Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

One of the most incredible parts of reviewing books and working with fantastic publishers like Candlewick Press is the opportunity to meet authors, illustrators and narrators I would have never dreamed of chatting with. From the first time I heard Nick Podehl narrate The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, I’ve wanted the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the experience, but never in a million years would have dreamed I’d actually be able to. Well, thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press and Brilliance Audio, I was able to connect with Nick to bring you some really incredible insight into the making of not only The Knife of Never Letting Go, but audiobooks in general. So, without further rambling on my part, take a look…

Was performing and your talent for acting/vocal performance something you were always aware of?
I have been acting in one way or another since I was a little boy. Those closest to me would say that I have been overdramatic most of my life. From playing with LEGOS and actually acting out the scenes my brother and I created to making home movies with him and my other family members, acting has been a part of me. I took to the stage in high school and followed it up with studying theatre in college after realizing it was what I really wanted to do. I didn’t think I could make a living as an actor and didn’t want to subject my future family to living in a cardboard box outside a theatre in New York, so I gave up the dream. But God intervened and gave me the chance to act and make a living doing so when I auditioned for my first book at Brilliance Audio more than two years ago. I have been eating those words every day since, realizing that I can, in fact, make a living as an actor. But I cannot do it alone. My loving wife and family support me in living out this dream. Without them, and without faith, I could not do what I do. I am just thankful that I get to share this gift that I have been given.

When did you really start to get interested in audio book recording and think of it as part of your acting career? And what kind of training did you seek out because of this?
More than two years ago, I was in a job that I hated, not really going anywhere. I was about to graduate, and didn’t really know for what I was going to use my degree, when my mother encouraged me to finally put together a demo CD for a recording company that was near my home town. My mother and grandparents have been listening to Audio books since the time they were on cassette tapes, and they encouraged me to audition for Brilliance Audio. After finally giving in to their loving pestering, I put together a demo and sent it in. Surprisingly, I got a response and they asked me to come in and audition for a book by Mercedes Lackey. I couldn’t believe that I got a call, and was blown away when they said that I got the book! I didn’t expect anything more after that, I mean, these were real actors doing these projects. But little did I realize, Brilliance would make a professional out of me with more than 30 books in the last two years! I spend a lot of time with my directors and engineers preparing for each project and constantly seeking input on making myself better at my craft. I think, as actors, we can learn so much from the people around us, and we should never miss an opportunity to learn something new.

What kind of things do you do to prepare for a recording of an audio book? Is it something you practice in advance, live or a spur of the moment thing?
We get the script we are going to record in advance so I have a chance to read over the manuscript, digest it, figure out any details I might need to know (words I don’t know, dialects, pronunciations), and figure out voices for characters all before we ever enter the studio. The narrator and the director of each project work closely in this aspect. I can’t even begin to describe all the work the directors do to prepare these scripts. Without their knowledge and preparation, things would not come together the way they do.

In The Knife of Never Letting Go, there are so many characters. How do you keep male, female and animal characters straight and how do you develop that unique voice for each one?
A book like The Knife of Never Letting Go, there are so many opportunities for me to let my creative juices flow! One of my favorite things about great young adult titles like the Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness, is how many great characters the author creates. I get the joy of giving voice to the lives he’s created. I draw my inspiration from various entertainers I enjoy, people I meet, and chaos floating around in my head. I will generally figure out the tone of the character first (angry, depressed, positive, etc.) and go from there. If there is not an obvious choice when I meet a new character, I will try to differentiate by changing the pacing, or the pitch, or just the way they say certain things. A far flung dialect is not always appropriate, so I can change things in very subtle ways so that two people, who might be from the same time and place can still sound different. As far as keeping them all straight when I’m going through the process; color-coding markers! I try to mark each different character on my script with a different colored marker in order to keep them all straight. When I’m prepping a script I look like a multi-colored Wolverine from the X-Men with all the markers gripped in my hands.

Did you have a favorite character from The Knife of Never Letting Go and why?
Oh hands down it was Manchee! How could you not love that silly, stupid, lovable dog?! He was honest, caring, and devoted. And doing the voice of a dog was something I don’t get to do on a regular basis. I think Patrick Ness did a great job capturing the mind of a dog. As an animal lover, I know I would have loved having Manchee as a pet. Except at 3am when I was woken up with “Poo Nick! Poo! Need to Poo!”

Do you have a favorite audio book that you’ve recorded? What made it so enjoyable?
That’s a hard one… I think the Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness would have to be at the top. They were such a unique series of books and I got to work with some great people. In The Ask and the Answer and again in Monsters of Men, I got to work with Angela Dawe and Macleod Andrews. I tell you, they definitely taught me a thing or two about how to improve my craft. Also we were directed by the talented Laura Grafton. With her dedication and the expertise of engineer Matt DeKoster, we put together a truly enjoyable final product. I think young adult books in general are my favorite genre in which to work. They have so many creative opportunities and can really hit some important issues right in the face. They give me the chance to be creative and honest in a way I just don’t find in most adult books. They are not just telling a story, but are really speaking to the audience, trying to get a point across.

