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Interview with Dustin Herriman
I posted my audition and ended up getting about 25 responses before I pulled the audition down. My narrator Zachary knocked it out of the park, and it was love at first listen. From the first few seconds of the audition recording, I knew he was the guy. He has been spectacular throughout the whole process.
2. How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
I didn’t have to work too closely with my narrator, as he was very professional. I did provide a pronunciation guide and character-specific voice recommendations, then turned him loose. I wish if anything that I could have been more hands-on, but it wasn’t necessary.
3. Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Absolutely! It was a long and drawn-out tangent of thought from the deepest and most terrible years in my youth, when I suffered with severe depression. It all started with an earnest, silent plea for anybody at all to help me. I wasn’t religious, which gave me this kind of romantic fascination with the idea of a divine figure. I dreamed up often that a grim reaper type character would come and take me away, and it kept me up at night thinking about how such a creature would behave, what its motivations would be, and what the ramifications would be for the humans that prayed to it. The rest is history – from that spiraling thought, a whole world blossomed in my mind.
4. How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
Keeping motivated is sometimes a chore. I think what drove me to finish this book was the earnest desire to be able to say that I’d done it, and that kept me coming back day after day. There was an almost dark and compelling force behind that desire as well – it was like the thoughts plagued me until I had written them down, and it was a cathartic feeling to have the words on a page so I could dissect and rearrange them properly.
To maintain my enthusiasm, I thought about ways to insert myself into the story, trying to imagine how I would handle things if I were thrust into such impossible situations. To insert myself and have fun with the story kept me writing on the slower days. For that reason, the main character is very much inspired in his behavior by a younger, less wise and more impulsive me, if I was much more physically competent and athletic at least.
The enthusiasm of a few key people in my life that enjoyed watching my progress was absolutely critical. I often shared my latest lines with my brother and my friends, absorbing their criticism and interest, measuring raptly their expressions and understandings of the text I’d given them. They could have killed my project in its infancy – instead they helped foster it, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
5. Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I am in fact an audiobook listener. I have digested many stories while driving for my job, and that’s what I find so appealing; it’s very easy to listen to a book and accomplish other things, which is pretty important in such a busy world.
6. Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
There is a scene I have in mind that resonated much more powerfully in the spoken format. It’s during one of the main character’s many close scrapes with death, the closest he gets in the story in fact, and my narrator did so well that it astounded me. I can’t say much more without spoiling it, obviously, but I think you’re going to like it.
7. If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
If I could travel through time, I would go back to my younger self and coach him through the many hard lessons I learned. I would remind him how important time is because there’s only so much of it, and encourage him to spend every minute of it wisely.
8. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
Absolutely nonsense. Audio format is just another way to digest a story, and if people have difficulty or easily get bored sitting still to read, this allows them to enjoy it while occupying themselves another way. It’s not so much a competition that you’re cheating at – it’s just another form of entertainment that could be argued to be more accessible.
9. What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
A writing slump only happens when I’m not engaged with my own story. To fix that I’ll go listen to music usually, which has been a massive source of consistent inspiration. A reading slump is harder to get out of – I tend to lose attention whimsically, and getting back into the story generally requires a change of format.
10. What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. Find close friends that you respect and don’t be afraid to show them your work – the cleansing light of criticism can be bright and harsh, but it will make your work better. Make some time every day to at least open your document and look at it. Analyze what you’ve already done and see where you can insert small references or hooks, and then extrapolate that to future events until you have a cohesive, complex narrative. Trust your gut; some of the best writing I’ve ever done came straight from the heart and the back of my brain, and practically wrote itself without me. You can do it. If I could, there’s no reason you couldn’t.
Dustin Herriman grew up in the ethereal beauty of the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader since childhood, he eventually felt inspired by his favorite authors to create a world all his own. When not working on other writing projects, Dustin enjoys the occasional Dungeons and Dragons campaign, playing with the world’s cutest dog, and maintaining his title of Chess Champion of the House, although his loving fiancee insists he cheats.
About the Narrator: Zachary Johnson
Lover of mathematics, devourer of science fiction, and connoisseur of the dad joke. When he's not doing math for business or fun, he's devouring science fiction and fantasy, reading up on scientific advancements, going for a jog, or, on all too rare occasions, taking a refreshing swim at the beach. At your service, you shall have an able storyteller and gifted conveyor of information. Experienced in narrating fiction, from the romantic to the post-apocalyptic, and nonfiction, from the historical to the corporate, and armed with the tools to make it all sound great, Zachary promises that, no matter the job, you'll be read-iculously pleased!
About the Producer: Audiobook Empire
At Audiobook Empire, audio reigns supreme, narrators are hailed as heroes, and headphones are worn with pride.
Marrying pomp and circumstance with quality you can count on, Audiobook Empire is a full-service production house that produces and promotes audiobooks with gusto.