2009 Best Voice in MYSTERY & SUSPENSE: THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN
"I generally speak in iambic," Tom Weiner laughs. "It just comes naturally to me." It's no wonder, considering his lifelong love affair with the stage. Whether acting in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, playing Claudius (HAMLET) at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles, or working with Oregon Stage Works in the upcoming production of Mamet's GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, Tom's path has always led him back to the theater.
Along the way, he found audiobook narration.
"Doing live theater is the gravy," Tom says. "Reading audiobooks is my day job." But he's one of those fortunate few whose passion and day job overlap. "Most people speak of their 'day jobs' with some condescension, but I love my work--I get to read ALL the parts!"
Tom has won multiple Earphones Awards and an Audie Award nomination for his narration of books that are peppered with characters--murder suspects, detectives, aliens, soldiers, and even the reincarnation of Buddha masquerading as a 2-year-old girl. A recent project, John Birmingham's WITHOUT WARNING, boasts 165 international characters. Tom is certain that his background in theater, augmented by his proclivity for imitating accents, accounts for at least some of his success.
Only some? "Much of the credit for everything I've done goes to my boss, Grover Gardner [studio director at Blackstone Audiobooks]." Hired at Blackstone in 2006, Tom will tell anyone that Gardner and Blackstone are some of the best people to work for--and the best people to learn from.
There's a scene in Tom's current audiobook project, John Steakley's ARMOR, in which the hero is fighting a giant ant. "It's written in stream of consciousness. A lot of it is 'Mandible here! Hand to thorax! Hand through bug's eye--squishing, squashing!' It goes on and on. Normally, when I have action sequences in books, I tend to speed up those parts to give the listener that sense of momentum."
But after recording 25 pages, something wasn't sounding right, so Tom asked Grover to give it a diagnostic listen. "He sat down in the studio," Tom recalls, "and read the same thing I read, perfectly, without mistakes--brilliantly--and afterwards he said, 'Kinda like that.'" Grover took the opportunity to give his colleague a tutorial on timing in audiobook narration, one that Tom will never forget. "In those few minutes, he gave me a lesson that has actually changed my style for this book, and a lesson that I will have in me forever."
Between his work at Blackstone and stage acting, Tom's life is pretty full. He still finds time for pleasure reading, constant visits to the YMCA, and time with his family. While there's little time for much else, Tom has found a way to meld his passion and talent with his profession and trade. "It IS very challenging," Tom tells us. "But it's very rewarding."--Allison Adams
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