The Galactic Mage audio book is almost live. I still don’t have an exact date, but I’m expecting it to be somewhere in the next five to ten days. I can’t wait. You are going to be so blown away by how talented the voice actor who narrates it is. His name is David Bodtcher, and he’s simply fabulous. He breathes so much life into the characters, it’s just awesome. So as a pre-release treat for those of you who might enjoy a look behind the scenes, so to speak, I put together a few interview questions for David, who kindly obliged and answered them. But first, if you missed the audio sample I linked last week, I turned it into a simple YouTube video, so have a listen to David at work:
And there you have it. Just awesome! I absolutely love and couldn’t possibly be happier with how the project turned out. So with that introduction done, here it is, my interview of David Bodtcher:
David Botcher Discusses The Galactic Mage Audiobook
John: How long have you been working with your voice? When did you realize you had a gift for voice acting or making science fiction and fantasy audiobooks?
David: I’ve been mimicking characters since I was as young as I can remember. I’d replay little scenes or snippets for family or friends trying to imitate the voices as close as possible. I really wasn’t gifted with a wonderful voice. I think I was gifted with a great ear for sounds and a wonderful imagination. These have kept me playing at changing my voice as much as I can.
John: Well, your voice is amazing. And the characters you create, the accents and different vocalizations you do, are amazing too. How many can you do? What was the first one you ever did? And how do figure out how to do it; is there a process you go through to learn them?
David: Well, thank you! I’m not sure how many I can do. I haven’t kept track of the character voices I do. Instead of perfecting and developing certain character voices I can do, I keep focusing on trying to imitate characters in my sho… uh, I mean, my kids’ shows as they watch. Not sure how I do it, I think that’s where my gift of having a good ear for sounds comes in. I can either do it, or I determine I can’t. I still haven’t figured out how to do Donald Duck’s voice!
As far as the first voice I ever did, I’m sure it was a baby voice, wah, wah, waaah. (That’s either a baby crying, or a sad trombone after a bad joke. Both of which I can do!) The first voice my parents were impressed with was my Pee Wee Herman voice at 7 or 8 years old (much to my chagrin later).
John: Things did sort of fall apart for old Pee Wee, didn’t they? Funny TV show though, and his movies still make me laugh. Which reminds me, there are so many scenes in the audio book where the acting part of your voice acting is just amazing. The jokes really work when you deliver them, and in the dramatic parts where the action is high, you really get us there as listeners. And, man, in those really human scenes, just wow, they are simply heart wrenching the way you pull them off. You tap such passion and your performance—and it is a performance, it’s not just reading or doing voices, it’s serious acting—where did you learn to do that? Have you done a lot of theater or had acting classes?
David: Again, thank you! This is where my imagination comes in. With good writing (like yours), the scenes are played out in my head as I’m reading. Learning how to portray it came from watching or studying other performances. I actually used to spend some of my lunches in junior high or high school with a giant book on filmmaking sitting at a table in the library. I took a drama class in high school, but I got stage fright pretty bad while growing up, so I didn’t actively pursue theater or acting after that. Most of my performances when growing up were in my house while playing with my toys. Can’t say much has changed as most of my performances now are still in my house! It’s a lot easier for me to perform crowded in my little sound booth in front of a microphone rather than in a spacious theater in front of a crowd. I’ve recently begun taking classes from other voice artist professionals which help tremendously.
John: Speaking of other voice artist professionals, who is your favorite voice actor, or say your top three if you can’t decide on just one? And why? What is it about them that you like? If there’s a particular skit or scene they do, let me know, and I’ll link a YouTube video if I can find it.
David: Oh boy, I couldn’t pick just one voice actor as my favorite. It’s tough as voice actors because the ones that are really good at it don’t make you think about the actor themselves. They make you love or appreciate the character itself. Some of the memorable voice actors I’ve learned about after hearing their voices so much (and so, decided to study them a little. Probably in the library during lunch …) are Jim Cummings, Paul Frees and Rob Paulsen. But there are many more I enjoy and admire.
(Okay, as promised, I’m linking some videos of David’s favorites … first is Jim Cummings. I had no idea he’s been in so much stuff I’ve loved over the years. This one is a little long at 8 minutes, but totally worth the big nostalgic grins you’ll get along the way. Plus, it’s cool to hear these guys sing in character.)
(OMG, Boris Badinov!!! This one is Paul Frees. It’s short, and it will make readers of my generation and even a little older smile, and the last part will make you laugh out loud.)
(Okay, last one then back to the interview. This one is Rob Paulsen, and this is fun, you get to see his personality here too. Short but very entertaining.)
John: If you could work on any project, something from the past, something out now, or something that might be done someday in the future, what would it be? What’s the dream scenario project for David Bodtcher?
David: Star Wars! Next question.
