Tell everyone about yourself.
I’m a native Californian that now resides in the Denver area of Colorado. I have two awesome kids and huge Great Dane. I’ve been married to my high school sweet heart for almost nineteen years.
Why did you become interested in voice acting? How did you get into the business?
Much like writers do, I just wanted to do it.
I was always the goofy kid in school. You know, the one making weird or funny voices. In school plays, I was the one that volunteered to be the narrator. I read stories to my younger siblings. When I had kids of my own, I read them stories. It became a challenge (both from within myself and from my kids) to do more and more voices for the stories.
I did theater and improv, but had never thrown my hat into the Voice Acting ring, until I discovered podcasts. Specifically, the Escape Artists podcasts (Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle). I became an immediate fan and wanted to narrate for them. After a few emails back and forth, I got a couple of stories. It was a blast.
I did some other freelance work: A couple of video games and a sales video. But then I discovered ACX, quite by accident. I filled out a profile, dropped a few demos on it, some of which, quite frankly, now embarrass me with their audio quality and my performance. And there it sat without me giving it much thought. Until a couple of authors found me there. Now here I am, several books later and loving it.
What’s a typical work day like?
Basically, I settle in to start recording as early as my brain allows. If I’m being good, I warm up my voice with some exercises. If I don’t, I usually have to throw out my first pass at a chapter. Depending on my work load, I’ll record some auditions. After that, I work on the projects I have contracts for. I record a chapter at a time, taking a break for water and stretch my legs between chapters.
I’ll record until I run out of material or my voice starts to sound different. After that I either edit what I’ve recorded or I work on highlighting my next project. By highlighting, I go through in MS Word and color code main characters. This way I can see who is talking at the beginning of dialogue. Most authors don’t put the dialogue attribution until the end of the sentence. That’s fine for readers, but it sucks for narrators. Highlighting means I can dive right in without glancing at the end of a sentence before reading.
If you’re really curious, Avery was dark blue and Caroline was dark pink. It’s stereotypical, I know, but it’s really easy to read.
Did Ancient Blood differ from your usual projects?
The book was far more “adult” than much of what I’ve read in the past. I had to strike a balance between Avery’s snarky tone and the dark material. Also there is a much larger cast than a lot of books I’ve done. Most contain one or two main characters and the rest rotate in and out of the story. Ancient Blood has a broad cast of characters that need to be distinct to the listener’s ear.
This is also my first first-person novel, which actually made some of the narration easier, more conversational.
How did you prepare to take on the wide variety of characters?
It starts with that highlighting I mentioned earlier. I make notes and try out some voices as I go, trying to settle on just the right sound for each. A lot of it comes from the dialogue. How they speak often informs a lot about each character. Formal people tend to avoid contractions, whereas casual people use a lot of slang.
It’s also important to perform them based on where they are in the story. For instance, Caroline has a different tone throughout the book. In the beginning she’s timid, but grows in strength as the story unfolds. Also, she has a different tone in each of her diary entries, depending on her relationship with Sebastian.
Was there a particular character you enjoyed voicing the most?
As much as I want to see him die in a fire, Valmont was quite possibly the most interesting character to do. I don’t usually get to do villains like that. His complete immorality made him disturbingly fun to do.
Avery was also fun, since his voice and attitude are similar to my own. I’d like to think I’d keep my smart mouth, even in the face of such horrors.
Which character was the most difficult for you?
Flea and Jade Tiger. There’s a fine line between doing an accent and mocking an ethnicity. Asian accents are very easy for Westerners to butcher and make them sound stupid. You want to get the quality of it without going “me rikey flied lice” on it. I had to spend time wandering though YouTube to listen to clips of people from Asia that learned English as a second language.
How do you feel about the possibility of getting more vampire/paranormal jobs because of Ancient Blood?
I’d love it. One of my favorite series is The Dresden Files. Sadly, James Marsters seems to have those locked up (and he does a great job of it). I think the subgenre has the chance to break out the “horror” mold and move into other areas (like political thriller).
What projects are you currently working on?
I have a book that should be out soon, Glen & Tyler’s Paris Double-Cross by J.B. Sanders. It’s the third in the series (I narrated the other two as well). I am currently narrating Errors & Omissions by Lee James. I hope to have that on Audible in May.
Beyond that, I’m still auditioning for projects. J.B. and I hope to start working on the fourth Glen & Tyler book this summer so we can release the Kindle and Audible versions at the same time.
You also do theater, right? Do you have a dream role you’ve always wanted to play?
I do some theater, but not as much as I used to. Every year my family and I do Magic Moments here in Denver. They create their own unique show every year and it’s a great non-profit that incorporates folks with special needs, amateurs, and professional actors.
My dream role has always been Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof.” A few more years and I’ll be old enough to play him without make-up!
Thank you very much, Brian! Have questions for Brian Rollins? Go ahead and ask them in the comments!
In the meantime, his awesome website can be found here: http://www.thevoicesinmyhead.com/
The equally awesome Ancient Blood audiobook can be found here: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Ancient-Blood-A-Novel-of-the-Hegemony-Audiobook/B00ICNQITY