Award-winning audiobook narrator Arthur Morey is an accomplished actor, writer, writing teacher, and singer. He's written movie scripts, plays and is currently working on a play about actor Edward Lear and a translation of a book written in the 1600s. Morey credits his success as a "translator" of written text into audiobooks with his education in how narrative works. "I got very lucky and got to go to very good schools. I was taught about taking texts apart.
I was at the University of Chicago, and I got to study with some very interesting people, including Saul Bellow. And we would take a book or a novel or classical literature or philosophy, and we'd sit with it for 10 weeks and talk it through. And I think now that helps me take a book apart."
Morey makes a point of treating both fiction and nonfiction titles as stories that follow characters through their individual journeys. But there are times when original source material can help create the overall sound of an audiobook. "I did a book on President McKinley, and there are a very small number of recordings of his voice. So I listened to them. I try to get a sense of a character by listening to him or her. It helps me work all that out."
There are times when the author gets a chance to help in the production of an audiobook. Morey says he's committed to making sure an audiobook serves the author's original vision. While working with novelist E.L. Doctorow, Morey says, he was directed not to "act" but to "make sure that Doctorow came through and not me. Actually, Danielle Steele asked for the same thing. That's a funny pair of people, isn't it? You might get a flatter performance that way, but it's my job to serve the material. I try to get out of the way."
Morey has recorded the works of literary giants like John Updike, John Irving, Richard Russo, and Anne Tyler. He says he knows his performance is working if the people in the recording booth are reacting. "If I can get the director to weep, than I feel like I'm doing a good job. In the book MINISTRY OF SPECIAL CASES, there's a tremendous scene between a father and son that just knocked me out. I have a son, and it's not always easy. Those things get to me." And it's not just fictional works than can bring a tear to Morey's eye. "I did a book on Hiroshima that was so appalling and so moving that I would have to stop and take a deep breath before I could go on."--Randy O'Brien
2011 Best Voice in BIOGRAPHY & HISTORY: To End All Wars
2010 Best Voice in History & Historical Fiction: MUNICH, THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS
2009 Best Voice in NONFICTION & CULTURE: UNLIKELY ALLIES
Photo by Craig Mohr