Hi Everyone! Books-n-Kisses and I are thrilled to have narrator Sebastian York with us today!!
Hi Sebastian! Kelly and I are extremely excited to have you be a part of our Audio Book Lovin’ Series! Welcome!
Sebastian: Hi, Everybody. Nice to "be here."
Viviana: How about we begin with you telling us a bit about yourself and how long have you’ve been narrating and how did you get into the gig?
Sebastian: Well, I like to travel a lot. I'm actually answering these questions from a plane somewhere over the Pacific. Forgive me if I get a little dreamy or something from being up in the clouds. Any rate, I got started a few years back thanks to a friend of mine, Ethan Donaldson. Narrating was something I'd always wanted to do. Ethan is a really experienced engineer, editor, and director who recognized something in my voice. Over the course of a couple of months I'd go over to his place and we started to make a reel. (A reel is an audio sample of your voice; you read various books spanning a variety of genres. It's a means to give casting directors an idea of your range, accents, and style, among other things.) Once he thought we had enough material he began to send it around to casting directors he knows and has worked with over the years. Things just went from there.
Viviana: For you, how does an author/narrator relationship begin?
Sebastian: Honestly, it rarely does. Lately, though, I've been in much more direct contact with authors. Sometimes they'll contact the narrator directly, asking if you're available. I tend to say yes all the time, so building a relationship w/ the author and what she wants just comes about naturally. They'll tell you what they're looking for in a specific character, what they like etc etc. But most of them are usually very open to the narrator's own ideas. It's usually a pretty compatible thing. A collaboration, really.
Viviana: What sort of information does the author (or the publishers) provide you prior to starting the narrating process of the book(s)?
Sebastian: Basically they provide descriptions of characters-- ages, background, histories-- or they'll specifically identify a character's regional or foreign accent. Another important-- probably the most important-- thing is telling you what they don't want. This makes things much easier sometimes.
Viviana: How do you go about selecting how each of the characters are going to sound like? (i.e. their tones and accents)
Sebastian: A lot of that is either told to you (as mentioned above) or certain details are written in the book. The r al fun for me comes from secondary or tertiary characters. Most of the time you can really cut loose. I use a lot of voices from people I've known, met, or have simply overheard across the ages, so to speak. You can also cross-reference or combine them. Basically, you can just let it rip, especially when those characters are complete assholes or idiots. For some reason, I've attracted a lot of those over the years. Maybe it's a curse of having what I'm told is a "sympathetic" face.
Viviana: Along the lines of the previous question, how do you manage or what is your process of remember what the character from a previous book sounds like when they reappear in a new book (or if not part of a series, but standalone, characters as they pop in and out of the story)?
Sebastian: I have a pretty good memory, so most of the characters' voices I can recollect fairly quickly. But, really, since you're strictly a narrator, the main character voices are generally interchangeable. I always use my regular voice for the mains, for instance; others just come back. If you're really in a bind, and if you keep an archive, you can go rooting through and find it. I also don't work on more than one book at a time so, in the case of a standalone, recall isn't a problem. You're working on it in consecutive days, so they're all in your head.
Viviana: As readers we get the completed product to listen to. Nicely wrapped up in it’s pretty cover! However, a lot of work going into making audiobooks. Tell us about the narrating process (i.e. do you read the book before narrating it? How long are the recording sessions per day? How long does it take for you to narrator a book? If you make a mistake while recording, what happens?)
Sebastian: First off, I never work/narrate for more than 4 hours (5 tops) a day. Things can quickly go downhill after that amount of time. Your eyes start playing nasty tricks and you mis-read a lot of stuff. It's annoying. I like to come into each book in fresh segments. You're really after a rhythm, and I've sort of cultivated a preference for going in "cold." I think this helps the listening experience because I'm moving through a book the same way a listener is. It makes for a mutual experience, I think. I've always been a "first take is the best take" idealist, anyway. Mistakes happen all the time, though. They're unavoidable. If you stumble over a word or line, you just go back and record it again (thereby erasing the mistake by going over the top
of it). This is called "punch and roll", which is a pretty common method when you're recording at home or in a studio. Length: 200 pages is roughly about twenty hours of work time, I'd say.
