I have something a little different for this WW post–my narrator has graciously agreed to do an interview!
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Daniela Acitelli:
Daniela Acitelli is a professional Audiobook Narrator / Voice Over Artist with a Theatre, Film, Cabaret and Circus background. You can find her on Audible, iTunes and Amazon. She also narrates for the RNIB, SpokenRealms, Deyan and Whitehouse publishing.
Daniela is an actress with a stage background, trained in the Meisner technique and Lee Strasberg’s “Method” acting. She has a background in and a great love of Cabaret and Vaudeville including the old time concert saloon, minstrelsy, circus acts, dime museums, and literary American burlesque shows.
Here is a sample from Daniela’s recording of RAIN OF ASH:
Gwen: You’re an ex-pat living in London (so cool!). How did that happen?
Daniela: I have an Italian father and when I was young I spent a great deal of my childhood in Italy so I always assumed I would move somewhere exotic when I grew up. I ended up marrying a Glaswegian and after travelling for many years we finally found ourselves in foggy old London, and I felt like I was home.
Gwen: It’s clear you have a stage background, as do a lot of narrators, I’ve noticed. How did you stumble upon narrating?
Daniela: I to was an actress from a very young age. I’ve been “treading the boards” from the time I was ten and it’s always been the great love of my life. I’ve also been an avid audiobook listener from the very early days when I would listen on my big yellow Sony Walkman. So it just made sense to combine the two. It’s the best of both worlds because I get to act from the comfort of my own studio surrounded by all my glitz and pretty things and I can completely lose myself in the characters’ worlds.
Gwen: I love the vision of you recording in a studio surrounded by your inspiration, sounds ideal. Can you tell the readers more about your performance background? I find it so interesting, and it’s something we share in common, our love of burlesque!
Daniela: I grew up in California and started with Children’s Theatre at a very young age. Once the acting bug gets in your veins it never leaves. After living in L.A. for many years I finally became disheartened by the discrepancy between the super rich and the super poor so I “settled” for corporate work and moved to London. I couldn’t ever let go of my love for the theatre, so I spent the ensuing years acting in both theatre, cabaret and comedy burlesque acts and doing voice work. I even trained as a “Red Nosed Clown”. I was effectively trying to live two lives for the price of one, so when I was made redundant from the corporate gig a few years ago I decided, ‘That’s it, the universe is trying to tell me something.” So I made the decision to go all in with the audiobooks.
Gwen: Tell us more about your process. How many reads of a book do you do before recording? Do you rehearse or do trial recordings? Do you ever act out scenes to yourself?
Daniela: I read the book once as just a reader and enjoy the story. Then I go through it again and mark it up differentiating the characters, making notes, getting a feeling for the voices. This takes a while to do properly. Then I go in and record and try to lose myself again in the book to keep the script fresh.
Gwen: Were you much of a reader before becoming a narrator? What were your favorite books?
Daniela: I think all narrators, like writers, are bookworms. I was the girl that just wanted to sit and read all day but when I got older I started suffering from migraines. Audiobooks replaced my beloved dog eared books. I love so many it’s hard to list. Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, all the classics. I listen to two to three books a week, so the list is endless.
Gwen: I never thought of how useful audiobooks would be for people with migraines. I know you also record books for the vision-impaired; they are probably great for people with other reading disabilities too. Since you’ve been listening since the beginning, tell us how you think audiobooks have changed and where they’re going.
Daniela: Audiobooks saved me when I started suffering from migraines and I do think that they are a different experience entirely than you get from reading a book. Now, of course, they’re becoming “big business”. I confess the business aspect is out of my comfort zone as I have an actor’s old fashioned attitude towards art. You’ll still find many amazing actors performing audiobooks, and the industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Of course, that means it will be much more “commercial” but you can never be wary of growth because it also brings great leaps in creativity.
Gwen: Any advice for people who might be drawn to narrating as a profession?
Daniela: There’s a video I always recommend by Sean Pratt on YouTube called “So You want to be an Audiobook Narrator” (Link) and in it he has a test you can try to see if you really want to be a narrator. In my experience you either love it or you hate it. It takes a certain temperament to be able to lock yourself away and record for hours on end with complete focus. It’s one of those things that looks really easy until you actually try it, but if you do love it you’ll be hooked for life. If that’s you then get the training and keep training and keep recording every day until you get better, then do more.
That’s exactly like writing!
Gwen: I saw that you did a recording of Frankenstein and I immediately downloaded it. I’m so excited to listen! I’m listening to Jane Eyre right now as well.
Daniela: I grew up reading Frankenstein, Jane Eyre and (my all-time favourite) Wuthering Heights. I was pretty sure I was that “girl on the moors”. I work with SpokenRealms and they do Public Domain books, and I really wanted to do Frankenstein. It took me a year to get the nerve to actually produce it because the narrators in the past have for the most part been male and British, but I finally decided that I wanted to share my childhood favourite and that I would do it despite possible reviews not because of them. It turned out well because it actually received a very positive response and reminded me that the whole point is to tell stories you love and not worry about the reaction.
I think Daniela’s smooth, sultry voice has a vintage quality that is perfect for Frankenstien. Check it out here.
Gwen: When I first posted Rain of Ash on ACX, you were one of the first to respond. I think it was Kismet, but can you tell us what drew you to this book?
Daniela: I do think Rain of Ash was Kismet. I never usually audition for that genre because I feel my voice is too dark and not young enough, but it caught my eye and I fell in love with it immediately. I love character driven books and your characters come to life from the very start. It’s the perfect book to lose yourself in. As I was narrating Rain of Ash I fell in love with the characters and it was the perfect, delicious escapism. Who doesn’t love a good dose of magic?
Aside from the deep and rich quality of her voice that I thought suited the mood of the story, this is exactly why I picked Daniela. It was so important to me to have someone who was excited about the story, and we also share a healthy respect for the creative process.
Gwen: What was your favorite part of Rain of Ash to perform/record?
Daniela: Any scene with Kean. He’s the perfect strong male character. I love the scene when he first sees Bri again. My other favorite scene I won’t dare to give away… spoilers.
Gwen: Did you have a favorite character?
Daniela: Again, it’s definitely Kean. The way you draw the characters, they feel like old friends, and once the book ended I missed Kean the most of all. I’ve already had listeners contact me asking when the next book will be out and saying the same–that they miss the characters.
Thank you so much Daniela!