Interview // Laura Petersen, Narrator of The Demon in Business Class
How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
I stumbled into audiobook narration. A friend of a friend is a sound engineer and I met him at a game night a few years ago. My husband, an avid audiobook listener, was interested in being a narrator. I went with my husband to record some demos with our new friend, John, and on a lark they had me read a demo as well. Both my husband and John were so impressed we arranged to have me read a few more samples and the rest is, as they say, history.
A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
I do have a theater background. I have been acting since I was 15 and performing since I was 6. The ability to tell a story is not a skill just or only actors have, but it is a skill that an acting course can help someone wanting to be a narrator develop and hone. I have met many who can tell a story. It is telling someone else’s story as if it’s your own that draws from an actor’s skill set. That, and being able to develop characters, even the little ones with subtext and roundness. Much of which are techniques taught in any beginner acting class. Narration is a form of voice acting.
What type of training have you undergone?
As for my training I have studied acting in high school, college, have a BA in theater, and continued my studies after college in various LA acting classes and workshops, as well as managing and performing in a theater troupe in LA for over a year before choosing to go behind the scenes and work as a producer.
What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
My strength in narration is my ability to learn and hone new accents as needed, and The Demon in Business Class truly put my skills to the test.
What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
The Demon in Business Class drew me in because my son is into demons and mystical creatures. He’s 10 years old and likes Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, so anything with supernatural subjects gets him excited and it is so wonderful to share what I do with him. This book does contain some NSFW scenes so we skip those. He really loved the scene where the Demon embodies Janice and talks with Zarabeth.
How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
I love working with authors. Is it faster to not have them go over every detail? Sure. Is it better? No. Getting the words they wrote right, with the right intention and pronunciation and inflection, accent and so forth is key in telling their story. I read their words, staying true to them is my skill.
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
Anthony gives so much as an author, his detail of each character’s voice and origin was so helpful, especially because there were so many in this story. Regardless, it was easy to know how each SHOULD sound, Southern, French, German, Russian… then I discussed with John about character and tone and he kept me honest by having me listen to accent samples, practice the words in character and really embody the voice of each and every character. If a minor character appeared again and had a distinct sound, we would go back to the previous chapter and listen to the voice I made before to keep them consistent throughout and really allow Anthony’s writing come through so that my reading did not detract from his story, but instead added to it.
Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
While I always try to relate to the characters I read. I really connected with Zarabeth’s cynicism and internalized anger. Anthony wrote a female character who is dark and moody but not necessarily angry, just frustrated with the hand she was dealt. She takes advantage of opportunities as much as those offering the opportunities are taking advantage of her. She is uniquely strong in that respect, and I felt she and I were not necessarily one and the same, but certainly kindred spirits.
Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
Yes, I read my reviews. Maybe I shouldn’t but I am always curious to know what people think. I tend to let bad reviews roll off my back, but if they offer constructive criticism that’d be great. Usually it’s not though and as an actor I learned you just can’t please everyone, and that’s okay. Those who leave positive reviews of course are my favorites, but I truly enjoy when they leave specific praise; like they enjoyed my accents, or liked a character in particular. That warms my heart. As I feel I truly made the author’s work come to life for the listener.
What’s next for you?
I just finished another Sci-Fi genre book called Noblesse Oblige by Uri Kurlianchik, and am currently looking at several projects in the Sci-Fi and Mystery and Fantasy genres to see which fits best both for my reading and my schedule. I have a website, www.moistaudioproductions.com and that is continuously updated.
Anthony Dobranski is from and lives in Washington DC. His debut novel is The Demon in Business Class, a modern fantasy. He also designed and published Business Class Tarot, a modern Tarot deck inspired by his novel. He is finishing up his new science-fiction novel, The White Lake. He’s volunteered with many arts organizations, and now serves on the board of The Inner Loop, a Washington DC live-reading series and podcast. He loves to ski.
Social links above with synopsis.
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Laura Petersen is the youngest from a very large family. She matured like a nice cheap wine in Southern California where her family moved when she was in high school. Honing her acting chops in college in Orange County and in the school of hard knocks in Los Angeles, she eventually settled down with a handsome young man and married. Then promptly moved to North Carolina, and then again headed West to Oregon where she now lives with her husband, and two kids.
She traveled extensively before becoming a suburban mom, traveling all over Europe and North America. She has also worked in almost every manner of job, from fast food service to bartending and from retail clothing to costume department PA, actress, short-order cook, barista, auto repair, ballroom dancer, and independent film producer.
Now, when she is not busy narrating, she uses her BA and MBA to homeschool her kids (thanks pandemic) and enjoys hanging with her quarantine pod for occasional game nights.
Social links: Website
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