Hello and welcome!
Today I have the owner of an incredible voice I discovered recently and I believe you will agree with me once you hear him.
Please welcome Braden Wright!
Do you have a nickname?
Not even when I was a kid. I’ve always been called by my full name.
What is one word best describes you?
What makes you laugh out loud?
What is your favourite smell? What does it remind you of?
On a family road trip to Florida when I was eleven, we drove through acres and acres of orchards. It was sunny and warm — after escaping the colder north this was an amazing thing to step suddenly into a new season — and the car was filled with that sweet high-note scent. Transformative and heavenly.
Favourite place to spend time in.
At our family cabin on the lake; the best place to unplug, feel the rhythm of nature, write and read and just “be.” We’ve had it for over forty years. I grew up climbing on the granite and quartz upon which it sits as well as swimming and water skiing, when I was younger. To me, that’s sanctuary… it’s part of me. The place answers my soul.
Is there a genre that you refuse to read?
As actors we’re trained to lift the text to life and one has to set aside judgment about characters and actions; easier said than done at times. Still, if I felt something could do harm to others I wouldn’t want to add my voice or energy to amplifying that message.
Audiobooks! What started them?
Ha! It seemed a part of my destiny… and it’s my wife having the best laugh about it. She loved audiobooks and over the years (decades) we’ve amassed an impressive library; some cassettes being worn out from her multiple listens.
I’d been very practical, listening to lectures by Joseph Campbell or instructional tapes while driving or doing stained glass work, but I hadn’t thought of doing the performance of them even though I did other voice-over work (TV narration, commercials, animation). I was daunted by the differentiation of voices and length of the recordings for audiobooks but finally decided to study the specifics in 2001. I took classes from the late Frank Muller, from Laurel van der Lynde and a workshop by Pat Fraley. I was cutting a demo, including a piece from F. Scott Fitzgerald, when my agent asked me why the heck I was spinning my wheels. I abandoned it only to be asked five years later by the same agent if I had an audiobook demo at a time when I couldn’t pursue it. Argh!
Jump forward to an Audible.com contest three years ago for members of my actor’s union, asking potential narrators to try their hand at “Tender Is The Night,” the very piece I had worked on more than ten years earlier for my demo. I picked up where I’d left off and from over two thousand entries I was one of 20 chosen for a special workshop. I’ve been doing it ever since. So, happily, I view at it as Fate!
Is there a genre that you would not narrate?
Tough to say definitively. I respect that people have choice in what they listen to, even if it’s not what I’d personally choose. For instance, I have some Mark Twain titles on my iPhone because I think he’s brilliant but my voice and style is perceived to enhance other types of writing, so that’s where I work.
Narrators have the option to use a pseudonym and in this day of digital searches your name is your brand, thus it behooves anyone and everyone to represent themselves with a relatively cohesive impression. I’m proud of my work because I’ve always given it my best, and part of that pride is because I’ve worked in varied genres.
I’ve stayed busy narrating Romance titles (several with the wonderful Tanya Anne Crosby) and Action/Thriller books (most notably Russell Blake‘s JET series), as well as a Young Adult novel, “The Great Awakening.” I think more about the genres I’d like to explore, including Bios and Inspirational/Motivational works.
If you could choose another career what would it be?
Weather man. I find that fascinating and it looks fun.
People are often surprised and intrigued by the variety of jobs I’ve done in my life, professional skater, photo editor at the Walt Disney Studios, movie publicist, actor, tour guide, mascot creator, to name some… so I’ve been faced with where to focus my attention and where to pursue training and practice.
Being an actor and writer working in the arts, one has to have diverse projects going always in order to pull together a living wage; that’s just where our society is at. Sidenote: Please don’t ever support pirated work because it’s tough enough as it is to survive in order to narrate more work. I’m happiest doing what I do as a Voiceover and on-camera actor and as a writer, and I look forward to narrating audiobooks for as long as my voice and teeth hold out.
Does your work convey a specific emotion or message?
One of the best tips I ever heard about narrating is, “It’s always an adventure,” no matter what the genre. Perfect to remember when stepping into the booth day after day. That said, I believe the author’s text drives everything, or at least indicates the drive from which a narrator may take a cue.
Some chapters are written from the POV of a character’s inner thoughts, so I try to adopt the tone of the inner discourse even if the character’s outer voice isn’t being used in quotation marks. I’ve found there is a fine line between dramatizing that emotion and staying out of the way of the experience so the listener can perceive what’s happening for herself/himself. But I definitely try to put myself into the emotional struggle of every character in every moment to convey their truth and what they’re striving to achieve. That’s what life is, right?
Who is your intended audience and why should they listen to your audiobooks?
I’m thrilled that audio performance is being discovered by more and more people — there are so many ways and times to enjoy audiobooks. I believe that surge in popularity also helps to up the standards for how they’re done. Feedback and comments from the listener community are frequently effective in helping to subtly confirm and define those styles and standards.
