Interview with Dara Rosenberg: Audiobook Narrator

by Barb, in Key West gearing up for the launch of Shucked Apart on February 23rd.

I’m lucky that Dara Rosenberg has been the reader of all nine of the Maine Clambake audiobooks. We “met” before she recorded book one, Clammed Up, when she reached out to me to ask how a Mainer would pronounce certain words. She just finished recording book nine, Shucked Apart, and reached out again with a reaction to a story development. You’ll see why when you read or listen to it. I took the opportunity to see if she would visit the Wickeds for an interview. Happily, she said yes!

Barb: Hi Dara. Tell us about yourself. How did you come to be narrating audiobooks? What other kinds of voice work and acting do you do?

Dara: I actually began working on audiobooks back in 2010 when I began transitioning from the onstage world to behind the mic.  After working on a few commercials my agent set me up with an audition at  Audible.  Audiobooks were just taking off and after that one audition I began narrating full time!  

I basically voice everything you can imagine. Aside from books and commercials, there is so much more audio out there! I record for Apple News, Corporate 500 companies, even on hold messaging for hundreds of companies!

Barb: That is so funny to think that at sometime when I’ve been sitting on hold, I’ve been listening to you. How do you get the gigs? How are voice actors matched with books? How do you choose what to accept?

Dara: A lot of my jobs are from clients I have worked with for years.  Big commercials will come through my agent.  For Audiobooks, I have developed relationships with publishers over the years.  A publisher will have the audio rights for a book and then cast it.  Some you audition for but some the author might specifically ask for you or the publisher thinks your voice would be best for it.

Barb: How do you prepare for a recording session?

Dara: First, I read the book.  After that I make choices on certain voices for characters and just begin!

Barb: What is the recording session like? How long does it take? Who else is there?

Dara: Pre-covid,  I would work from my home studio or record at the publisher’s studio.  If it was at the studio there was always an engineer on the other side of the glass helping and directing me.  Since I have a full production studio from my house, I can record at home!   I sit down and narrate as long as I can before needing a break.  Usually it takes about 2 hours to record one finished hour of audio. 

Barb: Be honest, do you have favorite books and series? Tell us about a few.

Dara: So honestly, each book is so different that it’s hard to have a favorite.  I would say some are more challenging than others which is a good thing!  I really love books with humor in them because it’s great to laugh while you are basically talking to yourself all day.  Sometimes, the nonfiction books are great because I am learning about a topic that I previously knew  nothing about.  There are a few books on women’s health that I have narrated that have just blown my mind.  Doing Harm by Maya Dusenbery was one of those. It was about  Auto Immune Diseases because misdiagnosed because of the history of women with hysteria. 

Barb: Any funny stories you’d like to share?

Dara: Well, Covid has made recording full time at home quite the challenge. But funny none the less. I have a silly, crazy, loud, 3 year-old who is doing “virtual school” and likes to pop in the booth every 10 minutes to sing a song.  So that keeps things entertaining!

Barb: That is funny. My daughter is currently teaching a college course remotely with a one year-old and a two year-old in the house so I totally get it. What are you working on now?

Dara: Currently I am recording The Exceptional S Beaufont series by Michael Anderle and Sarah Nofke.  I am on book 10 of 12 and actually sad that it’s almost over.  It’s been quite the wild ride!

Readers: Do you have questions for Dara about audio book narration? What are some of your favorite audiobooks and narrators?

13 Thoughts

  1. Dara, a big Wickeds welcome! I love hearing from behind the scenes, especially when it’s a person doing about a profession (way) outside my experience.

    My first experience with audiobooks was back in the cassette tape era. When my sons were young, we had Charlotte’s Web read by EB White himself. It was as brilliant as it sounds. Then, on a solo drive from MA to Indiana and back, I listened to Clara and Mr. Tiffany, a stunning historical novel narrated by Kimberly Farr. I was a published author by then (but not yet with my own audiobooks) and was amazed by how she kept all the characters distinct.

    Listening to my own books in narration is jarring, I have to admit. I have no choice in narrators. Still, I’m grateful to have the books out there for readers who prefer to listen to their novels.

  2. Thanks for this insight Dara! When I’m writing I now wonder if the narrator for my books is cursing me as I write things like her voice was shaky or her drawl got stronger or he huffed out. Does that kind of thing make your job more difficult or interesting or perhaps both?

  3. Hey Sherry! I would say that sometimes it makes the job easier because it says exactly what we should be doing! Truthfully, I think it’s best never to think of the narrator. It’s your book and your words. Our job is to take your story and tell it exactly as it should be said. If you think the character has a shaky voice– you write it and we shall deliver!

  4. Fascinating! I really enjoy audiobooks and have a number of favorite narrators! Callie Beaulieu, Karen White, Barbara Rosenblat (She is brilliant with Jessica’s Beryl & Edwina), Lisette Lecat, and Marguerite Gavin.

  5. Thanks Dara & Barb.
    I’ve always been fascinated with audio recordings. I was introduced to them when my best friend lost her sight and started to get books on tape. It’s so interesting to me how different the recordings are today from the ones 10 years or so ago. Voice acting is much more common now instead of just straight narration. Also the advent of the CD format was such a huge game changer. I’ve often wondered what libraries and other institutions did with all the tapes they had. Most could only be listened to on special multi track tape players. (One of which I still have, although God alone knows why.)
    Dara it was interesting that you do all different types of voice work. I just assumed voice actors did one type only. Is there one type you prefer or does switching up keep it fresh? Thanks again for the interesting information. I love learning new things!

  6. I listen to more books than I read as I can multi-task with audible books. I was downhill skiing last week and a person on the chairlift asked me what I was listening to, when I said it was a Daniel Silva (Gabriel Alon) story featuring the the Israelis and the Palestinians, he just shook his head and said music was better. I disagree. When you’re momentarily alone on a ski slope surrounded by woods, then a mystery novel is the perfect thing to listen to and let your imagination take flight.

  7. This was really interesting to read. As a librarian, I find a lot of our older patrons enjoy audio books and really enjoy the narration of the story. The audio books have been life savers for long car trips and plane rides too! I’ve been finding that patrons are starting to move towards digital audio players now since they are so easy to use. The cds still go out, but with automakers phasing out cd players in cars, the circulation on them has dropped over recent years. Thanks for the insight on this and thanks for your work!

  8. I enjoy listening to some audio books, so I appreciate the behind the scenes information. I have a great deal of respect for good narrators. I have listened to some where the narrator got too involved in the story and became annoying. You don’t want to read with a monotone, but you don’t want to go too far either. I truly respect those who get it right. It’s just a fine balance.

  9. The only audio book series I have ever listened to is Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and it was delightful to hear the words as they were intended to be spoken. One year I read on tape textbooks for college students. The books were all very informative as you said about the non-fiction you have read. Architecture means so much more to me having read the introductory college textbook aloud. It sounds like you do your research. Do you find technical wording difficult at times? Thank you for what you do. I know so many who listen to audio books and would not be able to “read” without them.

  10. Thanks for the behind the scenes info, Dara. I have loved audio books since I had a boss, many, many years ago who was blind. Yes, he had the special tape player. And they were reel-to-reel tapes. Before COVID I did a lot of long distance driving and audio books were a life-saver and a joy.

    The first names that came to mind were Scott Brick who narrates Clive Cussler books, and a Michael Pitchard who did a wonderful job with Nero Wolfe. There are many others, too. I’m always amazed at the range of voices good narrators have. It’s hard to believe I am listening to just one person talking.

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