Andrew Wehrlen has narrated well over 100 books. He specializes in sci-fi, military, horror and post-apocalyptic. However, this former Marine also has a soft side and narrates romances under a pseudonym. He lives in Northern Virginia – just across the Potomac River from our Nation’s Capitol – with his wife and kids. If he could narrate books from the sandy shores of the South Carolina coast or a Caribbean Island he would. But until such time, his suburban studio will do.
How did you become involved in performing audiobooks, and what were your earliest days like?
I had always wanted to do something in the Voice Over world. I started out as wanting to be a radio DJ. I have a “diploma” in Radio Announcing from the old Columbia School of Broadcasting! But life sometimes gets in the way, and so that dream went to the back burner for a long time. About 7 years ago, I decided to get into it again. My kids were old enough that they did not need constant watching, and I had just finished my Masters program in Public Administration. My schedule then gave me a lot of free days, so I decided to take a back bedroom closet and tear it apart to rebuild as a booth.
I sought out a local VO coach here in the Fairfax, VA area and he got me going; what equipment I need etc… While doing my sessions (and just web browsing for all info VO related) I came across ACX.com. In early 2012 it was a new company, maybe 6-7 months old, so I got in on the ground floor. I learned about the process they had of connecting authors with narrators. I loved to read aloud and had done a million voices as I read to my kids each night. So it began! There was a lot of learning to do though, equipment, editing, mastering and the biz aspects. But once I had everything in place I set to it.
How did you get your first narration job?
I had put out a few auditions and found a book called Then Came War by Jacqueline Druga. I sent the audition and within a few hours–BOOM! I had my first book. She said she loved the way I made the older male protagonist sound. It was the voice she pictured in her head. She is a prolific writer–lots of apocalyptic stuff. She was my door into the audiobook world.
On your website, you talk about using the best equipment. What does this entail?
I’ve done well in this endeavor–for someone who does not do it for a living, I have what I consider quality equipment. I have a Neumann TLM-49 and a Sennheiser MKH416 shotgun mic. Plus my audio interface is perfect for home studios; a UA Apollo Twin Solo. I use a simple digital audio workstation called Twisted Wave, but I have invested in the Izotope RX6 Advanced editing suite. The performance is more important than the equipment, but good equipment will only enhance a good performance…in my opinion. Plus it shows I do take this job seriously.
You are an Audible approved narrator. What does it take to become approved by Audible?
All the “Approved” thing means is that your sound is consistently good. It used to be a harder thing to get, but sound and equipment being what it is, it apparently ain’t as hard to get as it once was… BUT–it is still a better thing to have than not have!
You have a nom de vox, XXXX, that you use for romance narration. Why do you do that?
I keep that a secret when speaking as me–Andrew. But I have to separate my brands. “He” does the romance and I do everything else. I guess maybe it has to do with my day job.
Do you find narrating romance novels, especially erotica to require different performance skills than other genres?
Yes, in fact, each genre is different in how I approach it. I would not read romance for pleasure reading, but for some reason I do enjoy them for narration. I get into a spicy mood and roll. It is almost like music when you get into the story and start rolling through, especially the love/sex scenes. They do require a certain rhythm. You have to be able to get into that zone and kinda be in that moment. I have done most all romance and maybe one erotica, but I am not opposed to erotica at all. And I tell you what–romance sells and therefore- PAYS!
Out of the 94 books you have listed on Audible, 62 are listed as sci-fi/ fantasy. What draws you to that genre, or what makes you so ideal for that genre?
I just did a check, and as of now (Late July 2018), I have 101 books under my name in Audible and most are sci-fi. I just love sci-fi and apocalyptic stories immensely. I can and have done other genres, but my heart lives in the sci-fi universe, so I am naturally drawn to them and I think (Like romance) I have the rhythm they require down; horror as well. I’d like to do more horror.
Of the many books you’ve performed under both names, which ones have been the most memorable to you?
As of today, two series are the ones that are closest to me…both by the same author. The Z-Burbia series and the Roak series by Jake Bible. Jake and I make a great team, though I am not his only narrator. But the Z-Burbia series is probably my best overall best selling one and I loves the main character Jason (Jace) Stanford. It’s a horror series full of hilarious moments. And Roak is an intergalactic bounty hunter who is as badass as they come. People love Roak and especially his interactions with the artificial intelligence, Hessa, than runs his ship–and she may be his life now. Roak continues, but the Z-Burbia series is over. I was sad when it ended.
What advice were you given when you first started out that you like to share with new narrators?
Coaching and constant learning. You can get by with less expensive mics and interfaces and the like, but your sound should be good…you will know when your sound is good and when it isn’t. But even with a perfect recording space, you must get some kind of training, not just once bust constantly. I would say to do this across the VO world, but if you have a niche, get training more specific to that. I have spent thousands on various trainings related to audiobooks, and it, for me, is money well spent. And I will spend more. You must make it part of your yearly budget; just like a web presence beyond Facebook, business license and taxes. But Facebook and YouTube are outstanding resources for information. I have found with very few exceptions that the VO world and community is very friendly, welcoming and helpful…but before you ask a question do a bit of research. No one likes to answer questions that have been answered more than once; it makes you look lazy.
What audiobook narrators do you love to listen to for inspiration?
R.C. Bray is the master for me. The man is amazing. There are some others that I enjoy as well, like Sean Runnette, Bronson Pinchot, Carl Prekopp, Kevin Pierce and Ray Porter. For me, listening to audiobooks (and I listen to 2-3 a month) is as much about entertainment as it is education for myself.
To learn more about Andrew, visit the following sites: