This past Tuesday, my
first ever audiobook downloaded on my phone from Findaway Voices/Orange Sky
Audio in collaboration with Encircle Publications, the original publisher of my
book, A Death at Tippitt Pond.
Forgive me if this sounds too gushy, but
I’ve never had an audiobook of any of my novels before, and when I heard the
first words of Chapter One, I’m afraid a tear or two trickled from my eyes. How
astounding to hear a professional narrator read the words I wrote during the
long, Midwest winter of 2018.
I’ve lived a quiet life in a small town in the Midwest,
and my career was spent in academic institutions, not in the business world.
Since I began writing mysteries, all of that changed—to my surprise. I’ve
worked with cover artists in California, Colorado, and New York; a formatter in
Oregon; an editor who lived during our years of collaboration in New York,
Hawaii, California, and Illinois; and a publisher whose contract came from
Toronto, Canada, and whose tax forms were sent from Switzerland. I hadn’t
anticipated collaborating with people in such faraway places when I retired
from teaching in 2011.
When my narrator for A Death at Tippitt Pond was
kind enough to answer my email, I put a person to that name on my audiobook. It
has been a joy to have her bring my mystery to life, so I asked her some
questions about her own career as an audiobook narrator because I was curious.
Her name is Patricia (Tricia) Santomasso, and she lives
in New York. She has won an Earphones Award
and recorded over 150 audiobooks. Santomasso
has worked with many publishers, among them Blackstone Publishing, Hachette,
Harper, Harlequin, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon and Shuster. She
also works with independent authors. She also is an avid cook and genealogist,
and genealogy is a passion for my protagonist, Beth Russell.
These are the kind words she said about reading my book:
“It was such a pleasure recording A Death at Tippitt Pond. Beth’s
journey to find out the mystery of her family’s past was something I could
identify with as an amateur genealogist myself. Van Kirk set up an atmosphere
of doubt and intrigue that made each day in the booth a wonderful labyrinth of
twists and turns!”
This is where my curiosity took me.
How did you happen to become a book narrator, and what do you
like about this job?
I fell in love with audiobooks when I was
in college. They saved me from complete boredom one summer while working a data
entry job. I escaped the claims department and roamed Middle Earth in my mind
while listening to Tolkien's The Hobbit. Little did I know
that years later, after becoming a professional theatre actor, I would find an
opportunity that allowed me to read books for a living! I started narrating in
2013 after watching a seminar about audiobook technique and ways to get
started. I began doing independently published books through ACX.com and went
on to work with larger publishers. I stopped performing on stage and decided
the booth life was for me!
The things I like about my job are too
numerous to count. There is a beautiful intimacy in the recording of an
audiobook. It's just you and the story and everything else disappears. I
have the joy and the responsibility to bring these characters to life. Finding
each of their voices through text work, research, and creativity is one of my
favorite things. I have burst out in laughter and been brought to tears in
the booth, so much so that I've had to take a breather and come back. It's
Most people don't know a thing about recording booths or
equipment for freelance audio narrators. How would you describe yours to lay
There are many ways to set up a studio
and many different mics to choose from. I started out recording with a very
simple USB microphone in my 4x4 NYC closet, and upgraded to a larger space
and better microphone as I started working full-time. I find that overall, simplicity
can be very effective for an audiobook narrator. I know people who have
recorded in nooks under their stairs, bedrooms, closets, and cars. On the other
end of the spectrum, many have expensive, free-standing studios. Narrators
can be very creative with their "booths.” If our home recording
spaces are less-than-perfect, we rely even more on engineers to make us
Do you think you and your husband might someday narrate a book
together--or doesn't it work that way?
My husband and I have narrated many books
together. In fact, we'll be narrating one together next month! The audiobook
community is a small and lovely one, and we are lucky to be paired together
often. We have recorded in the same booth, but most of the time we record
separately. Our booths are right next to each other in our apartment, and our
audio is put together in post-production.
Did the pandemic affect your job like that of so many
Last March, in-person studios for the
larger publishers closed, and our work increased when all recordings went to
home studios. About the same time this happened, we lost our wonderful
babysitter for about a month due to possible exposure. My husband and I worked
full-time churning out books with tight deadlines while caring for our one-and-a-half-year-old
daughter. It was challenging but we were very lucky to be so busy and able to
work safely from home. Since then, our babysitter has returned, and she's been
working with us exclusively this whole year, which has made our lives much
easier than most. We are very lucky.
How did you become interested in your family's genealogy?
I am the fourth generation to live in our
house in Connecticut, so our attic has always been filled with treasures that
amazed me. Photos, documents, letters, taffeta dresses, hats, programs, and
assorted ephemera from the mid-1800's all the way to the present that no one
had ever seemed to take an interest in cataloguing. Well, I took up the mantle!
I started by sorting the many photographs, and it led me to ask about (and
write down) stories about ancestors and to collect as many records as I could
find. It's a work in progress, and I constantly wish I had more time to work on
it. My parents still live in that same house in Connecticut while I’ve been in
New York almost twenty years.
Tricia’s website is here if you’d like to
learn more about her work.
Thanks you so much, Tricia Santomasso,
for sharing some of your life with us and spending many hours of recording my
words in your recording booth. What a joy to have you bring my characters to
I love audiobooks! Thanks for the peek behind the curtain at the creation process!
A fascinating interview, and congratulations on hearing your words, Susan.
Thanks, Annette and Jim. Almost like seeing my first book ever.
Fascinating blog and interview.
Thanks, Kait. I was so curious about the woman behind the voice. Now I have an idea of what her job is like. That is the fascinating part!
I just had my novel recorded as well. My publisher chose the narrator without my input, apparently that's normal. But she's terrific!
You will love hearing it, Tammy. Lucky you!
Susan, I loved this peek behind the curtain. Fascinating process, and Tricia seems like a dear! What a thrill to think of how many people will be listening to your words! Congratulations!
All three of my Lobster Shack Mysteries are on audio and I loved the reader's voice, though I had no input in choosing her.
Fascinating! I had a KRL story on their podcast and I agree with you, it was amazing to hear my words spoken by a marvelous and versatile actress.
Wow, you are lucky, Shari, with all your audiobooks. I’m coming into this area late.
Margaret, you are so right. Happy you had that opportunity. That podcast is so popular that my book will be on it sometime in 2022.
Congrats on the audio. So thrilled for you. Appreciate the behind the scenes look, too.
A wonderful post and interesting peek into the world of narrating. My favorite part is learning about her house. I want to go visit her and poke around in the attic. Road trip, Susan?
How people earn their livings amazes me. How wonderful for her to have found her niche. Like Margaret, one of my stories was put in the verbal form. Really cool to hear my words spoken by a professional. Thanks, Susan.
I agree, Elaine. So many jobs I’d never thought about.
What an exciting development! You've worked hard for it, and I' glad you're pleased with the results.
Thank you, Kathleen. Love her narration.
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