A Narrator’s Life

Johnny Heller, one of the top narrators for Recorded Books. He narrates YA, Children’s and Adult books. He has acted, done stand up comedy, and was named one of the “top voices” for the 20th Century.

After reading his intro, it comes as no surprise that Mr. Heller began with a joke. He told his audience that he was not aware that the title of the session was “A narrator’s life”. He declared that he has forgotten most of his life but he thought he could fill the time some how. So Mr. Heller just jumped right into reading an excerpt from a children’s novel. He was easily believable as a young boy in his first reading. His delivery allowed for many opportunities for the crowd to break into uncontrollable laughter. He moved onto a slightly older protagonist in “Deliver us from Normal” by Kate Klise, a young adult novel. Mr. Heller makes reading aloud into an art form. In his reading of Marley and Me by John Grogan, we listened attentively to the escapade of Marley an uncontrollable dog at in his first obedience class. In “Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys” we learned what the guy is truly thinking when the girl is analyzing the relationship. Even though I sat here and watched the words come out of one person’s mouth, I completely believed the different voices of his characters. Even his body language reinforced the distinctiveness of each character. I have to believe that most other sessions probably heard us all laughing and were very jealous that they did not choose this session.

Q&A

Q- Obviously you have a great sense of humor . Do you choose to read humorous literature?

A-While he would prefer humor…he doesn’t turn down any work

Q-What are your Favorite works?

A-Marley and Me, We were Soldiers, Plato and Platypus walked into a bar, Wiley and Grandpa series,

Q-How did you get into this career? How would someone go about getting into this career. Are there kids narrating kids books?

A-In Recorded Books, there are not children readers. Mostly they use adults who sound like kids…just like him. He just happened to get referred to Recorded books, had an audition and was hired. But now it is much more difficult to break into the field. You can record your voice and send it into recorded books, they get 4,000-5,00 a year and choose 2-3 from those applicants. Also, they only accept actors from the actors union. He advises to start at local organization that records books for the blind and get some experience at the mic.

Q- How many books do you read? How many do you produce for recorded books

A- 2-3 a week for pleasure. 10-20 books a year for recorded books.

Q- Do you get paid by the book?

A- Recorded books pays by the hour.

Q- How do you prepare

A- First…read the book! Then find the words that may give you trouble. Figure out how to say those words. Know the surprises and the accents. You want the listener to be surprised at the right parts.

The session ended with a raffle or Mr. Heller’s recording of Marley and Me….and the winner is…Sally Bannen

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