Thursday, September 1, 2016

Book Obsessed Chicks Inside Romance Spotlight on Audio Book Narrator *** TIM CAMPBELL ***

Greetings all and welcome to Book Obsessed Chicks "Inside Romance" Spotlight with narrator, Tim Campbell. Tim is the voice of some of my favorite romance books by Christi Caldwell and Julie Johnstone, and his voice is addicting. It's a great thing to grab the latest title by either Christi or Julie and feel right at home with Tim Campbell's distinctive voice. Not only that, but Mr. Campbell is also a big soccer fan, which makes him way awesome in my book. 

I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by audio book narrators and their craft.  Since I think it takes a special person to be able to do this special job, I thought it would be fun to "meet" Tim Campbell. I hope you enjoy this Q&A and if you're so inclined, please leave comments and questions for Tim.

Hi Tim! Welcome to Book Obsessed Chicks! Please tell us a bit about yourself!
How did you begin doing narrations? 

I started listening to audiobooks when I was really young.  In fact, my both my parents and my grandmother, who lived with us when I was young, read to me from a very early age.  When I was 13 or so I wrote down a list of dream jobs, and after Astronaut, Baseball player, Soccer player, and Directing the Lord of the Rings Movies (before they were actually a thing...), was “audiobook narrator”.  Fast forward 15 years and three college degrees later, and I was working as an opera singer and musical theater actor in Los Angeles.  I needed a part time gig to fill in the gaps between stage productions, and I remembered my top five dream jobs list.  I was staying with some good friends while doing a production of Jekyll and Hyde out in San Bernardino, and I literally googled “How do I become an audiobook narrator”.   Just about a month earlier, Audible had started a contracting site (ACX). I did some auditions on a USB mic in my friends' office, and out of my first five auditions I booked three stipend titles through ACX.  Since that week in 2011 I have been recording full time, about 135 titles so far and about 20 more scheduled before the end of the year.

What was the first audio you ever listened to? 
I honestly have no idea.  I started listening at such an early age I can't even remember when I began.  Some of my favorites when I was young were the Ender Wiggin Saga, by Orson Scott Card, Dune,  and the production of The Chronicles of Narnia with all of the BBC and RSC greats.  Really though my earliest production of Narnia was my Grandma.  I think she read it aloud to my sister and me about three or four times when we were little.  She lived upstairs and we would go up to her room and sit on the arms of her big reading chair and beg her for “just one more chapter” night after night after night.  I dearly love those, some of my earliest, memories.

What was your first audio performance?
My first book was called “The Napolean Secret” by Gregg Loomis.  I went on to do the rest of his Lang Reilly Thrillers that first year I was narrating. When I listen now I can't help but cringe at myself, figuring things out and learning the ropes.  I was SO lucky to book that series and for the publisher to take a chance on a completely unknown newbie.  I did my best, but I would love to go back and re-record just about everything I narrated for those first couple years.

What's your favorite genre to narrate and why?
I have been and always will be, been a huge SciFi and epic Fantasy nerd.  I LOVE narrating fantasy novels and sci fi books.  My main skill set comes from the acting/dialects/character voices side of things, and I feel like that's where I do some of my very best work.  Also, it's relatively new for me, but I've started to narrate some really interesting non-fiction titles for Tantor Media.  I feel like an expert in certain subjects I never had the faintest clue about, and I love learning new things!  I almost NEVER listen to non-fiction books, but I surprisingly really love narrating them!  But yeah, fantasy and sci fi are my first and forever loves!

Do you read the books first? Or dive right in?
Read the books first.  ALWAYS.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS.  Not a word by word reading, like I would if I was consuming the book for fun, but at least a cursory read to get everything sorted.  Then I do searches for key terms and characters and such, I have a whole list.  But definitely, always, in some form, I go through the text first.

Are there any special treats or drinks you must have when you narrate?
Nope!  Although I will say, some books these days are so poorly edited that I may have a nice Scotch in the evening to help me forget about the unmitigated horrors perpetrated upon the English language by SOME (definitely not most) independent authors and editors. ;-). Oh, and COFFEE. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!  MMMM. I want coffee now... but it's 8 pm and I have to get up at 5:30 am tomorrow to record so I had better not...

