Between the Sheets...with Teri Schnaubelt
Romance Narrators: This month marks the one-year anniversary of our Romance Narrators group! You - and your pseudonym Lynn Barrington- are one of our original members. What has it meant to you being part of this community?
Teri: Since we work in such an isolated manner, alone in our little dark recording booths day in and day out (and many nights and weekends), it’s really revitalizing to connect with a niche group of talented and hard-working narrators with common work ethics, and I particularly love when we get together, donning our Narrators Give Good Aural shirts and sponsor events at conventions like speed dating or introvert scavenger hunts with authors and listeners. Connecting with other people is integral to good storytelling, and we LOVE to tell and hear great stories!
Romance Narrators: You’re an actor who has worked in many different mediums, so what draws you to the particular kind of storytelling that is audiobook narration?
Teri: While recently listening to A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston, he mentions that storytelling is the quintessential human art form. And I really starting examining that and realized that so much of what we do as human beings revolves around telling a story. On social media, we are telling little stories in our posts, our pictures and videos, our memes. When we call a friend on the phone or meet for coffee or dinner, we are exchanging stories about our lives; what happened at work or on vacation, with our kids, or spouses, or pets. The art of painting, drawing, poetry, plays, musicals, TV shows, movies, operas, dance. They all involve telling a story.
And why? To what end? To connect to another human being. When we tell or hear a story, we are potentially learning something new, but also sharing in the emotions of that story, and if there is compassion and empathy or even a shared commiserating, we experience a bonding that is a necessary elementfor most of the human race. It’s deeply comforting to know that I’m a part of connecting the art of verbal storytelling to a potentially large audience, while still maintaining a sense of intimacy about it, as if the listener was sitting here in my living room on my comfy couches listening to me tell these wonderful stories born of another human being’s imagination and true life experiences.
Romance Narrators: Talk to us about narrating the 7-book Celtic Brooch Series written by Katherine Lowry Logan.
Teri: I have really enjoyed working with Kathy on her series. She found me on ACX and originally it was only going to be a trilogy, but it gained such a following and the readers and listeners kept wanting more and more from her, that she’s decided to extend the series. There are so many beloved characters, that I’m sure she could even do spinoffs. She’s an excellent writer and I feel very lucky to be a part of bringing the series to life. Last fall she and several of her fans did a ‘Celtic Brooch Clan Gathering’ down in Kentucky, with a weekend full of visiting places from some of the books, or places that inspired events and people in the books, so that was a lot of fun to be a part of.
Romance Narrators: In addition to your romance work, you narrate many mysteries and thrillers, several with some scary titles! Last to Die, His Garden of Bones, A Merciful Death… Ever get freaked out in the booth while working on these books?
Teri: I do! There have been more than a couple where I’ve found myself narrating late into the night and sometimes it does creep me out. There’s an odd experience we go through as narrators and actors: you come across serial killers or abusers, and you really HATE these evil people and the horrible acts they commit, yet it presents a good challenge to portray them honestly as someone who really either enjoys killing people or feels it is necessary, or what have you. And since we read the entire book before we narrate it, we are essentially experiencing these horrible things TWICE, so as a human being you have to stomach that experience and yet be the actor that commits to making this a real person.
Romance Narrators: You are quite a prolific producer using the ACX platform. How many titles have you produced there by now? 8,433?
Teri: I got my start on ACX and was one of the few narrators who were actually able to transition to full time narration just on ACX projects. I’ve narrated over 80 projects and most of those were authors who were new to the audiobook experience. I enjoy helping independent authors realize the wonders of audiobooks, but it has its own set of challenges because part of our job is to let them know what is involved in audiobook production and the time and money investment that the author as well as the narrator/producer makes. For a very short time ACX was offering a select few ACX-funded projects (fully funded by ACX) and I was fortunate to have won several of those contracts, which was a win-win for the author and me.
Romance Narrators: For those who didn’t see the saga unfold on social media, tell us about the road to the sexy home studio setup you now enjoy. There were bumps in the road, but the end result was a very happy narrator cheers-ing some bubbly in her beautiful booth, yes?
