June 15 saw the release of my novel Winter in audiobook. This journey began last January when voice actress Lindsay Zana came on board. This audiobook is more than just a reading, it is a performance. Lindsay effortlessly switches between believable voices for each character, creating the illusion of multiple people involved. We also carefully added some special effects in key places and dramatic background music where appropriate, being careful not to let such things overpower or compete with the performance.
I wanted to get to know Lindsay a little more, so I did an interview with her. Here it is. Enjoy!
Q. When did you first know you wanted to get into acting?
A. Probably from 8th grade onward. I was cast in a little community theatre production called The Night Before Christmas and after that I knew the acting bug had me. I performed in numerous plays throughout high school, including Musicals, competitive one-acts and full length Shakespeare productions. I went to college to pursue a degree in Acting and headed out to LA from there. I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Q. What’s your favorite thing about acting?
A. Telling a story. Being able to bring an audience into a completely different world and affecting them through the journey that the characters take. I know how amazing it is to be inspired by great storytelling and I hope that I influence people in a similar way with my work.
It’s also fun to play characters that are vastly different than myself. I am a quieter person in real life, so getting to play someone like Winter or Xaphan is a wonderful challenge for me.
Q. What brought you to California?
A. I had actually planned to move to Chicago once I graduated from college. It’s a big theatre town and I was looking to focus mostly on theatre work. But my roommate and I decided to visit LA as well, as she was a bit more interested in the film side of things. We ended up finding a wonderful apartment during that trip and decided to come out here. I had wanted to seriously explore voice over as well as getting more involved in film, and LA seemed like the place to be for all of that! I will admit that it took me a little while to adjust to the city, but now I’m glad that we decided to come here and I’m enjoying everything I’ve experienced so far.
Q. Why did you get into voice acting?
A. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of people acting with just their voice, especially in animation, and I’ve been drawn to it since I was little (one of my dreams is to voice a Disney character someday).
With voice over you don’t have to worry about what your face looks like or how you’re dressed, you simply get to play and use your voice to tell a story. While voice over takes a completely different mindset than film or theatre acting, I find it very freeing and exciting!
Q. What’s your favorite part of voice acting?
A. Those moments when things just click. When a scene or a character or even just a sentence suddenly locks in and feels genuine. Sometimes it takes a lot of takes to reach that moment and sometimes it happens on the first try, but it thrills me every time. On a sillier note, I also love getting into the acting, physically, especially if there’s a fight scene or something that requires movement from the character. I get really into things in those moments, I’m sure my neighbors are curious as to what’s been going on in my apartment. I’m not afraid to shout or cry or get myself worked up in order to get the right feeling in a line.
Q. What’s up with Girls Next Door?
A. Girls Next Door is an audio web series that my roommate and I began last year. It is actually a comic over on the website DeviantART, drawn and written by a girl called Pika-la-Cynique. The basic premise is Sarah Williams (from the 80’s movie Labyrinth) and Christine Daae (from the musical The Phantom of the Opera) are roommates in this apartment building and are going to University together.They find out that Jareth (from Labyrinth) and Erik (The Phantom) are living in the apartment below them (GND is actually based off another comic called “Roommates”, by a guy called Ashe Rhyder, which focuses on Erik and Jareth). As the boys try to woo the girls (in all the wrong ways), more and more fictional characters from movies, books, plays, etc., make an appearance in the apartment building.
I’m a big nerd so I immediately fell in love with the comic and thought it would be fun to create an audio performance of it, kind of like an ongoing radio play. We got permission from Pika to use her artwork and her story and started the whole process. Basically we use her art and her storyline and have the audio performance dubbed on top of it, grouping different pages together into “Episodes” that make up the series. We have a wonderful cast voicing the characters and have gained a bit of a fan base on YouTube. My roommate Kaitlin Wright and I serve as directors/producers, as well as voicing Christine and Sarah (respectively).
You can read the original comic at the following link (she’s a bit ahead of us, story-wise): http://pika-la-cynique.deviantart.com/gallery/772068
Our YouTube channel can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/girlsnextdoorcomic
And our fan page on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Girls-Next-Door-Comic/260435723991950
Q. You have a solo singing single available on iTunes called “Worth the Wait”. What’s the story behind that song?
A. “Worth the Wait” is a song that I’ve been trying to write for some time, and I am proud that it was finally able to come together last year.
The song itself is basically about waiting for the man that God has chosen for me, and trusting that he will be worth waiting for when I finally meet him. The idea that he is out there in the world somewhere right now is an amazing thing to me and I wanted to write a song about it. It had to be the right kind of song, though, nothing too uptempo but nothing too slow and draggy. I’m really pleased with what we came up with.