Viviana: So… we often hear authors say they have a writer's cave, where they go and do their work. Do you have something similar (i.e. home studio)? Or if you work in the publisher’s studios, do you bring certain things with you and if so, what are they?
Sebastian: The majority of my work is done from home. I have a very makeshift home "studio." I use quotes because most people would either laugh or stare quizzically at how it looks. More a chaotic den than a cave. In a studio, no, I don't really bring anything. No lucky charms or anything like that. But I do like to get to know the engineers. You shoot a lot of shit in the booth. I do, anyway. I really enjoy working with them. You're in a kind of capsule together, and isolated, so it can be kind of therapeutic when you're working that closely with someone, communicating through wires and from opposite sides of a soundproof glass wall between the two of you. It sounds odd, but I like it. Engineers are great resources to have. They should be working a lot more, too. I'm a little troubled by how much the industry is shifting away from them. I don't consider myself a maverick for saying that, either.
Viviana: Here’s a fun question we have been wondering… as a narrator, do you get “oh say it in ‘the voice (i.e. Character’s voice or the “narrator” voice)” question often? Or do you get that sort of requests at all?
Sebastian: Yeah, I get that, but only among good friends. I'll leave it at that.
Viviana: Of all the books you’ve narrated, which one has been your favorite to narrate and why?
Sebastian: In deference to the authors, I don't think it's really proper to pick one out of the bunch. Sorry.
Viviana: What do you do for fun? When you’re off the clock.
Sebastian: I get the hell out of town and try to drink a lot of good beer and wine. I travel as often as I can, even if it's just a few miles away. Working at home is a boon and a bane.
Viviana: What are you currently working on and what’s next for you?
Sebastian: Not working on anything right now. But I've recently worked through a hell of a brick since the beginning
of the year. I think there are something around 30 books coming out as we speak or very soon. More on the way this summer.
Viviana: If someone has not listened to any audio book before what would you tell them?
Sebastian: It's another form of entertainment, but it requires some patience and a lot of imagination. That seems to be a difficult proposition for a lot of people these days. To them, I'd say, listen to it in sections. Otherwise, let them lift you out of your normal daily grind. They can do that very easily if you let them. There are a lot of great narrators out there, and they know how to capture that sense of removal. Let them.
Viviana: This was awesome! Looking forward to listening to you again, I have a few of the books you’ve narrated on my wish list / to be listened to list. :) Thank you for hanging out with us today!
Sebastian: Thanks, Viviana. All best to you and everyone.
Have you listened to Sebastian? Below are some audio samples for you to check out! I'm currently listening to EVERYWHERE AND EVERY WAY by Jennifer Prosbst! I'm REALLY enjoying his narration of the story! I've listened to all of the BOUDREAUX series by Kristen Proby... LOVE THEM! While I haven't read the LEGAL BRIEFS series by Emma Chase, I purchased the second book, SUSTAINED based on reviews and that the novella, SIDEBARRED involves that couple and because Sebastian is the narrator! YUP! Similar to authors, I WILL follow a narrator and check out new authors or new series and books because they narrate them.
Purchase at Amazon | Audible
Purchase at Amazon | Audible
Purchase at Amazon | Audible
About The Narrator
Born in Tunbridge Wells, England, Sebastian York spent much of his youth as a military brat throughout Europe, Asia, and the US, which spurred a very adventurous sense for travel and faraway places. When not narrating or traveling, he flies helicopters, collects rare Mongolian artifacts, and dreams of one day acquiring a Sommelier Master certification or hosting a late-night radio program entitled We're So Wet. He lives in New York City.
You can find Sebastian at
Now, go visit Kelly!!!