Saturday, July 20, 2019

Audibook Narration Tips and Insights with Jessie Drumm

Today you are in for a special treat as I share with you an interview with the fabulous Jessie Drumm. I will have to admit that I am very fond of her as she narrated by audible book NEVER STOP RUNNING. Getting the job wasn't an easy task as she and about 168 others auditioned for it. The process took my casting team almost three months and several callbacks to discover Jessie. Let me tell you, the time and effort was worth it as she has knocked the audible book out of the park. The audible book, NEVER STOP RUNNING, narrated by Jessie came out of the gate as the #1 New Release for audible books. I owe that to Jessie and her fabulous narration.

I had an interview with Jessie because I wanted everyone to get to know her. So here it is.


Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, and I currently live in Newtown, Connecticut. I studied French, Theater, and Italian at Ithaca College and French Business at The University of Paris. I later earned a Masters degree in Teaching French from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I also have a certificate from Teachers College Columbia in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I love languages, as you can see!

What inspired you to become a narrator?

I am a full-time world language teacher in a middle/high school in Westchester, New York. I was inspired to become a narrator after narrating several educational videos for my school. I was told I have a very professional, soothing voice, and I also love studying accents. I decided to explore the option of voiceover/narration work since I was missing the opportunity to perform theatrically, which I had so frequently when I was younger. I used to read all of my books aloud when I was a child, and I read now to my daughter. Narration felt like a natural field to try.

Do you have a preferred genre?

I really love psychological, suspense thrillers, and mystery novels. I love any book with engaging characters and a plotline that makes you want to do nothing other than read/listen.

What has been your favorite section or chapter you narrated from my book?

This is a tough call! I might have to say my favorite was the chapter entitled “Behold the Knights” from Never Stop Running because I really enjoyed the accent. In terms of dramatic portrayal, I’d say Sebastian’s accident and the 911 call were exciting to narrate, because of the wide range of characters and emotional complexity I had to portray in those scenes.



What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to produce an audiobook?

I am very new to audiobook production, so learning my software and editing tools was challenging. Also, making myself a schedule around another full-time job and being a mom of a young child made recording difficult at times. Another challenge was the range of accents in Never Stop Running. I did my best to research them and recreate them, without characterizing or stereotyping.

What production companies do you work with?

I currently work for myself!

What one unique thing sets you apart from other narrators?

I believe my background and experience with languages and linguistics sets me apart from other narrators. I research the etymology of words and their regional differences, which I find very fascinating. I put a lot of care into the actual syntax and significance of what I’m reading.

How do you prepare your voice before narrating?

I brush my teeth and put on chapstick! Sometimes, I also drink mint tea or oil pull (swish coconut oil in my mouth) to prep my voice. I warm up by reading a few passages before I hit record.

Do you have a preference for fiction or non-fiction? Why?

I prefer fiction because I love portraying a variety of characters. I enjoy bringing scenes in the book to life and do my best to give each character a distinct voice or tone.

How do you go about marketing your audiobook?

Facebook and Instagram are the main social media I use. I also work with hundreds of interested teachers and students who are curious to hear my performances, so word of mouth goes a long way in marketing as well.

How do you choose the books you want to narrate?

I look for an engaging text that lures me in. I look for something I consider to be well-written, with characters I feel I could convincingly portray.

Describe your recording studio?

My recording studio, like many new voiceover artists, is my walk-in closet! It’s a treated space, in terms of having carpet and lots of clothing to absorb echoes. There is no external noise at all.

What is your preferred equipment in microphones, headsets, software, etc?

I really enjoy my Audio Technica headphones, my AKG P420 Project Studio Condenser Microphone and I prefer ProTools for software.

What one piece of advice do you have for new narrators?

I am a new narrator myself, but my biggest piece of advice would be allow yourself as much time as possible to learn your equipment and software before you take on projects. Also, assume that everything is going to take longer than expected so that you time manage appropriately. Finally, be patient with yourself and know that mistakes along the way are entirely normal and expected.

Tell your readers anything else you want to share.

It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Dr. Melissa Caudle on Never Stop Running, and I hope you enjoy it! I’ve grown quite attached to the characters and will miss them once production is entirely complete.