32 Benjamin Fife Interview
Charity Bradford: , this is Loose Leaf, a multi-author podcast journal, where we talk about goals, the ups and downs of writing and where we try to warn you off of our greatest pitfalls.
Kahle vonBose: Hello, welcome to loose leaf author podcast. I'm
Charity Bradford: kale, I'm charity. And today we have another guest with us Benjamin five. He is an audio narrator, which kind of brings us to our first question.
Do you want to ask that before he introduces it?
Kahle vonBose: Yeah. So we need to know this. Uh, is it reading narrating or storytelling?
Benjamin Fife: All three. Okay. No. What does
Charity Bradford: like what your title actually was? What you would like to be called, but Benjamin, why don't you take a minute and introduce yourself?
Benjamin Fife: Well, when I'm talking about myself, I usually will refer to myself as an audio book narrator though.
Um, I did actually for the first time recently, I, we were out shopping last week and met a guy and he was, we were at a bookstore and he was sitting there reading Shakespeare. And so I started talking to him and he said, so are you a Shakespearian? And I said, well, I am an actor, which that's the other thing is that it's, it's voice acting, but.
It's kind of something that as I've become a full-time narrator and whatever I really realized, yes, this is acting. And the things that I learned back in drama 25 years ago, I go, I am actually using now. I, I didn't waste those, you know, six semesters in high school. I just held them in reserve for 20 years.
Charity Bradford: That's really cool. So you said you waited 20 years from those classes. What brought you to audio book narrating to finally getting to use some of those acting
Benjamin Fife: skills? Well, to say that just sat on a shelf would be a misnomer too. It's it's a B, because what brought me to audio book narrating, um, I've, I've always loved reading.
Uh, when my wife and I got married a little over 20 years ago, we immediately started reading out loud to each other. And I mean, we, we read, um, the first thing we read together was the Hobbit, but we. Eventually read, um, like the, the, a CS Lewis is, um, space trilogy, which is a little bit lesser known one.
Then we, it just continued we'd pick books back and forth. And then when kids started arriving, um, initially, you know, we were reading just, you know, little picture books and whatever, but about the time I think my oldest was five or six, we started, um, To begin with. I think we just read straight through, um, the Chronicles of Narnia and, uh, and then I, then I think we read a Lord of the rings and stuff at Hobbit and Lord of the rings, but the original question was how did I get into audio book navigator?
So, so then in reading to the kids out loud, nine times out of 10, it would be me who had read it usually Loreen was, was, uh, Helping with whatever baby or whatever, but I'd read it. And I just got into more and more doing character voices, which, I mean, you do Lord of the rings G you kind of got to, um, and we've read Harry Potter.
We've read Jane Eyre. Um, we've read pretty much every book that the kids are named after, um, to the kids actually with, with Marco, with the lost Prince, we read it initially as a family. When my wife was pregnant with him and everybody fell in love with the name. So if there's anybody who was kind of named before they were born, it was him.
Cause we're like, this is, this has gotta be Marco, but we've also since read it to him. He's he's now six years old. And that was honestly about the first book that in our nightly read aloud that he. We could get him to sit still and pay attention to, and, and since then he's, he's actually come into it finally.
And it's like, yes. Okay. After doing that for a few years, it was probably 12 or 13 years ago that I first thought I should try audio book narrating. But, you know, I was in different jobs. We were, it was just chaos of things and whatever. But three years ago, uh, my wife just. Said, Hey, you should look at this website, this acx.com thing.
You can, you can audition for audio books. Um, the next day I had a, a, a, a profile set up and I took a little. Kind of kind of helpful course for like a five day challenge thing. And within a week I was auditioning for books and within a month I had a contract for two and then I just kept going. And, uh, last, uh, March 30, first of 2020 was my last day at the day job.
And I. I love it. So I, I love being a storyteller
Charity Bradford: very much so it's great to hear somebody finally get to do that. That, that was your goal. And you can do what you
Benjamin Fife: love. Well, the fun thing too, I mean, it was kind of my goal initially, and you can look on, on my website, I've got a blog post that kind of explains, you know, how I got here.
But my initial plan was maybe like five years down the road. And ultimately it was. Just a little over two years from when I started that, I'm like, okay, I'm going to do this. Full-time so I was pretty excited.
Charity Bradford: That's really cool. And so his website is five audio.com and I'll make sure we have a link down in the notes for you, um, so that they can come check you out.
Okay. Kale has a couple of questions for you, and then I have some as well, and we're just going to jump right in.
Kahle vonBose: So, um, I have.
Charity Bradford: His will be a surprise,
Kahle vonBose: a little bit of a background in radio, um, working for a college radio station for awhile. And it was a blast. I learned a lot about storytelling. They're doing narrations for classical music, like hours of classical music. I grew up listening to Garrison Keillor, tell stories and listening to actually I've gotten back into listening to LaVar Burton because of his podcast where he reads short stories.
So good. So good. I was wondering what storytellers inspired
Benjamin Fife: you. Burton would definitely be one. I, uh, I I'm actually going to be doing in conjunction with a couple of authors that I work with and, and you guys are welcome to join in too. We're going to do a 30 day blog post challenge. And it's specifically about, you know, books that you connected with as a kid in different ways.
And one of. From that I'm going to do is specifically about LaVar Burton and reading rainbow. I mean, you know, butterfly
and I'm an insufferable Trekkie, so that's, that's the other side of it. Um, but yeah, LaVar Burton, um, Ian McKellen, uh, Patrick Stewart, uh, as far as just storytelling it's any, any decent actor is in a way a storyteller, but for those who actually do audio book, narrating LeVar Burton is, is definitely one of them at the top of my list.
