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Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Feature: Joel Leslie

C.S.: What do you narrate?
Joel: Books, primarily. Sometimes nutritional information on the back of cans or cereal boxes.  LOL. Actually, as Joel Leslie I narrate any kind of LGBT material, mostly m/m romance. As Joel Froomkin (my real name), I do other material (a lot of historical and British material mostly).  I only keep the names separate so that people looking for my work in the m/m genre can find it easily. I’m actually recording my 100th book this week.

C.S.: What genre(s) do you most enjoy working in?
Joel: I really enjoy fantasy because there is so much room for vocal play and accent work (which is kind of my specialty). I also love historical material and cozy mysteries (there need to be more of those in the m/m genre!). One of these days I really would love to be doing more Y/A material. I’m super excited that I’m going to be doing one for Kiernan Kelly – Mad About the Hatter that is about Alice’s brother in Wonderland… it’s gonna be soooo fun.

C.S.: Tell us about your acting space.
Joel: My super-handy boyfriend, Rich, built a booth for me. It was actually kind of funny because I got a chance to be considered for a book with a major audio company, but they have very specific audio specs you need to meet. So about two months ago over a marathon 48 hours he built it for me so that I could get that job (I did!). It’s about 4x3… narrating is not for the claustrophobic! I have it set up so I can record sitting or standing, which is great for me because I have back issues. In fact he put metal bars at the sides so that I can lean on them and take some of the pressure off my back as the day goes on.

C.S.: What sort of work-related items do you keep at hand?
Joel: I go through SOOOOO much water in a day it’s ridiculous. I have my geographic dictionary (which is invaluable if you are a narrator) and not much else apart from the keyboard, trackpad, screen and mic. I wish it was about another foot wider cuz I could have some fun stuffed animals in there to keep me company. A personal steamer is a must, but it lives outside ‘my cave’.

C.S.: What’s the weirdest item you keep nearby that’s not at all beneficial to voice acting?
Joel: My booth is currently parked in what was, for a while, our costume shop (my boyfriend and I own a theatre company which is on hiatus at the moment). At one point we bought out an upholstery fabric store that was going out of business….so my booth is literally surrounded by hundreds of bolts of fabric.

C.S.: What’s easily the most distracting item in your acting space?
Joel: Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. I’ve learned to actually close out my email while I’m recording so I don’t get notifications and wanna stop and look. Between each chapter I let myself have a five minute ‘recess’ to catch up on messages and the latest m/m Facebook drama lol.

C.S.: Do you have any bad habits when you work?
Joel: Well – I actually carry more tension in my neck than I should when I’m recording. I watched a Facebook live video of myself and I was like “Ooooh”.  I was a chiropractor’s nightmare. I’ve tried to become very disciplined about my day because I’m so booked that I can’t afford to get behind. So, I had bad habits – but now I avoid them with structure. I have a time to get up, warm up, steam, get to work and a number of pages I HAVE to do each day or else. We are moving to Orlando in a few months so I really have to get into good workday habits otherwise I’ll be like “I wanna go see Mickey” EVERY SINGLE DAY.

In Joel's defense, the booth is quite hot.

C.S.: Do character voices come easily to you?
Joel: I love this question. It depends. British ones, yes. I have a much wider range of characters that I feel I can play with if I’m dealing with UK material because there is such a variety of dialects. I think my range of American characters is ok (the Skyler Foxe series really pushed that envelope)… but I still wish I had a more exhaustible supply of alpha-males. I am always very determined that each character has their own unique sound… and when you juggle 10 different series like I do, it can get tricky. Because as a series goes along, and more characters are added to the mix, it becomes challenging. My favorite episode of Family Guy is where the Doctor and Peter’s father in law are in the same room and they realize they have the same voice!

C.S.: Do you have any warm-up exercises?
Joel: I would be toast without them. I stretch, then I do a vocal warm-up, and then I steam my voice. Steam is the only way to get moisture to actually make contact with your vocal chords – and it makes a huge difference for me. I am actually having surgery on the 26th for reflux and I’m nervous but SO excited because my vocal stamina is really affected by it.

C.S.: Do you have any ‘helpful’ pets?
Joel: I have two extremely loquacious wiener dogs. My booth is now so far from them that the barking isn’t an issue. But dachshunds are very vocal and until I had the new booth they TOTALLY knew that they could hold me hostage by barking until they got a treat.

C.S.: What do you do to de-stress or enjoy that’s unrelated to voice acting?
Joel: OMG I love to nap. So. Much. Apart from that, we go to the movies a LOT (there’s not much else to do in Indiana) and I’m a giant Disney freak (hence the Orlando move). I really try and be disciplined about going to the gym… I’ve learned (and was quite surprised) that my voice is a lot healthier when I do.

C.S.: Question from the audience: Tell us the craziest voice you’ve ever had to come up with.
Joel: I did a kids book with a six foot tall talking cockney bunny rabbit. He was fun.  I think people that listen to my m/m stuff probably like Rodolfo from the Skyler books the best. He’s sort of a cartoon of Antonio Banderas and folks seem to always mention him as their favorite.

Release Date: Pending Audible, hopefully week of April 17, 2017.

Blurb: Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard.
Now fugitives, Ennek and Miner encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.

Upon release, will be available at Amazon & Audible.

Narrator Bio: An Earphones Award-winning narrator, raised in the UK with American parents, Joel Leslie is known for  a unique blend of authentic American and British sounds. He is a specialist in dialects – having taught accents at NYU, coached Broadway stars and celebrities, major regional theaters and national tours.  Classically trained with an MFA in theatre from USC.  Former theater faculty for Purdue/Indiana University; Director of Drama at Manchester University. He has over 100 full length audiobooks to his credit and over 2,000 five star reviews on audible.  He was awarded Narrator of the Year and Audiobook of the Year 2016 by Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews and five of his titles have been voted Audiobook of the Month by voters at Openskyebookreviews. He likes Twizzlers and dachsunds (who also like Twizzlers).

Be sure to check out Joel’s giveaway! (6) winners will receive their choice of audio of The Necromancer’s Dance by SJ  Himes or Dare to Hope, All Cocks Book 4 by TM Smith.

Thank you for supporting indie authors and their incredible audio narrators! Be sure to leave Joel your own questions or comments!



  1. Thank you for the interview with Joel! I know where he is coming from with the dachshunds so loud and noisy! 😊 Congratulations to him on his new move too.

  2. Good luck on the move and love the interview!

  3. Lovely interview! Joel your body of performances and reviews speak for themselves. You make listening to anything you read a great pleasure!
    I wish you continued support and success.
    CS Poe, thanks for hosting such a talented guest :) Love your work as well.
    Dee Slate

  4. Great interview - thanks!!

  5. Thank you for the great interview. I've just finished listening to The Necromancer's Dance and I loved it