Which of the audio books you’ve recorded was the most challenging? Why?
An absolutely epic series by Patrick Rothfuss called The Kingkiller Chronicles. The first book, The Name of the Wind, was about 800 pages. The second book, Wise Man’s Fear, was 1,000 pages! These were long books, filled with more than 300 different characters between the two books, a number of fictional languages and written by a professor of literature, so there were a fair plethora of words I didn’t even know existed! That being said, they were two of my favorite books to narrate. It was a long and challenging process, but they were expertly written books that told a very engaging story that completely sucked me in. I can’t wait for Professor Rothfuss to write the next one! If you like fantasy novels on the line of Tolkien, check this one out.

Audio books can be quite long. How long does it actually take to record the audio book itself?
Each narrator is different. I can usually get a little over three disks recorded with every 8 hour work day. So a book like The Knife of Never Letting Go was about 10 compact disks. That would have taken me about three days to record. A book like Wise Man’s Fear was 36 disks, and that one took me about 13 days to record.

Lastly, you recently won the ALA’s Odyssey Honor for both your recordings of The Knife of Never Letting Go and will grayson, will grayson. Congratulations! With such a huge achievement under your belt what do you have planned for the future?
Well, I hope to continue recording more books for Brilliance Audio. Being recently married, I look forward to beginning my life with my wife Erin, and seeing where this industry takes us. We both think it would be amazing if from this work I could get a job doing animation voice overs with Disney or Pixar or the like. We are huge fans of good animated movies, so that would be a dream come true. I also would be ecstatic if I could land a gig giving voice to a video game character or two. Yep, the truth is out, I’m a nerd. But I love what I am doing in the audio book industry. I hope I have a bright future ahead of me and have the chance to work with many more talented and dedicated people who bring these books to life.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on that you can talk about?
Because I was once a 14 year old boy, I have a special place in my heart for Carter. He is the protagonist in another of my favorite books, Carter Finally Gets It, by Brent Crawford. I am currently working on the sequel, Carter’s Big Break. Carter is suffering the pains of a hormone ridden teenage boy who is afflicted with ADD on top of it all. What ensues is a hilarious, some-what raunchy story of how hard it is to be a boy coming into manhood.

Thank you so much, Nick, for allowing me the opportunity to ask you the many questions I did! Believe me, I could have come up with quite a few more after I read through your answers, because I found it so incredibly interesting! I wish you every bit of success possible and know that you’ve only just begun. I’m positive you’ve got a very bright career ahead of you!

If you haven’t listened to The Chaos Walking Trilogy you are certainly missing out! Just take a look at my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, where I gush about how brilliant the audiobook is. No matter if you enjoy listening to audiobooks or not, you need to try this series with Nick Podehl narrating. There’s a reason he is a recent recipient of two Odyssey Honor Awards and has close to 40 recordings listed on Goodreads alone! His narrations are just that good!

Thank you again to Nick Podehl, Candlewick Press and Brilliance Audio for this fantastic opportunity!

Todayโ€™s post is part of our month long celebration of Candlewick Press for our monthly feature โ€œBook Publishers 101โ€œ. Make sure to stop by the Candlewick Press Site for more information about this title and more. For more information about our Book Publishers 101 feature take a look at this monthโ€™s opening post.

Also make sure to take a look at our Giveaways Page for the four giveaways being sponsored by Candlewick press throughout this month!

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Thank you so much to Candlewick Press on Brilliance Audio for providing an audiobook version of this novel for review!
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20 Responses to Narrator Interview: Nick Podehl from The Chaos Walking Trilogy

  1. Raquel says:

    I’m a huge fan of Nick Podehl now after listening to him read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Beat the Band by Don Calame. He’s such a talent.

    Great interview and great answers!

  2. Jana says:

    What a great interview! I always wondered about how a book got recorded and what prep the actors did for it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. O a good narrator? I really really have to try this guy now.

  4. Gina says:

    Wonderful interview. Sounds like Mr. Podehl was honing his skills for this particular venture in his life from the start! Generally not an audiobook listener, but you certainly made a great case for them. Thanks for sharing…and happy reading (or listening)!

  5. Really great interview! I loved hearing the author’s perspective!

  6. Jessi E. says:

    I read Name of the Wind a long time ago and waited a long time for The Wise Man’s Fear to come out! Now I’m going to have to re-read… but it will be worth it because it was amazing!

  7. Fabulous interview. I loved Nick’s narration on all three of The Chaos Walking books, and adored Manchee and how he did his voice. I was very sad at the end of that book because of how much I adored Manchee. I also liked how Nick did the horse’s voice in the other books. Thanks for sharing this interview with us.

    • I absolutely agree. Manchee was the best! I was so so sad at the end of the first book, but happy to see the development with the horses later. Such an incredible narrator, he really changed the feeling of the series for me.

  8. One of my favorite audiobooks! You should try the Jackie Faber audiobooks–they’re also fabulous. The first one is called “Bloody Jack.”

  9. Katie says:

    So cool! I still don’t know how the Noise words in an audio version, but I guess that means I just really have to go listen for myself. I can just imagine being Nick Podehl, reading the books for the first time, and thinking “Holy freaking cow!! I have the best job ever!!!” It was super interesting getting an inside look on what it’s like to record audio books. Thanks to you both for sharing!

  10. […] I’ll be honest, I picked this audiobook because of the narrator. Nick Podehl is by far one of my favorite audiobook narrators ever. His narration of The Chaos Walking trilogy […]

  11. russell says:

    I hope he writes more in the chaos walkin serise I felt there were some majer cliff hanger and there driving me insain 0.0

  12. russell says:

    Dos anyone know if there will be another book?

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