Um, George Goodall is, is pretty awesome too. Um, much different style, but, uh,
Kahle vonBose: um, w what'd you say there's anything specifically that you drew from. From hearing them reading or did you just develop, well, really that's the question. Is there anything that you drew from
Charity Bradford: them that you pulled into your style
Benjamin Fife: of narrating, you know, with, with LaVar Burton right off the bat?
It's I mean, I remember as a kid watching reading rainbow and I never felt like. He talked down to me at all. I mean, I it's, and that's, that's something that, to me, I mean, partially based on what I've read to my own kids, I don't talk down to them when I'm, when I'm reading. I don't, I don't make it silly or, or, or anything like that.
Well, that's, that's also a bit of a misnomer. It depends. There, there, there are some. Kids books that, that after reading them 27 times, you've just got to change it up a little bit. But, uh, but yeah, just the. Via truly like capturing an audience. And the, my, my favorite book of all time is, is a Christmas Carol.
And, um, one of my favorite lines in it is as close to you to, to him as I am now to you. And I'm in spirit at your elbow. And that's, that's what it is. It's a matter of, to me. Good storytelling is at least a three-way partnership between the author and the narrator. Sometimes they're both. Not that many authors can really pull it off, unfortunately.
And three, the, the audience and B, because it's something where yes, I can give a great performance. The author can, can give. A great, uh, a great book, but it's also ultimately the imagination of whoever's listening to it.
Charity Bradford: That was something just so our audience knows. The reason we found you is I actually listened to a book that you narrated.
And I thought the story was really good, but what made it for me was actually. Your voice and the way you approach the story and the way you helped to bring it alive. So I really appreciate what you're talking about, that, that triangle partnership there, that. It really is a partnership between those three people
Benjamin Fife: and the reason I'm turning around here, I thought I had it with me, but I must've said it somewhere else.
It's King's warrior is the book that, that you listened to by Janell Leanne Schmitt. Yeah.
Charity Bradford: It's so exciting. So, um, I think I've mentioned it in our emails. What I really liked about you is you get in and you change your voice in a few are telling a story, but you didn't overdo it. Like I've listened to some audio books where.
They try so hard to make each voice sound completely different, that it's actually distracting. And so I personally liked your style of it's different, but you get the emotion in there. It's, you know, who's speaking when you speak, but it's not that over the top. Um, was that a learning and the thing that you just, all those years of reading.
Where did it come?
Benjamin Fife: Naturally? I think in large part, it was kind of a learned thing. And it's also just a personal preference thing because I'm the same way. Like I I've done a couple of dual narration ones were where, like there was a, well I've, I've done a couple with one of my daughters and that's, that's one thing.
She's a very, she's the main character, but she's a pretty minor part. Then I did another one with Meg price. That's the fringe candidate by Brad Swift and that one, um, She's she did all the, all the female characters. I did all the male characters and it's, I, I think there are people who really like that, that dual narration thing for money personally, I usually prefer listening to just one, just because I mean that the other main series that I've done is Jane Austen's dragons up here and.
So that I'm doing lots of female voices. I'm also doing dragon voices from a little four-inch dragon on up to you, what you traditionally think of as a dragon and that. You might take issue with it because it is significantly more extreme in that. I mean, I'm doing falsetto for that for April's a little tiny dragon on down long bird.
Who's, he's a grumpy old contemptuous wife. So, but at the same time, I mean, I do the female voices, but it's. Yeah, it's obviously still a guy narrating it, but it's with a different kind of inflection. It's not like I go into falsetto for the women at all. Although sometimes with Mrs. Bennett, I do, but that's more just because she's a squeaky kind of character.
Yeah. She's really,
Charity Bradford: it's so funny because you're talking makes me think of all, all these other questions. Like how do you keep them all straight? Because it sounds like there are lots of characters, especially in that series and they were quite a few in the Kings warrior. How do you keep them straight and know where you're
Benjamin Fife: at things warrior, there was 67 characters.
I knew there were a lot of them. Wow. She has been amazing in the partnership with her because she gives me an Excel file with like what chapter each character appears in and everything. I mean, I read it myself beforehand. It's not like I just dive in and narrate it. Um, there's a lot more to it than that, but it's also something where with each character she's.
He said, okay, I want it to sound kind of like this person or this person. And so when, when I sit down to record or actually I stand up, I'm standing up now. This is where I record. Um, I, uh, I just look at the notes and, um, it's not that I'm doing impressions of people, but it's kind of getting an, a certain Headspace, like one character that she has in all four books, um, uh, is KeyArena and Kane and.
She th the, the actor who she said, like, I kind of, what I do with, with any of my authors is I say, who would be like your ideal cast for this, if you were to do it as a movie. And, uh, so with Kiernan Cain, she's had David Tennant. And if, if I was, if I was doing David Tennant's, I'm doing it wrong, but yeah, that's the kind of head space that I get into.
And as you listen through the rest of the books or read them or whatever, It's kind of something where it's like, okay, David Tennant really is kinda like the 10th doctor. So yes. I mean, yeah. Kiernan Kane is like the tempo. Yeah. I followed you. I totally. So anyway, with your question, so it's a matter of once I, I have a character in there it's.
