Today the narrator of Smoky Mountain Dreams, John Solo, is interviewed by the author of the book, Leta Blake. Come find out everything you want to know about narrating gay romance audiobooks and why you should read/listen to Smoky Mountain Dreams!
There are two options for this interview! You can read the answers below or listen to John’s smooth voice give you his more spontaneous answers in the following audio interview:
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Narrator John Solo
How long have you been voice acting and narrating audiobooks?
For myself, the number for voice acting and narrating audiobooks is the same. 3 ½ years.
How many books have you narrated now and do you have any especial favorites that you’d recommend readers check out?
I’ve voiced over 90 audiobooks (I think the number is around 92 right now?). Some are under the pseudonym Jack Wayne, some are not available to the general public, but most are under John Solo.
Some of my current favorites are; “The Well,” by Marie Sexton (I’m just producing her newest book, “One Man’s Trash”, and if you are interested in the hot steamy side of things…), “Seven Card Stud” by Ava Drake (this one is kind of a hidden gem in my opinion… it has a very comedic, almost “Private Eyes” feel to it), and “Places in Time” by Cardeno C.
If you are interested in other genres and like my work, check out the Bubba the Monster Hunter series by John G. Hartness. Imagine Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Larry the Cable Guy. It is the funniest series I’ve ever had the privilege to work on!!! “The Malaise Falchion” by Paul Barrett (narrated by me as Jack Wayne) is I think my personal favorite piece of work ever (I got to do an ogre voice… I mean, c’mon, how fun is that?!?).
And, wow, “Smoky Mountain Dreams,” by Leta Blake may be one of the best romance titles I’ve ever read, and that’s saying something!
What was your favorite part of working on Smoky Mountain Dreams?
The character growth of Jesse was intriguing to me, and as an actor, it gave me a whole lot of meat to chew on. The backdrop of the Smoky Mountains gave the entire book this… atmosphere? The same kind of thing that happens in a Tarantino flick with the music track, you know? I had almost as much fun narrating some of the descriptive narrative as I did with some of the deep emotional scenes!
You were amazing at capturing all the emotions in Smoky Mountain Dreams. As a voice actor, how hard is it to put yourself in characters’ shoes if their lives are quite different from your own?
Awwww…. Thank you! When I read things like that about me my brain automatically fires off a sound clip of Han Solo saying, “Great, kid! Now don’t get cocky…”.
Are you implying that I’m NOT an 80 year old grandmother from Gatlinburg? Seriously, though, this is exactly what makes this career so much fun!!! Remember when you were a kid, when you had this imaginary world created in your head that you could play in for hours on end without ever getting bored? I had GI Joe and Star Wars action figures handed down to me by 3 older brothers, and I absolutely treasured them! One day I was playing in a medieval fantasy world, the next I was on a spaceship… Guess what? I get to do that every day now. And you know the best part? People PAY me to do it!!! Shhhh… don’t tell my clients that it’s kinda fun.
Is it hard? Absolutely, otherwise everyone would be doing it. As a studio owner and audiobook producer (I produce close to a dozen other voice actors as well) I can’t count how many times I’ve had friends/family/relatives/acquaintances/store clerks say, “You’re a voice actor? You know, everyone tells me I have a great voice, I bet I could do that!”. Not to discourage anyone from trying, but it’s not as easy as just having a good voice and reading a book. But if it was? I wouldn’t still be enjoying it and looking forward to going to “work” every day.
I try to attach at least one or two emotions or general states of being to each character (sometimes many, many more) that I can identify with. For instance, Chris’s grandmother got the mental tag of “ornery”. While I’m not an 80 year old grandmother from Gatlinburg, I can most definitely identify with “ornery”. From there I develop a voice and often mannerisms for the character, record a preproduction voice sample, listen back, make changes, and repeat the process until I like it.
Here’s a funny side note; when working on a book where I had to voice a fairy godmother type character, I found it best to hold a pink toy wand (look, there are real wands, OK?) in my hand and gesture with it while recording her lines. Whatever works, eh? Although, that particular wand made a sound effect when you waved it, which I kept forgetting… that was a fun time editing!
If you could give readers/listeners one reason to pick up Smoky Mountain Dreams, aside from your own awesome narrating skills, what would that reason be?
I’ve produced over 300 gay romance audiobooks. I have narrated close to 80 of them myself. This book kept ME entertained from beginning to end.
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart
November 13 – Gay Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
November 14 – Alpha Book Club
November 15 – V’s Reads
November 16 – Diverse Reader
November 17 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, BFD Blog
November 20 – Gay Book Reviews, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Valerie Ullmer, OMG Reads
November 22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
November 24 – Bayou Book Junkie, Gay Media Reviews, Making It Happen
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family
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