Thursday, 12 February 2015

Narrator Catherine O'Brien talks ACX and Audiobooks

By Gillian Hamer

As indie-authors become more involved in the world of audiobooks, the focus on narrators will intensify. Here, I talk to Catherine O’Brien, who narrates my first novel, The Charter, which is available on audio via ACX now.
Audiobook of The Charter

Catherine, welcome to Triskele Books blog. I’d like to ask first a little about your background and how you became a professional narrator?

Hi Gill, thank you for inviting me to the Triskele Books blog. I was born and educated in England, and always had a love of storytelling and the dramatic arts. I worked for several years at the BBC and then moved to the US in 2010 to get married to an American! My husband encouraged me to take a course in Voice Acting at a Studio in New York, and while doing this I auditioned to produce a novel for ACX. Somewhat to my surprise I was awarded the project. That started me on my career as a voice actor, and I still narrate audiobooks for ACX, as well as my other voice acting projects.

What do you enjoy about narrating novels? 
Everything! I absolutely love the whole process – the excitement of reading a new novel (or a much loved classic); the background research, for unusual names and places (especially for you!), etc; then the actual recording, which is the most fun of all; and I even enjoy the editing process! I really do have the best job in the world!

Obviously, with the creation of ACX there’s now more focus and opportunity for indie-authors to get involved in audiobooks, how do you see this change in the process affecting the market? 

I think it is a fantastic opportunity for indie-authors to find a whole new audience for their books. Especially now it is so easy to download audiobooks on mobile devices, audiobooks have become essential entertainment for commuters, runners, etc, and even relaxing bedtime listening.
Catherine O'Brien

When you’re searching for a new project, or considering author approaches, do you look at whether they are indie or traditionally published and would this affect your decision? 

Yes, it certainly is a consideration, but my main criteria is whether I like the book or not. It is very exciting to discover new talent, and I have been incredibly fortunate to work with several brilliant new indie published authors, and this also gives me the opportunity to work directly with the author on marketing projects as well.

What do you look for in a book to narrate?

I narrate books in a wide range of genres, but the main thing I look for is something that captures my interest and makes me want to know what happens! I then look for the quality of the writing – some writing styles are easier to narrate than others – yours is particularly good, and a real pleasure to narrate.

Do you think audiobooks will become more popular, and so more profitable with easier access to services like ACX? 

Absolutely. As I said earlier, now Audible and iTunes, etc, have made it so easy to download audiobooks to pcs, mp3 players, and even discs, this has attracted whole new audiences.

What do you think makes a successful relationship between author and narrator?

Communication! It is great to be able to get direction straight from the author. It really helps to discuss things like the characters’ voices and to get the whole tone and spirit of the novel as closely as possible to the way the author intended them to be.

Personally, I’ve found the whole experience of working with yourself via ACX stress-free and enjoyable. How have you found working within the new service via ACX? 

 I totally agree, working with ACX is very straight-forward, and makes it easy for authors and narrators to work together.


  • "I have to tell you that you amaze us. Your ability with different voices and being consistent with them throughout the book is phenomenal. Also, the emotions you express while reading is outstanding. I couldn't be happier." J Dawn King
  • "I feel like it's Christmas! I can't imagine a better choice for narrator." Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • "Catherine O'Brien is tops in her readings for audiobooks. #ATTMPress loves her renditions!"
  • "Wow, what a great job you did with this piece. Your voice is smooth and engaging. Once I started to listen to the story you had my complete attention. And you did each character and emotion switch superbly. You created noticeable tension between husband and wife and the two cousins. Had me wondering - what happens next? Very believable." Larry Terpening on DARK IS THE SKY, by Jessica Chambers

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