Usually I can hang on to it and, and, uh, just get in that head space. There are definitely times when I'm like, okay, this is a somewhat less major character. I need to go back and listen to what I did before. For the white, who am I always perfect with it? Heck no, but it's, it's, it's, it's a place to start.
So yeah, I
Kahle vonBose: think if I were to do that, I would have like voice memos on my phone with little character names and like a sentence of theirs and be like, how did I do that voice?
Benjamin Fife: What is that? You know? I've I've read things from, from other narrators, other more professional, more experienced narrators that they're like, they make audio, they do an audio sample for each character and yeah, I've thought about doing that, but, um, I suppose I'm a little lazy when it comes to that.
I'm just like, Hmm. I just let it flow for the most part. I do refer back when, when I'm not quite certain, but, uh, which actually with, with the Jane Austin's dragons, it's partially because it's been rather spaced out that I've done the books. And like, I just did a live reading from her next book last Saturday.
And there were characters who were in two of these books, but it's been. Months since I narrated either of them. So I went back and I listened to those characters again, before I did the reading and it was,
Charity Bradford: well, I know King's warrior was 19 hours. Like I listened to things on normal speed. I don't speed it up.
I like to enjoy it. And. Never wants that. I feel like you had slipped characters that you had forgotten. Um, so I think you, you, it must be something natural in the way your brain works that you're like, okay, I'm in, you must understand that character enough that you can keep it.
Benjamin Fife: Well, it's, it's also a matter of when I narrate something, especially fiction.
Yeah. By the time I've, by the time I've recorded the whole thing and edit it and whatever I've gone through the book, probably at least four times. And that's it with Kings warrior in particular, I did more than that because I was about halfway through recording it and it was my turn to pick the family read aloud.
And I'm like, I love this book. My kids need to love this book. So yeah. I read it to them too. So it got mildly confusing cause I'm like, okay, what chapter are we on tonight? Kids? They're like, okay, well I'm like, you know, 200 pages ahead of you, but eh, but then I'd be editing and I'm like, Oh, I'm just editing.
Just what I read to them last night. So. I just did it again with second son. We just, we just finished second son last week. Um, and, uh, I mean, it's, it's, there was a little bit more lag time between when I recorded it and when I read it to them, And, but, Oh, and, but also while I was recording while I was, uh, while I was, uh, reading second son to them, I was recording Dorian's hand.
And those two books are very connected, which a little spoiler here, second son is a prequel. Um, but it's kind of a mandatory pre-qual and I completely understand why she did it as the second book. And it's a lot of brand's story. Yeah. That's what it is. So, and it's, it's awesome. I it's, it's not my favorite of the series, but it also has some really good death scenes that are awesome.
And, uh, when, when I read it to the kids, I, I confess, I, I had already, you know, performed most of it. And there were a couple of times when I'm like, um, okay, I'm doing the death scene. And at the end, I said, there is another. Scott.
like my older kids, like sometimes I'll throw in weird things like that when I'm reading them. And they're like, it's not in the book. Like, no, no, that's not it.
Charity Bradford: my goodness. You sound like someone I'd like to hang out. It's your family. My family would get a lot of
Benjamin Fife: great Uber geeks.
Charity Bradford: You're hitting all my star Wars, star Trek doctor who like, keep
Benjamin Fife: them going. Yes,
Charity Bradford: let me get one in here. And then you can get, I know you have another one. Um, you kind of talked a little bit about.
Your working style and how, how you enjoyed working with Janell. Is that kind of your favorite way to work with an author? Do you have certain things you wish authors knew when they approached you about reading their story and that would
Benjamin Fife: make it easier for both of you? Really? My, my favorite partnerships there, there are three authors who I would probably.
We do about anything for, and Janell is one, Maria. Grace is the other, and Brad's whiffed is the third, which, um, Brad is, um, I'm doing okay. I I've done this series forum, which is Zack Bates, equal adventures. It's more of a kid series. Um, glad it's. It's has a magic cat and a flying dog and, and what all, but it's also something where he has just become a really good friend to me.
And, uh, he first contacted me about the fringe candidate about a year ago. And. Then, um, it was about a month after I finished with the partnership on, on that with him when he, he posted something and, and he said, what, what do people want to listen to? And what, what do people want to read? And I, and I messaged him.
I said, I want to read something that you wrote so that I can narrate it. And he's like, yeah, Okay. And we've been doing, um, a monthly live reading with a, it was with him that I, I, I did a live reading of a Christmas Carol last month, too. And, but, but with, with all three of them, especially w with Brad, it's been kind of a friendship thing almost first and foremost, with, uh, Janell and Maria.
They, uh, They're they're picky about their stuff. And I like that. Um, I've got some books out there that, that I've narrated, that I regret that the author didn't listen as closely as they should have. And there are a couple of errors in there and that it kind of ticks me off. Um, cause I'm like, I, I don't want there to be errors in there.
I don't want there to be, you know, Editing things. And, and there's a, there's actually a publishing company that I did two books for that I would never work with again, because they didn't even listen to, uh, through, through the thing. They just approved it once, once I was done with it. And the first one.
Hmm, because of, uh, the style of recording that I was doing, then it had significantly more errors. I don't, I don't think the second one has any errors partially because I've, I changed to a punch in roll recording, which then it's, it's nuts and bolts they're narrators. But, um, it was, the editing has done more while you're recording rather than afterward.
But yeah, I won't work with them again. Yeah.
Charity Bradford: That is so bizarre. Cause I know, um, I have several books out and I have a couple that I wish I could get re-recorded because I didn't know, as an author, how picky to be. I was so excited. Somebody was willing to read it that I was just like, yeah, whatever, you know, and, and I've found that I've gotten pickier.
