Narrator Amy Landon Interview
Hello! Welcome to my first conducted and first posted audiobook narrator interview with Amy Landon.
Here’s the story (and I’ll repeat this throughout April). On the last Tuesday of the month, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday’s favorite narrators. With that in mind, I decided to do a little hunting and try something new: Narrator Interviews. So, buckle up, buttercup! This is going to be a ride. Plus, Amy Landon was absolutely amazing on the phone. If I was going to do my first narrator interview over the phone? Couldn’t pick one better!
On that note, please remember that this was conducted over the phone. So I have made some logistical/clarifying (not content) changes to indicate the flow of the interview and just make it print-friendly. I will make any necessary corrections immediately should Ms. Landon asks. These changes are indicated by the <> brackets.
Throughout April, interviews will also be posted with Karissa Vacker, Hillary Huber, Imogen Church, and Angela Dawe (not in a specific order). Then for Top Ten Tuesday, they will be a part of the round-up post, as well as a few others.
Meet Me In St. Louis
I feel like it <St. Louis> gets a bit of a bad rap, but I loved it. The old French town, the great food, and the parks are amazing. I really like St. Louis. I also appreciated <that so much is cheap or free>. I spent a lot of time in the park. It is a great town, and I really do like it. It’s affordable and you can have a life there. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, because I can afford land, and it’s beautiful.
What Are You?
Yes. Let’s all do it together, shall we?
I gave a list of general titles- narrator, actor, voice-over, etc… to find out exactly what narrators are (they aren’t cartographers or Sun Summoners, sorry, Darkling).
Do I have a preferred title? I would love any of those. When talking about audiobooks, I usually use narrator. I love what I do. I’m happy to be called a narrator. When I’m out at like a bar or something, I am often like, I’m a voice-over artist. If I say narrator, they don’t always know what I’m talking about.
Have You Ever Been Overheard And People Introduced Themselves
Wow, that would be amazing. I don’t think it has ever happened. Not like out in public, no. I used to be mistaken for Jen Landon (Michael Landon’s youngest daughter). We look a fair amount alike. That’s such an interesting question because I also wonder if I sound different when I’m live versus when I’m on a mic.
Amy Landon sounds very similar. Obviously, there are cadence and inflection differences. But I would completely accost her if I heard her voice.
Well, maybe someday I’ll come to St. Louis and go bar, hoping, hoping that you’re there. And I think narrators would love <to be recognized>. We love what we do. We are book people. I don’t know a narrator that doesn’t think they hit the jackpot.
What Your Friends Think You Do, What Your Friends Think You Do, What You Actually Do
Oh, let’s see. What do my friends think I do? I guess like my friends probably picture it as me in some beautiful … no, that’s my family. My family pictures me in some beautiful studio, and we are all dressed very nicely, and it feels like we’re on a lot in Hollywood like it’s fancy.
What do my friends think it’s like? One of my good friends here is a novelist and she’s wonderful. She’s written this beautiful regency romance and she asked me to narrate it. I very nervously sent her the first couple of chapters. <It was nervous> because I know them. I have dinner with them. And it was so nice. She called me and was like oh my god this is incredible! You are so professional. I had no idea. And I was like well what do you think I do? I mean you asked me to do this but did you not google anything I’ve done? So I just don’t even know if <my friends> know what to think.
I can tell you what it is really like. I’m wearing sweatpants and in a box, talking to myself. I get in this little box with this little window, telling my dog to stop barking. You know, leave the squirrel alone because mommy is working. And that’s really what it is like.
I feel like my friends don’t know what to picture.
Does any one version happen normally, or does it vary?
It varies from person to person, and publisher to publisher; depending on the project. I do have a place here at home and there is also a studio here in town that I use for certain projects that feels like a scaled-down Hollywood version. It is a sound studio that they use for film and tv but in Santa Fe. Then there are definitely books I’ve done in a studio in LA. It is not the fox lot but you are going out to Penguin Randomhouse, and they have an entire building devoted to audio with different studios, and directors, and you feel very much like you are in that kind of setting. I’ve done work in all of those.
