I’ve said it before, I love audiobooks.  Part of being a writer is reading and like many I have a day job that keeps me from reading as much as I’d like and still have time to write. To compensate, I listen to audiobooks while I work. Most of you know what a multi-tasker I am, here’s another example, I listen and work and work and listen. Multi-tasking.

So I was trolling Facebook the other day and saw Dick Hill mention he was heading into the recording studio. My first instinct was to comment and ask a bunch of questions and initially I did. Then I had a better idea and deleted them all sending instead a request to ask him questions and post his answers here. I can’t be the only one interested in the process of making a book come to audio.

Wait? What? You don’t know who DICK HILL is?   You might, if you ever listen to audio books.

Dick Hill is one of the voices behind the audiobooks I enjoy so much. He reads for authors like Michael Connelly,  Nora Roberts, yes women writers too, and my most recent find Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. Notice I mentioned all my favorite authors. (He reads for others as well.)  When I sent Dick an email and asked him if he would answer a few questions concerning his work, he agreed and what follows is my questions and his answers. (In some of his answers Dick mentions  his wife Susie Breck, an accomplished narrator in her own right.)

Now as an audiobook lover, I never consider others don’t listen, and I was surprised by the answer to the first question.

If you are reading a book in a series of books where another reader has read previous books, do you listen to their reading?

I don’t listen to audiobooks period.  I think we’ve listened to a couple on road trips, but that was years ago, some light pieces Susie expressed an interest in, that someone else directed so she hadn’t heard.   Other than that, just don’t listen to audiobooks.  I’ve never listened to more than a sampling of anyone else. That hasn’t happened, but no, I don’t listen.

Do you read the books in whole or part, as preparation for a recording?

Susie goes through and notes vocab. questions, makes notes on characters, which she supplies to me.  I do cold reads well over 90% of the time.

As an writer I was curious about how close, if at all, does he work with the authors.

We’ll sometimes check with authors for preferred pronunciations of character names, things like that.  Sometimes we may alert an author to something that could bear reexamination on their part, some fact that isn’t factual, or a problem in continuity.   Not a whole lot of that, but sometimes something slips through.  

Which goes to show that even when a book is in the process of coming to audio life, someone still edits. It’s a good thing.

 

How many hours in a single day you spend recording?

Hmm.  Maybe four to six hours on average.  Unless a book is very difficult I can generally count of getting three hours done in a four hour session, or close to it.

 

Do you get to choose which books or for whom you read for?

Some authors have the choice written into their audio agreement, I have a number of them like that.  The books are offered to me by various publishers.

Do you have a say in what you read?  

I have the right to accept or refuse as I see fit, but only in a few isolated cases have I brought in a property for a publisher.

And the next logical question from a writers point of view, do you have an agent?

No agent.  I’ve been very lucky in getting established in this work early on, and never really wanting for work.

I read in a publication on  that Dick has directed and asked  if he prefers to direct or read.

I have directed, but it was quite awhile ago.  I much prefer reading to directing.  My wife, Susie Breck, an award winning narrator in her own right, engineers and directs all my work now.  I no longer have to travel anywhere, but do all my work from our home studio.

He gets to stay home and work, with his wife, which many people would love to do. But as a writer I can attest this can have it’s own complications. Like balancing home and work, and keeping a set schedule, a set amount of time to devote to work. He obviously does well on both accounts as he continues to produce recordings worth listening to.

I love his answer to the question. What type of books do you prefer to read?

Well written.

He said more and I will get back to his answer, but for everyone, this is important. Just like an agent or the general public who sit down to read, even those who record for others enjoyment, prefer a well written book. Execution is important, it’s not enough to have a great plot, with awesome characters, if the execution falls flat.

Further in response to this question Dick said

I do a lot of mystery thrillers, and military stuff, but I’ve also done Pynchon, Faulkner, Twain, Bradbury.  Non  fiction too.  It’s all fun and challenging to present in the best possible way.

What do you read for personal enjoyment?

Well, lately I’ve enjoyed BelCanto, a sort of magic/fantasy baseball novel, some mysteries.  Generally escapist fiction.

 

I am a fan of Dick Hill’s and love to listen to him narrate/read my favorite characters. If you’d like to learn more about Dick or listen to some of his golden voice you can visit his website by clicking

Thanks again to Dick Hill for his time and for his voice. 

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