Benjamin Fife: Well, and I've gotten pickier with myself too. It's like that the first book that I did, that, that a narrator, an author w which actually he'd be the fourth author who had to do about anything for his camera and Taylor. He, uh, he was, um, I had done two books and he's a local author. He's about an hour North of me here.
Um, my wife was reading this book of his and, and said, Hey, you should. Yeah. Have you seen this book? And I'm like, Oh, it looks cool. So I, I contacted him and I've since done five books for him. Um, and he, he also said, you know, that the fact that, that, uh, that I've done five books for him is, should say at all that, that he doesn't want to use anybody else.
But it's also something where, when he first gave the corrections for the first book that I did with him, I'm like, Oh, Oh my gosh, but it's, it's a, it's a continual growing experience and I'm not gonna lie. Anytime you see a correction that is kind of subjective. You take it mildly personally. And, but, but at the same time he was, he was really good about it.
And like, there, there was a character in, in his book that I pronounce the name wrong through the whole thing. Yeah. So I had to go back and like, and I've, I've read about some areas who refuse to, and I'm like, what kind of a jerk are you? It's not your book. And it was, was it a hassle? Yes, but it was also a really good learning experience.
Have I made the same mistake again? A couple of times, right. But it's also something where. Because of, of the way that he presented it, it has, it helped me to learn and grow. And there's, there's been things like with, with Maria's novels, um, they're, uh, in, in, uh, it's gotten better as I've gotten through it.
I've, I've definitely improving, but the first book I had to completely rerecord, um, Of the characters dialogue, because it just didn't work. And it's, I would rather have an author who is like, I really want you to try this again. And there's, there's also been times when with Maria and with Janell that, um, they're like, we need to redo this, this thing.
And like there's one character in one of the dragon books that I rerecorded his dialogue three times. Um, but. It was still pretty good. And ultimately she's like, well, I think it works. I'm like, yes. Okay. And I will also stick up for myself. I mean, if there's, if, if there's some minor character that I pronounce the name wrong and they didn't give me the specific pronunciation for them, I'm like, dude, the names in there.
15 times. I don't want to make 15 corrections for a single vowel that is wrong. And, but it's also something where I let them make the final call on it. If a name is in there 70 times and it needs to be fixed, it's their book. I'm, I'm all for, you know, standing up for myself, but ultimately it's more professional to say, okay, It's yours.
Let's make this how you want it to be. So, so on the other side of things, there are authors who like I have one author who you will probably never hear the book because I narrated it and it's, I got paid for it. It was a paid finished hour gig and she's never approved the whole thing. This is going on.
Wow. It'll be two years, this, this summer, that, that it's been sitting there and I'm like, I messaged her about a year ago, but I'm like, Completely washed my hands of it at this point. So, and with the, uh, with, with her, in that one, she was picky to a fault. Um, it's it, it was something where like, there was a mistake that she pointed out every minute and usually it was not usually, it was probably about 50% of the time.
Right. Was her writing that was being correct. And so it's like, whatever.
Kahle vonBose: Yeah. So that's a pretty rough. That's a pretty rough one right there.
Benjamin Fife: I'm thinking is I liked the book and she, she liked some things about my performance, but I, and she had some things going on in her life that just ultimately it's like, great. Well, that's. A month of my life, but chalk it up to experience, which
Kahle vonBose: that at least you got paid for it, I guess.
Benjamin Fife: mean, yeah. Oh my goodness. There's definitely that.
Kahle vonBose: I do have one more question. I didn't want to jug too far away from this, but my question was, uh, backtracking about, um, however many minutes ago, it was that you were talking about, you know, air quotes, professional narrators. Cause I mean, Did you're pretty professional come on.
Benjamin Fife: Well, but I I'm thinking like, you know, the people who have like 500 titles under their belt, I have 40, 41 ish under my belt. Now
Kahle vonBose: you're a fifth of the way there. So
yeah. So how, what is the community of audio book narrators? Like, are there. Is there like a secret discord chat that you guys all get on or, I mean, you know, Hartford, how, how do you interact with many other narrators ever or
Benjamin Fife: there are, is it a solo gig? Some who I do. And honestly, I am to the point where I want I've, I've looked a little bit, um, at.
I I've talked to some people who do voice coaching and whatever, but I haven't sat down and really committed to anybody yet. I want to get a decent voice coach, somebody who is like Sean Pratt or, uh, or Karen commons. Um, they're, they're, they're kind of the, the. Sean, Sean Pratt is known as the ginger Yoda of, of audio book narrating.
And he's, he's, he's one of these guys who has like 500 titles and he has a lot of free stuff online that, that I've looked at I've I've followed him. And like some of the things that are on my website, like the, the way I describe my voice is because of. Videos that he's, he's shared with, you know, how to promote yourself.
Karen commons has a website called I think it's audio, audio book, narrators roadmap, or something like that. And she has some amazing resources there. Um, but I am kind of to the point where I think I probably should get some. Real feedback from somebody who is a veteran, w w th th there's a difference between, you know, a professional narrator and a veteran narrator, I think in the very least, and I'm not there yet.
Um, I'm professional in that this is how I'm supporting my family, but, you know, um, I don't have an ADI under my belt or anything like that. Not, not to say that I wouldn't love to get one, but, um, actually the King Kings warrior has been nominated, but we're, we're, uh, it's, it's in the running for a realm maker.
