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AUDIOFILE spoke with narrator Nick Podehl about the Earphones Award-winning YA title SWIM THE FLY and his other audiobook work.
AF: Do you approach narrating YA books differently than you might approach narrating other genres?
NP: I would say the characters in a YA title usually give me the ability to be more fun or off the wall than would another genre of audio book. I am generally more inclined to take some bigger chances in playing around with character voices with a project that is meant to attract the attention of a younger crowd.
With an adult title, I mainly focus on the story and appropriate differentiation between characters. Many YA books are written with more exaggerated personalities. Younger audience members seem to get more out of interesting voices and characters than adults might. I like giving the YA audience animated characters that will stick with them throughout the story. Though, this is not to say that older audiences don't appreciate them as my family members constantly ask me to say something in some of their favorite character voices.
This being said, the preparation of the book itself is generally the same. I just tend to have a lot of fun with the young adult titles.
AF: Tell us about narrating SWIM THE FLY--how did you decide on certain voices? Did you draw on your own teenage years for inspiration?
NP: I try to take parts and pieces of voices and characters I hear on a daily basis: people I meet, musicians, family members, co-workers, and the like. I borrow a lot from real experiences to generate the voices for characters to which I have to give life. I draw a lot from my favorite video game and cartoon characters for inspiration as well.
For instance, Matt's first love interest, Kelly, in SWIM THE FLY was based off of a girl who was in one of my college classes. She was the vixen type who dripped sexiness and she knew it. She really grated on my every nerve. That egotistical arrogance was my inspiration for this character.
Cooper, in voice, was created to simulate one of my more annoying friends growing up. This friend of mine constantly had his head in the gutter. This person was very near and dear to my heart, but I was continually annoyed by his ability to think of nothing other than girl.
I think a lot of the situations in SWIM THE FLY were an eye opener for me. I tried to think back on my younger years, and I could not remember being that preoccupied with sex! I was still playing with LEGOS and Ninja Turtles my freshman year. Who am I kidding? I still play with LEGOS. But I do remember a lot of the awkwardness that was associated with being a growing boy. I distinctly remember the emotional roller-coaster that people usually don't think young boys experience. SWIM THE FLY gave me a chance to relive that and THANK GOD I never have to go through that again!
AF: What's upcoming audiobook are you're most looking forward to?
NP: The Candlewick on Brilliance Audio release of the the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness--THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, THE ASK AND THE ANSWER, and MONSTERS OF MEN. This has been by far one of the most challenging and rewarding projects I have done in a good while. I really related to the main character, Todd, and felt a lot of the emotions that Ness portrayed through Todd. The highs and lows that he put into these stories really brought the characters to life. It was amazing to experience the growth of the character Todd from Book 1 to Book 2 to Book 3 in the series. --Jennifer M. Dowell October/November 2010
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