Hello, all! Thank you so much for joining me here today! Please give a warm welcome to the wonderful Mark Westfield who has narrated Book 1 - 6 in the THIRDS series, and done such a fantastic job. I've asked him a few questions about what it's like to narrate the THIRDS series.
Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? How did you get into narrating?
Sure! Before anything else, though, I hope I can say a quick thanks to everyone who made these audiobooks possible.
First: to Dreamspinner Press. It’s absolutely amazing to work with a publisher who allows complete creative freedom. You are truly a great company run the right way. To anyone reading this, you’ll never go wrong with a Dreamspinner book or audiobook – always top quality, and really great people at the company!
Of course, a huge thanks to Charlie Cochet. Wow… just wow. A gifted writer. A nice person. What can I say? It’s a privilege to narrate her books. She has created amazing characters and an entire universe that is believable, yet fantastical. I can’t wait for the next book, and hope we can work together on many more!
And, if you are reading this, I’m not sure there is any way I can relay to you how grateful I am. Like many of you, I’ve switched jobs/careers several times, but this is my dream job. And, because of you, I get to do it. As long as you are willing to keep listening to me, I promise to give every book everything I have. Thank you.
As for me, this career really seemed like a perfect fit. Before I even knew it existed, I was told multiple times by different people that I had a distinct voice. I love reading. I’d worked in two commercial recording studios and LOVED the art of recording. I found out that modern audio book narrators work mostly alone…a negative for many people, but I’m a huge introvert. And, after many years, I was burned out on my previous career. A little bit of research, a LOT of practice and recording, and boom – Dex is alive!
How do you approach a book or series with a large cast of characters? What about when there are several accents involved?
I think it’s vital to read through the book and take detailed notes before anything else. A large cast, like the THIRDS novels, requires a commitment to keeping track of everything I do as a narrator. As for the accents, as would be expected, some are easy, and some take a lot of work. To be honest, though, it’s so much fun that even the difficult accents are a blast!
How difficult is it to keep track of all the different performances?
It’s really not hard, just time consuming. If someone were to approach this job from a strictly creative aspect, and not take notes, I think it would be easy to make a lot of mistakes as far as changing voices, etc. But if you can take the time to sketch things out ahead of time, or pause now and then to listen back to what you’ve done so far, it’s really not that hard.
Who’s the hardest character from the THIRDS to perform and why?
Hmmm… ZERO chance I would I have answered this way early on, but it’s Ash. He was one of the easiest early on, but consistent with Charlie’s amazing character development, he has become deeper than I first thought he would be. I won’t say anything more, because I don’t know how far any of you have gotten through the series, but he’s become a multi-dimensional character.
What’s been your favorite scene to read?
I’m smiling at the memories! I think it’s in Catch a Tiger – which at the time of this interview hasn’t been released yet, so I won’t give it away. Let’s just say it involves the entire team walking in on Ethan during an embarrassing moment and the result of an unrelated, but really funny bet.
Do you ever get embarrassed or laugh during scenes?
Ha! Perfect follow up!!!! The scene I just mentioned actually was a prime example of a time I had to pause the recording because I started laughing so hard it was unlistenable! It’s always a fine line – when the narrator is truly into the scene it sounds so much better, but if s/he cracks up (as I did in this scene) it really doesn’t work. As for embarrassed…well, I work alone and both narrate and produce everything I do, so I guess it’s hard to be really embarrassed when no one else is around!
What’s the most challenging part of being a narrator? The most enjoyable part?
It’s funny, but I think my answer for both questions may be the same. I love being able to, on most books, have creative freedom to come up with accents, voices, tones, etc. But, there is always a risk that something won’t flow with the story as a series develops. So, I do my best, as we all do!
If you were a character in the THIRDS, who would you be and why?
Sparks. She is exactly who I would love to be in real life. Cool, calm, and respected. She’s mysterious, and often thought of as more of an “office type.” But she’s really tough and always in control. What a cool character! I spent a ridiculous amount of time figuring out what her voice should sound like, because she’s just so cool that I really wanted to make sure she sounded that way.
Do you use props or special equipment for sound effects? What made you decide to use them?
As I’m sure anyone who has listened to the audiobooks has heard, I do use effects, but not very often. If someone is speaking over a com, I make sure you can hear it. Also, I try to create the sound of distance if someone is speaking from a different room. Other than that, I really try to avoid effects unless the scene really calls for one.
Do you have any questions you’d like to ask Charlie or the THIRDS fans?
Charlie – What inspired you to start writing the THIRDS series? Also, how can I see your artwork?
Finally, if anyone is interested in a shot at some free audio books, I often have complimentary copies to give away. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to get you some free swag!
Thank you so much, Mark, for taking the time to answer our questions. I absolutely loved hearing about your process, and learning a little bit about what it’s like to perform the THIRDS. Thank you for your hard work, and for making the THIRDS audiobooks such a fun and amazing experience. I’ve overjoyed you’re enjoying it!
As for what inspired the THIRDS, well, after I decided I wanted to write a shifter series, one different to what was out there, I began asking myself a host of what-if questions. What if in this world, humanity was responsible for the creation of these shifters, of this new race? What if these shifters weren’t hidden from society, but a part if it? How would society change? How would humanity change? What about the laws? How would humans deal with crimes committed by beings who could shift into lethal animals? They couldn’t. They’d need shifters to handle shifters. But then law enforcement would be divided, and the world would already be facing a divide—humans and Therians.
All these questions lead to the creation of the Therian Human Intelligence Defense Squadron—the THIRDS. I knew then that the series would revolve around this organization and those connected to it. Thank you, Mark, for bringing the THIRDS world to life through your narration.
As for my artwork, it's been a while since I've had the time to work on something not book related. I may have to get up a small slideshow on the website. All the character artwork for the THIRDS I've done myself, and have had such fun doing. You can find some of it here: http://www.thirdshq.com/destructive-delta/ I also did the artwork for the three THIRDS patches you see on teh THIRDS HQ homepage, and the THIRDS Nerds Badge.
Thank you everyone for joining us, and for all the love you show the THIRDS.