Um, Audio book of the year. Um, and I'm, it's, it's one of the other questions you had is what's my favorite book that I've recorded and it's, it's definitely, Kingsmore really, that's amazing. But at the same time, they're all kind of like my choice. So
Charity Bradford: my guess is that's. What makes you a great audio book?
Narrator is that you have this love of reading. You can get into that authors world, because I mean, someone can have a great voice. And read a book, but you're not reading a book. You are participating in the storytelling side of it. You're living it so that the listener can live it as well. And that's, I think that's what I connected to when I listened to King's warrior.
Benjamin Fife: And that's, that's honestly what I try to do, whether I'm narrating fiction or nonfiction, whether it's fantasy science fiction or whatever, or kid's book, um, one. Th this is another one called a purpose by Ken Brown. Like some, a lot of the books that I've done have some, some degree of royalty chair. So I, I have a vested interest in seeing them continue to sell well, that's one.
He paid me. Paid finished our out, out of the gate with it. But, um, it's a book that it's a very heady book. Um, it's a visionary fiction, but it's also based on, I don't want to, you know, give too much weight, but it's a fascinating book. And that's the other thing I love about being an educator is I, can I get paid to read?
I get paid to learn. And do I learn things from, from Jane Austin's dragons? Actually, yes, I do. It's a matter of Jane Austin. The original Jane Austin was all about communication and this takes it to like the next level, because there's this higher civilization that well culture, not. So there's this entire subculture of dragons and dragon keepers that the rest of the world doesn't know about.
Kind of like Harry Potter, Wizarding world and whatever, but the dragons are forthright there. They're not hiding anything, but. Humans by nature are all, you know, whatever. And so, yeah, it's something where I love being able to learn from so many brilliant authors and it's, it's fun. I just did one, uh, uh, another one that is in quality control and audible right now that it's a non-fiction that's, uh, uh, confessions of a sensitive man, uh, unconventional defensive, highly sensitive man or something like that, but it, and it was fascinating too.
Charity Bradford: That's wonderful. Cool, wonderful. So do you do most of your, um, do you get most of your jobs through ACX then? Or do you have other people that approach you through your website?
Benjamin Fife: I, uh, uh, until basically until 2020, it was pretty much exclusively through ACX. Although there were a couple of authors who I brought to ACX, um, Cameron, Cameron, Taylor being one of them, um, with his way of low HASI reason, a few others.
And I'm going to be doing at least one more for him this year, sometime. Um, But in 2020, it was kind of interesting because I had been crunching numbers and figuring out, okay, how can I quit the day job and whatever. And the day job was becoming less and less fulfilling. Um, and so I had it all planned and.
Initially. I was like, okay, well I think I can make this work in June. And then it got pushed up a little bit. I had a few really good successful things happen. And then we, we, I was to the point where I'm like, okay, I'm going to do it. March 31st or, and then my wife and I talked about it, like, okay, well maybe we need to push this back at least until my next paycheck, which would have been like a commission paycheck.
So I would have had a bigger paycheck with it and whatever. So it would have been another two weeks. Well, the next day I heard from Ken Brown about called the purpose. That was the fringe candidate by Brad Swift and call it a purpose are the first two books that I, uh, I did, I did audition for multipurpose.
He wanted me to record an audition for him, but they just found me and I, I still need to ask Brad exactly where he found me and same thing with Ken. I think Ken found me on the APA website, the audio audio book, producers association. Um, but so, so I got those two basically without auditioning and then. I, I, I auditioned for several others around that same time.
That's when I that's, when I got Kings warrior and dark by Paul Arvidson and a couple of other non-fiction ones. Um, and then I'm like, w when I, when I got. Found out I was going to get called to purpose and it was going to be a pretty hefty check. Um, I'm like, okay, we'll go ahead and do March 31st. And I did, and then everything shut down, which I'm like, great.
I was doing it anyway, but because everything shut down there was like, I, I, I don't know for sure. But there was a flood of people who were like, Oh, I should try audio book narrating. So I think it's, it's been in large part that like, I went. Nine months without. Landing an audition through ACX this year.
Um, and it's, it's something, you know, I, I was also working my tail off narrating a bunch of stuff, but I, I like recording auditions regularly. Cause it, it keeps my skills up to do something completely different style. And there are some, so there there's some that I've auditioned for that the likelihood of my ever getting them is pretty darn slim, but it's.
It's an exercise. Like I, I auditioned for one last week that I didn't get, which I'm fine with, but, but they, it was a non-fiction and it was, they wanted it narrated in a British accent. I'm like, well, I haven't tried that. I I've obviously narrated in Britain, but it was, it was fun to, you know, take and bring my non-fiction style with the British accent.
So it was, it's just something that keeps my skills at a, at a higher level, but, uh, But, yeah, so, so it was flooded with a lot of new producers and things. And so I started trying some other things this year, like, uh, um, LinkedIn, I started LinkedIn heavily and I landed four more gigs that I didn't have to audition for at all.
Charity Bradford: that's great. That's someone making LinkedIn work. Yeah, I'm on there, but I'll make it work.
Benjamin Fife: And it's, it's something where it's been fun. I mean, is. If you listen through all my titles, some of them are definitely better written than others, but I I'm honestly okay with that. I like partnering with authors, wherever they're at.
And I have some that I, I'm not gonna mention their names because they're, they're learning and they're growing and I'm learning and growing with them, but I I'd still do it again with them even. Even with, you know, they're possibly subpar writing. It's something where when you can, when, when I can read a sentence and sometimes you do.
