• Kelly Collins

Inside the audiobook with Olga Wilhelmine

Many people would think to narrate a book you simply speak into a microphone and record. It’s so much more than that. Can you summarize the process?

I believe it’s a combination of things, acting, vocalization and studio experience. At least that has been the case for myself, as I am an actor, singer, musician, former radio DJ and recording studio owner and producer. All these “hats” came in handy when approaching the production of the audiobook. There was a certain standard we were required to meet and ideally excel, which meant certain technical aspects were needed as well as performance. I enlisted a friend of mine, Cook Allender, who co-produced and recorded and engineered for me so that I could focus on performance only during the process. This was incredibly helpful and made the process more enjoyable and easier.

What is the most difficult thing for a narrator?

Being mindful of technical things such as minimizing any sort of physical movement (the mic picks everything up), breathing, certain annunciations and pronunciations, month noise, flubs and whatnot were challenging. Then trying to figure out how to minimize mouth noise, which you don’t even hear or notice until playback, again the mic picks every tiny thing up. We had a little trial and error time with the first chapter, which was a bit frustrating, but dialed in a method and approach fairly quickly soon after.

What do you love the most?

Listening to it finally completed and mastered!

Alexa Cross is the female lead in True North. How did you prepare yourself to play her?

I read though the book and then just went with my first reaction as an actor. I used certain parts of myself in the character, aspects I could relate to, and also made sure that she revealed some vulnerability. So in a way you could say she was outwardly strong, but inwardly not so sure, and those doubts would surface outwardly at certain points and scenes in the story. It was striking a balance between opposites, which make her more relatable to the listener and audience. Who hasn’t felt that way emotionally?

I loved the emotion you put into the characters. Each character was given a distinctive voice whether man or woman. Was it hard to keep them straight, and if so, how did you do that?

Honestly, this was my first attempt at an audiobook, so I really just used tips and pointers I earned from an experienced narrator and voiceover artist; that was when reading you want to illustrate differences between the voices and characters but not go too overboard as it takes the listener out of the story and can be distracting. There is a subtle variation between the characters so that you know and notice who was speaking and when, but not so broad that it became a nuisance. There is a deviation between voiceover characters and audiobooks, I learned.

I believe this was your first Audible project. What made you choose this book? 

When I first joined Audible, I did a casual search for authors looking for narrators and this book caught my eye. I looked at the breakdown of the story and thought that the lead character was someone I could relate to a lot, and once I read the 11 pages of manuscript decided to just go for it and tape an audition. I did not have a reel of any sort to submit nor a home studio set up; I literally recorded the 11 pages on my iPhone, which since it had no editing feature, if it would ring (which it did) I’d have to start over. I did it a couple times before I had a useable take and then submitted it to Kelly with a note saying, I was inspired by your book and this is a phone recording, however I do have access to a studio if you happen to like my read... to my surprise she wrote back that same day! And that’s how the ball started to roll...

As a narrator the world is your oyster as far as genre. True North is a contemporary romance novel. What other genre’s do you see yourself narrating?

I’d like to do a mystery novel, and biographies, and the ultimate goal it to narrate NYT Bestsellers of course!

You’re quite an interesting woman. Can you tell our readers about yourself?

I was a recording artist for quite a few years and have several albums out commercially. You can find them on iTunes & Amazon and stream on Pandora. Downloading a track or two would be of great appreciation, as I’m sure most people don’t know that Spotify and other Streaming services only pay. 0000000001 of one cent per song stream!

Another passion of mine is skydiving and I do that quite regularly. I recently completed my 100th jump upon which I received a pie to the face in celebration. It is tradition for skydivers to receive a pie after jump #100 and #1000. I wrote an essay published in Parachutist Magazine March 2016 issue called “How Skydiving Changed My Life”, which is available online as well to read.

I am an ordained minister and have married several skydiving couples and play violin at a lot of weddings these days at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel in New Orleans. If you are looking to get married, you can send me an email!

How do we follow you and your work?

Best way is my Facebook Artist page, www.facebook.com/olgabluesbabe otherwise you can find me on iTunes as “Olga” and follow me there too. I also have Twitter, Instagram, and all the other fun stuff, so a Google “Olga Wilhelmine” will pull all that up!

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