With a background in singing and acting, Marie Hoffman brings skill and confidence to every project. She is an accomplished audiobook narrator, (nonfiction, cozy mysteries, chick-lit and children’s books), and has narrated titles for Audible, Aneko Press, Hannacroix Creek Books and University Press Audiobooks.
Her vocal attributes — educated, articulate, engaging, mature, believable and trustworthy — create an air of warmth and wisdom.
Marie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Montclair State University (2001) with a BS in Finance. She is well-versed in business jargon, having worked for more than 25 years in various industries, from publishing to banking to pharmaceuticals. Marie is experienced at live public speaking, having voiced presentations in both corporate and casual settings. She has sung in supper clubs and was a teacher (Pre-K through 2nd grades).
Marie is devoted to supporting and volunteering at the JBI Library (established in 1931 as the Jewish Braille Institute), and Learning Ally in NYC. She sets aside time to record books so that those who are visually impaired, and educationally challenged can also enjoy published works of art. She also participates as a member of The Online Stage, a volunteer collective of narrators and actors who create high quality productions of classic dramatic works in audio format.
How did you become interested in doing audiobook narration?
I started narrating audiobooks because I love telling stories. I always read to my daughter at bedtime and I used to teach elementary school, so reading out loud to kids happened every day.
You have a degree in finance. How did you end up doing voice overs and audiobook narration?
Long story short – I always start really important things in my life, really late in life. For example, I went back to school for my degree in Finance when I was 39. I got married when I was 40; had a baby when I was 44. And. . . I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up at 55 – that’s when I started my voiceover career. I’ve never, ever been sorry with any of these decisions, and they’ve all turned out really well.
Your business career actually contributed to your voice over career. How did it do that?
Indeed, my business career did contribute to my voice over career. Since I began narrating non-fiction audiobooks, my business background just made my narration work flow smoothly. Understanding the terminology of various businesses (I worked for many companies – publishing, pharmaceutical, investment and commercial banks, credit card companies) helped me navigate the material which, in non-fiction, can sometimes be pretty intense.
You dedicate one day a week to record books for the blind to listen to. As someone whose migraines make it hard for me to read, I have made use of the Library of Congress Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, so I thank you! In the past, this service was often a way for new narrators to break into the field and build up a resume, but now that there are more avenues for new narrators, does this service have difficulty getting good narrators like you?
Vicki, how nice of you to thank me for volunteering my time to narrate for the visually impaired. I’m delighted you’ve made use of the LOC Books, and I hope your migraines improve.
You’re correct in saying that narrating for organizations like the visually impaired or learning challenged was/is a great way to get some experience under your belt. Unfortunately, all these services struggle with getting people to commit on a regular basis, myself included. Schedules have gotten super busy (in all walks of life) but, when I can, I go into NY and record for the JBI Library. The people there are great, and I get the chance to work with a director (which is such a rarity these days, since I mostly work from my home studio).
You performed Beautiful Scars by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander as part of a team with Claton Butcher, Nancy Peterson, and Vikas Adam. How does team narration work?
Working on Beautiful Scars was terrific. However, since we all worked from our home studios, I never got to actually work “with” the other narrators. The engineers at Dreamscape did their magic with editing and mastering. I actually met my other co-narrators – Vikas Adams and Nancy Peterson at APAC (the annual audiobook conference) this past May. (I already knew Claton Butcher from APAC 2017.)
How do you prepare to perform an audiobook?
Prep for an audiobook for me involves research and reading. I research the author and I read the book (yes, I read it cover to cover), and I make notes on my iPad through iAnnotate. I highlight words I’m not familiar with (names, places, etc.) and start to gather clues of the characters’ personalities from what the author’s words. Once the prep work is done, I start narrating. Depending on the deadline, I like to narrate 90 minutes of finished audio each day (sometimes I’m on a roll, and I do more).
You performed Silenced by the Yams by Karen Cantwell, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. But the first two books were narrated by Nan McNamara. What challenges did you face in replacing another narrator?
Silenced by the Yams was so much fun to narrate. I was asked to narrate Book 3 of the trilogy. Nan McNamara did a super job with the first 2 books. Wanting to keep the flow of Nan’s narration, so the listeners could feel like they just continued the story with me, I listened to Nan’s performances for the first 2 books, got her pacing and tone down, and took it from there.
You seem to narrate a lot of self- help books and memoirs. How does performing them compare to doing fiction?
Narrating self-help and memoirs (memoirs are my all-time favorite) still require the narrator to act; in the case of non-fiction – becoming the voice of the author. Non-fiction books I’ve narrated tend to be more serious and more fact-based than the fiction books I’ve done. Since each genre has its own “feel,” you need to capture that feeling, and send that to the listener’s ear.
Tell us about The Online Stage.
A dear friend of mine introduced me to The Online Stage a few years ago. The Online Stage is a group of narrators and actors who come together to create high quality audio productions of classic dramatic works. They then become available on Audible.com. The Online Stage is another avenue in which I can narrate a portion of a book, a play or a poem. It brings a nice change of pace to my narration work.
What narrators do you turn to for inspiration?
One of my coaches once told me, “always be working on a book and always be listening to a book.” And I do. There are so many narrators who inspire me that it’s almost impossible to name them all here (and I would hate to leave anyone out). I listen to female and male narrators alike; I listen to books my coaches have done; I also listen to younger and older narrators. I always seem to pick up a few pointers in a narrator’s performance that I would love to incorporate into one of my own at some point.
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