I mean, whether it's, I mean, with the Charles Dickens, you, you read a sentence. Like it was like, what does this mean? So, so it can be a long convoluted sentence and you have to bring meaning to it. Or it can be a really short subpar whatever sentence and bringing meaning to it. And. Hmm. I, I like to hope that that my performance helps them to also become better writers.
Charity Bradford: That's such a wonderful attitude to have. And I know as an author, I appreciate that because I listened to mine and I listened to some of the first books I wrote. Oh, the narrator sounds great. But all I hear are the repetitive words. And so it's, I love that you can have that good attitude and forgive us as we learn and grow as well.
Benjamin Fife: We certainly notice it as narrators though. And I let my kids in on the joke with Janelle's writing, honestly, I'm sure. I think her writing is phenomenal. I love her characters in her descriptions and she gets better through the whole series, but. Especially, I haven't done the search through the PDF file for Kings warrior, but in second sign it says our nod nodded 30 times actually toward the very end.
The book, I was reading it to my kids and it got to the point where they, they were noticing it too. And, and, and, and so we, I would say our nod nodded
and towards the very end of the book, it said. Are not acknowledged with a nod to which I said, which is to say on an odd nodded.
I mean, it's. Any author does it. Charles Dickens has things that he does. It really does over and over again, but, and like Maria grace, I pointed out to her after the first book and I haven't seen it. It's, it's gotten better as we've gone through them that she, she uses the same, but in am Pemberley he dragged his hand down his face.
I didn't do a search for exactly how many times, but it happens again. It was actually my wife who pointed that one out to me. I was, I was about. I, I think I was about halfway through narrating it and I got the books and my, my, my girls read them and, and she read them and she's like, she, she has this people dragging.
They, they always dragged their hand down their face. And so I pointed out to her and, and by the time you get to Kent Lynch, people are still doing similar kind of, you know, facial things to, to think, but it's no longer the same thing over and over. Sure. Yeah, that
Charity Bradford: is actually something we plan on talking about in the future on the podcast is as, are our favorite things that we have to let go of because we all have them and they're, they're unique to each author.
So that's good for you though for pointing it out. Cause I think I always hope, Hey, can you point stuff out to me? Cause sometimes as an author, you're just putting stuff out there and praying for comments and reviews so that you can know how to improve. So. Thank you for at least pointing that out to your office and going, Hey,
Benjamin Fife: did you know?
I should probably mention it to Janell actually now that I was fading until, until I was, but it's also something where that, that the most egregious error use of it is, is done now in, in your agent's hand. Yeah. There's two uses of it because after the other ones, I'm like, I'm just going to search to begin with.
And there, I think there's two uses of it in Dorian's hand. So that's
Charity Bradford: wonderful. So she is learning and growing and that's all we can hope for, for all of us. That's wonderful. Um, I think we've kind of covered all the questions we have. So outside of, other than this last one, outside of narrating books and outside of reading, cause I know you're passionate about reading in your family.
What are you passionate about? What do you, what else do you,
Benjamin Fife: do? You know, kale? You mentioned, uh, you, you, uh, uh, had some radio experience in classical stuff. That's honestly kind of one of my dream job OBS too. Um, I am a classical music junkie and it's not more than just a classical music junkie. I'm kind of an art music junkie.
Um, like I, I adore world music. Um, okay, cool. And. My wife and I met in our music theory class in college. Um, and so, and we were. We were somewhat insufferable in that class. There were, there were other kids in that class who were kids. I mean, we were, I was 21, she was 18. Um, but there were other people in that class who were like, well, you guys shut up.
I'm glad, you know how it all works. Leave us alone. It's, it's something where even going into college, I had a better understanding of music history then. I'd like to say about any other freshmen in that, that group pad. Um, just because I've always loved listening to classical music. I, I mean, honestly, most of my classical music education until college came from like the CD covers and from Fred child on performance today.
Um, and I, I, I, uh, I think he's, he's, he's my hero. Um, but yeah. But anyway, it's, it's also something where I'd love to eventually have a radio show. And I I've I've, I've got a couple of blog posts that I've done on my website, but it's not that relevant to everything else I do, but I do. Um, I'm a music nerd.
Um, I play trumpet. I play harmonica. Okay. Guitar a little bit of violin a little bit. My Wesley is a much better musician overall than I am. She, uh, she teaches music. She, uh, she plays piano, violin, mandolin, ukulele, and voice and teachers, all those things too. But, um, anyway, so I was saying like world music, I love how organic it is.
And it's, it's something where that's one thing where my wife and I kind of differ is that I. Love some of the more chaotic kind of thing. Like give me when you're talking classical music, give me the Mauler give me, um, you know, John, Adam basically post Mozart. Okay. The more emotional, although I like Bach too, but Mozart to me, I like his operas, but his.
The rest of his stuff, his symphonies are okay in whatever, but most of it, it's just, he was a national character, vanilla and Hybris that transition. Yeah. I didn't, I kind of, you know, I like summer heightened stuff. I actually like Haydn's keyboard stuff and his later symphonies, but most of it is still kind of vanilla, but you get to Beethoven.
It's like, Oh
yes. But yeah, you, you get into the romantic era and then the 20th century and there's, I mean, 20th century, you had anything and everything. And some of it, I, I'm not wild about, you know, Schoenberg and whatever, but at the same time, there, there are things about there's that is informed of the things I love like minimalist opera, uh, Nixon in China is one of my favorite things, which is kind of borderline minimalist maximum that's that's kind of John Adams.