Does Working Outside Of Home Wrack The Nerves?
Yes. If I’m being 100% honest, yes it does. Partly because when you’re at home you can mess around with stuff and I do all the time. I mess around with voices and I can go back and play with things.
Sometimes I feel like when there is a director there I can’t do that. I’ve gotten better and more confident with saying I want to fuck around with this for a while. You tell me what works. Then we sit and we play and we mess around with voices, and then we dial it in together. I’ve gotten way more confident with that. But my first couple of times with a director, I was definitely nervous. I was like oh God there is a human in here who has an opinion about what I’m doing, all the time. And they are going to share it with me. Oh my God.
Sometimes I feel like when there is a director there I can’t do that. I’ve gotten better and more confident with saying I want to fuck around with this for a while.
Definitely, everything <changed> for a while there. Everything was done at home. Even books that I think you would have normally been in the studio for, you were doing a lot more at home. And you would have your director kind of zoom in. I do this still. So they are listening to you and they can talk to you. You can have conversations back and forth, but they aren’t physically in the same room as you.
<Impact of the pandemic> really depends on where you are located. If you are in NYC and LA you can get into the industry and meet people, I think, and not have a home studio bc there are plenty of studios you can rent out and pay for yourself, or that you can be put into by publishers. By virtue of my moving to Santa Fae? I better have a really good home studio where I can set up, where I can zoom.
Thank you to narrator Amy Landon for agreeing to this interview.
Funniest or biggest recording- you or equipment or anything?
You have bloopers all the time where things just come out of your mouth that are truly and definitely not on the page. I don’t know how that came out of my mouth and then you get the giggles and you can’t stop with the giggles. That happens a lot, particularly when you are with directors. You are like oh my god I just said that. I just totally said that and then you get the giggles. But it isn’t like things are breaking or there is a massive issue with the system. It is usually an issue with my brain talking to my mouth and having a correct conversation.
But This Is SERIOUS!
That one when you are like oh man I just KILLED THAT paragraph and <interruption happens in the background>. GAH! All you can do is laugh about it, take a breath, and go back and do it over again. And inevitably it is actually better the second time. So it all works out. But that definitely happens a fair amount. The dog barked, someone knocking at the door. Occasionally, when the cat is giving me a solid howl. And I’m just like… really? She’s like I can do it too, mom. I can be on this book.
But usually, it is when you are having a really dramatic moment. You know, when someone is dying or falling in love and you’re really in it, and I’m super committed and then the dog or cat decides to join in.
Preparation And Routines
Uh yeah, there is <a routine>. Roughly there is.
If I know I’m getting a complicated non-fiction book, I’ll give myself much more prep time/lead time. Where I’m like I really need that script a few weeks out because it is going to take me all this time to go look all the terms up and do all that. So I give myself more time for complicated non-fiction.
Generally speaking, though, I want the book a couple of weeks ahead of time so I can do a full read-through, and send off any questions for the author or publisher that I might have, and make sure those have been addressed before I land in the booth.
But I do a full read, I get a general idea of what I think the world is, and then if I have any questions about that. I do a lot of fantasy and sci-fi and there is so much room for dialect, voice, and character things in there that I think is fun to play with. But every once in a while I’m like, soooo I think this book should have a lot of dialects! Does someone want to ask the author about that? Because I’ve got opinions, but I might be wrong. And so I try to give myself time to have those conversations, which is fun. Every once in a while I get the author on the phone and we get to talk it through and that’s always a fun time.
Amy Landon on Narrating White Fragility By Robin Diangelo
I remember the producer and I were both like – this is an important book we’re working on. And then it quietly came out and that was that. Until midway thru the pandemic. It blew up!