Like writing, narrating can be pretty singular work (sitting for hours and hours in an audio booth working it out), so it’s gratifying to hear when a performance is appreciated.
I was surprised to learn how many men (and truck drivers in particular) listen to romance titles. From that, I have to say I have no idea who the audience is for any book. Young adult titles need to be accessible to that age group but a lot of adults enjoy them too so I think it’s a mistake to try too hard to pitch a performance to one audience; just be respectful to the text.
And ‘Why my books?’ I take great care and pride in my work. I research pronunciations of words, of place names and languages very carefully. Sometimes obsessively, checking them during the edit and then redoing the sentence to get that one word. I’m not perfect and I don’t strive to be, but I do strive for excellence and to deliver to the fullest extent of my abilities. Just one example: for Tanya Anne Crosby’s “Sagebrush Bride,” I spent hours (days) learning 30 words in Cheyenne, a language that only 3000 people on the planet still comprehend. And I called a hotel in Colorado to find out how to pronounce the name of their town because there was no online resource to tell me. That’s the kind of thing I do. I care!
It really shows when the person telling the story puts everything in it and those are my fave to listen to. I want to hear passion, feelings, to not have to think who is actually talking because the voice is modulated to provide me with that info.
I always want to know that I’ve done justice to a culture because I feel it adds authenticity and impact to the listen and it’s how I’d want my world to be represented. Some people like the sound of one voice and not another – a tough lesson to learn when a few people off-handedly dismiss you – but seeing that even the “greats” have dissenters helps put it into perspective.
In the end, it’s about the relationship of trust between the narrator and the listener. It’s a very intimate medium and it’s all about trust. I know I’ve done well when I listen to the edited work and I stop being conscious that it’s my own voice. The story grabs me and I’m transported into that world the author has created even though I’ve read it and know the outcome.
In performance, I invest in shaping the way I narrate a sentence to honor the author’s intent, and I differentiate the characters’ voices to make it easier for the listener to live in the world and stay there without having to work so hard to discern what is happening.
I’ve always loved the crafting of language and I’ve read books at a speed that’s close to verbal storytelling so how I speak is truly the way I hear it in my head. It becomes a process of intently tuning in and sharing that with others. Since it’s not about me, when I “disappear” then I’ve succeeded. I’m thrilled when others sense that trust and it allows them to enjoy the journey.
What is next in your narrating work?
I’m finishing the prequel to Russell Blake‘s JET series with “JET: Ops Files” (my 8th book with him and Jet) as well as the narration for one of my own children’s short stories titled “The Secret of Why Bumblebees Buzz.” Plus, I’m excited to have just teamed with another romance author to narrate her Norse-themed historical romance that you can look for by early June 2015 through Audible.
Thanks for listening, and Cheers!
Thank you for coming to my little corner of the blogging world and taking the time from your busy schedule. I am looking forward to listen to more of your audiobooks, especially if you sing in them 😉
Hope you enjoyed today’s chat and you will give a chance to Braden Wright’s audiobooks. I reallyreallyreally like his voice.
Here is my review of one of the audiobooks narrated by Mr. Wright, The MacKinnon’s Bride, book 1 in the Highland Brides series by Tanya Anne Crosby :
Overall 5 stars – Performance 5 stars – Story 5 stars
“I loved this book when I read it a few years ago, but listening to it read by Braden Wright blew me away. Just the right amount of raspy with a healthy does of warmth, Mr. Wright’s voice is the perfect choice for this story, it made me feel warm and tingly… and the singing he does… *sigh* I played those parts back a few times. The voices of the characters were well differentiated, I especially loved Iain’s voice, also old Angus’ voice. The emotions came thru clearly which for me is important. I find nothing worse when I hear the word but not the emotion behind it. This story of Iain and Page is a a good mix of romance, mystery, betrayal, redemption, revenge and a dash of hilarity ending with a HEA. Thank you for a great listening experience.”
To find out more and keep up to date or check out the audiobooks:
Audible • aboutme • Twitter • Facebook
To start you on your listening journey, Mr. Wright is giving away 2 copies of “Lady’s Man” written by Tanya Anne Crosby.
New York Times best-selling author Tanya Anne Crosby makes her contemporary fiction debut with a novella about life and love in the Lowcountry.
Hoping that saying goodbye will be easier if she can connect with her gram’s beloved childhood home, Annie Franklin chose July 4th weekend to bring her Gram’s ashes to Folly Beach, South Carolina. Thanks to one very intuitive dog and a handsome stranger, Annie discovers that ‘letting go’ has as much to do with embracing the present as it does with shedding the past.
My review here.
2 lucky commenters will be chosen by Sexy Mr. Random after 3pm EST on Thursday, May 7, 2015. GOOD LUCK!
Until next time read a book, listen to a book and don’t forget to show your love by leaving a review!