I actually have a John Adams book here. Oh, awesome. So anyway, um, my favorite living composers, uh, John Adams and his, his counterpart John Luther Adams, they're both brilliant. Um, but. Nixon in China is one of my favorites. Um, I also love Phillip glass with one of these years. I want to listen straight through Einstein on the beach.
I never have, but yeah, minimalist opera. Doesn't agree. Yeah. With my wife.
Kahle vonBose: Yeah. It doesn't agree with a lot of. People's wives, I guess
Benjamin Fife: we do. We do of other stuff together. I mean, so, and there, there are also some incredibly simple pieces that I absolutely adore too. Like one of the most one piece that makes me just emote more than almost anything else is a Spiegel IM Spiegel by ARVO parrot.
Okay. Do you know that one? How will listen to
Kahle vonBose: that? I've listened. I've listened to his music, but I
Benjamin Fife: can't, I haven't. He says, but I just, it makes my heart swell and brings a tear to my eye. So what is it? There's also like the symphony of sorrowful songs by, uh, Henry Gorecki. That's his name? So w. I'm I'm the guy around like my, my wife's family, when they, when they hear something they're like, what is that?
They're they're like, well, go ask him nine times out of 10. I can figure it out. So yeah, I've, I've actually been on the piano puzzler once. Um, which is what is this? That's that's on performance today. Um, it's, it's just, uh, uh, Oh yeah, yeah. What's his name? I can't remember the guy's name, who does it, but once a week, they have a contest where he takes, he takes a well-known tune and does it in the style of another composer.
And they get a listener on the radio to guess it. And my was mine. I did really abysmally because I didn't know the song very well at all. It was a, when I'm, when I'm 64 by the Beatles, which I'm like, that's kind of a less well known Beatles song. Um, but I, I got the composer and they, they lead. Do it and, and, uh, the, the end of the thing I said, well, yeah, I get by with a little help from my friends.
Kahle vonBose: mad respect. That was super cool to hear somebody else talk about classical composers like that.
Benjamin Fife: Yeah. Actually mentioning about, about the music in particular, on King's warrior, the mandolin part. That's my wife, um, playing mandolin. Um, which that's, that's just the, the opening and closing credits, but she also, she also did, uh, Delana song that she sings in it.
Um, and, and she's, I have to ask you
Charity Bradford: guys, like, it didn't
Benjamin Fife: sound like my wife, she has a beautiful voice and she's, uh, that, that's, that's another thing is a lot of, uh, sometimes in audio book, narrator forms and whatever. But they'll say, what, what do you do when you get to a song in a book? And from day one, as my audio book, narration career, the first book I auditioned for, she picked me because I sang her song in the, in the, uh, the audition.
And she said, I sang it exactly with the melody. She had thought, and I just, Oh, wow. I just pulled something out of my hat. And that's, that's basically what I've done with. Probably about one in four of this, of the books, I've narrated have some kind of music in them. And as long as it's something that's public domain or is unique to that book, you can do it.
If it's something, if they want you to sing break Bruce Springsteen, you've got to get Bruce Springsteen's permission. But, um, but with, with the Kings warrior ones, it's. Pretty much. I try and I kind of make it up on the spot in some kind of modal thing. And then my wife kind of massages it a little bit better and we go from there.
Um, awesome. But like with, with Cameron Taylor in both of the way of Aloha books, I sing in both of those too. It's fun.
Charity Bradford: I love that you can do this with your wife. You said your daughter read with you on some of them. I'm like, that's, that's just really. Fun that you can do that with
Benjamin Fife: your family. Yeah. It's I love it.
Well, I think we're
Charity Bradford: almost out of time. Is there anything else that you. Really want to share with our listeners. Um,
Kahle vonBose: can they reach you? How can they find you? How can authors contact you to give you money to
Benjamin Fife: read for them, Venmo, Zelle or PayPal? PayPal. If I have to know they take 3% Venmo and Zelle down, but anyway, um, the best best place to get ahold of me is through my website.
dot com. You can also email me at at gmail.com. Um, There was another question you had in there? I don't remember what it was. I don't
Charity Bradford: remember either, but I did think of another one. So originally I was going to ask if you had a preferred genre, but obviously you don't because you do non-fiction you do fiction.
You're just like all of it's good.
Benjamin Fife: I have genres. I won't do like, I'm not interested in horror and erotica. Yeah. But honestly, aside from that, I do try to get the stuff that I do to PG 13 or less. I do have another name that I've narrated three titles. Well, so far under that either it was a controversial subject or it kind of exceeded that, that envelope.
Um, but I, for the most part, I've been able to. Do D just stick to the PG 13 ish kind of thing. Um,
Charity Bradford: so how do you, how do you decide, is that something you ask an author beforehand? Hey, is there anything in here that goes,
Benjamin Fife: you know, Initially, when I'm looking for titles on ACX or whatever, um, like a lot of times you can tell from, uh, via the description or, or in the audition material.
I mean, like I just, you know, do it, do a search for the F-bomb and see if it's there. And I'm, I've dropped the F bomb in some of my books, but it's also something where it's kind of on a PG 13 level where it's like once, maybe twice. And actually there was one that, that. It was with Chris Tavenner that in flight of the 500, there was a couple of F bombs dropped in there, but it was very appropriate if you ask me, I'm like, if I were that character, I would've reacted that way.
