June 5, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Part Three In My Audiobook Narrator Series, Angela “Finlay Donovan” Dawe

Angela Dawe Interview

Hello, book lovers! Welcome to my third Audiobook Narrator interview with Angela Dawe.

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.

Throughout April interviews will also be posted with Imogen Church, Karissa Vacker, Hillary Huber, Amy Landon (not in any specific order). Then for Top Ten Tuesday, they will be a part of the round-up post, as well as a few others.


Do you have somewhere to go to record or do you record in your home?

At the beginning of the pandemic, I had space in a private office building. I own something called a WhisperRoom, which is a small recording booth that can be taken apart and put together relatively easily. I had it set up in one of the little offices and got to enjoy the perks of office life – chatting with office mates on breaks, wondering to whom the very expired bottle of ranch dressing in the break room fridge belongs, stuff like that – while still essentially working alone. But once the pandemic hit, I gave up the office and started recording from home.

I didn’t have a convenient spot for the WhisperRoom at home, so my recording studio is now a tricked-out closet. I spent a day or two covering big sheets of rock wool with muslin and tacking them up on the walls – I even created a soundproof drop ceiling with the stuff (shoutout to Pam at my local JoAnn Fabrics for her indispensable help with that design). There’s no ventilation in that closet, so summertime recording sessions can get very warm, but in general, it’s great.


What Your Friends Think You Do, What Your Friends Think You Do, What You Actually Do

My friends think I sit around talking in wacky voices with various accents. My family thinks I sit in a tiny, dark, soundproofed room by myself. They’re both right! But I also do a lot of other stuff. A lot of narration involves research, whether it’s accent research, pronunciation research, or research on a specific topic that comes up in the book I’m narrating so that I have some idea of what the heck I’m actually talking about. I also do almost all of my own audio engineering using Pro Tools, and that’s obviously a major part of recording a book. And one other important aspect of narrating that’s more subtle but still incredibly important is directing myself – it’s up to me to analyze the text and decide what kind of pacing, tone, and line readings will best serve the themes and narrative arc of the book I’m narrating.

Audiobook NarratorThank you to Angela Dawe or agreeing to this interview

Funniest or biggest recording- you or equipment or anything?

Wow, okay, no one has ever asked me this, so this is actually the first time I’ve told anyone this story.

YAY! I love when this happens!


Years ago, when I was still relatively new to narration, I finally got cast for my very first book with a well-known publisher I’d been trying to crack for a while. It was also my very first time recording at home. The book was great, but it was pretty long and it involved a lot of foreign words and difficult accents, and I really wanted to do an excellent job, so I paced myself very deliberately and took my time recording it. Well, the afternoon before it was due, I was right on track to finish – halfway through something like the 23rd of 24 chapters – when something mysterious and technical happened, and all of a sudden, POOF! Everything I’d recorded was gone. It had somehow all gotten deleted.

Me: Letting out a loud gas! I can’t even… <goes to save current draft>

I didn’t know enough about the recording software to recover it (or if it even was recoverable) and I couldn’t bring myself to tell the publisher that I’d made this colossal technical error and wouldn’t be able to finish the book on deadline. I was terrified that if I did that, they’d think I was incompetent and unreliable and never hire me again. So after a few minutes of sheer panic, I took a few deep breaths and started over at chapter one. I stayed up all night recording the entire book again and managed to turn it in on time. And I actually think it ended up sounding even better than the lost first version! At the very least, it was good enough that that publisher continued to hire me, so everything worked out in the end.


Preparation And Routines

I love a spreadsheet. I don’t necessarily have a routine, but I always, always make a spreadsheet when I’m prepping a book. My spreadsheets are divided into two sections. One section lists all the characters who speak, a brief description of who they are in the story, and any information the author has given, either in the text or in additional material they’ve provided to me, about the character’s voice or manner of speech – stuff like accents or pace of speech or vocal qualities like “raspy” or “nasal.” I might also add notes of my own about them, like what their function within the narrative is, or if there’s a real-life person I want to keep in mind when I’m voicing that character – things that can help me capture a character’s essence or attitude.

The other section is for any words, phrases, or acronyms I need to look up. I note what pages they appear on, what they mean, how to pronounce them, and where I found their definition and pronunciation. Doing this sort of prep in advance saves me a lot of time when I’m recording, and it helps me stay in the flow of a recording session without having to stop to look things up – the less stop-and-start involved in a recording session, the better my overall narration tends to be.

Angela Dawes Narration Excerpt Of Finlay Donovan Jumps The Gun

Thank you to Macmillan Audio For Providing This Clip of Angela Dawe reading Finlay Donovan Jumps The Gun (which won’t center to save my life).

Favorite Books And Characters?

There’s no way I can pick just one book! I honestly don’t even think I could narrow it down to ten. I just love any book that draws me in, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Good writing is good writing, and it’s always a pleasure to narrate. As for characters, that’s also really hard to narrow down, but I do love to voice a villain or a character with some darkness to them – that’s always fun territory for an actor to explore, in any medium.

One of my all-time favorite characters is Sadriel, from Followed by Frost, by Charlie Holmberg. Sadriel is basically death personified, but he’s quite multi-dimensional – he’s lonely, he’s curious, but he’s also, of course, pretty dark and scary. I also love narrating Ming LeBon, the ultimate baddie in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling-Trinity series. I’ve given him a voice and a style of speaking that’s sort of slow and strained and breathy, like a poisonous, ice-cold fog rolling in, all creepy and chilling – or at least I hope it is. That’s what I feel when I’m narrating his dialogue.

Favorite Genre?

I really don’t. One of my favorite things about my work is that it’s so dynamic – I might narrate a fantasy novel, then a nonfiction book, then a crime thriller, then a romance. I enjoy the variety and feel very lucky that I’ve been given the opportunity to narrate across a wide spectrum of genres, as opposed to being pigeonholed into just one or two.

Who Are Your Favorite Contemporaries?

I have so many incredibly talented colleagues, but lately, I find myself really loving Emily Woo Zeller’s narration. Her voice is just stunning, and her ability to create tone and mood is incredible. Every time I hear her work, I feel like I’m getting a master’s class. I don’t know what I would ask if I were you – probably all the things you just asked me, ha!

About Angela Dawe

Angela Dawe is originally from Lansing, Michigan, and currently calls Chicago home. Her work includes film, television, theater, and improvisational comedy, as well as audiobook narration. Among Angela’s recordings are The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry, Wild Roses by Deb Caletti, and Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts. She hopes you enjoy listening as much as she enjoys narrating! (From Tantor Media)

Audiobook Narrator

List of Audiobooks by Angela Dawe



Contact Angela Dawe



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