I really enjoy science fiction and fantasy and am naturally drawn to any such projects. But voicing in any Star Wars series would be my dream job. That and voicing in Company of Heroes, the Elder Scrolls series, Transformers, a Star Trek series, Spongebob, a Marvel animated movie or series, any Disney movie, any voice project with Fred Tatasciore and ….
John: Wow, great list. So, sort of on that vein, in addition to working on the audio version of The Galactic Mage, what other projects are you working on (assuming you can talk about them, of course)?
David: I’ve held off on some projects recently so I can focus on performing The Galactic Mage as wonderfully as the story itself is. When I’m done, I will be working on another audio book (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to name it). I’ll also go back to doing more roles in various Skyrim game mods.
John: As a gamer myself, I think it’s so cool that you worked on that game. You’ve got such vocal range! Speaking of which, one of the things I’ve noticed about your work is how well you treat genders. Your normal speaking voice is pretty low, distinctly male, and yet somehow you manage to make female characters work very well, from the child Pernie through the young woman Orli up to the much older female character we have in Kettle. I’ve heard some male narrators really struggle with that, just as some female narrators seem to have issues really finding the male voices in a book. What’s your secret? What advice would you give to someone who might be thinking about trying book narrative like you have been working on with the audiobook version of The Galactic Mage?
David: Thanks! I’ve always focused on expanding the limits my voice may have; it helps me voice various pitches that may be difficult for others. But that isn’t necessarily what makes a good voice for a female or younger character. Because, no matter how much I can change the pitch of my voice, I still sound like a man trying to voice a female or a child. It’s not so much the pitch of the voice that is most important, but the tone. Not so much what a woman’s or child’s voice would sound like, but how they talk. Portraying their mannerisms or character in a voice you can do. There are others that are so much better at this than me. They (like Scott Brick) will use the same voice pitch for both their male and female characters, but be able to play the character and tone so well, you wouldn’t even notice the pitch.
John: It’s cool that you keep track of other artists and the work they do in the audiobook industry. And talk about work, it seems I read once that an hour of finished audiobook can be like six hours of actual work with editing and all of that. I know a lot of that is reading out loud—I do an out-loud read through of my books as part of my revision process, and my throat is mangled after the second day. How do you preserve your vocal chords? Do you get calluses on your, what, your tonsils and uvula?
David: Oh boy! Yes, every finished hour you hear in this book is a good 5 – 8 hours of work. Most of the work is actually editing and processing to make sure it sounds great and there are no mistakes. When I feel my voice is mangled, I stop. A night’s sleep, and my voice is ready to go again.
John: So what’s on the horizon for you now that you are done with the audiobook for The Galactic Mage? Anything on your radar?
David: Books two and three of the series! I can’t wait to voice some orcs!
John: Hah! I can’t wait to hear you do them. Gromf, Kazuk-Hal-Mandik and Warlord are all waiting for you in book 3. Which brings up another question, how did you come up with the voices you used for the characters in The Galactic Mage?
David: For the main characters, there’s more information in the book about those characters to “paint” a picture in my head of what they look like. Once I get a sense of what they look like and a general sense of how they talk from the dialogue in the book, the voice just comes out naturally for me.
The minor and supporting characters can be a little harder as there’s less information in the book about them. Since most of my experience comes from mimicry, I would think of other established characters or actors that I believe could be similar. Doctor Leopold is my impersonation of Salah (John Rhys-Davies) from Indiana Jones with some minor changes to better fit Doctor Leopold. Thadius is a younger version Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) on Gilligan’s Island with some evil thrown in there. If Taot talked (or yelled), you’d probably hear a little bit of The Hulk in him. The orc village scene would be fun for me!
John: Well, there’s plenty of barbarity coming in the next two books, so you’ll get your chance for that! Thanks so much for doing this interview. I think people who love a good sci-fi or fantasy audiobook will appreciate your taking the time to do this interview. Thanks a ton.
David: You’re welcome. Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW
So there you have it, a cool glimpse into the processes and some personal history of David Bodtcher, narrator of The Galactic Mage audiobook. The audiobook should be up very soon. Amazon didn’t give me a definitive date, so I can’t tell you exactly when. I got the confirmation email on May 15, 2013 and in it read that the audiobook will be ready for sale in “upwards of 14-20 days.” So, since that’s what I got, that’s what you get. Basically somewhere between May 29th and June 9th, depending on whether they count weekends and holidays as “days” or not. I’ll announce it here and on The Galactic Mage Facebook page.
Make sure to tell your friends if you know folks who enjoy a good science fiction and fantasy audiobook, and feel free to SHARE the sample video on Facebook since that will help both me and David out!
So glad that you were able to do the audiobook version! Another book to add to my ever growing audiobook collection for my long commute.
I know how that goes. I used to have an hour and thirty minute (each way) commute, and finding stuff to listen to was critical! So at least there’s 18 hours of drive time accounted for at some point with this one. 🙂