A while ago audiobook narrator Derrick McClain, known for narrating The Mysteries of Nevermore by C.S. Poe and Dark Horse, White Knight by Josh Lanyon and many more, agreed to do an interview with me. Of course, the combination of WordPress being evil and moving hectics caused me to forget about it. A shame, because it’s a wonderful interview. In the spirit of better late than never, please welcome Derrick to Bookwinked.
Hello Derrick and welcome to BookWinked. Can you introduce yourself?
Thanks for having me! Introductions are always so awkward…uh…I live in Tallahassee FL with my soon-to-be husband and our two doggos. I’ve been narrating audiobooks since 2015 from a “padded closet” in my home, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had!
How did you become an audiobook narrator?
I actually started out as an audiobook proofer for Dreamspinner Press, where I got to listen to audiobooks prior to release checking for any errors and misspoken words and lines. I kept thinking to myself, “I could do this!” and so finally I decided to give it a shot. Haven’t looked back since.
Can you walk us through the process of making an audiobooks?
The short version – first I read through the entire title, taking various notes as I go along. Then I send the author or publisher a short sample recording which is their chance to request any changes to my voice choices or even change their mind about hiring me! Once I get the greenlight I record the entire title, usually producing about 1 to 2 hours of audio a workday. Then comes the proofing, editing, and mastering, and it’s off to distribution!
Do you do anything special to prepare for different characters in a book?
Every character requires a distinct voice, but interestingly I’ve found the less I focus on making a character sound unique, and the more I just imagine that character and their personality, the better the voice comes out. Of course, if they have an accent that does require special research and practice, but there’s a range of resources to employ for that.
You have a lot of audiobooks in the LGBT-genre in your catalogue, is that by accident or design?
I’d say a little bit of both. I am a fan of gay romance and am honored to be building a reputation and following within the genre. Ultimately I know that for the sake of my career and long-term goals I need to break into other genres but I’m not in any rush to do so.
What is the most important skill to have as a narrator?
Honestly? Discipline. Working from home, on your own, you need an extraordinary amount of discipline to keep on track through both distractions and those disheartening moments where you keep messing up the same line ten times in a row. If you have the discipline, you can learn the rest. (Okay, a voice people are willing to listen to for hours on end helps too.)
Can you share with us something funny that happened while recording?
Maybe not funny but super adorable – our now six-month old puppy has gotten used to my normal recording schedule, and if I’m late to take lunch or trying to record further into the evening than normal, he will come up and start whimpering and scratching at my booth door.
Did you ever have trouble with recording a book you really didn’t like (no titles/names)
Yes. The painful irony is that generally the better the book is the faster and more smoothly it gets recorded. While something with poor editing can drag on and take forever!
Do you listen to audiobooks yourself? If yes, do you have a favorite?
Not nearly as much as I’d like to or feel like I should, sadly. I’m FINALLY listening to The Lightning-Struck Heart written by TJ Klune and narrated by Michael Lesley, and I’m looking forward to listening to Lord Mouse by Mason Thomas narrated by Joel Leslie.
Ever since my voice dropped, people have been telling me I “should go into radio”…
What people don’t realize is that you don’t go into radio just because people like the sound of your voice. You go into radio because you have a passion for what’s on the radio – for music, or for news, or sports. While I can appreciate these things, I don’t have a passion for them.
Now, books on the other hand…books I can get behind.
After eight years of professional and competitive public speaking and (live) oral interpretation of literature, Derrick has turned his powerful voice to the world of audiobooks.
While he enjoys reading, listening to, and narrating a wide variety of genres, he has a particular affinity and passion for romance novels of all types.
Derrick records in a professional quality studio at his home in Tallahassee, FL, where he enjoys the quiet North Florida lifestyle along with his fiance and insanely hyper dog. He has previously lived in rural Pennsylvania as well as Orange County California, and has extensively traveled the United States, becoming familiar with a wide range of American accents and sub-cultures.