How do you feel about narrating the romance genre?
I LOVE narrating romance novels.  I often played the young (tortured or otherwise) hero in stage productions and in operas, so it's not much of a stretch narrating devilish dukes and daring duchesses.  I work mostly in Regency and Medieval Romance, but I do some modern romance as well.  Everyone adores a good love story, and frankly I'm EXTREMELY lucky to get to work with writers like Christi Caldwell and Julie Johnstone, who have a real knack for capturing honest, truthful relationships, and writing complex characters, within the confines of the “romance” genre.  A good narrative is a good narrative, whether it has aliens or elves or ballroom dance scenes!

You know I HAVE to ask…. How do you keep a straight face while narrating THOSE scenes? 
Acting!  It's an actor's job to stay in character and get to the heart of whatever moment they are portraying, whether it be onstage or behind the mic.  I did a production of Don Giovanni once where I walked around stage snorting cocaine and molesting teenage girls for three hours, then died of a heroine overdose.  Obviously, that's not me, or anything I can relate to... but you stay in character and play the moment, whether you're describing an act of violence, of torture, or (God forbid!!) the naughty bits!  And honestly, you're not really thinking of the nature of what you are saying... you read the words as truthfully and authentically as you are able, you are living through the characters.  Simply, you don't really think about it any more than you would an action sequence or a dialogue scene or any other part of the story.

What’s the hardest accent to do?
Probably, for me, the different variations of African languages are difficult.  Likewise the differences in the different Scandinavian accents.  It's less about one specific accent being difficult, and more about the difficulty differentiating between characters from similar but differing regions... etc.  It can depend on the day too... sometimes you just slide right into a dialect like putting on your favorite T-shirt, and the next day your tongue decides to go on vacation without telling you and everything sounds like an Irish-Jamaican!

How do you research these accents? 
INTERWEB.  Forvo, Audio Eloquence etc. etc.  There are innumerably more resources now than there were even five years ago.  It's incredible.  And I know/teach a lot of accents/dialects myself... so unless it's fairly obscure I can usually do it with minimal brush up.

What are your hobbies?
I am totally and completely obsessed with my wife, so catering to her each and every whim takes up a good deal of my time. Seriously though, she's unbelievably amazing.  I play on three soccer teams and a softball team, as well as working out twice a week (I'm still trying to get Julie or Christi to put me on one of their covers...).  I sing with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and LA Opera Chorus, and as a concert soloist in Los Angeles, which aren't hobbies but do take up a good many of my evenings and weekends.  I love to hike and travel, and I do all of the cooking in our house, which is more out of necessity (so we don't starve) than any real love of cooking. And I listen to audiobooks ALL THE TIME... dozens each year.

What would you like my followers to know about you?

Just how grateful I am that their patronage allows me and the authors I work with to basically live our dreams, working in a field which brings us so much joy and fulfillment.  Without people buying and listening to the work we create from somewhere very deep inside of us, we would have to sell out and get “real” jobs.  So, thank you so much for your support of our industry and our artform.  Storytelling is as old as the human experience, and of all the myriad things that divide our world today... politics, religion, war... it's only by listening to each other's stories that any true healing and reconciliation can come about.  Even the silliest story has the power to shed the light of understanding on someone's experience.  And you might just see a little bit of yourself in that stranger's story. To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”  For me, that's the beauty in storytelling, and why I do what I do.  To build human connection, to entertain and bring happiness, and to, hopefully, make the world a little more joyful place.  And all of that is due completely to people like you, who take the time to listen to a good book and be swept away in the magic of it all. "

You can find Tim Campbell on his WEBSITE




  1. Thanks Kimberly! It was wonderful speaking with you, and thanks again to all you wonderful listeners who make my job possible! And to my wonderful authors, it is an honor to bring life to your words.

  2. What an interesting man! An opera/theater background. I can only imagine how awesome these audiobooks must be. I'm going to have to snag one now just to hear him! What a great interview!

  3. awesome interview!! Maybe I need to look into audio books again.

    Thanks Kimmie and Tim!!

  4. What a great interview Kimberly! Tim is a modern day Renaissance man! I do not listen to audiobooks but this interview may just have piqued my interest enough to venture forth into the world of audio.

  5. Thank you both so much for the interview! Extremely interesting! I have not listened to a book, yet. I am still hooked on paperbacks!

  6. What a great interview. I'm going to have to check out some audiobooks. I've never actually listened to one but I think I will have to give it a go :)

  7. I love audio's I will have to check these out. Tim is new to me I haven't had the pleasure of listening to him.

    What a wonderful post with such interesting questions and answers.