"I now have only good days and great days." This quote from Lance Armstrong is a good way to think about Oliver Wyman's narrations. A decade ago Oliver shot off the starting line for his first full-length audiobook with Armstrong's IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE. The audio won an Audie Award and launched Oliver into a succession of good and great recordings. Oliver has recorded many high-profile titles and has been celebrated for each one--Thomas Friedman's THE WORLD IS FLAT, another Audie winner; A MILLION LITTLE PIECES by James Frey; THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS by Conn and Hal Iggulden; WINTER'S TALE by Mark Helprin.
Many narrators establish a specialty within a genre or subject area, but Oliver has amazing versatility. Producer/director Paul Ruben was first to cast Oliver for an audiobook and has encouraged him to expand his narrative range. "If I took a deep breath and named the best storytellers I've ever worked with, Oliver Wyman would be among the best of the best. What can I say about an actor who is so versatile that he can receive Audies, Earphones, and numerous kudos for dramatic work, as well as humor, nonfiction, and children's?"
What's his approach that allows him to move so fluidly among business tomes such as JUGGLING ELEPHANTS, science fiction that spans a thousand years, OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF, and a quirky mystery like ATOMIC LOBSTER? He says little about his technique, which incorporates what he describes as the "organic." This is not cold reading, he clearly notes, but he doesn't like to overprepare. He doesn't mark scripts or assign characters in great detail but starts from the top and trusts his instincts. Ruben notes, "Oliver is a consummate storyteller. Why? Because he's utterly and consistently emotionally connected--to his characters and the narration."
Oliver credits his personal passion for comic books for his ability to make characters come alive in his head. "The music of language is always apparent to me." He loves doing science fiction and fantasy titles when he gets the chance, and he looks at characters he's to portray as if he's casting a movie. He meets the challenge of business books by maintaining a level of energy that transfers to listeners and keeps them engaged with the information. With the offbeat humor of Tim Dorsey's books--HURRICANE PUNCH and ATOMIC LOBSTER--Oliver is engaging another facet: his ability to do humor. Will stand-up be next? Oliver says he's looking forward to performing in front of more than two people (engineer and director). But, as we all know, the audience is there--invisible perhaps--but applauding each recording.--Robin F. Whitten