Teri: Ah yes. The SAGA, the DRAMA. After doing a TON of research online and asking other narrators what kind of professional sound-proof booth they purchased or built, I decided to purchase a StudioBricks booth. From Spain.
The reason is that these are modular, and therefore easy to disassemble and reassemble to move (there’s a YouTube video showing one guy putting a booth together in 9 minutes), which is important because I want to move in the next year or two, and otherwise, the large side panels would weigh something like 350 lbs each due to the thickness of the walls for soundproofing. So, I ordered it in November 2016 and they told me it would be 6-9 weeks.
Well, after a lot of emails back and forth and delays on the manufacturer’s part (perhaps because I threw them off ordering a shorter than standard size), I received the booth at week 19 (via a semi-truck because it comes in something that looks like a sarcophagus, weighing about 1500 lbs or more, and after unpacking everything, discovered that I was missing one of the 2 roof parts, so I was unable to use the booth until they sent the final part via air freight the next week.
Not exactly sure why they don’t have at least one person who runs through a checklist of parts before they ship a 1500 lb several thousand dollar booth across the ocean….but there you have it. Yes, there are videos on my Facebook actor page. Although we never put up the time lapse of us putting it together because we started drinking during the assembly (because it was so easy, right??) and forgot parts a couple of times and had to disassemble to put the parts in!!
And now I actually go hide in the booth and work when my neighbor’s dogs are barking and I need to regain my sanity…it’s that peaceful.
Romance Narrators: Hallelujah! Your listeners may not know that you have a former career as a graphic designer. You also create beautiful artwork through a process called “Technique Mixte.” A woman of many talents! Tell us more about your visual work.
Teri: I’ve always been an avid artist; drawing was always a passion for me. Then I discovered a Master Painter from France, Patrick Betaudier, was teaching a class nearby which involved a very realistic oil painting technique that really struck me, and I took the class as well as subsequent ones he thought at nearby schools, then spent 6 weeks in the south of France at his atelier there.
It’s a very laborious, meticulous process involving techniques that were used by the Italian Renaissance painters and involves doing a completed drawing on the canvas before you begin adding any paint, then layers of a monochrome painting and THEN color.
The end result is that the painting looks like it’s lit from behind. Oddly, it is during that process that I developed my love for audiobooks! I began listening to audiobooks to engage my mind while I was painting for hours at a stretch. I went through many many classics like Sherlock Holmes, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austin, biographies, history, a cute little mystery series involving a cat that was narrated by the great George Guidall.
Romance Narrators: That is so cool! Amazing when one art form inspires the other. Can you tell us about an audiobook of which you are particularly proud?
Teri: Well, I’m proud of the Celtic Brooch series because I started off thinking I knew how to do a Scottish accent, then realized not so much, after a few reviewers criticized me on the first book, so I did some accent training with PJ Ochlan, then re-recorded hours of dialogue, edited it into the book and re-uploaded the book to Audible. Luckily, at least one reviewer commented that my accent improved markedly on the second book!! And although those original reviews are still there on that first book, the updated version is up, and hopefully if listeners take a chance, they won’t be disappointed.
I’m also proud of RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Lisa Gardner, which was a #1 NY Times best-seller in print. That was really enjoyable to narrate and I was really honored to be chosen for it.
I also love doing non-fiction and have learned so much about many different industries. THE DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW by Rory Kress is about the puppy breeding industry, BEAUTY SICK by Renee Engeln examines our culture’s obsession with beauty and the real consequences it has on girls and women’s psyches and finances, and THE MORNING THEY CAME FOR US by Janine di Giovanni about the beginnings of the Syrian conflict and inside the struggles of the people there.
Romance Narrators: What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
Teri: I’m doing a new book for Harlequin, coming up, so I’m excited about that, and the next Celtic Brooch book, THE AMBER BROOCH will be out in a couple weeks, so that will be a great new release! I have projects for Brilliance Audio, Bee Audio, and Tantor audio that I’m working on, so I better get back to work so I can meet my deadlines!
Keepup with Teri online:
Teri Schnaubelt’s Audible catalog - https://adbl.co/2rEnIpf
Lynn Barrington’s Audible catalog - https://adbl.co/2IdBXIO