Johanna is an experienced actor and solo performer and new to the audiobook game. She’s been narrating and producing titles since January 2013. Of audiobook narrating she says “I feel like I've found my dream job, and seem to have found a niche for myself in the romance and erotica genres. Maybe there's something about my voice that lends itself to trashy romance novels, or maybe it's just the fact that I'm not afraid to say filthy things with conviction, but I've never been happier!”
RHYLL: Did you find it difficult in the beginning to read erotica, or were you a natural?
JOHANNA: I sort of jumped in with both feet into the erotica pond! When I first learned of audiobook narration as a career I also heard that there was a high demand for folks who were comfortable reading romance and erotica, and I thought "No one sees my face, right? Well, I can do THAT!" My first few samples were erotica and my first five contracts were in that genre too. I'm finally starting to branch out into other genres, but I don't think I'll ever completely leave this one!
RHYLL: What are the narrative challenges specific to reading erotica?
JOHANNA: It was hard at first to market my audiobooks, because I didn't want my friends and family to know what I was doing! There are only certain circles who wouldn't be disturbed to listen to me in the throes of passion. Haha! It's a lot like asking your friends to watch the porno you just made, you know? But I decided to work under a pseudonym and am slowly building a fan base that doesn't include anyone who has seen me in diapers.
RHYLL: What should authors look for when choosing a narrator for their erotica/erotic romance audiobook?
JOHANNA: Good acting! I think it's so important for a narrator to experience the story and to really be there in the moment experiencing the text and not just cut-and-dried neutrally narrating. Also, a voice that can sound convincingly male and female in quick succession.
RHYLL: What’s your funniest moment in narrating an erotic audiobook?
JOHANNA: My apartment is next to the freeway, so I actually record at a friend's house in her walk-in closet. The first time she overhead me "in the moment" she yanked open the door and yelled "OH MY GOD, I KNOW YOU SAID THEY WERE SEXY BOOKS BUT YOU WEREN'T KIDDING." So embarrassing!!
RHYLL: Which audiobooks have you really enjoyed working on?
JOHANNA: No One's Angel by Kelly Walker and the Twisted Mosaic Trilogy by Amelia James have been some of my faves. They're both really fantastic writers with unique points of view (and dirty minds...)
RHYLL: How much acting skill is required to narrate books?
JOHANNA: Tons! I think it's even more challenging than film or TV roles. I see narrating an audiobook as like putting on a one-person show: You've got to convincingly portray a wide range of characters without making them caricatures. Each voice needs to have the room to move through the gamut of emotions, all while remaining sincere and authentic.
RHYLL: Where do you do your narrating?
JOHANNA: Since my own apartment is too noisy to record in, I record in the walk-in closet at a friend's house. I use a VoiceCube (portable vocal booth) and plug my Blue Yeti microphone into my laptop and I'm good to go!
RHYLL: Any advice for those considering narrating erotic audio books?
JOHANNA: Use a pseudonym. You don't HAVE to, but I've found that I let myself be a lot "freer" when narrating romance and erotica knowing that I've got a bit of anonymity.
RHYLL: How do audiobook narrators relax after slaving over a hot microphone all day?
JOHANNA: I don't know about other narrators, but I like to put my iPad inside a Ziploc bag and play Candy Crush by the pool.
RHYLL: Could you read the phonebook and make it sound sexy?
JOHANNA: Of course! Do we still have phonebooks? Otherwise I could read you my email address book.
RHYLL: Do you listen to audiobooks for enjoyment or do you long for silence after narrating?
JOHANNA: I do listen to audiobooks, but they're usually in Self-Help or Spirituality. I do love to learn from other romance narrators though!
RHYLL: Has someone ever had a fan girl/boy moment after recognizing your voice from an audiobook?
JOHANNA: Not yet! Haha. I have noticed that I've become much better at recognizing voices since I started this job. Did you know Tim Allen narrates those commercials for Michigan tourism?
RHYLL: Which celebrities would you like to hear read an erotic audiobook (and which titles)?
JOHANNA: Besides Gilbert Gottfried and Fifty Shades of Gray? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K1RcKJVbHA
RHYLL: Do you ever imagine what people do while listening to your audiobooks?
JOHANNA: I'm sure they're ironing or folding the laundry, aren't they? ;)
RHYLL: What’s one of the most challenging narration jobs you’ve taken on?
JOHANNA: When I first started out, I narrated a book that was so bad I created a SECOND pseudonym to record under because I didn't even want my first fake name associated with it. It was a collection of short stories that were so terrible the author included a recipe for meatballs when he ran out of ideas. But I sexy-read the shit out of it and it became the best selling book of my first six months!
RHYLL: Thanks for your time, Johanna.