I’m excited today to share an interview with Kenneth Obi. He did a fantastic job narrating my book A Full Plate, and he has nearly two dozen other audiobooks on his roster as well. Thanks so much for joining me today, Kenneth!
Could you tell us a little about yourself? Well, I’m 52 (almost 53), a father of 3 kids, all moved out and forging their own ways. I have two female Newfoundlands that have been in the show ring and are currently training in water rescue work.
How did you start doing book narration? I’ve been in radio and theater. I have a good friend who owns a production company (Falcon Sound Company) that asked me if I was interested in giving it a try. I thought it sounded like a good idea and eventually started my own production company (Under the Stairs, LLC). And while I now have managed to build a hefty workload from some talented authors, I still do voice work for the great crew at FSC.
I’d love to learn a little more about your process for narrating. Do you begin by reading the entire book to yourself before you start narrating? How long does an average novel take you? I would say I skim. I need to get an idea of the characters and story. Once that is done, I come up with voices for the mains and create a small audio file I can refer to before each session to keep the voices clear. I’m not Mel Blanc, but I do try to give each character their own sound. As for how long, Studio time is usually about 7-10 days per project. Some a little longer or shorter, but that is close to average.
How do you choose what kind of voice a particular character will have? Once I get an idea what they are like as characters, I toy around with dialogue sections until I find one that makes me feel like I can convey their personality to the listener.
What are some of the biggest challenges to doing narration work? Women’s voices. I’m a pretty big guy, and while I don’t have a voice like Bowzer from Sha-Na-Na, it is a solid baritone. And I hate making women sound mousey, so that is always a challenge.
What do you like to read for fun? Do you listen to audiobooks for fun too? I am a huge zombie fan, so I read and listen to a lot of that, but I also have some podcasts I am part of, so I can often be found listening to everything history to breakdowns on the “Mind of BTK”.
Do you have a dream project? As an avid (early era) Stephen King fan…doing something of his would be the Holy Grail.
If money were no object, what vacation would you take right now? A week at Atlantis with my wife.
What do you have in the works next? I am wrapping projects for Kyleen Neuhold, Nora Phoenix, and Shaw Montgomery as well as prepping another Dreamspinner title for FSC and the second book in a six-book series for them as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? Leave those reviews, even if they are critical. Sure, I like to see the good ones just like anybody else, but good critique can give good direction and help with becoming a better performer. Just don’t take the glowing ones too seriously to where you think you are beyond reproach or the bad ones to make you feel like you are failing.