
I really enjoy voice-over work, and audiobooks are a natural fit for actors. So, I began applying for audiobook narration work on freelance sites. I also love to read, and reading the book is a must before narrating it.
What did you do to get started in the business, and what were your first days like?
I studied voice acting with the two most recommended coaches in town. It’s acting, but you need to modify your skills and learn self-direction. My partner, Jack, provided a cheap mic, cheap headsets, and I had my PC. Needless to say, my first days involved lots of rejection, lots of sound problems (don’t use a cheap mic or headset), and teaching myself how to edit my recordings. My agent rejected both demos made by the best coaches in town, too, which was a big disappointment.
Besides narrating, you also produce audiobooks for Audible. What is involved in producing books?
Producing is the editing and mastering process after the narration is completed. It’s many hours sitting in front of your computer, listening to your narration, listening for weird distracting mouth noises and cutting those out, fixing any narration errors, and engineering the narration to Audible specifications such as half a second of silence at the beginning of each chapter. It’s very tedious.
You perform a lot of books on Wicca by Lisa Chamberlain. What is something you have learned about the religion in this process?
I knew nothing about Wicca when I began narrating this series. I enjoy the religion’s lack of restrictions, with just a few basic common sense tenets. It also syncs with current scientific thought, so spirituality and science go hand in hand. I find myself drawn to it. It’s been fun to learn old Irish and Celtic terms, most of which sound nothing like they’re spelled.
You narrate several different cookbooks. How do you make those interesting to listen to?
I always narrate nonfiction with enthusiasm and interest. I love to cook and tried at least one recipe in each book, so I narrate with a knowledge of the recipes and an interest in making them.
Of the books you’ve performed, which stand out as especially memorable to you?
The children’s book, A to Z Animals. The author required a separate voice for each animal. Coming up with a voice for an anteater wasn’t easy. I also produced that with a soundtrack, my first at putting an entire track to a book.
Besides doing voice work, you also do a lot of writing. Your website states, “My experience includes writing business blogs for BlogMutt, satire for SNN, articles for Newzlet, and Scriggler. Several of my articles are now Scriggler AllStars.” Does your own experience writing your own work give you special insight for performing the works of other writers?
It’s funny, but I find it hardest to give a voice to my written work. It’s easier for me to perform the works of other writers. I think this is because I’m so close to my work in a personal way. I find my own work is best for my YouTube channel so I’m learning to approach narrating my own work in the same way I approach narration of other writer’s works.
Besides performing audiobooks, you also do podcasts. How do the two media differ? How does your experience with one help you with doing the other?
I’m calling my podcasts micro-audiobooks, which is I how I think of them. I treat my podcast narration the same way I treat my audiobook narration; it gets the same care and attention. With my podcast, I have to have a special intro and outro and music, too, which you generally don’t with audiobooks. I consider them both media with the podcast needing just a bit of “radio/ad” flair to it.
My podcasts keep my narration skills sharp and I can experiment with style, so I see my podcasts as a way to improve my audiobook narration.
What is the best piece of advice that someone gave you in your earliest days of recording audiobooks that you found most useful and like to share with new narrators now?
Use pauses and pacing changes to bring nonfiction to life.
What is your favorite part about narrating audiobooks?
Reading the book and imagining the characters as I’m narrating.