Alan Sklar is a totally engaged voice actor. In the midst of a busy, successful career as a corporate narrator, commercial voice-over actor, live event host, and on-camera spokesman, Alan decided in 1996 that he would expand his work to audiobook narration. In just over 10 years, Alan has become a go-to voice for complex works of nonfiction and business books. AUDIOFILE contributing editor Thomas Walken tells why: “Alan’s deft phrasing and ability to modulate vocal intensity keep his pleasing voice well matched to the energy in the ideas.” Alan himself says he likes to make the books “fun.” “Business books can be so boring,” says the former businessman. “I want to grab the listeners’ attention and make it interesting.” He always takes the material seriously, he says, but if the author introduces humor, then Alan narrates “with a chuckle in my voice.” He is astute at getting the author’s intent and style, and a key source is the authors themselves. “I like to take direction from the author,” Alan says, “not only for help with pronunciations but because a phone conversation allows me to get who they are.”
Alan has had great success with some high-profile titles like A CIVIL ACTION and BLACK HAWK DOWN and, more recently, Lawrence Wright’s THE LOOMING TOWER. Listeners can sense Alan’s involvement with the story, and that commands attention--much as you would never turn away from a friend who was telling you something fascinating. Alan is the perfect example of how the right narrator can dazzle listeners and involve them in troubling aspects of history or contemporary life. Steven Johnson’s THE GHOST MAP, about an 1854 cholera epidemic (and an Earphones winner), and Jim Wooten’s WE ARE ALL THE SAME, the story of a young AIDS sufferer (and an Audies finalist), are just two examples of how Alan’s engagement with the story makes for compelling listening.
Alan doesn’t like to be confined to nonfiction, because he also has a passion for mysteries and loves to use the character voices he keeps in his “narrator’s bag of tricks.” Among his personal, and listeners’, favorites are titles by Lawrence Block. Alan gets vocal inspiration from other narrators, especially his audio heroes--George Guidall, Robert Forester, and Andrew Sachs. “I’m listening all the time--usually with three or four books going at once.” He eavesdrops, too, “on the subway or wherever I am.” Asking what language a fellow traveler may be speaking (Albanian, Serbo-Croatian, or whatever) can add to his facility with dialects. He is skilled with Russian, French, and Italian and is about to start lessons in Arabic. “I had to research so many words for THE LOOMING TOWER, I’ve just decided to become more fluent, as there will be more books that I need Arabic for.” Alan’s vocal smoothness and his dedication to the audiobook art form are gifts to listeners.
--2007 Narrator Yearbook