Amanda Friday
January 12, 2024

Amanda holds a BA in Theater and has worked as a stage actor in plays and musicals for over 25 years. Originally from the Midwest, she now works as a professional audiobook narrator and voiceover artist, recently collaborating with Tantor Audio and other companies. Amanda enjoys creating and giving voice to characters from classic and contemporary literature. She is dedicated to the arts and focuses on delivering quality audio productions globally.

Interview by Laura Kelly Robb

Q: How did you become interested in narrating audiobooks?

Amanda: I have a degree in theatre so it seemed a natural progression honestly. While acting for audio is different than acting on stage or screen, there are definitely some similarities that overlap like character development, emotional ties to the text, and playing the given circumstances.


Q: What is your process to prepare for a new project?

Amanda: I’m old school in terms of prep work so I have a notepad and pen next to me while reading through the story. I mark down character names, personality descriptors, any hints given in the text that the author has provided that will help me connect and create a performance as accurate to the written story as I can. I look up any words or locations I may be unfamiliar with and include those on the electronic copy but for me, pen and paper is where it’s at!


Q: How do audiobook narrators choose (or get chosen for) the titles they work on? Is it possible to cover a wide variety of genres?

Amanda: This depends on where you are finding work. If you work with indie authors, oftentimes you send in auditions for projects you are interested in. I have many repeat indie authors that have become good friends of mine so no longer have to audition for them. I love my indies so much! If you do publisher work, you generally are asked by casting directors to audition for a title and/or have your samples included in the submission to the author. Most narrators work in a variety of genres but one does seem to fall into certain niches vocally that are a strong suit compared to other genres. I work in multiple genres myself and also have a pseudonym for the romance genre.


Q: What are the challenges, if any, in narrating a mystery?

Amanda: I love reading a mystery on prep because I have no idea what I’m actually in for plot wise. The hardest mysteries to narrate are those with an anonymous “villain” who is unnamed in the book. On the page, this works very well because readers aren’t hearing a voice and there’s no indication of gender, age, etc., but when translated to audio, it’s a real challenge to give voice to someone without giving anything away. The last thing you want to do is spoil the surprise ending!


Q: When you listen to an audiobook, what elements attract your attention? What do you wish reviewers would pay attention to?

Amanda: I do a lot of duet rom-com work and I adore duet performances. I think on the whole reviewers are kind and recognize the human on the other side of the audio so I don’t have much to comment on in regards to that.


Q: What is the essential equipment and software to set up one’s own recording studio?

Amanda: This varies depending on personal circumstances, but bare minimum is a good recording space. You could have the most expensive equipment on the market, but if your space isn’t properly treated, it won’t matter.


Q: What are some technical and physical requirements that might surprise people?

Amanda: Depending on the text, you can get very emotionally invested. I worked on a trilogy recently where the character circumstances near the end of book three just wrecked me. I had to stop recording because I couldn’t stop crying while trying to get through it! (And the author of the trilogy loved knowing this bit of trivia!)

And narration can be a lonely gig. You spend a lot of time in a small box talking to yourself! Maintaining proper breath support and posture can get tiring. Vocal stamina is very much affected by what you ate, what you drank, what the weather is, if you have allergies, how much sleep you got, and the list goes on and on. Protecting your voice is paramount but not as easy as you might think.


Q: How do you go about preparing various foreign and regional accents?

Amanda: Every narrator has a toolbox of accents that they feel comfortable performing. If I run into one I’m not as familiar with, I try to connect with someone who does have that accent. It’s also a matter of research, real world examples on the internet, watching interviews or listening to stories told by people with that particular accent. Oftentimes, less can be more and picking out the key characteristics of an accent can be very effective in creating the character.


Q: What are some ways narrators improve their craft?

Amanda: Coaching is always a good way to improve. That said, knowing who you are taking advice from is another good tip. Some people on the internet are very willing to offer advice but unless you know their background and research who they are, their advice may not be worth listening to or taking to heart.


Q: What is your advice to aspiring narrators?

Amanda: This job is fantastic, but it’s a lot of hard work. Don’t fall for the scams of getting rich quickly after a short workshop or video series. Learn everything you can tech wise and performance wise before jumping in. Just because you like to read out loud or someone has said that you have a great voice doesn’t mean this job is necessarily for you. It’s always a bit of a hustle. It can be tight deadlines. It can be times of low work and times of overloaded schedules. It’s a rollercoaster, but I’m grateful I get to enjoy the ride!