Amy Landon, Series, And Author Relationships
<The relationship> really depends, I think, on the author and the publisher. They do often try to keep it kind of separate where my questions are going through the publishers, and coming back from the director, or in an email or that sort of thing. But there are some authors, over the years, that I’ve gotten to know really well. We’ll just hop on the phone and call and say like here’s what I’m thinking, what are you thinking? Here’s what I thought about this guy, what about this guy? And we’ll just talk it out and it’s really fun. But that is a rarity.
I really enjoy <having that relationship>. However, it can definitely be a little more nerve-wracking in terms of here’s what I think, please don’t judge me, it is your book. But I think with some authors, they don’t care or don’t think about the audio because that’s just not their world. So they are happy to say, just whatever you want to do is fine by me.
<The author> has no opinions? <Amy Landon> has plenty!
Favorite Books And Characters?
I swear I held no influence or sway over this answer!
Oh, that’s such a hard question. I’ve narrated a lot of books. I mean I do love Mirabella, they are so good. You know <Three Dark Crowns Series> was an interesting one because when I first got that book both the director and I had no idea that clearly <Kendare Blake> had built this on a French World. I was <saying> Katherine <vs the pronunciation of kat/er/een>. Then we got the author’s pronunciation and were like woah, that is so not how I would have said that. That was one where <Kendare Blake> definitely had an opinion and had built this clearly off French pronunciations and I just had not expected that which is really very interesting.
I do have a very big soft spot for sci-fi/fantasy. I grew up reading fantasy novels. I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey. I grew up reading David Eddings and Mercedes Lackey. I’ve been blessed to actually narrate a few of <Mercedes Lackey> books. And that’s a total fangirl moment because I grew up reading her books when I was 14. So I do love fantasy and sci-fi. That’s my happy spot. I also like books where people die. I tend to read a lot of mystery and thrillers. I do like kinda darkish stuff.
Even in sci-fi and fantasy. I’m happy when it’s a little bit darker. There is something about that, about the human condition, and the darker side of it that is interesting to me. There’s stuff that is a little too sweet and fluffy and I’m like… alright. And that’s what I read growing up. I read a lot of ghost stories and I read a lot of darker stuff for a young human. I don’t think my parents had any idea what I was reading and if they had paid attention they probably would’ve been upset by that.
Do you have a favorite contemporary colleague or narrator?
Oh. That’s. I mean I love listening to Simon Vance. I love listening to Julia Whelan. Nick Podehl. I LOVE Nick Podehl. He did the first two books of the Kingkiller Chronicles.
We are still waiting on book three and <Patrick Rofuss> is never going to write it. It makes me crazy. I’ve been waiting like two decades for it. It is hard. And I think well, you don’t know how it ends so you aren’t going to finish it.
But I do love Nick Podehl He does a lot of these huge fantasy worlds and he has a true range and is just really good.
Amy Landon: Famous Last Words
I think for me, narrating audiobooks is like I won the lottery. I grew up in a farming town in Idaho and my mother took me to the library twice a week, and I read non-stop. It was how I got to know everything that was happening in the world outside of small-town Idaho. I read obsessively. So, for me this is it. I hit the lottery. I get paid to read books. That’s pretty awesome. It is like all the things that I love got tied together. It is just such a great joy, I do feel very lucky.
About Amy Landon
Amy Landon hails from a small town in Idaho. She fell in love with Shakespeare in 5th grade & continues a lifelong love affair with language. She has pursued her craft on both sides of the country & a number of places in between.
She stays true to her roots in the Rockies by climbing mountains around the world. She has stood atop Kilimanjaro, at the base of Everest, along the high ridges of the Andes, crossed the Grand Canyon, and danced at the base of Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps.
She currently abides in Santa Fe with her cat Juniper, dog Auggie, many plants, and her beloved Harley. She narrates audiobooks and continues to act on the stage & in front of the camera. She continues to follow her dreams of taking over the universe, circling the globe on two wheels & trying to bake the perfect biscuit.