Offer up the warmest welcome for Jeff Hays. I have enjoyed listening to several books he has narrated, including M. R. Forbes’s Ghosts & Magic series (which is freaking awesome!). It’s a great pleasure to have Jeff on the blog today as we chat about TV shows, challenging accents, cosplay, and much more. Interested in the US/UK AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY? Then scroll to the bottom of the post.
1) If you could be an extra on a period piece (Outlander, Spartacus, etc.) what would it be?
Peaky Blinders. If you’re asking what kind of extra, obviously I’d want to be one of the other gangsters.
2) If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?
Space alien. Then I’d want to look at all his gear!
3) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?
Neal Barrett Jr. I’ve worked on two of his books, and I’d like to do the rest. He was absolutely brilliant, and I could talk to him about writing, his work in particular, and philosophical stuff because it’s pretty clear to me we share a lot of the same unpopular views.
Neal Barrett Jr.’s Aldair series. I’ve never been so wrapped up, or surprised by the discoveries and surprises in a story. The real beauty of these mysteries is that the answers are all obvious, the clues are scattered around in plain sight, but because of Neal’s ability to really put the reader into the mind of Aldair, we feel the impact of his discoveries far more than one should expect.
5) How does modern pop culture influence your work as a voice actor?
First of all, music, TV, movies, and video games are all great sources when it comes to finding voices, melodies, sound effects and inspiration. The varieties are literally endless. Since I can remember, which is about 3 years old or so, I’ve been a parrot. I hear things, I find them entertaining or intriguing, I try to imitate them with my voice, and if I find it difficult, it becomes a challenge and I keep at it. I especially imitate things that irritate me, such as radio commercials or overly sappy acting, and then try to imitate them for fun. I learn a lot when my emotions are stirred up by a sound I’m parroting because I compare the feelings I’m having and the feelings I know that sound is trying to evoke. I then try to find out where the sound is going wrong and figure out what I can do to fix it and make it more effective.
Actors in the myriad forms of media around us inspire me particularly. Most of the actors that live in my head and get cast in this role or another also have a specific actor associated with them. But, even though I attempt to mimic that living actor as I picture them, my impersonations still aren’t completely accurate. As I develop the actor inside my head associated with a specific influential actor, tendencies begin to emerge in their performance related more to decisions I make according to the text and sounds that I tend towards out of preference rather than adherence to an impersonation, so everyone in the troupe inside my head starts out as an homage to an actor Or personality that I like, but ends up having their own identity and style.
I consider myself fortunate when it comes to “jobs.” By that I mean, I haven’t had many, so picking out the worst one makes me feel a bit ungrateful. I would have to say working for my parents managing rental property produces the most unpleasant work memories. I did not like being responsible for the living situations of other people. Thankless work, and the worst of it came from dealing with people who had their rent paid for by the government. Lots of plumbing (uuuuuuuuuuuggggghhhhhhh), cleaning, electric work (not that unpleasant actually), painting white walls white. I listened to a lot more audio books back then…
This job does not compare with voice-acting. It was actual work. Voice-acting is play that I get paid for… Except for marketing.
Of course, everything is going digital. I still pop in a blu-ray now and then, or an Xbox game once in a millennium, but for the most part we’re moving away from physical media. It saves a lot of shelf space. More importantly, the price of media is plummeting. This will allow those who really love and obsess over particular stories or fictional worlds to dive deeper into them, and experience them in several ways. In the future, I see particularly successful fictional worlds developing entire production studios that produce content solely for those worlds. Due to this digital age, artists, including myself, are becoming more and more versatile, able to work effectively and use principles they’ve learned from their preferred medium and apply them to others, communicate more easily with other artists in different mediums, and work in more tightly knit teams in order to make these worlds that much more real. Not only will audiences be better able to choose their favorite medium through which to experience these popular fictional worlds, but these mediums are constantly blending, and new mediums that we’ve never even conceived outside of sci-fi speculation will begin to emerge. Video games are a prime example of this principle. They require skills from every other medium that came before: modeling, writing, video, sound-efffects, music, acting, etc.
8) Have you ever done a cosplay of a character from an audiobook you narrated?
As a matter of fact I have 😉
9) If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?
Will Answer Difficult Questions Honestly
Deborah Morgan (Dexter), Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones, haven’t read the books, sorry), Sean Connery (Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL), The Joker (The Mark Hamil one), Genie (Aladdin). Now that’s a fuckin party.
11) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?
Not sure what’s the most geeky, but the most recent one in memory was which iteration of Star Trek is the best. I argued for Next Generation. Picard is the man.
12) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?
I literally just finished “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain. The most difficult audio book I’ve ever produced, but I love how it came out and I’m really excited for people to listen. Also, I begin production on M.R. Forbes’s “Tears of Blood Series” at the beginning of October. This is his interesting take on high-fantasy, and it really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. By popular demand, I will be narrating in an Irish accent, which is my FAVORITE accent, and I will be using many different UK accents for the very large number of characters throughout the series. This will really leave me open to criticism from discerning listeners and other narrators, so I look forward to the challenge.
Places to Stalk Jeff Hays
Jeff is generously offering up 10 audiobooks from his Audible catalog, US or UK, which means 10 winners! You can enter the giveaway by doing the Rafflecopter thing below or answering the following in the comments: 1) What fictional characters would you like to have a drink with? 2) Leave a way for me to contact you (email preferred). Giveaway ends October 25th, 2015 midnight.