The music was written by a man named Clarence Jay while I wrote the lyrics and melody. Most of the music I write is on guitar and I wanted a fuller sound behind this song. There is also a music video that was shot by a team from Suite 7 Productions and can be found on YouTube.
Q. What made you decide to voice an audiobook?
A. I’d been interested in trying my hand at an audiobook for a while, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I was a little intimidated at the thought, to be honest, because I knew that I would have to perform all of the voices in the book myself, but it seemed like a good challenge and an avenue of voice acting I hadn’t really explored. A girl in one of my acting classes mentioned Audiobook Creation Exchange so I decided to check it out. I submitted an audition for Winter and everything unfolded from there.
A. There were two things: The first was coming up with voices for the male characters. The female characters were easy because that’s the range and tone that my voice can easily navigate. It was harder trying to differentiate between the guys in the book. When I started I really only had maybe two “guy” voices, and I’d already given one of them to Winter’s dad from the very first audition. I wanted the guys to sound different, certainly, but they also had to sound male…does that make sense? It was a challenge for me to come up with some of those voices, but I’m happy with the result and I can now proudly say that I have expanded my range of male voices.
The second thing, then, was keeping all of those voices straight and consistent! There were times when certain characters (like Claire or Detective Fox) wouldn’t come back on the scene for chapters and then suddenly there they were again, and I’d have to make sure they didn’t sound radically different from the last time they had appeared. I would usually go back to the last chapter where the character spoke and listen to what I had done a number of times so I could get their tone and cadence back in my voice before I recorded the new lines.
Q. What did you learn during the audiobook process?
A. It takes a lot longer than I expected! This was the first time that I really had my work cut out for me editing-wise, on top of recording the voice files (I edit the files for GND, but they’re not as extensive as this was). When we first started out I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to approach getting everything done and put together. As time went on, however, I got used to the routine I’d set up for myself and was able to get things done much faster.
I also realized that there’s only so long that I can record something before my voice decides to quit on me. Two chapters in one session was about my limit, after that my voice would get tired and the words would lose the clarity the story needed. I now know how to pace myself in order to get the best quality from my recordings.
This audiobook is truly a collaborative work, from the sound effects, to the music, to simply making sure all the chapters were the same volume! I am so thankful that you were right there with me, making sure everything came together and offering suggestions on how to improve the overall product as we went along.
Q. You’re the one who found Winter in the ACX database and submitted an audition. Of all the books you could have chosen, why that one?
A. First of all, I’m a big fantasy/sic-fi/supernatural fiction fan, so the description of the book caught my interest right from the beginning. I was interested in doing a book aimed at teens or young adults close to my own age, something that I could connect with and relate to in order to convey the story to the audience in a genuine way.
The fact that Winter is a Christian novel was also a factor in my decision to submit an audition. My faith is important to me and I thought that Winter offered a new and interesting Christian based story that I hadn’t seen done before. I read the audition chapter and was immediately drawn to Winter and her world. Her voice was always there from the beginning, it’s pretty much just my natural speaking voice, with her attitude and drive mixed in. I submitted my audition and hoped for the best!
Q. Will you do more audiobooks in the future? Or did this one ruin you for life?
A. I would love to do more audiobooks in the future! This was a wonderful first experience for me and I feel like I am much more prepared for any future books I perform, acting and editing-wise. I look forward to working on more audiobooks and (hopefully) continuing Winter’s story as well!
Q. Other than Winter and GND, where can someone find more of your work?
A. I do a lot of work with The Long Beach Shakespeare Company, including, of course, Shakespeare productions as well as audio performances of old-time radio plays. I am currently playing Viola in their production of Twelfth Night, which runs Fri./Sat. 8:00pm, Sunday 2:00pm through June 31st. I will be playing the role of Bianca in their upcoming production of The Taming of the Shrew, which opens in August. Visit http://lbshakespeare.org for more information!
I am also a member of a women’s acapella choir called The LA-LA’s. We sing a variety of contemporary music, some numbers with a band behind us and others purely acapella. We have a performance tentatively scheduled for July, to be held at M Bar, where we’ve had previous shows. There is also a group album in the works, so keep a lookout for that! You can “like” the LA-LA’s on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thelalaschoir
You can find more information, clips, project updates and more on my professional website: lindsayzana.com. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/LindsayZana. And “like” my fan page on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lindsay-Zana/167125106682352
Thanks Lindsay for taking the time to do this interview. I look forward to working on the rest of the Winter books with you!