Thursday, October 13, 2016

Special Guest: Jeffrey Kafer, narrator

Have you ever listened to an audiobook? Wanted something to do while working on a mundane task? Audiobooks are a great distraction and entertainment. Personally, I love audiobooks when I am driving. Now, I admit, I don't drive a whole lot, but when I do and I have twenty minutes or more in the car by myself (Steve is not a fan of audiobooks!) I put on an audiobook. I'm also partial to male voices. I adore Eric G Dove and Jeffrey Kafer. And today, I'm fortunate enough to have managed to convince Jeffrey to visit with us here on the bloggity. I'm so excited he's agreed to answer a few questions ... okay, a lot of questions on audiobooks.

Please give Jeffrey a very warm Deanna's World welcome.

Microphone podcasting
Photo via

Jeffrey, welcome to the bloggity and thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us about narrating audiobooks. I'm a big fan of your work.
​Thanks! I'm a big fan of you listening to my work.​

Let's start off easy shall we? If you were to write a paragraph about yourself for a dating site, what would you say about you? :-)
​I like music, movies, photography, and my wife who would, literally, kill me if I ever had a dating site profile.

How did you first get into narrating audiobooks? Were you in a related profession prior to audiobooks or did you just jump right in?
​I started doing voice-over when I was an employee of Microsoft. I worked there for 10 years testing video games up in Seattle. You'd think it would be the best job in the world, but alas, no. Anyway, I started to doing audiobooks while I worked there and after they laid me off, I transitioned into full-time voice over work with a special focus on audiobooks. ​That was in 2009.

How many audiobooks have you narrated so far? Which one is your favorite and why?
​325 and counting. Which is my favorite? I love all my children equally. But I have a special place in my heart for Nathan Lowell's Tales from the Age of The Solar Clipper sci-fi series and Cristin Harber's Titan series. I like the Titan series because it was the first time I had done romance and I was like, "Woah. You mean, all romance isn't bodice busting, heaving-bosoms with Fabio on the cover? What is this sorcery where the woman is snarky and funny and the guy is tough but lovable??"

So yeah.

Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell  Winter's Heat by Cristin Harber

How do you prepare to narrate and record an audiobook?
​I read the book ahead of time. Any words or names I don't know, I have to look up. Reading ahead is crucial because I need to know who everyone is. As my good pal (and narrator) Johnny Heller says "You can't tell a joke correctly if you don't know the punchline." Plus authors are famous for introducing a character on page 5 and then mentioning, by the way, that he has an accent on page 500. I had this happen to me with a Canuck accent years ago. I still don't really know what a Canuck accent is.

How do you create the voices for the characters in the book?
​Authors usually guide me pretty clearly. In romance, if the guy is a delta operator, he's going to be a giant with rippling muscles and a huge.... gun. So chances are, he'll have the deep voice that the ladies love. Even if a character is not the studly protagonist, the author will often describe him/her in detail, or at least give me clues. Otherwise, I just go with what feels right at the time. Peripheral characters (waiters, taxi drives, etc) are fun, because they show up once and then disappear. So it's fun to give them an accent or speech pattern that I don't need to sustain or even remember. Doing that adds a bit of seasoning to the overall recipe.

Do you find it challenging to create the various voices so they all sound different in the narration?
​Not really. That's part of the job! And the fun of it, too. I get ALL the characters! It's a one-man play.

In particular, being a man, how do you work on creating female voices and making them sound as feminine as possible?
​Less is more. Newer narrators will often try to mimic how they think women sound, or worse, go falsetto. Not only is that not accurate, it's insulting to women. I play women with a slight increase in timbre, softness, and femininity. But very slight. Remember, the lines aren't being said in a vacuum. The listener knows who is speaking by the way the book is written, so I only have to help it a little. Any more than that and I'm getting in the way of the story.​

Is narrating like acting, because it's so much more than reading out loud. How do you see the similarities and differences?
​It's absolutely 100% acting. Even non-fiction.

Do you record in a recording studio? or at home?
​I have my own recording studio at home in Los Angeles. Once in a blue moon, a publisher in LA will hire me to do a book in which I record in their studio with an engineer. But that's rare for me.

How long does it take to record an audiobook from start to finish? Prep time? Actual recording time?
Including prep, recording, proofing, and editing, a 10 hour audiobooks can take 60-80 hours to fully produce.

