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?
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 sound great.