This week, our Audiobook Q&A Series returns and we chat with Johnny Heller about his recent work narrating The Postmortal, his latest projects, his significant experience ripping bodices, and the importance of always knowing where the restroom is located.
1. You recently narrated Drew Magary’s The Postmortal for Tantor. How was that experience? What was the biggest challenge?
Narrating always has challenges — the major one being that we narrators know that we will not be able to please every fan of a given book! Our job is to be a conduit for the author’s truth — I know that sounds all “actory” but it’s the best way I can explain what we do.
I don’t always get to narrate books I love or would willingly read on my own, but The Postmortal was awesome. I loved the book and I told Magary that I thought he was brilliant. It’s just a tremendous read that I hope is going to be a tremendous listen. My biggest challenge with this title was living up to my own expectations — of making my narration as excellent as the printed word. I think I did, but then again I’m biased!
2. This is the first book by Magary that you’ve narrated. Does that newness make the job of narrating an audiobook more difficult? Do you think that when you narrate multiple books by the same author, you develop a relationship with their work and are able to slip back into the author’s writing?
Absolutely. When you narrate a series of titles by the same author you get in touch with his rhythms and — hopefully — get to create recurring characters. I get to do that with the Richard Castle books (Naked Heat, Heat Wave, and Heat Rises), with Michael Wiley’s Joe Kozmarsky series for Blackstone, Michael Buckley’s NERDS series, Troy Soos’ Mickey Rawlings mysteries, and Dan Gutman’s baseball card time travel stories all for Recorded Books. Hopefully the author likes the way you handle his or her characters and it begins somehow more collaborative.
3. The Postmortal is a thriller about a pre-apocalyptic world in which people cannot die of old age — which must make for an exciting audiobook. Does reading a thriller make the process of recording the audiobook easier because you know readers will be engaged at certain points? Do you ever find yourself getting swept away by the story when you’re narrating a thriller?
I don’t know if I’m any more engaged in a thriller than in a biography or a young adult title. Hopefully, if I’ve done my job, the listener will have no idea that I like one book any more than another.
Truth be told — of course I like thrillers and funny books more than I like other titles I narrate. I think the audiobook moves along better and easier if the story is good and the author is good and I love the book. I’ve done lots of medical, motivational, and business titles, but it’s much easier to read a thriller — cuz they’re thrilling! Continue reading