Do you have a particular genre you narrate for or does genre not matter? Do you have preferences?
​At this point, I've done all genres. I don't have a preference for any specific one. But I like to mix them up. After doing a series of thrillers for a week or so, it's nice to switch gears and do some sci-fi or romance. If I HAD to choose, I'd say my favorites are thrillers, romance, and sci-fi, preferably with some comedy in there.

I know you've narrated some romance stories, which was how I found you. Tell me, when you first encountered a sex scene you had to narrate, how did you feel? Was it awkward or did you view it as a challenge?
​Ya know, the challenge at first was not to laugh. And I don't mean to imply that the scenes are funny or silly. But they tend to be rife with dialogue​ that can be a little weird when said outside the bedroom. Let's be honest, I'm sitting in a small box in my pajamas with headphones on, looking at an ipad, talking into a silver piece of electronics. I may or may not have showered that day and I most certainly have not combed my hair. That environment doesn't exactly induce sexiness. So this demands a real respect for the situation the characters are in, not me. After all, for the characters, the situation is very real. They don't know they are in a romance novel, so I have to respect that and take it seriously.

Couple kissing
Photo via

And here's a cheeky question: how do you feel about this obsession so many female audiobook listeners seem to have with Sebastian York? :-p (I haven't listened to him yet, so you still hold my heart, well, okay, you and Eric G Dove!)
​Hey, power to the guy. He's done a masterful job of creating this sexy persona by being totally invisible online. So the minds of his fans wander and he becomes all these characters that he portrays so well. That said, I hope he's ugly.​

What are you working on currently?
​I just finished up Jodi Vaughn's By The Light Of The Moon, a sexy paranormal werewolf romance. I rather enjoyed it as it has some comedic, almost screwball comedy moments amongst all the action and romance. Tomorrow, I begin work on a thriller. So never a dull moment.

Is there a narrator out there who you look up to and / or aspire to be like?
​Before I got into narration, I was a huge fan of Scott Brick. What's weird is that we're now friends. We have dinner and hang out socially. I still look up to him and learn from him along with others such as Ray Porter, Luke Daniels, Barbara Rosenblat, Katy Kellgren and others. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I can learn something from just about everyone I listen to.​

If someone new to your work were to want to start listening to your narrations, what would you recommend as a first?
​Depends on what they like. If it's romance, then the Titan Series by Cristin Harber. if Paranormal Romance, then the forthcoming By the Light of the Moon by Jodi Vaughn. Sci-fi? Frontier Saga by Ryk Brown, Tales From the Age of the Solar Clipper by Nathan Lowell. Thrillers? The forthcoming Jon Resnick series by JB Turner. I have recommendations for every genre!

By The Light Of The Moon by Jodi Vaughn  Hard Road by J B Turner

And finally, if someone were to come to you for advice about wanting to become a narrator, what would you tell them?
​Take acting lessons. Take voice over lessons. Take audiobook classes and get coaching. Reputable coaches will tell you when/if you're ready to compete.

Thank you for being on the bloggity, Jeffrey. In closing, is there anything else you would like to share with us about yourself and your work?
​We go to Disneyland almost monthly. If anyone sees me there, say hi. :)​

Here's where you can find more information about Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Kafer

Jeffrey's social media: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Audible

Aren't these answers fantastic? Yes, the post is a bit long (okay, very long!) but the answers were so wonderful, I didn't want to cut any or split it into two parts so you get all of Jeffrey in one glorious long post.

So, do you audiobook? Who are some of your favorite narrators?

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  1. Loved the interview as always Deanna. Must be weird reading out the love scenes. Best

    1. The process is fascinating. I guess a love scene would be like any other acting. You put your professional hat on and keep going.

  2. What a great interview I really enjoyed that I have only recently started listening to audio books while walking and all the narrators have been female 2 I have really enjoyed one not so much, but I must try more especially male narrators :)

    Have Fun

    1. I like to listen to audiobooks when I drive. And how did I miss this comment and not reply when you first made it?

  3. I think Jeffery is a fab narrator, and have lots of his books. :) (for my books Greg Tremblay also rocks) I also think Ray Greenly, Joe Hemple, Jeff Hays, James Foster, and Paul Woodson are pretty cool :) On the ladies side of things Andrea Emmes, Nancy Peterson, and Madeline Mrozek and Lyrik :) There's just too many!

    1. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I don't know how I missed this!! If you haven't already, try Eric G Dove. He's my all time fav male narrator.