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Monday, April 3, 2017

Interview: Derrick McClain, narrator Nevermore

I’ve been extremely excited about Nevermore coming to audio. Now that it’s finally available, readers/listeners can hear why I’ve been itching to share this project. Derrick McClain did an absolutely phenomenal job narrating the book! For anyone new to Derrick’s work, or those who may be interested in the creative process from his side, I did an interview with him about his contribution to Nevermore.

C.S.: Tell us a bit about your background as a narrator.
Derrick: While I always enjoyed the idea of doing audiobooks and other voice work, I never really knew how to get into the industry until I stumbled into work as an audiobook proofer for Dreamspinner Press. While I loved listening to the audiobooks, it really reignited my desire to be the one getting to bring these stories to life – and this time I knew where to go to start doing the work.
I think it’s also interesting to note that most audiobook narrators have a background in stage and screen acting. I on the other hand, do not – thanks in part to a dramatically tragic experience at theater camp in middle school, which I am not getting into right now. Instead, my background is largely in public speaking, along with the dramatic (live) reading of literature and a bit of reader’s theatre.

C.S.: What drew you to the Snow & Winter series?
Derrick: The very first thing that drew my attention was that it is part of Dreamspinner Press’s imprint DSP Publications. I’m a big fan of DSPP and love the idea of more of those titles going into audio.
But then I read the blurb and audition script and absolutely fell in love. Crimes inspired by Edgar Allan Poe? Hearts discovered under a floorboard? An MC who owns an antique shop? Yes please. (Okay, that last one might not sound exciting to most people but if you saw my house you’d understand. Seriously, you’d think a pair of old gay grandfathers lived here).

C.S.: What kind of research or preparation did you do for this project?
Derrick: Well, I worked with you on getting the voices and tone just right. The story fluctuates at times from an almost dark noir tale to a tongue-in-cheek comedy, and finding the right pacing and tone to cover all of that without losing the humor or destroying the macabre creepiness of certain moments was vital.
I also read up a bit on achromatopsia. Especially its pronunciation. Thanks for that.

C.S.: The Mystery of Nevermore is the first book in the Snow & Winter series. Do you enjoy revisiting the same characters as an audiobook narrator?
Derrick: I enjoy the idea of it – and I keep character voice files and backups specifically for those purposes – but Snow & Winter is the first series where I’ve actually signed the contract for more than one book in the series. There are some other series that I’ve started or come in on that I hope to continue with, but as listeners know all too well sometimes it can take a while for things to move into audio.

C.S.: What elements did you take into account when creating the voices of Sebastian and Calvin?
Derrick: First comes any explicit descriptions of their voices in the text. After that, for me it’s all about absorbing their personality and just seeing what voice rises out of that. [Sidebar: this is one of the things I find so challenging about auditions – I barely know the characters yet, which makes finding their voice very difficult] Finally, I try to make sure that all of the characters are still distinct audibly, which sometimes can lead to some final tweaking.

C.S.: Were there any characters that were difficult to give a voice to? On the reverse— were any of the voices easy to find?
Derrick: Sebastian was challenging in that he’s rather complicated, and I also wanted to go deeper with him at first but I needed him to remain very distinct from Calvin. Sebastian’s dad was a challenge only in that for whatever reason I kept wanting to make him southern. Stupid vocal chords, no!
Calvin came rather easily, actually, and I have a weird joy in voicing deep manly alpha males who try – but eventually fail – to hide their emotions behind a face of stoicism.

C.S.: Were there any scenes in Nevermore that you particularly enjoyed narrating?
Derrick: The parrot. I’ll spare you the full story but there was a certain elementary school experience in my life where my mimicking a parrot defeated a bully. So I’ve had a parrot voice in reserve for a couple decades now and finally got to use it.

C.S.: Was there anything in this project that challenged you?
Derrick: Action scenes are always challenging because the natural impulse is to go fast – and at parts you absolutely should – but the best way to convey action is usually breaking it up. And throwing in some epic dramatic pauses.

C.S.: Which character in Nevermore was your favorite?
Derrick: I want to choose someone other than Sebastian. But who am I kidding? I freaking love Sebastian and can’t wait to continue his story.

C.S.: What are some of your upcoming projects for 2017?
Derrick: Right now I’ve got more titles scheduled out than I’ve ever had before in my career – which is both exciting and terrifying. Immediately, I’m in the booth with Josh Lanyon’s Point Blank which is a collection of the first five Dangerous Grounds novellas following two agents of the Diplomatic Security Services as they navigate crime and love. Then I have Felice Stevens’ Learning to Love before returning to our boys Sebastian and Calvin in your The Mystery of the Curiosities. There’s another five or so titles also contracted after that but everyone will just have to wait for those announcements.

The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter Book One)
Available at Audible and Amazon

Narrator Bio: After eight years of professional and competitive public speaking and (live) oral interpretation of literature, Derrick has turned his powerful voice to the world of audiobooks.
While he enjoys reading, listening to, and narrating a wide variety of genres, he has a particular affinity and passion for romance novels of all types.
Derrick records in a professional quality studio at his home in Tallahassee, FL, where he enjoys the quiet North Florida lifestyle along with his fiance and insanely hyper dogs. He has previously lived in rural Pennsylvania as well as Orange County California, and has extensively traveled the United States, becoming familiar with a wide range of American accents and sub-cultures.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview - thank you Carroll and Derrick!!