Author: Elisa Keyston
Narrator: Blair Seibert
Length: 5 hours and 52 minutes
Series: Northwest Magic, Book 1
Publisher: Elisa Keyston
Released: Jul. 22, 2020
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Lose yourself in the magical forests and charming towns of the Pacific Northwest, where picturesque Victorian homes hide mysteries spanning decades, faeries watch from the trees, and romance awaits...for those bold enough to seek it. Cass is a drifter. When she inherits an old Queen Anne Victorian in rural Oregon from her great-aunt Alexandra, all she wants is to quickly offload the house and move on to bigger and better things. But the residents of the small town have other plans in mind. Her neighbors are anxious for her to help them thwart the plans of a land developer eager to raze Alexandra’s property, while a mysterious girl in the woods needs Cass’s help understanding her own confusing, possibly supernatural abilities. And though little surprises Cass (thanks to her own magical powers of prediction), she never could have anticipated her newfound feelings for the handsome fourth-grade teacher at the local elementary school — feelings that she thought she’d buried long ago. Cass has sworn off love, but Matthew McCarthy is unlike anyone Cass has ever met. If she isn’t careful, he could learn her secret. Or worse — he just might thaw her frozen heart. But falling in love could spell danger for both of them. Because it’s not just the human residents of Riddle that have snared Cass in their web. Cass’s presence has caught the attention of the fae that dwell in the woods. They know she has the Sight, and they don’t want to let her go....
By Elisa Keyston
Cass: Kimberly Sustad
Matthew: Michael Rady
Lily: Kimura Manatsu
Darcy: Tinsel Korey
Green: not CGI!
Q&A with Narrator Blair Seibert
- How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
- Honestly, I got into voice acting with the goal of doing commercials or training manuals, not audio books. I enjoyed listening to and learning from audio books, but I didn’t know if I’d have the skills and stamina required to bring an author’s characters to life. Then while I was working with an agent on a commercial project, he said, “Have you done any audio books? Your voice is perfect for romance.” I wondered if that was a come-on line, but at that time I was getting frustrated and stressed over having to schedule my life around commercial auditions which were often posted on the East Coast when I live on the West Coast, so I thought, why not? And shocking to me, I won the first audition I submitted for a romance novel. So, maybe that wasn’t a pick-up line after all.
- A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
- I don’t believe a theater background is essential for success. But having a natural talent for telling stories is definitely a plus. The best narrators, even those with formal acting training, hone their craft by continuing to take acting and improv classes and workshops to stay fresh. So, what I do think is essential is constantly practicing and learning more about the craft as a whole.
- What type of training have you undergone?
- I’ve had voice training as well as live acting and improv lessons. I’ve done a lot of online training to learn about the audio recording software that I use to record myself from my recording studio. I’m not naturally a techie, so the computer training has been as intensive as the others.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
- It’s interesting you ask that because for every finished hour you hear there is between 6 to 8 hours of work. I read the entire book once before any recording begins. I mark up speakers and note tongue-twisters that might trip me up as well as making sure I know how to pronounce every name and word in the story. Finally there’s recording and editing it. It takes a focus and stamina to keep the enthusiasm going because if you’re not at the same “level” of enthusiasm in a book, your voice won’t sound the same in the last chapter as it does in the first. It helps if I really like the book, but there’s no time to read an entire book prior to auditioning. If the “snippet” they’ve selected seems like a good fit for my voice and interests, I have to go for it and hope for the best. In the end, I live with a book for quite awhile, so I try to be very selective. I keep burn-out at bay also by only working on one project at a time and taking a day or two break between them if possible.
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
- My favorite part is reading the books and developing the characters’ voices in my head for the first time. My least favorite part is going back into the audio and replacing sections where I may have missed a word or something sounds wrong. Your voice is affected by foods you eat, the amount of sleep you’ve had, so getting back into character and making and edits sound seamless can be very time consuming.
- Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
- Because my voice has a smooth, sometimes motherly tone, having much “sinister” or “evil” sounding dialogue would strain my voice, so I don’t seek work in that genre. I have declined and always will projects with non-consensual sex (or even fantasies about them) or anything with child exploitation. After working as a building architect for 20 years, a male dominated profession, I’ve experienced the discomfort of an unequal boss/employee relationship, so I won’t do work with that in the storyline as well.
- How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
- In order to quickly change from one voice to another I have to “build” the character as I’m reading the book. It’s very helpful if the character reminds me of anyone I know or know of, like a celebrity. For main characters I spend a bit more time getting to know them so I can embody them more believably. One tool is writing what a “Day in the Life Of” the character would be. What do they eat? What do they do? Where do they go? All these things help me develop my characters. Often the character’s voice change is not as important as the attitude change.
- Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
- Yes, I make it a point to read reviews because I appreciate the time it takes people to submit them. I want readers to know their time and efforts matter. I also look at life as a place we must always continue to learn. So, I’m looking for all kinds of feedback.
- What type of the review comments do you find most constructive?
- I think it’s helpful to learn if the listener enjoyed the story itself, the author’s work, or if there was anything in particular they found confusing. If a listener found anything about the narration “intrusive,” then I’d like to know so that I can work on that part of my delivery. If I helped the listener escape and forget that one person is “acting” like all the characters, then I’ve done my job.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- The only “cheating” I think happens with listening to books as opposed to real reading is “cheating the clock.” Since I don’t have time to sit down and read all the books I’d like to, being able to listen to some of them makes me a happier and more knowledgeable person. My father, has been an avid reader for his entire life and my sister recently loaded a library app on his phone and he has been shocked at how much fun it is. He still reads hard copy books during the daytime when the light is good. And he listens at night to other books…says it beats everything he sees on television without a doubt. So, for any “doubters” I always say, “Just try it. I think you might be surprised.”
- Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
- I recently purchased a heavier, more-sound absorbing recording booth. The door almost has to be slammed to get it to seal shut. After setting it up and trying it out, I was glad I had a friend outside the booth because after testing it for sound quality, I wasn’t able to get out! Thank goodness he was there and could help me open the door. While I never used to take my phone in the booth I do now along with a phone charger in case I need to call someone to let me out.
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