Um, but, uh, but it's, uh, yeah, I ultimately, you know, I, I look in the audition and it's something where when. I get the, the initial book I'll glance through it. And there've been a couple of scenes here and there that I'm a little less comfortable with, but as long as it's in that PG 13 level, I'm like, just go with it.
I can, I can manage this and I'm not going to recommend my kids to read this one or that one. But, um, there, there, there is one them that I narrated under the, uh, under the other name that I'm like, It was really well-written. It was a cool book. I mean, I had to look up so many words and there weren't many pages that I didn't have to, but it was also like no way my kids listening.
Kahle vonBose: Oh, this one, well, this one in the back of the
Benjamin Fife: drawer
Charity Bradford: just makes me curious when you do that, like, let's say. You get something after you've accepted a contract. Do you just decide, Hey, I'm using my little name over here so that it's not tied to my family, or
Benjamin Fife: how does that work? Pretty much what I've done.
It's it's a matter of like this one I knew it was going to have, I mean, it's. It's a Greek thing. And I knew it was, I knew it was going to be very Greek. So it's direct. It's a somewhat modern retail. Well, it's more of an after the life retelling of it, there. One of the Greek God demigods telling about his exploits to 21st century denizens of Hades.
Um, so right off the bat, you know, that's going to be kind of dark. Um, but initially I was like, I could probably do that. And then when I got the, when I got this. I looked through it. I'm like, there's no way I'm going to do this under my name. And I just reached out to that, reached out to the publishing company that, that did it.
And they're like, yeah, that's fine. And I, I would love to work with that publishing company. Again, I'd, I'd love to work with that author again, if he had anything he want me to do other under either name it's. If, if it was similar, I would still do it under the other name, but I. But some of his other stuff that I've seen him, like I'd be honored to work with him.
Charity Bradford: Well, do you have anything else for,
Kahle vonBose: I know it's just been really great to talk to you really cool guy, really impressed with everything you're doing and. You got
Benjamin Fife: a great voice. I
Charity Bradford: took lots on you probably can't even see that. I took lots of notes of people. I need to look up authors. I need to look up songs I need to look up.
Benjamin Fife: So, yeah. And, and charity, if you have anything you want me to narrate, let me know. Do you write too? So I am
Kahle vonBose: Hillary, Hillary and charity, or my cheer team dragging me into it. Yeah. Okay, cool. I'm getting there. It'll be a minute. So I've still, I've still got the day job
Benjamin Fife: to go on. So I tell people. But it took me until I was almost 40 to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.
So, and it's also something where I plan on living to 137. So I could still do 27 other things. At least there you go.
Charity Bradford: I know it's great. Cause Kale's at the very beginning of this journey and he's so busy, but he has all this creativity and it's just. Right now it's like fireworks, you know, he's got a game he's building, he's got his music, you know, and he's got
Benjamin Fife: his writing ideas, the things I want to do, I want to be a writer too, but right now I'm building this career and I'm going to do some writing along the way, but I I'd love to eventually write my own stuff and narrate it, or maybe have somebody else narrated if somebody else is a good fit for it.
Um, but yeah, the hundred and 37 year old thing, this is, this is going to be really geeky and really weird. Um, I want to live to 137 or just shy of it because on January 1st of 2116, I will be exactly 50,000 days old.
I learned that because of an Excel class I took
the start dates and star Trek, like four, seven, nine, eight, eight, and whatever. Um, That's what's known as a Julian date. And like there is a Julian date for now. And Julian dates for now are figured out from January 1st of 1901. Um, but you can apply a Julian date to your own life. And that's what I did with unlike.
And I'm like, dude, I'm 55 on January 1st, 21, six. Really useless facts.
Charity Bradford: Now I'll have to figure out my Jillian date and get it put on my doctor. Who in a gala Fran letters.
Kahle vonBose: Oh
Benjamin Fife: man.
Charity Bradford: I know I've like I have a series and I love, love, love the first guy. And then he got a job in an actual play on Broadway and didn't have time for me. So are you going to Broadway?
Benjamin Fife: I am probably not going to Broadway. Honestly. I love what I'm doing. Um, would I like to maybe do some, I might get into some other voiceover eventually, but I'm really loving being an audio book.
Nair reader. I've heard it described as the marathon of voice acting and it kind of is, but. I haven't done any other voice acting. So I guess I'm just a marathon runner when it comes to that. I'm certainly not a marathon runner when it comes to life in general, if I was I'd have better at better lung capacity, which would help with aeration, but I don't know,
Charity Bradford: but what a great way to get free books.
Benjamin Fife: You get to read everything. I've read more in the last year than you know, many, many years before. So yeah.
Kahle vonBose: That's why that's so cool. Oh my gosh.
Charity Bradford: We're going to let you go. Cause I know you've got a busy life, lots of those books to, to get to, but we are so glad that you joined us tonight. And, uh, today that, you know, you could share with us what you love and the things you like about it.
And like I said, we've got lots of. Great authors here to look up and. Find your books and get to listen to you.
Benjamin Fife: All right. Well, we're just so glad you were with us. Thank you for having me and let me know if you want to talk to me again. I can ramble amplify.
Charity Bradford: Yes. Well, we have a thing we like to say when we sign off and it is, you can join us if you want.
We'll we'll practice it once. Cause we're really bad at it. We're doing a lot of editing to get us to there, but we like to say, keep
Benjamin Fife: writing. Or start writing.
Kahle vonBose: So do you want to start
Benjamin Fife: us off? Keep writing? .